Last year’s failed Fox series I Wanna Marry Harry pretended that the star of its Bachelor-like competition was British royalty. While it’s not surprising that such a tired, dumb premise failed to draw viewers, what happened during production of the series is truly shocking. It’s manipulation of epic proportions.
The series’ winner, Kimberly Birch, told her story to Fusion, and it is fascinating. Some of the things she talks about are common and not noteworthy, such as being sequestered without outside contact, and others are just amusing, like that she is regularly recognized at the mall even though the show was cancelled halfway through its run.
Here are Kimberly’s claims, concluding with the truly damning one:
- The crew worked all hours, literally, to try to convince the cast that Matt Hicks was really Prince Harry: “people from production would stand outside your room, when you’d think that they didn’t know you were up. They’d whisper, ‘You have to get him back to Buckingham Palace. The Royal Family’s very upset. They’re not happy about the show. It’s this new thing they’ve never done before, and they’re trying to be up and up with social media, and the way that the world is.’ They really messed with us.”
- When the cast was in London, she saw pictures of the actual Prince Harry, and that made her realize how “brainwashed” she was by the production: “You’re so brainwashed into it that you go with everything in order to keep yourself feeling sane.”
- Because the cast was skeptical, the production team had someone pretend to be a therapist and tell the contestants that they were mentally unstable. “They actually had a therapist come on set at one point and talk to a few of us who were saying it wasn’t him. We found out later that it wasn’t a real, licensed therapist. It was just someone from the production team,” she said.
- That therapist told her, Kimberly says, “You have to learn how to trust your mind. I understand that you’re in a different country, and you don’t know what’s going on, but you have to trust the people here. It’s not good for you to keep questioning.”
If that’s true–Fox and Ryan Seacrest Productions both refused to comment to Fusion–the fake therapist thing is unbelievable.
It’s worth noting that Kimberly says she’d do it again (“Absolutely” “100%”), though she also admits that it helped her career as an actor: “I actually got a new manager from having done the show, because it looks good that I’ve gotten some exposure.”
Still, it’s unforgivable behavior. It’s one awful thing to use a mental health expert against the cast behind-the-scenes (as the terrific UnREAL illustrates). But to lie and deceive using a pretend version of a therapist? Someone who should be safe to talk to, and only have their patients’ best interests in mind? That’s sick–on the part of the people who did it.