“Let me recap my week for you: My daughter’s vagina was on the cover of no less than four tabloids, my first-born child was killed, my husband announced he wants to abolish the only life I’ve ever known… and his footman almost saw my snatch.”
That unfiltered — not to mention phenomenal — bit of dialogue, courtesy of Elizabeth Hurley (Gossip Girl) as Queen Helena, perfectly sums up the plot and tone of E!’s first scripted drama The Royals, which premiered Sunday.
Having put all their eggs in one basket — that basket being their eldest son Robert, who dies suddenly in the show’s opening hour — King Simon (Strike Back‘s Vincent Regan) and Queen Helena don’t have much faith left over for their screw-up kids, Prince Liam (The Chronicles of Narnia‘s William Moseley) and Princess Eleanor (Home and Away‘s Alexandra Park).
To Simon and Helena’s credit, though, neither child is even remotely ready to take up the crown. Party boy Liam changes partners more often than he changes his sheets, and wild child Eleanor is actually overheard greeting a pal by saying, “Bitch, your coked-up ass better curtsy!” So can you really blame Simon for petitioning Parliament to disband the monarchy?
As for Helena, she couldn’t even make it through the limo ride to Robert’s funeral without calling Eleanor a bitch, then slapping Liam in the face and criticizing his latest conquest — even though Ophelia (Ravenswood‘s Merritt Patterson) is much more than just Liam’s latest conquest; she’s someone he’s actually willing to call his “girlfriend,” in addition to being the daughter of the royal family’s head of security.
Then there’s Simon’s brother Cyrus (EastEnders‘ Jake Maskall). In Mark Scwhann terms, Cyrus is the Dan Scott of The Royals, always scheming to overthrow his superiors without even attempting to mask his cruel intentions. In fact, just when you think he can’t get any more Dan Scott-like, Cyrus literally takes a shot at his brother while out on a hunt. (Come on, bruh, this ain’t Tree Hill High.) And I’m not even going to discuss the fact that he makes his maids go down on him with “enthusiasm.” Dude is gross.
But it’s not all doom, gloom and attempted fratricide; the show also finds terrific comic relief in Princesses Penelope (Lydia Rose Bewley) and Maribel (Hatty Preston), Cyrus’ cartoonish daughters. Though they often feel out of place, both physically and stylistically, their off-color quips — one literally tells the other that her breath “smells like a fart” — are always welcome.
With its smoldering cast, political intrigue and classic soap opera goodness — along with a Season 2 renewal already in the bag — The Royals has all the makings of a perfect guilty pleasure. But did it win a weekly spot on your DVR? Grade the series premiere below, then drop a comment with your full review.