Harry and Meghan Netflix Documentary

Ashley Park

On December 8, 2022, the first installment of the widely-anticipated Netflix docuseries covering the narrative of Prince Harry and retired actress Meghan Markle was released, sparking mixed reviews off the bat. Totaling six episodes, Harry & Meghan showcased aspects of Harry and Meghan in both their relationship and as individuals, and it became publicized in two parts on December 8 and 15th.

Filming for the show spanned two years, commencing during the emergence of the pandemic and finishing by August of 2022. Throughout the episodes, we see the couple in a variety of locations around the globe, feeding into the concept of their love being one that transcends continents.

While the variety in audience response remains substantial, a vast percentage of critics have come to the conclusion that the production of the documentary was very well-done. The documentary includes a revisitation of many of the couple’s significant moments, like their first meeting, their initial impressions of one another, the detailing of the royal wedding back in 2018, and the joys that came with the birth of their first child. It gave us background on who the two were before entering each other’s lives, going into depth about their childhoods and family relations as told from the perspectives of friends and, in Meghan’s case, her mother. However, what the production was highly commended for was the inclusion of British history in terms of the U.K. paparazzi, racial discrimination, and significance of the royal family. The series was seemingly written to accommodate non-Brits who lacked knowledge in that area.

Members of the royal family did not partake in any part of the filming, as they had declined to comment on the content of the series; however, Harry himself mentions his mother, Princess Diana, on numerous occasions, emphasizing the fact that he sees so many of his favorite attributes in his wife. He fondly remembers his mother as a strong, kindhearted leader, despite the harassment and difficulties she faced being in the public eye. This ties into an overarching theme of the toxicity and ruthlessness of the U.K. media that appears consistently in its effects on the H&M relationship.

Meghan Markle, born and raised in America, is constantly highlighted as biracial throughout the series, the fact itself having quite a large impact in the U.K. with the announcement of their relationship in 2017. The introduction of a black woman into the royal family was uncommon, unseen since Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz of the late eighteenth century, who is said to have been of African descent. Many were excited to see black representation in the historic family, but there were also a fair share of racist attacks made on Markle, especially in headlines. Meghan grew up with her African-American mother in a community that consisted predominantly of women. This influenced her to, aside from building her acting career, pursue a voice in female empowerment and become a vigorous activist. This is expanded on by a handful of her closest friends including inactive globally-renowned tennis player Serena Williams.

Following the public reveal of the H&M relationship, Markle became an immense target of the U.K. media, who proceeded to tear her apart with animosity. In the documentary, she shares her belief that the royal family had essentially made her into a scapegoat that shielded the rest from the vicious tabloids. The entire ordeal was then enlarged to increased proportions with Mail on Sunday’s publication of a private letter written by Markle to her father. This, in turn, resulted in a legal fight, in which she sued the association on account of misuse of a “personal and private” letter and breach of copyright.

Another major reason viewers have for checking out the series is the explanation the Duke of Sussex provides for his stepping down. He states that ultimately, it was for the protection of his developing family and newborn, as he believed that the institution was not willing to provide that. However, this announcement released a fresh wave of disagreement and strife.

In terms of how the series is being received, at the start of January 2023, it had a rating of 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. While viewer numbers have been large, those positive quantities do not reflect on the reviews. The continuous hate train of both Harry and Meghan, with emphasis on the latter, that has been en route for the past five years has no doubt had an impact of catastrophic measures. The documentary has served as fuel for the flame of criticism for many viewers, while others have transitioned that negative energy towards Harry’s brother Prince William and sister-in-law Kate Middleton. Regardless, the production has been met with many unpleasant appraisals. Many believe that in contrast to what the couple has expressed in the past about wanting to stay out of the media, this was a direct way of putting themselves in the public eye.