Netflix’s new docuseries Harry & Meghan directed by two-time Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus offers a biased view of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship with one another, their families, and the press.
Told in their own words, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex use the media to complain about the media and dis the monarchy while clinging to their regal titles for riches and relevance. Ironically, the more Harry and Meghan criticize the royal family, the further their popularity plummets in the US and UK.
Presumably armed with that knowledge, the two forged ahead with the six-part series anyway, either to help turn their public image around or to receive money. Harry and Meghan reportedly earned tens of millions for selling their story. Or some variation of it.
The “Harkles” present themselves as a modern-day Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, who was set to become the King of England in the 1930s. The big difference is Edward renounced the crown to marry his American divorcee. But, as the fifth in line to the throne, the spare heir’s post-wedding abdication is nowhere near as significant. Similarly, Harry compares his wife to his mother Princess Diana, who spent 15 years as a working royal opposed to Markle’s 72 days of service.
Appropriating the greater sacrifices made by Harry’s late relatives seems derivative at best and disingenuous at worst. It doesn’t help that the production weaves in pictures of unrelated paparazzi to imply H&M were being hounded by the press. Rather than spontaneously revealing the Duke and Duchess in a more jovial, reality TV way, Harry & Meghan focuses on controlled interviews that re-air grievances to promote an unconvincing narrative of victimhood.
Although most people support the couple’s activist causes and empathize with any unfair treatment they encountered, it’s hard to believe former actress Meghan (a self-described vegan who eats meat on weekends) is a true conservationist when she and her husband travel on private jets; Harry (who apologized for dressing in a Nazi costume in 2005) is forgiving of others’ past mistakes; or that this series just happened to launch at the same time the Prince and Princess of Wales are visiting the States via commercial air.
Whether the release date of Harry & Meghan is a matter of coincidence or calculation echoes questions about the show’s content. Ultimately, viewers can decide if the series is informational or just one long infomercial.