Selling the Dream: TLC's Secret Princes

The first movie I ever saw was Disney's Cinderella. I admit, it filled my head with many a falsity, including the notions that adorable, pudgy floating grandma-types could gaily transform my Health Tex corduroys into a flowing ball gown, that I would ever be able to get into glass slippers (hello, painful!), and that every girl has a Prince Charming. Despite all the fantasy, something kept me coming back.

As young as five, I remember having fantasies about being "rescued" by "Super John", the boy who sat in my assigned seat on the bus home from kindergarten. And I always daydreamed about my life ending in a fairy tale, though admittedly more along the line of European vacations, endless champagne, and exclusive rooftop dining reservations.

Did TLC hit the mark when they took on Secret Princes, whose finale aired last night! Anyone trapped at home on a Friday night (by no fault of their own, I assure you) was subject to the delight of five glorious evenings of royal fun. This show was such a delight for me, especially, having had a penchant for mysterious men from foreign lands as far back as I can remember. I've dated many, and married, a man from across the world. What can I say? I like spice.

When the premise of the show was first introduced - four royals from around the world come to America and go 'undercover' to find true love - I admit I was as skeptical as one could reasonably be. "Reality" shows are normally just a stone's throw away from reality, right? Right, Kim Kardashian?  How real would Secret Princes be? Would the individuals be actors? How much of the show would be contrived?

Well, folks, I started watching the show and was hooked faster than a baby on Cheerios. And I stopped caring whether it was real. The show, sometimes romantic, most often hilarious, was like dark chocolate, floating in wine, wrapped in a fuzzy blanket of butterfly kisses. Was it real? I don't know and I don't care.

All I knew was the princes were charming, witty, and adorable, and I wanted to watch them all the time.

The four 'princes', "Tate" (Lord Robert Whatshisbottom from the UK), "Waldo" (The Hon. Ludo Watson, also from the UK), "Sal" (Prince Salauddin from India), and "Cisco" (Prince Francisco de Blabbity Blah, with all due respect, of Spain), were each extraordinarily entertaining on his own. Lord Robert, a celebrity in Great Britain but virtually unknown in the US, was solid and classically handsome (not my cup of tea personally, but quite attractive nonetheless). Ludo was fresh-faced and youthful. Think Harry Potter. (Sorry, dude. I know. I'm sorry.) Sal was, well, Sal was a mess, but I have - how you say? - extensive experience with Indian guys, so he was somewhere between faintly charming and fantastically grating. And, last but absolutely not least, was Prince Francisco of Spain (whose full title I could Google, but it would take me away from dreaming about his intense gaze and rugged features), who was, well, the whole package.

And I just said 'package'. (I was Team Cisco, by the way.)

Sure, they blundered through first dates, minimum wage "jobs" (okay, that part I question), and navigating life in Atlanta, Georgia, of all places, but at the end of the day, romance and intrigue were practically steaming up the screen.

The women they dated (another term used loosely) were all 'common' women. One was a hairdresser (I think), another a salesperson, another a lawyer, and the last, I don't know, honestly. She talked, dressed, and acted like a teenager. She was slightly embarrassing.

And now the show is over. The women have been brought home to Mom, and, I imagine, have long since parted. Arrangements may have been made to continue relationships (or not). It appears Lord Robert and Prince Francisco fared most favorably (never saw that coming), appearing to unearth some emotions that encroached upon love, where the other two, well, they kind of struck out.

But the concept, the secrets the men were holding, and the final, ostentatious reveal, at a grand Southern ball, maxed out my fun and romance meter. And I, along with, I imagine, any number of lonely, exhausted, macaroni-and-cheese covered moms, bought right into the ruse as well.

The concept of finding one's Prince Charming, wrapped in the guise of a waiter or a dog groomer or what-have-you, is priceless. The concept that, along with finding someone with whom you share a particular chemistry, romance, and other commonalities, coupled with the idea that this man could, in an instant, make all of your earthly dreams come true, is literally swoonworthy. Even I would swoon.

And for us, who have already found our Prince Charmings, snoring on the couch (sigh), we can live vicariously and enthusiastically through these experiences. And place our heads on our pillows just a bit more lightly, considering the fact that fairy tales may truly exist.