Love them, hate them or just don’t rate them, Prince Harry and Meghan’s Netflix documentary split public opinion after its launch on Thursday.
Nick Bullen, editor in chief of True Royalty TV, said it was the most “self-serving piece of television” he had seen in quite a while, describing it as more like a reality show than a documentary, after the first three episodes aired on the streaming service.
Lester Holloway, editor of The Voice, said he was moved, calling it a “love story” which talked about the struggles and challenges they have faced as a couple and their battles with the media.
In the Netflix documentary, Harry said the British royal family had dismissed race-related hounding of Meghan by the media as a rite of passage, and the couple delivered a fierce attack on the tabloid press.
Reviews from US and British critics tended to be negative, with several expressing complaints that the series was simply not compelling.
“If I were Netflix, I’d want my money back. Because there was nothing ‘bombshell’ or even very new here. It was beautifully shot but it was repetitive, whingy and boring,” Carol Midgley wrote from The Times in Britain.
Stephanie Bunbury of US online news site Deadline said that the series failed to add any new insight into the most pressing questions from fans.
“Three hours into Netflix doc series Harry & Meghan and still no tell-all truths from the darkest corners of the House of Windsor,” Bunbury wrote.
Other critics found it a satisfying glimpse into the private lives of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“Does Meghan and Harry’s Netflix documentary live up to its no-holds-barred expectations?,” wrote Jessie Thompson from British newspaper The Independent. “Well, within the first five minutes we’ve seen a makeup-less Meghan, hair wrapped in a towel, crying into her phone camera – so I’m going to say yes.”
On Rotten Tomatoes, the audience ratings were negative.
Out of 248 reviews, the average score was 1.3 out of 5 on Thursday.
In London, commuters were divided as to whether they would tune in.
Finance manager Nadia Tunar said she thought the couple “just want attention”, and salon manager Sarah Barnsbury said she was not going to watch it.
“It’s just not for me,” Barnsbury said.
Sharon Brown, a 52-year-old security officer, said on the other hand that it was about time the royals “actually got a voice to say what they need to say”.
Customer support assistant Carmel Williams, 33, said she would like to know what has been happening and how the couple are feeling, calling it “gossip behind the scenes”.
Paul Driscoll, 52, head of IT for a private equity business, said: “I’ll probably watch it because we all watch them, right?”
He added: “They’re welcome to do whatever they want to do, but I’m not really sure it’s the right time for them to do it.”