Television’s latest gag gift to Tuesday evenings is a docudrama about cultural collisions in contemporary society. Presented by the Fox network, I Wanna Marry Harry unloads an egg carton’s worth of clueless American women onto a field in England by a large stone home. “Downton Abbey!” they squeal and clap. The show bubbles with literary allusions, particularly influenced by Joe Millionaire if it were set in a palatial Europe. In this castle there are crown moldings, crown moldings, Royal messes, hot messes, cricket, crickets, crown jewels (costume variety), crown jewels (euphemistic), and royal flushes.
As in all classic tales of love and status, a troop of females are led to believe that a strawberry-blond gentleman with a British accent and a perma-blush is Prince Harry. An infographic informs us this man’s visage has a “99% MATCH” for the face of Prince Harry. In actuality, this dude is named Matt Hicks. He’s a professional cleaner of oil spills, sometimes wearer of bike helmets. He learned the intricacies of royalty by wearing white fencing getup, missing a saddle stirrup, and holding a book called A–Z of Manners in front of his face.
By the end of this multipart series, Civilian Matt will select one of the women from this American egg carton to be his princess (metaphorically, as in the way embroidered pillows use this word). And his choices from this all-female revival cast of Cheaper by the Dozen? Oh they’re just an absolute gaggle of well-rounded, worldly, beautiful women, who don’t have you tell you those qualities twice.
The crest of the premiere episode is a fancy masquerade ball. It’s Eyes Wide Shut if truly nothing but a gaseous chasm of imploding narcissism lay beneath. Because the ball is masked, the American women must get by on their wits, rather than their looks. Sentences are strung together every which way, but especially, loosely. Spoken words: “I’m here to get me my Prince Charming and my happy ending.” “Very loud, aren’t they, Americans?” “GOAWHHAAAHH.” “Loud, in your face, brash, they’re really forward.” “American girls don’t seem to have inside voices, at all.” “I’m ready to meet a Prince Charming for me.”
As a welcome reminder that truth is a fuzzy, un-graspable, asymptotic thing, I Wanna Marry Harry immerses the viewer in falsehoods. One woman refers to a human performer holding a torch as a fire-breathing dragon. But there are glimpses of veracity and humanity. After the masquerade ball where everyone took off their masks, some women had suction lines on their faces, which was fun. And you will meet your new favorite character in all of culture in 2014: the castle. It’s decorated like a dusty B&B, filled with fabrics that make you wonder: Oh, is that what a sham is? We’re voting for this big block of stones, that had no choice in the matter to be in the television show, to win the whole thing.