Meghan Markle covers the new issue of Variety but this was supposed to be last month. As revealed in the story, Meghan was initially supposed to be one of the women honoured in this year’s Power of Women event in September, in recognition of her philanthropic work through Archewell and her creative pursuits with the podcast and the various other projects she and Prince Harry are working on. With the Queen’s passing though, obviously those plans were changed; and now that the royal mourning period is well over, Variety is now releasing their updated interview.
Of course Meghan is asked about the Queen and she answers with respect and reverence, sharing that she feels honoured to have been able to spend time with her and the “nice warmth” between them. Beyond that, though, there’s nothing here about the royal family and the institution. Meghan focuses on Archetypes, the podcast, and also the entertainment industry, being part of the creative community, and the projects that she and Prince Harry are looking to produce. This, after all, is a trade publication and it’s a smart choice to do an interview through this lens.
You’ll recall, her last magazine interview was The Cut, which wasn’t a fluff piece. She’s asked about that interview and how it was received – and her answer is good, in that she doesn’t go there and pivots back immediately to Archetypes:
“The [New York] story was intended to support “Archetypes” and focus on our projects. I’ve had some time to reflect on it. Part of me is just really trusting, really open — that’s how I move in the world. I have to remember that I don’t ever want to become so jaded that that piece of me goes away. So despite any of those things? Onward. I can survive it.
Part of what I’m doing with “Archetypes” is looking at the nuances around the women who come on the show. I’m not a journalist, but I want a candid, real conversation with them. I’m talking to some really textured, colorful, layered, dynamic women with strong histories. And that comes with a lot of pieces you can choose to include or not; I choose to include something that I feel is fair to them and also uplifting. And something we can all learn from.”
The same is true when she’s asked about the Television Event of the Year aka the Sussexes interview with Oprah in 2021. The question was how she felt after the interview aired and Meghan talks about going to Gloria Steinem’s birthday party and being welcomed and supported. Again it’s a solid pivot – and its benign; she’s not giving anything away that can be misinterpreted and twisted into another story. Probably the most “controversial” thing in the interview is her use of the word “complicated” when she talks about the Queen’s death:
“It’s been a complicated time, but my husband, ever the optimist, said, “Now she’s reunited with her husband.”
I mean, it would be a stretch to complicate “complicated” because the monarch died, of course it was complicated, and I’m sure the British tabloids will try to dramatise it one way or another because the tabloids will always tabloid, but she’s not giving them all that much to work with here. At least not until the Netflix docuseries comes out.
That’s probably the most intriguing part of the interview. Because in recent days there’s been all kinds of speculation about the show. Page Six reported two weeks ago that Harry and Meghan wanted to edit the footage so as to not piss off King Charles. Then Deadline reported earlier this week that Netflix wanted to push back the release date from December because they’re getting so much heat about The Crown, they don’t want to add to it with whatever Harry and Meghan are saying in their docuseries. Page Six however countered with their own reporting on Monday that Netflix hasn’t changed the release date for the docuseries and still plans to air it in December.
Netflix has yet to comment on the record but a couple of things to note here: that Deadline story about Netflix supposedly delaying the Sussex series because they’re worried about reaction to The Crown was reported by Baz Bamigboye, a British journalist who also writes for the Daily Mail. Most of his story for Deadline was about Netflix being under fire over The Crown’s accuracy with sources telling Baz that “they’re rattled at Netflix, and they blinked first and decided to postpone [Harry and Meghan’s] documentary”.
The reason I’m skeptical is that, well, Netflix doesn’t get rattled by royals. You’ll recall, two years ago when season four of The Crown came out and depicted the Queen and Charles as cold and unsympathetic to Princess Diana, and there was all kinds of bitching and moaning from British aristocrats about how unfair it all was, Netflix did not blink; instead they reacted by trolling the complainers. Why would it be any different this time? Netflix has invested a LOT of money into this show, one of the most successful on the platform. They defended it, again, earlier this week and they also understand, just like they did two years ago for season four, that all the noise about the show and how the royals are reacting to it only HELPS the show attract attention. And… subscribers.
Netflix hasn’t had a lot of good weeks this year but this happens to be a good week because they’ve just announced that they gained subscribers in the third quarter in part because so many of their shows, like Stranger Things, performed well over the last few months. They’re going to need to their shows to continue with that momentum, and The Crown is a BIG part of that. You would think that Harry and Meghan’s documentary is part of that too.
Why, then, would they be “rattled” by all the criticism and the noise? It’s free publicity. It’s hype. And Netflix never minds the hype.
To go back to Harry and Meghan, then, and the docuseries and whether or not it’s being pushed back – I wonder if it’s more a question of aligning the schedule with Harry’s memoir. There’s not yet been a confirmation on the release date of his book but it seems as though the plan was for the two projects to come out around the same time and I think we should get more clarity around scheduling once they confirm the new date for the book.
Back to the Variety piece though – it’s a good photo shoot, but for me the best visuals are the behind-the-scenes from the photo shoot. It’s one thing to see still images and we get that with royals but we rarely, if ever, see the b-roll. That’s another bonus from Harry and Meghan not being senior royals anymore: b-roll!