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HomeNewsMeghan and Harry SNL discussions and rom-com highlights Netflix U-turn

Meghan and Harry SNL discussions and rom-com highlights Netflix U-turn

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Thank god, praise whatever deity you are into, clutch whichever icon/crystal/talismanic rock you keep close and say a silent prayer of gratitude because it turns out that the world has been spared Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex hosting Saturday Night Live.

Page Six has now reported that the semi-professional malcontent nearly took over presenting duties on the iconic show recently as part of his media blitz last month to promote his memoir Spare.

While it sounds like it was a narrow escape for us, the TV-watching masses, from having to find out if the 38-year-old has all the comedic timing of Princess Anne after her third snakebite and black, it’s too soon to breathe a sigh of relief.

Harry and his wife Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, the only member of the King’s family to have a stint on a cable dramedy on her CV (or actually I suppose, have a CV at all) are in the midst of a professional U-turn and are about to embark on turning out rom-coms and “feel good” tele.

That is, at least, according to a recent report in the Telegraph that says that after Netflix subscribers’ eyeballs were subjected in December to nearly six hours of the Sussexes’ iPhone snaps and teary confessions, all with the pathos dialled up to 11, the couple is planning on a surprising gear shift as they try to make their mark in the US.

In good news for King Charles and royal writers, the duo are planning on “moving away from content about themselves and have several ‘fun’ television series in the pipeline”.

A source told the Telegraph: “There will be more of a heavy focus on fictional, scripted content.

“It will be rom-coms, feel-good and light-hearted programs.”

(Quick, someone dust off a ’90s laugh track!)

Now before anyone starts fretting that all that Californian air and their worrying proximity to Hollywood has gone to Harry’s head, the former army captain will not be appearing on screen, nor his former actress wife who didn’t quite light the acting world on fire.

This rom-com news comes after it was revealed late last month that the Duke and Duchess’ Archewell organisation is facing a fresh round of high-profile staff changes. Leaving is Oscar-nominated producer Ben Browning, who oversaw their eponymous Netflix doco along with marketing head Fara Taylor.

In a statement, Archewell’s press secretary said that Browning and Taylor were part of “vital ‘look back’ projects” and that the couple would “now look forward” and per a report in Variety, Archewell “will put its focus on scripted content”.

(Side note: Harry and Meghan’s agonisingly self-indulgent TV series was about as “vital” as a new season of Love Island or the world finally hearing Zayn from One Direction’s thoughts on the European Central Bank’s debt policy.)

But before we start imagining just what sort of formulaic rom-com fare the Sussexes might be cooking up in Montecito (‘It’s that classic tale of girl-meets-disgruntled-duke and introduces him to her manager’) don’t lose sight of the fact that this all sounds like something of a departure from their original plans.

Back in September 2020, when the world was blessedly ignorant about icy princely peckers, duchess lipgloss contretemps and the trials and tribulations of royal dog bowls, The New York Times broke the news that the California transplants had signed a “megawatt” deal with Netflix.

In return for enough money to make Croesus jealous, the palace’s personae non grata would make “documentaries, docuseries, feature films, scripted shows and children’s programming” for the billion-dollar company, which the Duke and Duchess said would focus “on creating content that informs but also gives hope”.

“As new parents, making inspirational family programming is also important to us,” they said.

Meanwhile, the streamer’s co-CEO Ted Sarandos waxed lyrical about just how dandy it was going to be to have the couple “telling stories… that can help build resilience and increase understanding for audiences everywhere”.

At the time, that sounded just about right: No underprivileged community, overlooked demographic or endangered animal would be safe from the tender embrace of the Sussexes’ Netflix cameras as they busily tried to, valiantly, make the world that smidge better.

Except more than two and a half years on, that vision has yet to quite materialise.

What we’ve seen from the Sussexes’ major Netflix offering is less “inspiration,” “hope” and “resilience” and more of a family psychodrama rendered in high definition; an exhaustive airing of grievance over only slightly fewer episodes than it took the legendary Ken Burns to tell the story of the US civil war.

All the world has had out of the Sussex Netflix deal so far is the exquisitely self-serving ‘documentary’ Harry & Meghan, a story that could have been reduced to one heartfelt Instagram post, and the series Live To Lead, which was already in the works long before Megxit, and which disappeared without a trace. (It failed to even make the top 100 shows on the platform, a situation probably not helped by the fact that Live star, New Zealand’s then-PM Jacinda Ardern, was quick to distance herself from the duo’s involvement.)

While the Sussexes also have a doco about his Invictus Games in the offing, what happened to all that “hope” and “inspiration” they promised us?

Harry and Meghan have yet to use their global platform, via not only Netflix but Spotify too, to meaningfully spotlight neglected communities, underrecognised causes or really anyone who does not have an agent at CAA. (Meghan’s Archetypes podcast series predominantly saw her interview A-listers like Serena Williams, Mariah Carey and Mindy Kaling.)

When the Duke and Duchess appeared on the Teenager Therapy podcast in 2020, that seemed like it was a taste of what was to come: The duo using their mighty sway to dramatically raise the profiles of the people and causes that deserve the world’s attention, respect and support.

But, that has yet to materialise.

Instead, based on this recent reporting, we are being told that the Sussexes are done and dusted with their “vital ‘look back’ projects” and are ready to move on.

Just when exactly are they planning on getting around to “inspiring” us all?

(Unless, that is, you are the Sussexes’ bank manager and then this is all probably decidedly uplifting.)

Why, having had the chance to tell their story and to explain at painful length why they strode off to California to hang out with Oprah and learn about mortgage repayments, aren’t they now moving on to telling other people’s stories?

In February 2021, Harry and Meghan put out that famously peevish statement saying “service is universal” but does that approach still extend to their various content efforts?

Archewell, it should be noted, still has Chanel Pysnik as head of unscripted content but with their “focus on scripted content” just how much time, budget and energy will they be able to dedicate to their more activist content endeavours?

(They also, of course, have their charitable arm, the Archewell Foundation, whose recent impact report revealed their global charity work.)

Harry and Meghan, via Netflix, have the power to profoundly change the fortunes of any number of amazing organisations and neglected causes, something the world needs much more right now than them producing some knock-off Richard Curtis rom-com or trying their hands at a Good Life reboot.

That said, they could probably do that right now given their Californian chicken coop.

Daniela Elser is a writer and a royal commentator with more than 15 years’ experience working with a number of Australia’s leading media titles.

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