It was announced yesterday, via Deadline, that Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are working on two new non-fiction series for Netflix. This is part of their deal that they signed with the platform back in 2020 and it’s a bit of a flex, this news, because last year, when their Spotify partnership fell through, there was rumour mongering (led by the British tabloids of course) about their relationship with Netflix and whether or not that would fall apart, too. Clearly that didn’t happen. 


So about these two shows – let’s start with Harry which sounds like it’s basically Drive to Survive, but make it about polo. At least that’s what it should be. Polo, like motor racing, isn’t exactly an accessible sport. The reason Formula 1 has become so popular is because Drive to Survive exposed that the circuit is basically a soap opera. The teams, including the principles and the drivers, were willing to talk, and talk sh-t, and not sanitise the sport, allowing the personalities to come through alongside the vehicles. That’s how you make something inaccessible accessible – by showing real people as real people, with attributes we recognise, no matter what their profession. This is also why the follow-ups, in tennis and golf, haven’t been quite as engaging as Drive to Survive: you get the sense in both those series that they’re holding back, that they’re worried about how they might come across, as opposed to the first few seasons of Drive to Survive where a majority of those arrogant assholes didn’t give a sh-t about whether or not people would like them. 

This, to me, is what the challenge will be for Prince Harry’s polo show. Yes, it’s a beautiful sport, I’m sure the athletes work very hard and of course it’ll be interesting to get a deep dive into what their lives are like but that’s it right there – what are their lives really like? As Deadline described, the series “will explore the world of [polo], which is known primarily for its aesthetic and social scene”. 

“Aesthetic and social scene…”


There. That’s the key. These are mostly very wealthy and privileged people, riding their horses, playing a game known as the “sport of kings”, like actually. That’s the nickname! So if we’re talking about the sport’s “aesthetic” and its “social scene”, take me into that scene, and REALLY into that scene. And don’t sell it to me like these people don’t have flaws, like they’re not competitive and petty, like the only conflict is on the field and not on the sidelines, under the umbrellas, where people wearing polka dots are sipping champagne. I have seen Pretty Woman, goddamnit! Who are the rivals on the field, and who are the rivals on the sidelines? Who are the Housewives of the polo set. THAT will be how you make the show pop – so the question is… 

Is Prince Harry capable of that kind of content? 


He loves polo, he wants to expose it to a bigger audience. He wants people to appreciate the sport the way he does. And the reflex here may be to only show it in the best light. But, again, to go back to Drive to Survive, they showed the sport, and its personalities, not as how those people wanted to be seen but how they needed to be seen. And in turn, the viewers responded to those stories by learning about the sport. Every Drive to Survive fan can now talk about DRS and argue about whether or not it was a good decision to stay on the medium tires or if they should have gone earlier to the soft. That will happen with Harry’s polo show if he and his producers are willing to get real. Harry doesn’t come from people who’ve been willing, historically, to show the more complicated sides of themselves. But then again, in his book, he was willing to break away from that breeding, with the encouragement of JR Moehringer who was able to bring Harry’s authentic – and gossipy! – voice to the page. This is the energy that I hope he carries into the polo series. 

Now to Meghan – it’ll be a lifestyle show, not surprisingly, and it works in tandem with American Riviera Orchard. She’s selling jams so I guess we’ll see her making jams. And of course all that is an extension of what she was doing pre-Harry with The Tig. There’s a lot of potential here, because Meghan is working with some experienced people who’ve produced excellent television in the non-fiction space. But what I just wrote about Harry also applies to her, especially since she’ll be in front of the camera.


For the last few years, by necessity, given the family she married into and all that attendant pressure, Meghan hasn’t exactly been… unguarded. Again, as I just said, this was by necessity. The scrutiny was unimaginable, she was up against so much criticism and unfair comparison. You could see the effects of that on her podcast, Archetypes. In my opinion, the reason Archetypes didn’t distinguish itself among alllllll the podcasts that are out there now is because it was overproduced. Podcasts in the Archetypes category require intimacy. It’s just the show and the listener, it’s not a group listening experience. And when you’re tackling topics that are primarily geared towards women about their life experiences, about their relationships with success and failure and expectations and parenthood, your podcast needs to create that environment, where it feels like it’s you and the listener in a cave, sharing vulnerabilities. I’m not saying that Meghan should have been sharing her menstrual cycle with people or anything, I’m talking about tone and style. There was no looseness to Archetypes, it was too formal, too polished, too tight. And if that’s what she’s bringing to the Netflix show, it’s gonna be a shrug. 

The good news is, she’s producing alongside people who can help her shape the right energy. The director is Michael Steed, who’s previously worked on Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. If you’ve watched an episode of Parts Unknown, you are well aware that it is not Archetypes. People interacted with and responded to Anthony on screen and off because he was curious and vulnerable and not afraid to be himself. Similarly, the showrunner of Meghan’s new series is Leah Hariton who worked on Selena + Chef. And that’s exactly what she was able to bring out of Selena Gomez: curiosity, candour, and vulnerability. 


Selena + Chef was so well received because, first of all, Selena wasn’t the expert. In fact, she was often a mess. She barely knew how to operate her kitchen appliances, sometimes she couldn’t even identify the appliances. In conversation with the chefs, she didn’t appear to be self-conscious about her own celebrity, or filtering her remarks to deny her own celebrity. I remember in one episode when a chef told her that they’d aspired to be a chef since adolescence, she spontaneously responded that when she was 14 she started her own TV show and then equally spontaneously gets a little embarrassed when she realises how unrelatable that is to most people. And yet that moment is actually what grounded the show, made it feel that much more authentic. 

There was also the setting – her home, and not her home staged to look like her home, but her home. With that hilarious rainbow of knives:

Selena Gomez on Selena + Chef

For those of you who haven’t watched Selena + Chef, this is what they look like when you pull them out: 

And sure, they went viral and more people have them now, but back then, this would never, ever, ever have been the kind of thing we saw on a cooking show or in home and lifestyle magazines. The knives, their colour and design, were a reflection of Selena’s personality. And there were so many things in that kitchen that were slightly tacky or basic that added to the charm of that show…


All of which is missing from the vibe of, say, American Riviera Orchard. The ecru energy of American Riviera Orchard is not going to pop on television. And by taupe energy, I don’t just mean the actual look of the show but the attitude of it. Parts Unknown and Selena + Chef were never ecru. Will Meghan be ecru? Is she going to “Oh My Gosh” her way through every episode? Or will the producers and director be able to get her to release a little more on camera? 

Mindy Kaling just posted a photo of herself with Prince Harry: 

Mindy and Meghan are obviously friends. Mindy’s been known to do a thing in the kitchen now and then, too. If Mindy and Meghan are on The Ecru Experience together, will they be giving “Oh My Gosh”, or will we actually get a little more of the “Oh My Gossip” that is the more likely vibe that they share when they’re together. This is, after all, Mindy Kaling. 

Harry and Meghan stepped away from the British royal family and freed themselves of the restrictions imposed on its members. It’s been almost five years, and now that they’re pushing ahead with those plans, with the intention of building their own media empire, is it finally time to let loose? 

Also, should we make side bets on when the now famous roast chicken will appear? Let's Squawk about it! (app link here)