Let Harry find a girlfriend

Prince Harry Attends MapAction Briefing Ahead Of Nepal Tour

I know it’s not terribly fashionable, but I’m a huge royalist. I’ve been one for years, and that’s not because of any sort of intelligent reason – political, economic or otherwise. It’s because the Royal Family’s fun. As with an episode of Eastenders, you get involved with the characters. My favourite is Harry; he’s colourful and untamed, similar to his hair. I like to think we could hang out together and talk about Strictly Come Dancing, Birdy’s latest album, or something else that can be enjoyed by both commoner and prince.

Because I care about Harry so much, I was distressed to hear him tell a TV station yesterday how fed up he was with the “incessant” press intrusion into his personal life. It doesn’t take Sherlock to see that the poor chap is having a frightfully hard time getting a girlfriend. We all saw how tough it was when he wanted to go out with Cressida Boneface. The pair were followed everywhere. Then let’s not forget her predecessor, Chelsy Davy – whom, I confess, I preferred because we went to the same university together: Leeds. It made me think she was quite edgy, to take so well to northern life. By this time she was Prince Harry’s ex-girlfriend – but even still, the press would stalk her through corridors as she was trying to get to lectures. I watched and thought, ‘poor Chelsy’. (As well as, ‘wow, that girl can run in heels’).

Since Cress and Chess, Harry’s had a hard time finding love. And I wish people would leave him alone, because he’s not going to find a girlfriend – let alone wife – with all this probing. I’m genuinely rooting for the old bean, and desperately want him to find “the one”.

I should come clean that the reasons for this support are slightly selfish. It’s not only because I like to see a strapping young man making the most out of his looks and general joie de vivre, but because I’m eager for some entertainment. Specifically, I want a dazzling new princess. A diva, even. Mad, bad, or sad, I don’t care – just make them interesting. Make them… not Catherine Middleton.

There. I said it. But we were all thinking it. Truth be told, I’m bored rigid with the Duchess of Cambridge. I can see entirely how she lacrossed her way into William’s heart: her vanilla personality was very much the ticket. And I’m sure she delights the Queen with her niceness and ability to say all the right things. But my gosh it makes for dull viewing, and I’m not sure I can stand for another twenty years of this. We only have one chance to set it right: Let Harry find a girlfriend.

Not just any girlfriend. We must let him search high and low to find our next princess – whether he wants to go to a fashion week to scout out a more worthy Vogue cover star than the Duchess of Cambridge. Or let him tour the top universities of this world so he can find a girl who will say something profound. As for the latter statement, I should mention that I don’t mind if Harry’s next girlfriend – our future princess – isn’t a looker. I know it’s hard to find both beauty and brains. All I want is some sort of stimulation, aesthetic or intellectual, or else this show – The Royal Family proper – is going to be seriously poor viewing.

Nothing will be achieved until we leave Harry alone. Our own intrusion into his personal life is a false economy – for we are denying ourselves entertainment at a later date. With every photo or video we take of the young prince courting a lady, we prevent any sort of future romantic event. And surely the greatest tragedy of all would be for Harry never to meet someone because of our gross curiosity. To spend a life where no one will ever appreciate his charm, good humour and lovely red hair.

We’ve all got needs, prince or not; let our own desire for gossip not take precedence over one man’s quest for love.

(Oh, and Harry, if you ever fancy a brunette – I’ll be waiting).

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Young, Free & Single: not more singleton tele!

Mega Awks!
Mega Awks! The classy contestants of Channel 4’s latest romance show

Young, Free & Single – aka ‘People with Reproductive Organs Living in a House’ – is the latest show to treat singles as a tragic species

If you’re twentysomething, you may remember in the nineties a certain distinctive toy: the goo aliens. They were slimy and weird, and if you rubbed two of them ever they would magically produce a baby.

Channel 4 would like to make goo aliens out of unattached people in its latest offering: Young, Free & Single. Hosted by Steve ‘I snogged Angelina Jolie once’ Jones, the show shoves six love-hungry individuals into a ‘dating house’ in the hope that they’ll rub up and down together like, well, goo aliens.

Similar to most romance TV, its participants seem to come from a relatively small pool. In fact, I would guess that the producers of Take Me Out, Dinner Date and Love Island stole their stars from a Wetherspoons dancefloor – one night shoving them into a van and wheeling them into a studio. “Fancy copping off with some people you’ve never met before?” they asked their victims.

Luckily for the programme makers, they found participants who were not only happy to go on dates on television, but would also bump and grind their compadres at the first sip of a pina colada. The dates ranged in success: one couple had sex (or something resembling it), the other an argument and there was also some eating.

The show is live, which makes for gruelling, social-media friendly television. As each participant goes on a date, audiences can vote on Twitter – using a hashtag – whether they should ‘Ditch’ or ‘Date’ their companion. I felt a bit sorry for the datees – in particular, an angry scouser called Jazz and a guy who looked a bit like a foetus in a Lankester Merrin hat, who were both rejected for very shallow reasons indeed.

Despite its digital-savvy and interactive format, Young, Free and Single hasn’t done much to reinvigorate the desperately oversubscribed ‘romance television’ market. The problem is that only thick people want to do dating television. And maybe that’s because the more intelligent of us have worked out that shoving two people together on a reality dating show isn’t really conducive to true love, however open-minded you are.

Mostly, such a system results in excruciatingly awkward outings, that neither party has the diplomacy skills to extract themselves from. Instead they end up like animals in a zoo, gawped at – across a screen – by their more romantically-successful counterparts.

Fundamentally most of these shows reflect the trials and tribulations of modern day dating. My Granny recently told me how sorry she felt for young people that we don’t have dances in which to meet a partner, which she had in her day. And she’s right: so difficult has it become to meet people in authentic settings, that many of us are now reduced to using apps such as Tinder and Happn, and religiously following shows that promote the idea that forcing two strangers together with similar interests or looks will somehow create romance.

Unfortunately, people are not goo aliens and so this formula rarely works (see Married at First Sight, Blind Date and Take Me Out) – thus resulting in very disappointing television.

Made in Chelsea highlights our obsession with the ‘meta’

Jess contemplates whether to go out with Jamie in Made in Chelsea
Jess contemplates whether to go out with Jamie in Made in Chelsea

The other day I did something that felt really naughty. Sort of like eating a massive chocolate cake when you’re on a diet.

Only this time I was indulging in something far less nourishing. Made in Chelsea.

I’ve never really got into these British ‘reality’ television series that came to prominence after American predecessors such as The Hills and Laguna Beach. That’s mostly cause, bloody hell, we’re shitter actors (and uglier).

Made in Chelsea has all the makings of a good show: hot, young people with money. And I don’t care that it’s fake in the slightest. But I really feel like it’s being let down by scriptwriters.

Of course they probably don’t have scriptwriters, per se. There are just people giving the ‘real-life’ participants (/dodgy actors) a vague idea of what they want to say. (Which is a shame because Binkey et al can’t be trusted with such responsibility.)

The dramatic situation has ultimately resulted in this: characters basically looking like they’ve oDed on some sedative only for someone backstage to poke them with a cattle prod, forcing them to say their line.

I think the real thing that’s gone a bit Pete Tong with Made in Chelsea is this: it’s a bit too ‘meta’. By this I mean, there’s too much reflection rather than action.

Like, you know, when the characters talk about things happening to them, and then reflect on experiences as they’re happening. Most of these conversations revolve around dates: when they’re on one they start talking about the date with their date, and its relation to other dates. It all feels a bit kaleidoscopic.

I almost think that Made in Chelsea has become too philosophical; Socratic in its determination to question the human experience.

I’ve been interested in this ‘meta’ phenomenon across a series of shows recently, such as TOWIE (high brow, I know). I like TOWIE a bit better than Made in Chelsea from a dramatic perspective as I think the cockneys are better actors. They have this nitty grittiness that can’t be found in Sloane Square. But they are just as guilty of over-analysing.

“Do you fink he likes you?”

“How do you fink this date is going?”

And yada yada yah.

So many questions, so little answers.

Seeing as these shows get quite huge viewing figures, it seems to be they emphasise something salient about the human condition. Our need to cross-examine each element of our experiences.

People are literally looking to Made in Chelsea for guidance about how to view relationships and friendships. Slowly but surely we are turning the simple processes of every day life into something psychologically complicated, that must be assessed at every chance.

You can see this tendency sometimes when talking with friends. With all the cod psychology available these days, people sometimes attach pseudo reasons to why they act the way they do.

“I don’t want to go out with you” might become “I don’t think I’m ready for a relationship. I have commitment issues.”

“I want to break up” might become “I need a break. I feel so confused.”

Made in Chelsea and TOWIE are fuelling this culture of ‘why do I feel this way?’ whereby we attach narratives to our cognitions.

But is life really that complicated? I’m not sure it is. Sometimes we have to accept that we just feel one way, and there is no deep down psychological reason for it. Out with the grey, in with the black and white, I say.

Jess might talk to Jamie all day about how she feels about their relationship, but – ultimately – Jess knows if she wants Jamie or not. It’s a question that can be asked in one second, not an hour-long episode.

This is by no means a criticism of Made in Chelsea. It brings me delight each weekend as I watched the dead mannequins tell each other their ‘feelings’ and talk about weird things like tents. But I am saying – like all of us – it could do with a little less conversation, a little more action.