This afternoon, we four Wire staffers sat down to watch the first episode of Fox's new reality show I Wanna Marry "Harry," premiering tonight. We expected to write something about the show's inherent stupidity—its premise, after all, is that women will be fooled into competing for the love of a man they think is Prince Harry—and maybe throw some witty jabs its way. Instead we just got sad. I Wanna Marry "Harry" can't even meet the rather low standards of the good-bad reality show. It's just bad.
Is The Premise of I Wanna Marry Harry Believable in Any Way?
Esther: No, this is obviously not for real. But it is so not for real it's mind-blowing. (As Linda Holmes said at NPR, it is "patently and ferociously fake.") It assumes a level of stupidity that I, for one, refuse to believe exists. There's even a chyron underneath our wannabe royal's name that says "Not Really Prince Harry." O RLY?
Allie: These sets can only be described as leftovers from Flavor of Love. Not a bad thing, necessarily, but there is no way a reasonable person could assume the Queen herself did the decorating. Also very LOL is Kingsley, the “butler” who calls “Harry” “sir.” Um, if Harry (a.k.a. Matt Hicks) was Prince Harry he’d call him His Royal Highness. Has NO ONE seen The Princess Diaries?
Esther: Speaking of The Princess Diaries, the training montage where our fake-as-all-heck "Harry" learns to pass as a royal by, for example, properly identifying utensils was very Mia Thermopolis.
Allie: Yeah, except he can’t even remember Prince Harry’s birthday by the end of it. Not what you’d call a quick study.
Danielle: Anastasia was better at learning all that stuff and she had to perform for the Tsarina! But she was also animated, so I guess that makes it easier.
Abby: I dealt with the pain by making a Venn diagram of all of the reasons this man does not resemble Prince Harry. I came to the show with questions, most of which were not answered by the first episode. But also, I gave up the will to seek out those answers. That being said, this is the fakest of fakery.
Danielle: The girls themselves are also all super fake, possibly even more so than on other TV shows. One girl refers to the sole 25-year-old as an “oldie,” one girl calls another a bitch for being “pre-med” (question — are these ladies taking a break from college to film this reality show? I really, really hope not) and all of them have fallen into their requisite roles. There are a handful of slutty girls, a handful of party girls, some sweet girls, and probably two sassy girls. The hipster didn’t make the cut because she told not-Harry she wants to stop dancing because dancing is lame (paraphrasing, but not by that much).
Assuming We're Going Along with this Premise for One Second, How Terribly Does the Show Treat the Women?
Esther: The show operates on a couple of assumptions: all women are gullible if they think a rich man is involved, and all women want to marry a prince. But since we're dealing with British-American stereotypes here too, there is also the assumption that all American women are loud and obnoxious.
Abby: Right. The producers leave you with one of two conclusions: either all of these women are not intelligent, or this guy is really good at being a fake Prince. They take great pains to show you that he’s not really too skilled at the latter, leaving viewers with one sane avenue out. If you, like I did, refuse to accept it, you risk becoming trapped forever in the tacky mansion of fake Prince Harry. It’s exponentially worse than that plotline in Love Actually with the British guy who gets all the American ladies because his accent is cute to them.
Danielle: I was personally more offended by the scene where they are told to change into gowns than the scenes where they try to guess whether not-Harry is Harry. Like, hello ladies, please undress in front of each other and be as catty as you can about who is hot and who is not. There’s a lot of “I don’t think she’s princess material” going on here, which is a silly thing to say. Also there are a few shots of girls collapsed onto the floor saying they don’t feel pretty, which might be the realest thing about the show.
Allie: Danielle, while the dress scene was depressing, it was also one of my favorites, because one of the girls got stuck with her dress on her head. That was the show’s one laugh for me.
Danielle: Oh that’s a good point! One woman did get stuck in her dress. That was great, and less embarrassing than probably anything else she did on the show.
Should I Watch This, Even for Laughs?
Esther: Honestly, no.
Abby: Save yourself. It’s easier to make jokes about I Wanna Marry "Harry" if you haven’t actually seen any of it.
Allie: I believe in giving every reality show a chance (I’m STILL going to check in on this season of The Bachelorette), but this is one bad, long, cringe. It’s like the beginning parts of American Idol when the really bad people don’t know they’re bad. Or SUPERSTAR USA. If you like that stuff, I guess maybe you will like this show.
Danielle: I, for one, look forward to an end-of-season supercut of Kingsley trying to deal with a gaggle of shrieking women and one sad sack non-prince. But I don’t think I’ll watch it. I’d rather watch reruns of Date My Mom.
Esther: I’m really afraid Kingsley is a secret murderer.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.