The new Netflix docuseries Harry & Meghan features Meghan Markle and Prince Harry, Duke and Duchess of Sussex. They try to tell their “modern love story,” but mostly just discuss how the British media exploited their lives for clicks and the royal family left them unprotected.
Each episode is compelling and emotional, but overall, the docuseries is merely a pity party. While I empathized with their struggles with privacy, I find it difficult to pity privileged royalty who criticize the media and then actively profit off it. Not only is it hypocritical, but it’s also frustrating watching the ultra-rich complain about their “difficult” livelihood.
Here’s why you shouldn’t bother sitting through this six-hour series.
A major portion of the show discusses the media and public’s portrayal of Markle after she and Prince Harry went public. When the news came out, Meghan was stripped of the sanctity of her previous life. The publication of her private life was plagued by sexism, false media claims, negative headlines, and rampant racism.
The only point at which I thought “this is important for people to hear” was when Markle discusses growing up watching her mother face violent racism. She says that before she dated Prince Harry, she didn’t face the same oppression because she’s mixed race with fair colouring. However, once she was on the pedestal next to the royal family, the public made her race an issue.
As Markle takes us through these events, what could have been a powerful story about the struggles she faced as the first person of colour in our century to enter the royal family becomes a forgettable sob story. They’re covered quickly in a couple episodes and glossed over.
Instead, the show’s centre focus becomes running away from their royal titles and the challenge of diving into a “normal life.” Mainly, this centres on the aggressive and interfering role of the paparazzi. Markle and Prince Harry paint the media as this big, bad force that’s out to get them as they voluntarily sit in front of the cameras, continuing to capitalize off their fame.
Of course, no one should have to deal with the intense scrutiny and villainization the pair faced from the media and paparazzi. Markle describes instances of paparazzi surrounding her Toronto home and harassing her family, and receiving death threats after the two’s relationship went public.
They recount fearing for the safety of their child after they left Britain and the royal family revoked their security, press helicopters swarming overhead. The rawness of this moment activated the empath in me. It’s scary to think about this couple, with so much money and power, being helpless to the media.
Regardless, they complain about being such a strong focal point in the media while making money off a TV show exposing the “truth” about their life together. I found it difficult to pity them given the hypocrisy.
Overall, I found the series cheesy and unnecessary. I would be happy for them to live a life as close to normal as they can, if that was what they were trying to do. But they took this opportunity to jump back in front of the camera with the claim “no one knows the full truth.”
Honestly, we likely still don’t—the only difference is, here, Markle, Prince Harry, and Netflix are controlling the narrative, rather than the British tabloids.
Harry & Meghan left me in a position to think critically before I pick up a copy of People Magazine or The Daily Mail at a grocery store checkout. Tabloid coverage is altered, and often fabricated, to get clicks at the expense of the subject. But so is this Netflix series. The ex-royals are only sharing the side of the truth they want us to see, for the purpose of fame and money.
As well, while their security and connection to the royal family is no longer consistent—which is upsetting to think about—they’re still reaping the financial benefits of their previous standing due to Prince Harry’s half-in, half-out relationship with them. Like they do with the media, they disparage the royal family while taking their pay checks.
The show aims to highlight the value in educating ourselves on racial issues, discussing the issues celebrities face around privacy, and keeping an open mind and heart—it had potential.
Unfortunately, though, the execution merely gives us insight into the “struggles” faced while living behind the walls of Buckingham Palace across six hypocritical hours.
documentary, Docuseries, hypocrisy, Media, meghan markle, prince harry, royal family
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