By Molly Freeman, Hollywood Staff
Fox's newest reality dating show, I Wanna Marry Harry, premiered last night after the first part of the American Idol season finale. The premise is fairly simple: one British prince hoping to find love and 12 American ladies hoping he's her knight in shining armor. But there's a twist (isn't there always?): he's not really a prince.
That's right. Although the title of the show is I Wanna Marry Harry - as in Harry, the Prince of Wales, younger brother to Prince William, that Harry- isn't actually Prince Harry, he's a lookalike. The bachelor on I Wanna Marry Harry is actually named Matt Hicks. He rides a bike because he can't afford a car and his job that entails cleaning up oils spills. (He is actually British, though, so he has that in common with Prince Harry, in addition to his looks.)
As far as eligible bachelors go, the ladies on this dating show could do worse. And, to be fair, no one actually tells the girls they'll be vying for the affection of Prince Harry. However, the show does go to great lengths to deceive the girls, including a Prince Harry Boot Camp in which Matt must learn everything about the Prince of Wales, royal etiquette, and how to play polo among other princely pastimes.
The girls are exactly what you'd expect from any reality dating show: they're beautiful, boisterous, and have loads of personality. Some are quirky, some are flirty, some will do anything to win, and others are honestly hoping to find true love.
I Wanna Marry Harry looks, at first glance, like a cruel joke on these nice - as far as we know - girls. And it absolutely would be, if not for the bachelor. The entire show hinges on Matt (not really Prince Harry), who seems to genuinely be in this for the right reasons. During the opening sequences, he tells of his dating history in which he's seen many girls lose interest in him when they find out he isn't the Prince of Wales.
Perhaps this backward way of allowing ladies to think what they like of him and then revealing his true identity will be the only way he'll be able to find love. Or maybe it will horribly backfire.
As someone who doesn't usually watch reality dating shows - but did enjoy ABC's amazingly campy, but fake murder-mystery show Whodunnit? - there's something especially enjoyable when (at least some of) the contestants are in on the hoax. It adds another layer of intrigue to what has become a rather tired set up for reality dating series such as this.
I'll certainly be sticking with I Wanna Marry Harry if only because I need answers to some burning questions: will Matt be able to fool the ladies all season? What lengths will the show go to in order to keep Matt's secret? Will the girls be more cutthroat if they think a prince is the prize? Will he find someone to love, who loves him for who he truly is?
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I'm pulling for Matt.