E! recently premiered an actual scripted show - yes, they admit it's pure fiction unlike the trash they normally air. Honestly, if not for Chelsea Lately, The Soup and the now defunct Joan & Melissa, I'd never bother with the channel. But after watching the first few episodes of The Royals, I've come to appreciate the network. Not enough to waste my time with those Kardashians, but still. After all, where else can I see Queen Helena plot against... um, everybody?
This show may be about the British Monarchy but you won't find Elizabeth II anywhere. And for good reason. These royals are far more entertaining than the House of Windsor could ever be and still keep the Crown Jewels.
Still, as outrageous as Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) antics are, the series actually kicks off with a very serious moment: the death of heir to the throne. King Simon (Vincent Regan) has doubts about the future of his second son, Prince Liam (William Moseley) taking the throne, announces his intention to seek a referendum from Parliament dissolving the monarchy. Obviously, his family isn't happy, especially his brother, Scar, I mean, Prince Cyrus (Jake Maskall) and Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley). With his family's very livelihood in the balance, plots are hatched to secure the only way of life they've ever know.
Oh, the naughty, cruel, evil fun to be had.
Elizabeth Hurley is wonderfully devious as the Queen Consort as she uses only her tongue to cut down anyone foolish enough to challenge her - and her new favorite victim is America-raised Ophelia (Merritt Patterson), the commoner her son Liam is quickly infatuated with. Alexandra Park's Eleanor is troubled - and in trouble when her wild ways threaten to ruin her already tattered reputation - and easily plays the both the angry and desperate sides to the character's personality. William Moseley's (who needs a shave - as a blond, I tell you, blonds do not look good with facial hair) Liam is torn between two worlds: one day following his father as king (assuming the title is still there when King Simon passes) and following his own path - most likely to Ophelia's front door. All while avoiding the advances of the suddenly returned from nowhere ex Gemma (Sophie Colquhoun).
Of course, it's not all awesomeness and such; Cyrus, who will obviously help ensure the family remains in power (by, oh, I don't know... killing the king?) is also the only non-hetero one in the bunch (well, it seems Eleanor swings both ways when booze and drugs are involved but who isnt'?) and that really annoyed me. Did we have to go with that old trope? C'mon, E!, you can do better. If you wanted some boy-on-boy loving, why not make Liam's friend a "friend"? And Princess Penelope (Lydia Rose Bewley) and Princess Maribel (Hatty Preston)? Why? They feel so out of place, what with their remedial comic relief (which the actresses pull off wonderfully - I just think their talent is wasted on the roles).
Do better. This show deserves it, damn it!
A lot of critics have trashed the show and I think that's unfair. It has the look and feel of FX'sDirt, a show I loved and was pissed when it was cancelled far too soon, and has the potential to grow into a Dallas style success - if made with care. For the most part, I am very happy watching it as is but do wish E!try a bit harder to be edgy.
Take it for what it is - a sexed up royal soap opera - and just enjoy the wicked wide E! has decided to take us on. It may not be perfect but it is fun, and that's what matters most in television; you need to enjoy what you're watching.
So check it out and I think you'll be hooked after your first taste. And when you push back the shame of liking it, you'll jump for joy to know a second season is already in the works.
The Royals airs Sundays 10/9c on E!