Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

'The Royals' a perfect fit for E!

“One Tree Hill” creator tackles life behind the scenes in a fictional British palace.

Elizabeth Hurley as Queen Helena in E!'s "Royals". (Photo by Frank W. Ockenfels 3/E! Entertainment)
Elizabeth Hurley as Queen Helena in E!'s "Royals". (Photo by Frank W. Ockenfels 3/E! Entertainment)Read more

* THE ROYALS. 10 p.m. Sunday, E!

IT'S NOT so good to be king in "The Royals," a silly but potentially addictive soap from "One Tree Hill" creator Mark Schwahn that premieres Sunday on E!

Yes, E!

Because what could be more perfect for the network of "Keeping Up with the Kardashians" and "Fashion Police" than a "Hamlet"-tinged series about a conveniently fictional royal family with a queen named Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) who's as obsessed by fashion as her drugged-out princess of a daughter, Eleanor (Alexandra Park)?

It's King Simon (Vincent Regan) who's truly the melancholy prince in "The Royals." His oldest son, Robert, has died in a possibly mysterious "military accident," his brother Cyrus (Jake Maskall) may want to kill him, and his playboy younger son, Prince Liam (William Moseley), now heir to the throne, is fooling around with a girl named Ophelia (Merritt Patterson) who happens to be the daughter of the king's disapproving head of security (Oliver Milburn).

You might think that a man who doesn't want his daughter canoodling with a future king wouldn't go to the trouble of naming her after Hamlet's doomed girlfriend, but then you would be overthinking "The Royals."

No one else has.

Hurley, who told reporters in January that she'd been inspired by the idea of what the late Princess Diana might have been like as queen (as well as by Cruella de Vil), all but breathes fire as Helena stomps around the palace (Blenheim, not Buckingham, for those who care), trying to keep her remaining children in line and save the monarchy from her husband, who may ask the nation to chuck the whole thing.

If you're the kind of Windsor-watcher who cares that Charles and Camilla are visiting the U.S. this month, "The Royals" will give you fits. The less particular may find it fun, though seven episodes is too long to wait for the appearance of Joan Collins as Helena's mother, the oddly titled "grand duchess of Oxford."

E! rolled out the red carpet for its first scripted series, renewing it for a second season before the first had begun.

I can only assume it knows its audience.