Amid their quest for peace and privacy, former senior royals Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have just released the first three episodes of their highly anticipated Netflix docuseries. “Harry & Meghan” is making headlines not because of shocking revelations, but rather because it didn’t manage to reveal much at all.
The initial three episodes provide some backstory on Harry and Meghan’s relationship but besides showing off a few new photos and revealing that the pair actually met because of a social media post, there’s nothing here that fans didn’t already know.
Even the most pro-Sussex outlets aren’t thrilled with “Harry & Meghan” so far. The reviews of the first half are mostly terrible, earning a 50% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 12% audience score.
U.K. based newspapers were especially harsh with their criticism, which makes sense considering how the Duke and Duchess of Sussex blamed them for so many of their troubles. The Telegraph called “Harry & Meghan” a “very Californian exercise in grievance.” They went on, saying, “the politics of racial division should not be forced upon British society from across the pond.”
Meanwhile, The Spectator magazine called it “tedious” and worst of all, unnecessary. That reviewer also said that despite claims to the contrary, the first episodes didn’t contain anything new or interesting.
“Over a near-interminable first three hours, the viewer endures a mixture of the same biographical material that we’ve all seen a thousand times before,” the reviewer noted. “We see hagiographic treatment of the apparently saintly Harry and Meghan, angry attacks on the media coverage and racist harassment directed towards Meghan.”
“So far, this is a well-filmed, comprehensive and deeply tedious wallow in narcissism,” the review continues. “The kindest thing that you can say is that the couple seem very much in love, although the levels of artifice involved here make such a judgment tricky.”
The Times review was equally negative. While they also noted the couple’s love for each other, it was apparently second to their love for themselves. “What I mainly took away was the sense of a couple so in love with themselves that they had lost any semblance of self-awareness,” the reviewer noted.
Fans expected more of a direct assault on the royal family or members therein, sort of like what Harry and Meghan did during their now infamous interview with Oprah. Instead, the three episodes so far are critical in a more roundabout way. That’s good news for the royal family if they were bracing to defend themselves but bad news for any viewers who were expecting some entertainment.
“The viewer might have expected a lacerating, full-frontal assault on Harry and Meghan’s nemeses and detractors. Instead, we get a strange mixture of earnest history lesson, self-consciously goofy romantic comedy and a salutary reminder of how awful the British press is,” The Spectator reviewer shared.
The Guardian said it was “a one-sided PR effort with no critical or dissenting voices about the couple’s behavior or any tough questioning.”
“In the end – what are we left with? Exactly the same story we always knew, told in the way we would expect to hear it from the people who are telling it.”
The Post reviewer pointed out the strange decision of the Sussexes to quit the royal family and then release a Netflix show about their lives.
“What’s also baffling is that for all that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle bemoan how they’ve been hounded by paparazzi and the media has invaded their lives, in ‘Harry and Meghan,’ they’re also inviting the public into their private relationship, and releasing behind the scenes private photos in it,” the reviewer notes.
In the end, she dubs the series “self-indulgent and hypocritical.”
One of the more controversial moments of the new series happened when Meghan was describing curtsying for Queen Elizabeth the first time. The former “Suits” star recalls asking Harry if he was joking when he described the proper protocol. A clip of Meghan mocking the proper curtsy form while Harry makes an uncomfortable face has been making the rounds on social media.
Tory MP Mark Jenkinson shared his take of the moment, writing, “The ultimate betrayal. And he just sits and watches.” These episodes were filmed prior to the queen’s death in early September, but royal fans still felt Meghan’s overall demeanor was disrespectful. Her mockery seems even harsher after the monarch’s passing.
The New York Times review said the first episodes had “all the intimacy of Instagram,” meaning it was clear that each moment was carefully curated and staged so the couple looked their best and appeared to be revealing intimate snapshots when really they were not.
“They tell the soft-focus tale Harry and Meghan want to get out, perhaps even more than they want to get out their opinions about the role of monarchy in the modern world,” the NYT reviewer writes of the images shared on “Harry & Meghan.”
“They convey an agenda all their own,” the reviewer continues.
The audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes eviscerate the Sussexes for being self-absorbed and not even slightly self-aware.
“To watch two forty year olds bemoan the exceptionally rarified if imperfect life of being a royal – amidst war, three years of covid and millions of deaths, and economic peril for so many – from the confines of a 14 bathroom home in Montecito shows a level of self-absorption that is rare to witness, even among Hollywood,” one reviewer wrote.
“That the couple thinks their narrative in this show and their bitter words for their family is doing a better job at crafting a positive image for themselves than the royals were doing is staggering and shows how out of touch they are.”
They go on, saying Harry and Meghan have “done such a successful job at making themselves look self-absorbed, mean, manipulative and negative that the royal family really doesn’t even need to issue any rebuttals at this point.”
The second three episodes of “Harry & Meghan” will become available on Netflix starting December 15.