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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Courtin' time

Finally, NBC has released a trailer for The Courtship, the upcoming reality-TV show featuring Austen-era costumes and dating rituals, and I’m happy to report that the program is clearly going to offer a completely authentic portrait of Regency England . . .

. . . if your only reference points are recent TV portrayals of Regency England.

Just like on Bridgerton, we’re getting candy-colored gowns, multiracial casting, and a mature female narrator with a posh British accent (sample line: “Can the old ways of courtship lead to new romance?”) Just like on Sanditon, we’re getting marriageable young women attending balls with their hair down, not to mention more damp, bare-chested, six-packed young men than you can shake a wet shirt at. And just for the heck of it, we’re getting necklines so low they barely clear the navel, plus enough premarital makeout sessions to satisfy even Lydia Bennet. Because who wants all that historical accuracy to get in the way of a good time?

Our heroine, according to NBC’s press release, is Nicole Remy, a beautiful twenty-six-year-old software engineer and former pro football cheerleader from Seattle. Her sixteen suitors, who run the gamut from nice-looking to smokin' hot, pursue a variety of professions (teacher, model, “confidence coach for men”) and hail from England, Canada, South Korea, and seven U.S. states. (Regional loyalty demands that I root for the pizzeria owner from the Jersey Shore, at least for the first episode.) Her parents are on hand to sort the honorable wheat from the publicity-seeking Instachaff. And in keeping with the requirements of romance novels and reality-TV dating franchises, the best friend who will assist Our Nicole in her search for love is gorgeous enough to anchor her own spinoff down the line.

Judging from the trailer, we can look forward to all the usual Bachelorette beats: flirty euphoria giving way to conflicted tears, stolen intimacies sparking jealous arguments, and repeated claims that everything is “a fairy tale.” Only this time with archery, boating, and string quartets standing in for rock-climbing, helicopter rides, and jacuzzis.

Honesty compels me to admit that, although this show started life with the title Pride and Prejudice: An Experiment in Romance, last week’s trailer – despite relying heavily on tropes cemented in our consciousness via multiple Austen adaptations -- contains nary a mention of Jane Austen. This is disappointing, I’ll grant you. I mean, do the makers of this show care nothing for authenticity?

But never mind. I truly cannot wait for March 6 to arrive. Really. Counting the days.

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