“I don’t really go for a ginger dandy. He’s not my type.”
— Evictee in I Wanna Marry ‘Harry,’ May 27 episode
I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ is a hoot, but you probably guessed that already from the title. Think of it as The Bachelor meets Masterpiece Theatre, with the likelihood of hurt feelings and the possibility of the mother of all lawsuits hanging in the balance.
Billed as a “royally wicked dating experiment” — from the producers who brought you Joe Millionaire! — 12 lovely lasses from the colonies vie for the hand of “Harry,” actually an average English bloke named Matthew Hicks who looks uncannily like His Royal Highness Prince Henry of Wales.
You know the real Henry, to the extent you know him at all, as Prince Harry.
Hicks has been given an upper-crust makeover — the real royals are probably not into binge drinking and raising hell at Stamford Bridge, after all — so the ladies might actually believe their “Harry” is England’s most eligible bachelor.
In the opener, “Harry,” or “Sir,” as the ladies have been told to address him, threw a lavish masquerade ball at an enchanting country estate — actually Englefield House, an Elizabethan country home in Berkshire and the site of X-Men: First Class, Great Expectations, Poirot: Taken at the Flood and Agatha Christie’s Marple, among other fictional confections.
The ladies aren’t really lost in a masquerade, to paraphrase a lyric from the George Benson R & B classic (“Are we really happy here/With this lonely game we play”). The ball was merely a pretext for the weekly episodes, in which Hicks will hand-pick one lucky maiden to accompany him on an “extravagant adventure,” while telling another that, sorry, lassie, but you’ll just have to go back and live with the commoners from here on. In a flourish that could be dreamed up for a reality-TV show — or a children’s fairy tale — the unlucky lady is told her fate before the clock strikes midnight.
I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ claims to be a social experiment of sorts. The idea is to find out who among the eligible damsels is in it for love, and who is in it for the riches. The real reason to watch, though — and the reason some people will — is to find out what happens when the ladies learn the pretend prince is just that, a pretend prince in a low-end reality-TV show.
When the story picks up Tuesday with an outing called Competing for the Crown, 11 damsels remain. “Harry” flies one lucky lass to a secluded beach in his private helicopter, and later engages the group in a game of cricket — which is like baseball, only more dangerous.
“It’s not fair!” one of women shrieks, after “Harry” makes his pick for the helicopter ride.
“So, you do this a lot?” his chosen one tells him, as the helicopter takes off into a wide, blue sky. “You must be pretty important.”
“You might say that,” he replies, with the feigned droll wit of the upper classes.
I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ is a horror show, but it’s hilarious. There’s one moment in Tuesday’s hour that’s hard to tell what’s funnier: “Harry’s” sudden realization that his chosen one hasn’t a clue who he is, or his date wondering aloud, in her vacuous Southern California “Valley Girl” accent, “I don’t think I’ve ever been on a date where security is constantly following us.”
It’s like inspired.
“I can’t believe I’m like living in this fairy tale,” she says later.
I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’ is good TV for a bad heir day.
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