May 2018 is almost on the horizon, and with it, two of the most thrilling events known to royalty junkies: Prince Harry’s wedding to American actress Meghan Markle, and “Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance,” the Lifetime movie based on their love story.
All this ruling family revelry feels closer than ever this week, as we learned that Harry and Meghan will feast on trendy lemon elderflower cake at their reception (in violation of a longstanding fruitcake tradition), and as we finally caught a tantalizing yet repellant glimpse of “Harry & Meghan.”
And the latter is what we really must, urgently, have a national conversation about. Specifically, how rude it is ― not only to Harry and Meghan, but also to me and you and everyone who cares about the craft of film and/or the cherished privacy of the royal family. While many Americans will take a cordial, restrained interest in the prince’s wedding, “Harry & Meghan” is anything but cordial and restrained. This flick is for the real monarchy trash out there.
Here is the much-too-short and somehow also much-too-long trailer:
Wow. After watching this 20-second teaser, your whole body might feel confused. Is it crying out, “More, please, I have to know what Harry (Murray Fraser) responded with after Meghan (Parisa Fitz-Henley) implored him to ‘tell her something real’”? Is it quivering with distress that it had to watch an obviously faux Prince Harry fall to one knee while Calum Scott yodels, “You are the reasonnnnn!” in the background?
Personally, I still don’t know!
The trailer leaves us with so many more questions, and, frankly, complaints. Why is the trailer so short? Will I ever be able to look at poor Harry and Meghan again without visualizing him throwing her passionately on a hotel bed? What even gives Lifetime the right to make this? Can we just not, or if we must, can we see the whole movie right now?
Lifetime, this is all too much and not enough. “Harry & Meghan” should never have been made, and also I need to see more of it, while clamping my fingers over my eyes and humming loudly so that I’m not overcome by physical pangs of secondhand embarrassment.
So, OK, the existence of this movie feels like a honeytrap, designed to entice us to watch it and then loathe ourselves for watching it. We crave more of Harry and Meghan, but it feels intrusive and ghoulish to watch this fictionalization, not to mention vaguely uncanny. We’re so close to the real thing ― we see Harry and Meghan on TV and in tabloids all the time, talking about their love story and upcoming wedding ― that it’s impossible to ignore how fake and wooden their fictional spin-off relationship is.
The total effect is reminiscent of the Sarah Palin-inspired porno “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?” but without the graphic on-screen nailing or satirical edge.
But just like “Who’s Nailin’ Paylin?,” “Harry & Meghan” will certainly find an audience. Some people ― not saying I’m one of them, but I definitely am ― will watch any piece of garbage featuring a diffident man with an English accent, as long as the term “prince” is somehow involved.
“Harry & Meghan” was made for the small group of Americans who watched the short-lived, grotesque reality series “I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’” on Fox and thought, “Yeah, this red-headed environmental consultant really scratches my itch for Prince Harry content. After all, they both are human males who have red hair, English accents and butlers following them around.”
(Yes, I watched the whole series ― including the episodes that were released only on Hulu. I am trash.)
“Harry & Meghan” was made especially for TV viewers who loved Lifetime’s 2011 film “William & Kate: The Movie,” in which a brunette girl who in no other way resembles Kate Middleton falls in love with a blond man everyone has agreed to call William Wales. (It’s worth noting here that Lifetime’s competitor Hallmark also released a flick about the couple called “William & Catherine: A Royal Romance,” a subtitle Lifetime shamelessly lifted this year.)
While “I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’” was canceled after just four episodes thanks to its extraordinarily poor viewership, the ratings for the critically panned “William & Kate: The Movie” ― which premiered shortly before the royals’ real-life wedding, as “Harry & Meghan” is slated to do ― were excellent.
Listen, I get it. It was all too easy for Lifetime to whip up “Harry & Meghan.” Compared to the other, fictional made-for-TV romances I have watched in recent months, I would describe the “Harry & Meghan” trailer as “indistinguishable.” The network probably didn’t even bother to write a fresh script; instead, producers just mixed-and-matched lines from their pre-existing roster of royal romances, e.g., “My Christmas Prince.” The only thing separating “Harry & Meghan” from the “pretty American marries a European prince” movie they already make four to seven times a year is the built-in publicity boost from royalty-obsessed writers like, apparently, me.
Does any of this justify the film’s existence, or the infuriatingly brief schmaltzplosion of the trailer? Absolutely not. Will I watch it, hating myself fiercely the entire time? Absolutely yes. In fact, I’ll probably live-blog the whole experience.
To Harry and Meghan: On behalf of America, or at least on behalf of myself, I’m so sorry. Your wedding cake choice sounds delicious.
Editor’s note: Stay tuned for the live blog.