“The Royals,” the first scripted show from the E! Network, capitalizes on the American craze over British royalty and can best be described as a British version of “Keeping Up with the Kardashians.” While this premise has the makings of a great guilty pleasure, “The Royals” has struggled to find its footing and fails to live up to its campy, melodramatic potential.
The show centers around a fictionalized version of the royal family, headed by matriarch Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley), who struggles to balance her royal duties with her role as a mother. Her children, the drug-addled, tabloid favorite Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) and playboy Prince Liam (William Moseley), are consistently irresponsible.
The death of the eldest son and future king Prince Richard sends the family into a downward spiral, culminating with King Simon (Vincent Regan) proposing a vote to end the monarchy.
Far from being trashy TV gold, “The Royals” is dull and painful to watch. None of the actors seem focused or aware, and are incapable of conveying any type of emotion. Despite Prince Richard’s death, no one seems all that upset. Watching cardboard cutouts would have been more entertaining.
It’s not entirely the actors’ fault however, as they are saddled with a cringe-worthy script full of cliché dialogue. For example, in her first scene on-screen, Hurley says, “Of course I’m ready — I’m the Queen of England,” and repeats some variation of this about every five minutes.
The show tries desperately to seem witty and modern, but instead feels forced. Its biggest flaw is that it takes itself too seriously.
“The Royals” was never going to be good in the traditional sense, but it could have been a fun, guilty pleasure. Rather than accepting its own role as no more than a glorified soap opera, “The Royals” instead tries to pretend that it is a serious drama and fails miserably.
Unless the show can loosen up a little bit, it is doubtful that many people will be saying, “Long live the Queen.”
Rating: 1 star out of 5