The obsession with all things British has infiltrated reality TV. During last night’s premiere of I Want to Marry Harry, we met Matt Hicks—a 23-year-old who has been told he looks like Prince Harry most of his life but who actually spends his days cleaning up oil spills—as well as the 12 women hoping to be courted by him. The flock of females enter an old English Manor, not knowing who they’re going to meet, and start speculating immediately. One woman draws on the context clues and exclaims, “I think he’s British!”
Before the doppelganger—who does bear a strong resemblance to Harry—can start wooing the women, he needs a crash course in being fourth in line to the British throne. A butler named Kingsley quizzes him on his birthday and ancestry between fencing and polo lessons. In the midst of all this, Harry-look-alike confesses, “The goal is for them to like me for who I am.” No word then on why he is participating in this charade.
Meanwhile, the girls sit down to afternoon tea, and the ritual escapes some of them. “I think of Long Island Iced Tea,” said Kimberly, a 24-year-old actress. While nibbling on scones, the girls find themselves flanked by menacing secret-service-type men. A helicopter lands in the distance and, “OMG! Is that who I think it is?” Some believe it is while others aren’t buying. Imitation Harry doesn’t get close enough for them to officially decide.
When they do finally get close enough to look into Price Charming’s eyes, he’s wearing a mask.
Girls meet boy for the first time at a masquerade ball, and it’s reality TV as usual. They fawn. They laugh too loudly. The counterfeit prince notices, “American girls don’t seem to have inside voices.” Maggie, a 25-year-old account executive, drinks too many martinis. They start questioning the mystery man. Harry the Imposter evades personal queries, saying, “That’s for me to know and you to find out.” The girls are intrigued nonetheless, because they still want to win. Rose, a 23-year-old special education teacher, is the first one invited to spend some time alone with the prize gent. She later declares, “I don’t care if he’s not Harry.” It’s good that the fact that he’s probably not Price Harry is on the table already—otherwise the audience would be in more disbelieve than they already are.
The pauper-playing-prince asks each of the girls to dance. Things get awkward as he dances with Leah, a 24-year-old who set herself apart by saying she didn’t like dressing up earlier in the show. Self-conscious about her lack of coordination she says, “I should give you another lady to dance with.” I knew then that she would be the first to leave.
At the stroke of midnight, the masks come off. The girls are happy with what they see. One of them proclaims, “It is him.” Butler Kingsley announces, “One of you will be elevated to the crown suite and unfortunately one of you will be leaving the estate tonight.” The crown suite, is a bedroom close to Not Harry’s room. To me, the real benefit of the suite would be sleeping alone and not in a room of clamoring women.
Leah and Rose are invited to speak with Phony Harry in private. Some tricky camera work attempts to fool the audience into not knowing exactly who he’s talking to. To further throw us off, he tells Rose that she was brazen and too loud at times. Alas, it’s Leah he sends home for her faulty dance moves. Unlike The Bachelor, the dismissal is done in private. Rose reports back to the other girls that she’ll be sleeping in the crown suite. As soon as she leaves, the claws come out. “Rose is so fake!” The show is largely predictable, but that’s why we go back to reality TV again and again. It’s comfort food. It’s also fun to make a game out of guessing who will get the axe. I’ll be playing again next week.
Samara O’Shea has been blonde, brunette, and currently enjoys life as a red head. She is the author of three nonfiction books—most recently Loves Me…Not: How to Survive (and Thrive!) in the Face of Unrequited Love. Follow @SamaraOShea. Visit www.SamaraOShea.com.