With apologies to those of you who actually mind that this has taken me so long: Our patience is rewarded by truly awful production decisions, Kelley being nuts, and Kingsley being stuck holding the douche bag.
A note: I know this is super lame, because “I” “Wanna” “Marry” “Harry” is not Downton Abbey, please don’t post details about coming episodes, or who wins, in the comments. I am assuming 95 percent of us did NOT bother looking up spoilers, including me, and so we might as well try and keep this sacred experience as pure as possible (I am recapping them one by one so I’m not tainted by foreknowledge). I KNOW. IT’S LAME OF ME to take this that seriously. But I can’t help it. I’m invested now.
And finally: I really am sorry this is so late; I had some other matters to attend to first, like sending a flock of evil birds after The Scourge of Our Time:
As Jess pointed out, all of these ladies should have Googled the names of all the EPs, because they could have divined that the man behind Man Hunters: Our Turkish Toyboys (“a look at single British women who travel to Turkey with the purpose of having sexual relationships with local Turkish men”) and Virgin School (“a shy 26-year-old man visits a school run for virgins to educate them in sexuality and all aspects of dating; will the training he receives allow him to ‘lose it’?”) MIGHT not actually have ANY SWAY AT ALL when it comes to the progeny of Her Maj. Also, it’s entirely possible he is British, because almost all the shows he’s worked on are UK productions — a factoid which, if true, I think near-totally absolves the U.S. of this monstrosity. We are rubber and the U.K. is glue, and yada yada yada maybe this will stick to them and not us. Not that I wish this plague upon the Mother Country either, but I will push the blame anywhere I can slide it, because I am so embarrassed by association.
This episode featured the worst creative I have ever seen, to the point where I’m wondering if something fell through and they had to patch it together in four hours. Even the girls can barely hide their disgust:
This face says, “I bled like two weeks of my youth into this show and I want that time back.”
And this face says, “This is what it sounds like when the doves cry.” Further, it is the exact face I made when I realized what this episode was going to be — which is important to note because I actually watched this at the gym while sitting on a bike, so if anyone around me was paying attention, they got a serious eyeful of the autumn of my disbelief.
Here is the theme:
Yes, that’s right, Kingsley Shackledolt gets out there and tells them all that he understands they’ve been away from home a long time, and might really miss people from the States… and right when the girls get all excited and assume they’ve reached the obligatory Phone Home portion of every reality show, Kingsley reveals that it just means Sir has fake-arranged for them to run up the Stars and Stripes for a couple days.
AND THEN: They have to do a beauty pageant for Sir.
“Did he say BEERTY PAGEANT? PLEASE CAN HE HAVE SAID BEERTY.”
So not only do they NOT get to call a loved one and tell them about the unspeakable horrors of Sir – The Unspeakable Horrors of Sir being, also, a lost Oscar Wilde opus — but now they have to parade in front of him for the honor of being named Miss Deerfield. Which is a fake title about a fake location. Even the HOUSE doesn’t want its real name dragged into the morass. Karina pretends to be enthused about it in an interview, in which she refers to Harry as “the Prince of England,” which HAS to be filed under “Drink At Least Three Times” in Harry’s personal drinking game for this show.
We also need to discuss what Jacqueline is wearing.
It’s an asymmetrical ’80s video vixen fever dream. (Helen Slater’s character in Ruthless People would have loved that, and yes, I’m old, and yes, you totally should locate and watch that movie — in part because Bill Pullman wears the most heroically vile dye job on it, and also, Judge Reinhold and Bette Midler and Danny DeVito and a bunch of other dudes who were in other stuff that you saw.) I don’t know why she thinks “Prince Harry” would want to hook up with a girl who wears an unfinished diner floor, although a) that ends up being really thematic to this episode, and b) Cressida might have that in her closet for when she and Harry used to play “Pop Goes My Heart.” Which I really believe he likes to do, sometimes WITH an actual Hugh Grant cameo.
Hey, let’s check in on the Cornflake:
I don’t know if Kelley brought that herself, or they stuck Lonely Planet’s guide to England in the Crown Suite for her (it’s uncomfortable, in a way, because she IS sort of a Lonely Planet, no?), but there is something hilarious to me about her curled up in bed FULLY DRESSED while opening a guidebook she will never use and reading the introduction like The Bible. As if Sir will take her face in his hands and coo, “I have never fully understood my own erotic potential until you told me what Britain’s GDP is.”
However, Sir does eventually invite her into his chambers, where he delicately tells her that it’s his belief that she has correctly guessed his identity. Kelley nods and listens with a gleam in her eye that suggests she wants to hypnotize him so that whenever she says the word “and” he will throw himself at her and impregnate her with his royal seed.
With her allegiance and continued crazification assured, Sir escorts Kelley outside for their date. And I don’t know, again, whether this was pre-planned, or thrown together because something fell through, or if Fauxry asked them to hold off on an actual good date for when he’s got a girl he actually wants to have sex with, but the big surprise is: IT IS THE WORST.
Essentially, when they go outside, there sits a classic red convertible. And the show stuffs them in the backseat and shoves the cameraperson in the front, for shots of him trying desperately not to engage Kelley sexually while they drive to…
… Jacqueline’s pants.
I am speechless. Now, it’s possible that Jacqueline’s Pants Diner existed in some remote shrubbery off an English dirt road, but it looks like production erected it rather hastily just so they could have a thematic date. And Kelley COMPLETELY got hosed here. The poor girl is the only one, at least at the moment, who bought into this ruse, and he clearly is not interested in her, and I FIRMLY believe production asked him to put her in the Crown Suite because he can’t keep asking the same girls over and over and they didn’t want him asking Meghan yet. Knowing this, and knowing the depth of her fanatic ardor, the LEAST anyone could do was give her a date she couldn’t get a hundred times over in the United States. Burn this one on Kimberly, who would totally be (endearingly) squealing, “I’ve never dated a guy who brought me to a place with chairs!”
Anyway, the two of them laugh about eating messy burgers — which, believe it or not, ends up being relevant — and then she tells him that she had leukemia when she was nine, and that being a 16-year cancer survivor is the reason why she is the way she is. I believe she means “relentlessly upbeat and positive,” and not, “wackadoo.” But I mean, props to her for a sunny outlook, because her treatment must have made for some shitty days in her youth. I don’t dislike Kelley; I just think this experience has not been advantageous to her particular triggers, and that she needs to go back to her home state and meet a society boy who’s going to run for office (although frankly the existence of this show might not be super helpful to that campaign; let’s not focus on that harsh truth right now).
Also: I am not saying she doesn’t have a right to talk up her survivordom and be proud, but she delivers this news with the hopeful rabbit-face of a girl who MIGHT be wanting her courage in the face of tragedy to convince a boy that he should Notebook her silly.
For his part, you can hear the record scratch in his head, as he tries to calculate what Jacking With Perky Cancer Survivor will do to his karmic tab. I am pretty sure this is the episode where Fauxry realized that he’s involved in something that he can’t justify to anyone. Including the Man in the Mirror. Better look at yourself and make that change, Sir.
Maggie, meanwhile, is getting help from Meghan writing a cheer for the talent competition. I am only showing you this because she appears to be sitting on a giant felt rectangle. What is this cheap-ass surface in that lovely old house? Englefield “Deerfield” Park, I grieve for you. Maybe they had to protect some of the floors against foot traffic and scrapes from heavy equipment, or whatever, but then why are THEY sitting on it? Get off the felt. This is not Human Billiards in a large Barbie house.
Jacqueline’s talent, by the way, is basically rhythmic gymnastics. And as bizarre as it is to watch her practicing with a hula hoop in this house, on this paean to dipshittery, I have to give her this: She is demonstrably the only one with any actual skill at anything.
Kelley comes back from her dream date, and reveals to us the extent of the see-through back of her shirt. Times are just desperate enough for her that she might’ve wanted to consider wearing it the other way around, but I guess that classic convertible has peeled away. When Kelley tells the girls that her date involved a roadside diner and a car, the prevailing sentiment was this:
Kelley insists to all of them that it was EXACTLY what she wanted to do, like, EXACTLY, because what girl doesn’t watch all her competitors fly off in helicopters with the object of her lust, while herself fantasizing about getting to shovel meat in her mouth while gazing at him across gleaming Formica?
And then the show ups the stakes, and goes from being a social experiment to a full-on three-ring douchestravaganza:
Kingsley Shackledolt tells the girls, “Sir is indeed Prince Harry of Wales.” This is a stroke of evil genius, because if you’re keeping score, it means Fauxry has only DIRECTLY lied to Kelley (and without mentioning Harry’s name), a girl he has no interest in romantically and therefore there are no emotional stakes there for him; beyond that, it was KINGSLEY who told the fib, and therefore Sir himself is not explicitly claiming to be anyone in particular, and he can claim he very very technically didn’t lie about being Harry to anyone he actually wants to see naked later. Oh, Sir.
It’s at this point that my husband turned to me and said, “I hope the twist at the end is that they are all fake reality show contestants.” Which would be magnificent. I already feel like Meghan was pressed at a Bachelor factory. But the show does get good face from some of its ladies:
Karina, who seemed totally unconvinced by the stupid Harry and William photo when it was placed directly in front of her, now appears to be wrestling with her eyes versus her ears here. Hint: Trust your eyes, because NO, YOU GUYS.
Kelley gives a bunch of knowing nods and smiles when they all discuss this later, to the point where everyone calls her out on it and she will only tell them that yes, he told her personally, and she refuses to share any other details of this deeply personal confession (which was delivered with all the affection and intimacy of someone confiding that he has, in his life, eaten pasta). She is COMPLETELY acting like it was a more intense experience than it was, which would be amusing if it were straight gamesmanship — PLEASE can SHE turn out to be a fake reality show contestant — but unfortunately I think she’s recasting all these moments in her mind as being sprinkled with special snowflake dust. And THEN Maggie calls Kelley, in an interview, a psychotic stage-five clinger. Which might be true, but it’s also a case of the pot calling the kettle a heat-seeking kitchen appliance. Because Maggie is HERSELF convinced she’s in love with Fauxry after about three conversations. Oh, Maggie, you beery “twenty-four”-year old deludinoid. I just want better for you.
Fauxry takes some Pensive Bench Time, the better to show off his free sweater and regurgitate sensitive musings about deception, most of which seem to be thinly laid over a small concern that if he doesn’t get laid on this show soon, the clock is ticking on it happening EVER AGAIN.
And then another chunk of Kingsley Shackledolt’s soul drops dead:
In addition to being the one perpetrating the lie about the fourth in line to the throne of his natal nation, Kingsley now has to emcee the Miss Deerfield Pageant, which he does with the gusto of a man who, every night and morning, stands at his bathroom sink and repeats to himself over and over, “I have a mortgage. I have a mortgage. I HAVE A MORTGAGE.”
Fauxry interviews that he’s is not entirely sure Harry sits around watching impromptu beauty pageants among his suitors.
And sadly for Fauxry — or in fact, to his credit – he can barely commit to this.
His face says, “Trust me, this hurts me more than it hurts you.” It also says, “I can’t wait for us all to get drunk together after this wraps, because once you stop punching me, we have a lot of WTFs to exchange.”
Is it as bad as you’re expecting? YES:
Maggie gets up there and delivers an anemic cheer to the cadence of the Bring It On opening that ends with her calling herself Miss Maggie Funtime, or some such, which sounds like the name of a really cheap blowup sex doll. Kimberly plays a FOOT PIANO like in Big. I desperately want to know if they had that lying around, or Kimberly said to the producers, “Listen, I’m going to need your best floor piano, STAT.” I’m guessing they threw a couple props at the girls and were like, “Work it out, because we can’t pay to clear anything ACTUALLY musical.”
Meghan tells a knock-kn0ck joke that goes thusly: “Knock knock.” “Who’s there?” “Not me in the Crown Suite.” It’s an embarrassment.
Rose turns a CPR lesson into a presentation on how to steal a prince’s heart, which is basically her excuse to remind Sir that she is a sexy schoolteacher in real life. I hope for her sake that NONE of the parents of any of her kids are watching this.
This is Kingsley’s reaction to Jacqueline’s hula-hoop routine. I am not fluent in Kingsley yet so I don’t know if this means, “OMG CAN WE TALK LATER ABOUT HOW MUCH THIS SEGMENT MAKES US WANT TO MURDER,” or, “FLEXIBILITY IS SO IMPORTANT FOR OUR JOINTS,” or, “MADAM RUBBERLIMBS MIGHT BE GOOD FUN EH?”
Karina does a little salsa lap dance, and Fauxry looks like he wants to eat her alive. For real. He’s totally, totally hot for her, and doing a poorer job hiding it than her hair is doing hiding her face.
And Kelley does… square-dancing. By herself. It’s awful. It’s not erotic in the least. She looks like she’s trying to start a hoe-down at Coachella.
Fauxry and his head, which is an entirely different SHAPE, even, in every single interview, take this time to say more generic nice things about Kelley to cover that she has no chance in this house and that dating her would be like making out with a copy of Teen Beat. He can barely cover how stupid and agonizing this was. That is not the face of a guy who enjoyed himself that afternoon.
And now, the swimsuit portion. These sashes look like they were made of pillowcases and printed up in Venice font, which is one of those ones that nobody uses anymore and was one of the first six things installed on the original Mac computers. It is to fancyness what Comic Sans is to genuine whimsy. Anyway: The women have to say why they think they should win. Karina is Miss Glamorous, and says she is very loyal. So I guess she thinks Miss Deerfield will be called upon to defend the hearth. Miss Personality, Kimberly, says she should win because she’d implement daily bacon cheeseburgers and hot tub time for everyone, and frankly, that is an excellent campaign platform. I might love her.
Jacqueline, whose name tag I can’t read right now, PUT ON UGGS or something with her suit, which is hilarious. This girl does NOT give a shit. Her argument for herself is a very glibly delivered, “I’m having fun getting to know you,” or somesuch, which to me says that she has a crush on someone in the crew and is just kinda riding this out as long as possible. Meghan — Miss Bombshell — says she’s hot, classy, and smart, and Rose, who is Miss I Can’t Remember Anymore, says she’s sassy and foxy. I think they all helped each other write these. And God love her, my dear Maggie gets up there and tells him that she has developed real feelings for him, and that every minute they spend together has made her want more, and all their one-on-one time has been a pleasure. Here is my question: What one-on-one time? We haven’t even seen her sustain a conversation with him on a group date. So either there is a TON of footage that’s on the cutting-room floor, and they just decided not to do any work building toward Maggie’s declaration of love, or Maggie is more insane than we thought and/or she has the Beer Hallucinations. Which are kind of like the Meat Sweats, except with more fantasy sex, and less protein.
This is unfortunate for Maggie because Sir does not share HER feelings EITHER.
“CURSE MY INTENSE PERSONAL MAGNETISM.”
And of course, Kelley gets up there and treats it like this is the house they’re going to be handed by the Queen upon their blissful legal union, and says, “I believe Miss Deerfield is a lady who can run this estate with passion and dignity, and love this man and the people of this land.” No, Kelley. Miss Deerfield is a fictional person who has to parade around in a bikini in front of a ginger impostor and convince him to put his tongue in her mouth. Dignity is not going to be part of that equation, despite anyone’s best intentions.
Rose can’t even contain her scorn. Her Miss Deerfield throws shade on the peasants and probably makes the servants pick poppy seeds out of her muffins (which they later crush and smoke while saying rude things about Miss Deerfield’s table manners).
The winner is Jacqueline, which I think is the show’s way of rewarding her for being the only actually skilled person, and also this might absolve Fauxry from ever having to spend solo time with her before cutting her out of the house. They have all the interpersonal chemistry of a machete and a hairbrush.
Meghan can barely conceal her horror, and doesn’t think Jacqueline is classy, which is… an interesting observation from someone who talked about the communicative properties of alphabet soup-as-fecal waste.
Next, it turns into a slumber party, as Sir graces their bedchambers with his non-royal ass and it turns into a massive game of hide-and-seek. Kelley is running around desperate to find him, even pounding on the beds to try and find his “body lump,” which prompts Meghan to open up her copy of Things I Think The Internet Will Like and interview, “Get out of his ass. You are so far up it, we’ve lost you.”
She also has a vested interest in his ass, apparently, because on his way out, she smacks it, and claims that while they were all sitting around the two of them were holding hands under their legs, and then reiterates that Babe — as she calls him, which is the STUPIDEST, and also, totally her way of not using the word “Harry” if at all possible — is not interested in Kelley: “There’s a difference between looking, and eye sex. He has eye sex with me. He LOOKS at you.”
I will say this: Meghan, for as much as she has seen through this and totally doesn’t care about finding any kind of relationship with this yokel, was well placed on this show for her facial expressions. And they will keep her as long as possible. They will cling to her like the grim death Kelley is wishing upon her right now.
Kelley shoots Meghan a VERY dirty look when Meghan jokes that she copped a feel and that Sir’s stately weaponry is massive. (Kelley is right to roll her eyes, at least, because Meghan is OBSESSED with his penis size and this is not the first time she’s talked about it. Production should just hand everyone a detailed, to-scale diagram, so that they’ll all talk about something else for a change.) Meghan promptly calls out Kelley on this and Kelley gives us a bite about how Meghan is an evil tramp. But said positively, because she’s a cancer survivor who loves life.
And then, yet another piece of Kingsley’s soul quits on him.
I hope he sent a nice thank-you note to the class of pre-schoolers that decorated his coat.
Jackie is back in her Floor Skirt, which I’m sure is an immense relief to everyone involved. And then Drool & The Gang hit up a fake State Fair that’s been set up in the backyard which again, they all seem shocked as hell to see even though presumably it took hours to get it all in place. Do they just drop a tarp over the house for four-hour stretches?
Kelley semi-drunkenly — or maybe all-drunkenly; it’s definitely slurry-sounding — tries to lean against something and invite Sir to take a ride with her, and Sir lets Maggie scurry into the Ferris Wheel instead because he is no longer allowed to be alone with Kelley in a confined space. He says something bland to us about how Maggie is really nice but he’s not sure if he has feelings for her, and frankly, I have no idea why SHE has feelings for HIM given that if ANY scintillating conversation has happened at all, it has been left on the cutting-room floor.
Next up, they all go inside for MORE burgers, and — y’all this was priceless — Kelley sits there and SHOVELS that thing into her mouth while giving Sir the most suggestive eyes, and purring things like, “Are you going for the full bite,” as if these callbacks to their Precious Date of Truest And Deepest Non-Feeling will stir his loins at last. And it does not. His loins are completely placid. He wants NO biting AT ALL.
Meghan, in fact, tells us — and re-enacts for us — that Kelley needs to stop eating like a wildebeest, which I have to admit is some nice word science. “Wildebeest” is a marvelous word, and thank you, Meghan, because I’m going to bring that back with wildebeestial vengeance.
HOWEVER: Megan takes this a step further and snarks IN the dining room about whether Kelley grew up in a barn. And to his eternal credit, Fauxry, who is totally not going to exchange ANY kind of bodily fluids with Kelley unless pressed, sticks up for her by immediately saying, “This is informal. Eat however you wish.”
Yeah. Bad move, kid.
Maggie then does that thing that makes everyone in foreign countries insane, which is: loudly tries to mimic the accent and then asks for tips on saying British things, as if it’s a totally arcane language that’s inscrutable to outsiders. She ends up sounding exactly the same, unable to master the cadence even for simple greetings, which… sigh. You are so precious to me, Fun Maggie, but this is not the place for you and THAT’S TOTALLY FINE. And then either Maggie or Kelley — I’m so sorry, but I forgot to write down which one — says, “I don’t wanna go home // I wanna move to England tomorrow // to be // with // Prince Harry,” which is so sniiiip’d that it’s practically the title of a Bravo show about vasectomy doctors.
And now it’s time for Breaking It Down With Kingsley Shackledolt.
Kingsley Shackledolt then arrives to deliver the news that Meghan and Maggie are the two girls who’ve been summoned by Sir, and once they’re gone, the entire dining room basically acknowledges that Shit Just Got Real because there is no way he’s keeping Maggie over Meghan, and they all CLEARLY and VISIBLY assume Meghan will offer Harry as much of the cheese and fruit course as he’d like. Karina seems mildly concerned, because she’s the front-runner and she knows it, and Kelley full-on complains that Sir doesn’t know what a hosebeast Sir has rewarded with his loyalty.
Maggie actually breaks my heart, because she has never looked nor sounded more authentically twenty-four. She started weeping off her face before Fauxry even showed up, and when he lets her down gently, she cries, “I just want to talk to my Mom!” Honey, your Mom ALSO probably wants to talk to YOU. And if not, I will. WE CAN GET PAST THIS, KID.
And I can’t tell if he’s legitimately sad that he isn’t into her, or if he’s just grappling with the first real show of heartbreak, because he hugs her and is very sweet with her and accepts her classy well-wishes…
… and then sits alone for some Shame Marinating when she leaves, which is the shot they use in the main titles. The thing is, I don’t think his LIE broke her heart; she’s just sad that she has feelings he doesn’t return, and although maybe some of that is rooted in the royal fantasy, in the end she might’ve reacted just the same if this was The Bachelor and the only thing he was lying about was his interest in getting married.
Sir tells Meghan that there’s a fine line between confidence and arrogance… but of course, he’s picking her anyway, and as he apologizes for “putting you through that” — the fakey rigamarole, I guess — Meghan internalizes his criticism and changes course by adopting a MASSIVELY IRRITATING baby voice and going so far as to climb into his lap, all, “LIL’ OLD MEEEEE?” It’s super disingenuous. I wish she’d said, “Well, I AM confident, and possibly also arrogant, because I’m VERY good casting for this show and you would be LUCKY to nail me.” Instead, she tries to get all tiny and precious in the hopes that he’ll plant one on her.
Sir summons all his innate suavitude and looks completely terrified, which means the next episode ought to be FULL of off-camera sexual malfunctions.
And RAGE. SO MUCH RAGE.