The reviews are in for Harry and Meghan’s hotly-anticipated, $100m Netflix tell-all – and US critics are less than impressed.
Descriptions range from ‘A Royal Pity Party’ to a ‘Dull Diary Entry’. One summary is less diplomatic: ‘A hypocritical attention grab’.
The reception is a hammer blow to the couple, who presumably imagined the world would be enchanted by the inside story of their departure from Britain’s royal family.
Viewers at home have also written off the series in no uncertain terms. Rotten Tomatoes showed a measly audience score of just 15 percent on Friday morning after nearly 1,000 reviews – most of them one star.
Descriptions from armchair critics ranged from ‘unbelievably boring’ and ‘dog toffee’ to ‘vomit inducing’ and ‘raging narcissism’.
Variety’s review expresses surprise at ‘just how narrow their vision of their fame is, how pinched and unimaginative their presence on the world stage has become’.
The New York Post pulled no punches with its description of the docuseries as a ‘hypocritical attention grab’
The Wall Street Journal called it a ‘Royal Pity Party’ and added: ‘A viewer really has to be on board the royal soap-opera bus not to be bored out of one’s mind’
Variety’s critic said the couple’s documentary was a rehash of ‘the Royal-Family Drama, One More Time’
‘Netflix Docuseries Takes a Lot of Time to Reveal Very Little’, said the Hollywood Reporter, whose reviewer said the series so far ‘offers too little that feels fresh enough to merit its luxurious six-episode sprawl for all but the most fervent royal watchers’
IndieWire’s scathing review calls the docuseries a ‘dull diary entry’ and a ‘Netflix vanity project’
Slate says the initial episodes are ‘a bit of a mess’ and, like other critical reviews, notes that many of the revelations from the docuseries are simply repeats of what’s been said previously
Under the headline ‘Harry & Meghan Rehashes the Royal-Family Drama, One More Time’, the couple are described as ‘honor-bound to keep reciting their personal story until we eventually lose interest’.
The opening three episodes are panned for rehashing the issues which Harry and Meghan have opined upon repeatedly since they departed Britain in January 2020: how they met, Meghan’s relationship with her family, and her difficulty integrating into the royal family.
There’s ‘little interest in looking forward rather than back, or at the world outside rather than the world of Haz and Meg’.
‘As part of their Netflix deal, Harry and Meghan have been seemingly forced into restaging the story of their courtship, wedding, and family feuds past the point that they, or anyone but diehard fans or haters, can still care,’ Variety’s withering review adds.
It concludes: ‘Pity them, too — even after breaking free of Buckingham Palace, they’re still someone’s subjects.
The Wall Street Journal comes under the scathing headline: ‘A Royal Pity Party on Netflix’.
The majority of reviews by arm chair reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes are one star and include descriptions like ‘dog toffee’ and ‘snooze fest’
Meghan recounts the first moment she was introduced to the Queen while husband Harry looks on as part of the couple’s new Netflix docuseries, released this week
Meghan appears to perform a deeply exaggerated curtsey recounting what it was like when she first met the Queen, while her husband Harry watches on awkwardly
It opens with a reference to one of Meghan’s intense platitudes in episode one: ‘Meghan Markle asked whether it didn’t make sense ‘to hear our story from us’ especially ‘when the stakes were this high.’ To which many Americans would likely answer ‘No’ and ‘Are they really?”
‘A viewer really has to be on board the royal soap-opera bus not to be bored out of one’s mind,’ it continues.
While Harry’s repeated comments on the death of his mother, Princess Diana, are described as a ‘legitimate device’, the review notes that ‘Ms. Markle’s victimization is harder to buy’.
Revelations in the opening episodes are ‘hardly a beheading at the Tower of Royal Branding’.
In summary, the couple ‘both say much that is slightly askew, or just doesn’t make sense at all’.
The first episode, which is 56 minutes long, shared the impact of Harry’s childhood in the public eye and their secret relationship in the early days. Its Netflix tags were ‘Riveting’, ‘Investigative’, and ‘Docuseries’
There is also a suggestion that the UK is racist and more obsessed with race than the US, with Meghan declaring that she ‘wasn’t really treated like a black woman’ until she came to Britain
The couple said this selfie was a picture of the moment they decided to give their relationship a go, on their second date, at Soho House in London
The New York Post calls it a ‘hypocritical attention grab’ and ‘a big snooze’.
‘The majority of this is nothing new to those who haven’t been living under a rock,’ it adds, another nod to the repetition of issues the couple have voiced on many occasions previously – including in their bombshell Oprah interview in March last year.
In other reviews by respected outlets, the documentary is described as ‘Takes a Lot of Time to Reveal Very Little’ (the Hollywood Reporter), and Harry is mocked for complaining ‘that his family is a ‘hierarchy,’ which suggests that the whole concept of a monarchy might have eluded him’ (The Atlantic).
A few reviews present the show in a more positive light. The Chicago Tribune‘s summary is positive about the personal lives the couple have created for themselves in Montecito: ‘Together and separately, Harry and Meghan come across as personable and friendly, straddling the line between glamorous and approachable.
‘Intimate moments at home show two people delighting in their little family. Of watching hummingbirds buzz around a feeder and dogs sacked out on the couch. You can see the care with which they’ve created this life for themselves — a cohesive and stable home that neither of them fully had as children of divorce.’
The harsh reviews of many professional critics are matched by many casual viewers who’ve shared their thoughts online.
Rotten Tomatoes, which aggregates reviews from around the world, gives it 43% on its ‘Tomatometer’ and a 15% audience score.
Pictured, the couple with their dog in an intimate image shared within the documentary
One amateur reviewer writes: ‘The fact that they keep talking about an institution that caused them so much pain over and over again just goes to show their ‘brand’ is not compassion in action. They’re ‘brand’ trashing the Royals and playing victim.’
Another adds: ‘Delusional, lying, spoilt, scheming, disloyal, uncultured hypocrites. That’s what Harry and Meghan are. Save your time, don’t watch it.’
The user scores are littered with occasional praise, including one review which says ‘love hearing directly from the horses mouth’ and another which gives five stars for offering ‘more context’ to the couple’s story.
The reception follows critical reviews across the Atlantic, where British media have also been unimpressed by the documentary.
The Guardian’s review – headlined ‘Harry & Meghan review – so sickening I almost brought up my breakfast’ – notes the regularly cringeworthy soundbites from Harry, Meghan, and their selected friends drafted in to offer commentary.
The reviewer notes how one friend says Meghan is ‘fed through service’ and adds: ‘[It] took me a moment to understand and then another moment to suppress my rising breakfast.’
It does observe that it’s ‘beyond dispute’ that the couple ‘remain deeply in love’.
While appearing sympathetic to some issues raised during the documentary, like Meghan’s claim she was subject to racism, it notes: ‘But 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.’
It concludes: ‘A period of silence should be welcomed.’
Many associated with the Royal Household were also deeply upset at the depth of the couple’s ‘shameful and cowardly’ betrayal of the late Queen. Meghan is pictured with the Queen in Chester in 2018