updated 05/20/2014 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 05/20/2014 AT 8:00 PM ET
Whoever came up with the concept for I Wanna Marry “Harry” deserves a bonus, a garter of some order or other, a ceremonial sword and a small crown with the jewels carefully pried loose.
You can’t just be giving away jewels.
The point is that it has been a while since a reality show’s concept was so outlandishly irresistible that it created the instant rush of anticipation that "Harry" has. It premieres Tuesday (9 p.m.) on FOX.
Imagine 12 young American women with no more polish than Eliza Doolittle – for that matter, imagine 12 American Eliza Doolittles – dropped off at a Downton Abbey manor house. They are led to believe that a strapping redhead who arrives via helicopter is none other than Prince Harry, the royal ginge.
We know, of course, that he is a commoner, Matt Hicks, who happens to look like Harry if you are a young American woman cast in a FOX reality series precisely because you might buy into this illusion.
You could probably bring in a tall man in a furry costume and bowler hat and carrying an umbrella and convince them it’s the Earl of Bigfoot.
The women are quickly launched on a series of Bachelor-type encounters and dates with this fake Harry. (Even if he isn’t Harry, they speculate that he’s a powerful, rich aristocrat or noble or something.) Meanwhile, Harry/Matt has vaguely tender concerns that they will be distressed when they discover he’s no prince, but he hopes they will ultimately love him as Matt.
Having written all that, I am sorry to inform you that the show is a wasted opportunity: What should be jolly good stupidity is just stupid.
A lot of reality television requires a viewer to indulge foolish and suspect behavior – I mean on the part of the contestants, not the viewer – but after a certain point the amusement pales. You sit there like Queen Victoria getting over influenza while worrying if the sun is starting to set on any corner of the empire.
For one thing, it should be instantly apparent that this is not the original Harry – if anything, Matt looks like a possible third son of Charles (his long, slightly equine face bears a stronger resemblance to Prince William’s). For another, anyone with the most casual acquaintance with British history or royal gossip knows that the Windsors don’t extend the bloodline through reality shows.
Not yet, anyway.
There is also a valet/butler wandering in and out in a rather unpleasant supercilious fashion. He reminded me of the attendant egging Jack Nicholson on to homicide in The Shining.
Meet New PEOPLE Blogger: Zora Sabrina
Zora Andrich (now Sabrina), winner of Fox’s 2003 Joe Millionaire, is a foster mom and mother of two. Zora continues to work in television and divides her time between family, teaching yoga and animal advocacy. Find out what she thinks of the royal masquerade that is I Wanna Marry "Harry" as she watches 12 new women get duped on the Fox reality show each week.