THE BACHELOR, Blind Date, Take Me Out, Stand By Your Man. I don’t want to recommend you watch these shows because they are incredibly vapid attempts to create relationships and find love but in reality you know those people are brought together for a cash prize. At least they are relatively honest. This brings us to I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’, from the press you might think this is going to be the most offensive version of the form since FOX’s ‘guess who your biological father’ disaster Who’s Your Daddy? Honestly, it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen but if this is what society considers entertainment, we are probably screwed.
The basic premise is that twelve American women are taken to England and lead to believe that they have a chance at romance with Prince Harry. But it isn’t Prince Harry, it’s a lookalike. To start with the positives, Matthew Hicks, the lookalike in question, does look a lot like Prince Harry and I’m assuming a decent amount of crew members got paid for their hard work in this show. This is where my positives end.
The main problem with the show is pure and simple, it’s an entire programme about a guy lying in order to sleep with one of twelve women. It tries to make Hicks an appealing character, showing that he cleans up oil spills for a living, he borrows a friend’s bike to cycle there because he doesn’t have harry’s money but he’s still very clean and well-spoken so that we don’t worry about whether he might be some form of Dickensian street urchin. Underneath all of this is the realisation that this is essentially a serialised version of a cheap pick-up line with Hicks taking advantage of the fact that they think he’s something he isn’t. It’s almost like they’re daring the audience to root for ‘love’ based on a complete fallacy. Throughout the programme, Hicks constantly affirms that he has to keep up the pretense of being the Prince but really he wants them to love ‘the real matt’ who never comes across. He is the perfect fake Prince Harry as he is a complete cypher upon which they can add the various aspects of Harry’s personality. This does lead to the most stereotypically English version of the Rocky training montage involving shooting, tea drinking and his very own version of Alfred who stands around reminding Hicks of his responsibilities and hating his job.
From my viewing of the first few episodes (I don’t know why, I kept watching after episode one, I’m a glutton for punishment), I can say that it isn’t significantly worse than other examples of this genre of television but it is still awful. It seems like an elaborate parody series in that no one feels like a real human being. It somehow makes the brilliant Burning Love (look it up if you have Netflix) more impressive in how accurately it spoofs it whilst making the comedy creations feel more three dimensional than the ‘real’ people of this show. It just has a constant feeling of pointlessness. I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ is not the devil, no more than any other supposed ‘reality’ television, there will probably be royalists who declaim it as insulting but honestly, this isn’t television worthy of such hatred. It’s competently made, poorly considered television. There’s probably a market for it but it lacks anything to make it interesting. Will he be able to keep up the deceit? Will any of the girls discover he’s not a Prince? Will they still like him if they discover it? All relevant questions but frankly, I have too little time to bother finding out the answers.