Reality TV just got a little more evil. For years, audiences have been entertained by shows that tout ‘reality’ as the gimmick. Viewers are (or think they are) being given a glimpse into the actual happenings of real people. Beginning with MTV’s The Real World in 1992, this kind of “up close” look at supposed actual situations, featuring non-actors, has taken off in a direction that was unprecedented. In much more recent times, shows like The Bachelor, where many women vie for the “love” of one well-to-do, handsome man, have brought reality programming to new heights – or new lows – depending on the perception. Undeniably, the lives of the cast are exploited and ratings soar. Yet, in most cases the participants of the series have at least some knowledge of the plot. Now, a new reality show will lead a group of women to believe, falsely, that they are competing to win the heart of UK’s Prince Harry.
Possibly considered one of the most handsome eligible bachelors in the last few years, Prince Harry is also undoubtedly wealthy and, after all, he just happens to be royalty. These qualities make up a man that would, presumably, attract multitudes of women. It is therefore not a huge surprise that Fox and Ryan Seacrest Productions have teamed up to use Harry’s status as the hook for casting 12 single American women, who actually believe they are being given the chance to court the ginger-haired prince.
In fact, there was another ‘reality’ show, circa 2003, that had a similar plotline. Joe Millionare, that ensnared a group of eager ladies who thought they were gunning for a handsome rich guy. Unfortunately for the ‘winner’ of the series, the surprise was that he was no millionaire. That series was extremely successful, and therefore it is no surprise that the same champion of Joe Millionaire, Fox’s Mike Darnell, is also behind the upcoming Fox series I Wanna Marry “Harry”. The timing of this new reality show, which was shot last fall, couldn’t be more perfect, as the real Prince Harry is now strongly rumored to be poising for a proposal to his girlfriend.
The series, which is set to debut in May 2014, takes place at Englefield House in Berkshire, England. The location has royal connections and dates back to the 1500s. It is not known, of course, whether or not the female participants of I Wanna Marry “Harry” actually ‘fall’ for the ploy. However, there are apparently some interesting parties the ladies must attend, including a Roman orgy-themed soiree.
So, who is the Prince Harry look-a-like to be featured in this new reality show? His name is Matthew Hicks, and he is being touted as just an average red-haired British ‘bloke’, groomed to look and act like English royalty. According to the show’s advertising, he will be taking the ladies on a courtship worthy of princesses and attempting to make a “version of their fairytales come true”. The big question is: “How will this hoax play out?” For the shows producers let’s hope it lasts long enough for the ratings to spike. In any case, viewers will just have to wait until May to find out if this fake prince can pull it off.
Opinion by Josh Taub