- “The Prince” is HBO Max’s new cartoon spoofing the royal family, including 8-year-old Prince George.
- It turns Kate Middleton into an alcoholic and makes Harry so out of touch he can’t work a fridge.
- The show is cruel without being funny, and its jokes about the royals feel expected and unoriginal.
Nothing is certain except death, taxes, and the icky feeling you get when you watch a real 8-year-old kid get repeatedly roasted.
OK, so Benjamin Franklin didn’t mention the latter, but I couldn’t help but think it as I sat through episode after episode of “The Prince,” HBO Max’s new cartoon spoofing the royal family.
The series — which was inspired by creator Gary Janetti’s Instagram account — instantly made headlines after all 12 episodes were dropped at midnight on Thursday with little promotion or fanfare. Critics and royal commentators called out the show (and Sophie Turnerwho plays Princess Charlotte) for taking aim at Kate Middleton and Prince William’s young children, while others were appalled that it made fun of Prince Philip’s deteriorating health just months after his death.
But those aren’t the only issues with the cartoon.
‘The Prince’ just isn’t funny, not even a little. And its jokes about the royal family feel expected and unoriginal.
Under Janetti’s pen, Prince George is transformed into a prima donna who torments his sweet butler Owen while obsessing over his Instagram follower count and befriending Andy Cohen. As other critics have pointed outGeorge mostly feels like a rehash of Stewie on “Family Guy,” Janetti’s alma mater.
Painting a royal child as a brat already feels obvious. But it’s also uncomfortable and tone-deaf after both Prince William and Prince Harry have spoken at length about the mental-health struggles they faced while growing up in the harsh spotlight of British tabloids.
There are also plenty of adults to make fun of in the royal family, and “The Prince” doesn’t hold back as it takes aim at every member. The Queen constantly throws tantrums over tarts, Camilla’s a mute, Prince Charles is desperate for his mother’s love, and Prince Philip is a bumbling old man who can’t chew his own food.
“The Prince” was actually delayed following Philip’s death in April, but the show made no effort to remove repeated jokes about his condition, including Prince George’s quip to “get the defibrillator paddles ready.”
Meanwhile, Meghan Markle is portrayed as a desperate actress who can’t land a new gig, Prince Harry is so out of touch that he can’t buy milk or work a fridge, and Middleton is constantly guzzling wine to cope with being married to Prince William.
“I thought everyone in LA was just a vapid alcoholic,” she tells her husband in one episode.
“No, that’s just you,” William replies.
“There’s not enough liquor in the world to make you tolerable,” she shoots back.
Anyone who has read a British tabloid — or just gazed at the front page of one — wouldn’t find these spoofs of the royals to be surprising. And that’s just the thing, they’re extremely cliché. I could predict how every subplot was going to unfold within the first few minutes of each episode.
There are some bright spots in ‘The Prince,’ but they’re few and far between
The episode where Markle joins the cast of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and takes them to Buckingham Palace actually got a few laughs out of me, mostly thanks to Lisa Rinna (who guest stars with Erika JayneKyle Richards, Dorit Kemsley, and Teddi Mellencamp).
I also loved the running subplot of two married Buckingham Palace butlers who desperately just want to keep the spark alive — and find some free time to finally watch “Game of Thrones” together.
With everything that has happened in the royal family over the last few years, the adults are a ripe source of inspiration for commentary on the monarchy, as well as celebrity culture and the differences between British and American media and society.
But satire still has to be smart, funny, and surprising. “The Prince” drops the ball on all three, and needlessly makes fun of a kid in the process.