Netflix’s new six-part documentary series focusing on the relationship between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle was a hot topic even prior to its release last week. So it’s no surprise that its launch has been met with significant interest from Netflix subscribers.
In fact, the docuseries just rocketed straight into the Netflix most-watched list. It’s currently ranked No.2 in the U.S. behind only the juggernaut that is Wednesday. Over in the U.K., it’s done even better and has claimed the No.1 spot.
However, while the TV show is clearly drawing plenty of interest, it’s also received significant backlash, and its subjects, in particular, Meghan Markle, have become the targets of vicious online abuse. Here’s why everybody is talking about Harry & Meghan.
What is Harry & Meghan about?
Harry & Meghan is an intimate look at the relationship between Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Split across six episodes released in two batches, the documentary chronicles how the pair met, their early courtship, their engagement, their lavish wedding and also the events that led to their retreat from life as working members of the British royal family.
It should be noted, that this doc doesn’t hinge on second hand accounts either. Harry and Meghan were fully involved in its production and are the primary interview subjects throughout the series. The couple’s closest friends and family also provide commentary, as do royal historians that touch upon how the pair have veered wildly from the established protocols of the royal family.
Why is Harry & Meghan so controversial?
On the surface, Harry & Meghan may appear to be a fairly boilerplate documentary but the series has become a lightning rod for controversy across social media.
Some British commentators have taken issue with what they perceive as a disrespectful tone towards the country’s well-established monarchy. Meanwhile, the couple, but in particular Meghan, have received a tidal wave of abuse over their direct involvement. Meghan has been the subject of a large-scale smear campaign for several years now, and the launch of this doc has unfortunately only exacerbated this pre-existing problem.
The backlash from some viewers is clear, and perhaps that is why the show has pulled some of the lowest audience scores of the year. On Rotten Tomatoes Harry & Meghan has managed a viewer score of just 12%, and things don’t get much better over on IMDb where the doc has an overall rating of 3.2. It should be noted that these scores appear to be heavily skewed by passionate royalists engaging in the practice known as review-bombing.
The show’s critical reception has been much more balanced, if not exactly overwhelmingly positive. The documentary’s current Rotten Tomatoes score from critics stands at 46%. This still earns it an unwanted rotten seal, but it is a far cry from its abysmally low audience scores.
Jessie Thompson of the Independent labeled the series as “Intimate, self-aggrandizing, and wildly entertaining” and the Chicago Tribune also noted the pair come across as “personally and friendly” throughout. But there were plenty of less positive takes from critics as well, Carol Midgley of the Times accused the couple of being “so in love with themselves that they have lost any semblance of self-awareness" in a largely negative write up of the series.
Harry & Meghan — stream or skip?
With so much interest and controversy, it’s no wonder that Harry & Meghan has become another hit for Netflix. The show may be drawing a small army of detractors but all that vitriol is only generating more attention for the duo — which is likely the ultimate aim of the documentary in the first place.
Right now the first three episodes of the show have been released on Netflix, and the remainder of the season is set to debut on the streaming platform later this week (Thursday, December 15). So, now is a good time to get caught up. Of course, if you have no interest in the behind-the-scenes drama of the British royal family, you’ll probably want to steer clear regardless.
However, if you can’t get enough of The Crown, or have always been fascinated by the inner working of the British monarchy, then Harry & Meghan is a documentary you won’t want to skip. Just be sure that regardless of your opinion on the couple after watching you keep things respectful. Social media is already awash with vile abuse directed at the pair, and there is zero excuse for anybody to be contributing more.
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Rory is an Entertainment Editor at Tom’s Guide based in the UK. He covers a wide range of topics but with a particular focus on gaming and streaming. When he’s not reviewing the latest games, searching for hidden gems on Netflix, or writing hot takes on new gaming hardware, TV shows and movies, he can be found attending music festivals and getting far too emotionally invested in his favorite football team.