Wild Scandals and Murder Attempts Kick off Season 4 of ‘The Royals’
If there was ever a series which defines the idea of overwrought melodrama it is “The Royals.”This is a show with little connection to reality and it knows it. It is instead a fantasy meant to fuel the daydreams of its audience, presenting them a fictitious storyline where every character looks like a gym-obsessed super model, the British crown still matters and heads of state do little behind closed doors but long for love. Season 4 now arrives with more twists and turns, pitting royal against royal and denying true love to the tender-hearted. By now it is hard to judge this show with a harsh eye, because it has built its audience and is giving them exactly what they crave.
The new storyline in the series pits the newly-crowned King Robert (Max Brown), who is the bane of Prince Liam (William Moseley). Ruthless and cunning, Robert is loathed by fellow royals for his cutthroat approach to nearly everything, especially now that he is in search of a wife and has a list compiled of potential candidates. On top of the list is Wilhelmina (Genevieve Gaunt), a chief member of the royal’s inner circle. But she is also a close friend of Liam’s and he suspects Robert now covets her to hurt him. Liam soon finds himself teaming up with their recently dethroned uncle, Cyrus (Jake Maskall), who is terminally ill but would like destroying Robert to be his last hurrah. Meanwhile Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) is returning from a sabbatical with hopes of rekindling a romance with royal bodyguard Jasper (Tom Austen).
“The Royals” is over the top in every sense. Season 4 keeps intact all of the flash and gloss that makes the series an update of the soap opera format mixed with primetime drama. Every episode is scored with pop songs while every line and plot twist is delivered with the appropriate level of exaggeration. One moment Liam is on a date, the next he’s sneaking off to download secret files off his date’s father’s computer. Robert decides to get into the populist game and wants to give a speech in south London. Of course it results in an assassination attempt. Of course a key character is hit just as he’s dialing a lover. People make love in hospital rooms and give each other absurdly opulent presents. If “The Crown” depicts royalty as it is in the modern world, “The Royals” imagines what it should be. Forget about matters of state, foreign policy or workers’ wages, this royal family is too busy sleeping around, plotting bloody murder and soaking in personal vendettas. Marie Antoinette never had such a colorful life. The settings here remain luxurious and the actors pose and prance with an attitude more fitting for the Kardashians.
Yet it’s all delivered with a certain level of trashy gusto. The actors seem to relish in the fun of playing these roles. Everyone in this show looks perfect, and they bask in it. The big scene stealer is Jake Maskall as Cyrus. He happily indulges in the wicked lines and innuendo. He wants to bring down Robert, but his illness has given him a fatalistic urge to indulge in all vices. There’s a hilarious scene where Robert walks in on a debauched party where Cyrus dons a gimp suit. Whacky? Over the top? Sure. But you never know when it comes to the private lives of the rich and powerful. Elizabeth Hurley also has great fun in her role as the matriarch Queen Helena. In terms of her looks she could easily pass for the sister of the main players, but she exudes power and malevolent scheming. In this season she’s confronted with finding her role in a monarchy increasingly being taken over the children.
At some point while watching “The Royals” you need to turn off all logic. You can only grin when the writers go for storylines such as Robert literally interviewing potential wives, strolling down a garden and interrogating them with an assistant nearby (“the next step is the dinner phase of the interview”). It is all tailor-made for the fans who no doubt fantasize about finding the perfect partner in just this same fashion. Spoilers must be avoided, but be warned there will be wedding bells this season. Credit though, must be given to the writing team for churning out lines that are indeed entertaining, and not disastrously on the nose. Entering its fourth season, “The Royals” should be judged based on whether it delivers for its fans. On that basis everything you wish for is here and with the appropriate plot twists to set up the next season.
“The Royals” Season 4 premieres March 11 at 10 p.m. ET and airs Sundays on E!