The Howes, a working-class, seemingly run-of-the-mill family from Maryland were catapulted reality TV stardom with the discovery that they were actually royal. TLC’s “Suddenly Royal” premiered last Wednesday. The show opens with the obvious introductions: David Howe was researching his family history and found that he is directly descended from the last King of the Isle of Man, an island in the Irish Sea whose current head of state is Queen Elizabeth II. Expectedly, regular Dave made his claim for the throne and now must travel across an ocean to win over a reluctant populace.
Ideally, the hour-long show would take us straight to the island, but instead we get the inside scoop on how any suburban family would plan an international trip. There’s talk of what to pack, flight schedules, accommodation and how they will afford it all. It’s amazing how TLC made a show out of this. Things seem normal until David consults his royal secretary via Skype and must tell his wife and daughter to bring their “formal wear,” which sends the family into a frenzy — their most regal moment was practicing forced “royal” waves while saying goodbye to David’s in-laws.
Audiences must wait 40 minutes for the family to even get on a plane. TLC wants the audience to hear about their insecurities repeatedly, like a form of initiation into a r eality TV show. If you can make it past the first 40 minutes, you can make it through anything. We then learn that Pam, David’s wife, has a fear of flying. Silly me, we already knew that because they’d repeated that line of her interview five times already. Phobias aside, they make it to the Isle of Man safe and sound.
Having been searching through castles online and idealizing royalty for months, the family finds out the Isle of Man doesn’t meet their expectations. David might, on some absurd technicality, be King, but he is not royal yet. “Suddenly Royal” is a guilty pleasure I just can’t get behind. Even with an interesting catch, the series falls into extremely trivial conventions like planning family trips. If I wanted to watch a family plan a trip, I’d go home and watch my own family try to plan, pack and get to Myrtle Beach on time. I’d much rather keep up with Khloe and Kim’s battles of vanity.
Email Aryn Aiken at [email protected]