Television

Almost Royal + Delight of the Scripted-Unscripted

Maybe it’s my WASPy background, but there’s nothing I enjoy more than running into real people who fancy themselves superior to everyone around them for absolutely no good reason. Enjoy like in a hateful way. Georgie and Poppy Carlton, British Aristocrats on BBC America’s first “comedy-reality” series Almost Royal, who are 50th and 51st in line for the throne, respectively, epitomize this attitude.

A snobby, British narrator introduces them over quick cuts of Poppy wrinkling her nose and Georgie smiling like a doofus: “This is Georgie and Poppy Carlton. It was their father’s dying wish that his children make a royal tour of America, a country he loved, in order to expand their horizons, interact with real Americans, learn about the country, and give something back to the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Sold. I love dramatic declarations. Phrases like “dying wish” and “interact with real Americans” just get me. I don’t normally like unscripted TV, but this is comedic gold! Poppy is made for reality television. Whether it’s learning to drive – “What does P stand for? What does R stand for? What does N stand for? What does D stand for?” – or pursuing a career in politics – “My position is: I don’t want to pay any taxes. We’ve had our money for centuries.” – she’s Kim Kardashian-esque in the way she seems so destined for reality stardom. Georgie not so much. All of his lines reek of a scripted-unscripted-ness that reek of reality producers’ attempts at one liners. When they visit a fraternity in DC he makes a cock and balls joke, when they visit a group called GRITS (Girls Really Into Shooting) he makes a Spice Girls joke, and he outshines his sister in ballet class. Standard fare.

We don't either, Poppy. We don't either.

We don’t either, Poppy. We don’t either.

So, I went to write this blog post and googled the show, only to find out… it’s scripted. And I had NO IDEA. I just thought it was the most excellent reality show ever, ignored the ways in which it seemed entirely written, and believed in the premise 100%. One look at the Internet tells you that I wasn’t the only one! “Contrary to popular belief,” reads the article. Wait, so was I supposed to believe these people were real? Was this all just a genius marketing scheme? And now here I am googling Ed Gamble and Amy Hoggart and feeling a bit deceived by the “comedy-reality” title because what category even is that anyway, and would I have watched this show if I had known it were scripted, or would I have just dismissed it as another network’s “first foray into comedy!” I was sort of hoping Almost Royal would hold the “Token Reality Show I Watch While I’m Cleaning” place in my heart/on my DVR… how much will I enjoy it now that I know it’s scripted? WAS THIS THE BBC’S PLAN TO ROPE ME IN? As it was with this year’s Emmy nomination, the lines have blurred. I feel a bit deceived, but I supposed I’ll stay along for the ride. And maybe just keep believing that Georgie and Poppy are real people, so it’s more satisfying when they bring their Daddy’s urn of ashes into an opera house and give it its own seat in the Royal Booth.

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