Remember I Wanna Marry Harry? Yes, last summer was a long time ago, so let’s refresh: it was a quickly cancelled reality television show on FOX in which American woman were flown to England and then told they were competing to date Prince Harry. How exactly were they fooled? The answer will not shock you, but it will gross you out.
I Wanna Marry Harry winner Kimberly Birch, an actress, is still in touch with the real Harry, aka Matthew Hicks. But they’re not together, as she tells Fusion, which is perhaps why she feels fine revealing the truth about the Marry Harry process. We already knew that the women brought over to England to film the show didn’t know what they were getting themselves into, and though most reality television shows isolate contestants, Birch says this experience was particularly intense. In the hotel for a week by herself alone before filming started, she literally had nothing to do. No books, no internet, no television:
What did you do to pass the time?
When I look back… what did I do, for a full week in my room by myself? I think they had the Bible, like a standard hotel room. I started memorizing, like, the first 30 books of the Old Testament.
I was begging the room service guys for pen and paper so I could color or something. The show wasn’t that tough compared to what led up to it.
Birch says that once they started filming, the girls caught on pretty quickly to the idea that Hicks probably wasn’t really Prince Harry. But the show’s producers kept lying to her, telling her that he was and that she was nuts, going so far as to bring a fake therapist to talk to the doubters and tell them they needed to be more trusting.
There was one moment, when we were in London. They always had chaperones from the production team with us, to make sure we weren’t talking to one another and we weren’t looking at things we weren’t supposed to be looking at. And we had to walk down one block, one short block, to get back to the car from where we’d had a date. We were told, “Just look straight ahead and keep going.”
You tell me to look straight ahead, and I’m going to want to look the other way. I glance over to my left and there’s a souvenir shop. They had little masks on a stick with the eyes cut out. Masks of Prince William, of the Queen, and one of Prince Harry.
I saw that picture and realized — I’m not nuts. Everybody here, on this set, on this production team, is crazy. I’m not. The whole time, you’re confronting them, saying, “This is all set up,” and they’re like, “Okay, yeah, you’re going crazy.” You’re so brainwashed into it that you go with everything in order to keep yourself feeling sane.
The tactics used to keep the contestants believing were...interesting.
Sometimes, 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.
“They did a great job. I’ll give them that,” Birch says. Well, not that good a job: considering it was all a quest for ratings, and that I Wanna Marry Harry was cancelled before the season even finished airing, the whole experiment was a flop.
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Image via FOX.