(Photo courtesy of Matt Hicks)
First ep op-ed
I can’t believe I’m defending a reality show, much less a dating one, but here goes. The amount of vitriol towards this show I’ve seen on Twitter and via reviews is ill-informed at best and down right mean at worst. First off, let’s review the facts.
According to the show’s premise (let’s all keep in mind that these shows are largely scripted and we should view all participants as actors) the girls vying for Prince Harry’s heart have no idea who the eligible suitor is when the show starts. They are taken to a large estate in Berkshire (“It’s Downton Abbey!” one exclaims) and can only guess that the man they’ll be competing for is British and a “hot shot.” Wandering through the house some guess a diplomat and at least one says maybe royalty. So let’s go along with the show’s set-up and recognize these girls did not sign up thinking they would be trying to get hooked-up with Prince Harry.
When their suitor shows up – called “sir” by this show’s version of Mr. Carson and named “Matt Hicks, not really Prince Harry” when shown in on-screen interview mode – the majority of the flock decide he must be Prince Harry. At least two girls express doubt. One says, “to be honest, I don’t know what Prince Harry looks like.”
To that last point, a lot of tweets I’ve seen outright trash these girls calling them “stupid” or “clueless” on the nice end of the spectrum or “dumb hoes” and “stupid bitches” on the other. It’s highly likely contestants who could correctly ID a member of the BRF were vetted out much like a potential juror in voir dire who believes every pot smoker should get life. Ryan Seacrest knows what he’s doing. He’s not letting a royal blogger on this show.
And dear Britons, keep in mind this is your royal family. True, many Americans are fascinated by the royals, particularly William and Harry considering how much we loved their mother. But still, your average American would have a hard time identifying any other members of the family or even Will’s and Harry’s place in the pecking order. (One American royal fan I met on Twitter had no idea William had a younger brother until the royal wedding.) Despite what American entertainment shows like Today or Good Morning America, or our versions of tabloids such as People and US, would have you believe your average American DGAF about the BRF. We kicked your asses out, remember? People are more likely to care about Bey and Jay or Kimye. Sorry dudes. Reality.
Watching the premiere last night it struck me as no more inane than any other show of this type – the Bachelor, Bachelorette, Joe Millionaire, what have you. The template is you have a shallow narcissist playing the pursued and a bevy of shallow pursuers ready to mean girl (or mean boy) each other at the drop of the hat. None of these people want true love. They want to be on TV.
So why is this show any more admoniable than other reality shows? The girls, while not discouraged from thinking so, are never told Mr. Hicks is Prince Harry so we shouldn’t find this show “cruel” nor these girls “stupid.”
The only part of the show I truly enjoyed was the “average bloke,” Matt Hicks. His fear of not being able to pull off a believable Harry was quite endearing. (And the montage of his crash course in Harry-ness was amusing. Where was HWW in this curriculum?) He also had the best line of the entire episode: “American girls don’t seem to have an inside voice.” No we don’t Mr. HIcks, no we don’t.
So everybody lay off already. Around the globe people eat up inane reality shows. America didn’t invent the genre although you might say we’ve perfected it. Maybe you’re just jealous that Seacrest thought this up first?