ANALYSIS | From prince to producer: Harry has a hit on his hands
Anyone who doubted Prince Harry’s ability to transform himself into a successful Hollywood producer could well be wrong.
When his five-part mental health docuseries “The Me You Can’t See” premiered on Apple TV + last week, there was a 25% increase in viewership on the streaming platform, according to a source close to Apple. It was so successful that in the following days a special of the series was announced , a debate in which Harry and co-producer Oprah Winfrey met with the participants and the experts of the original series to deepen on emotional well-being.
It is the first proof that the prince is worth the hundreds of millions of dollars that major streaming services have invested in Archewell Productions, the unit he created with his wife Meghan. It’s early days, but its success on Apple TV + is a positive sign. Of course, it will have helped to have a luxurious cast, with actress Glenn Close and singer Lady Gaga among the show’s participants sharing their own experiences of mental health.
The series also had a lot of coverage in the press about what he said about the royal family and the accusation that “the company”, with the media, discredited his wife. In the opening five-part series, Harry opened up about alcohol and drug use to cope with the trauma of his mother’s death and the pressures of royalty. In the UK, Apple’s average audience over the weekend increased by 40%, according to our source.
- Prince Harry says he drank and used drugs to avoid grief over Diana’s death
The next test for the Sussexes will be to show that they can make shows that gain audiences without mentioning their extended family. The pair can be bolstered by the fact that the “The Me You Can’t See” bonus episode only made passing references to royalty. Instead, at the end she made the most important point she wants to make: “My hope is that our series continues to inspire people around the world to take a more active and compassionate approach to healing, community and wellness, because truly we are all in this together”.
Given that the prince believes that mental health and climate change are “the two most pressing issues” facing society, we can assume that he will continue to pitch content ideas around them. They are, of course, important issues that people care about. While Harry and Meghan are not the first royals to come clean or advocate for social issues, these direct conversations with the couple show how the royal communication strategy is beginning to change as the media landscape evolves.
- Prince William criticizes the BBC for their 1995 interview with Lady Di
William and Kate have also rethought their communication plan on social media, and younger royals are increasingly connecting with the public through alternative platforms, such as streaming services, rather than through of traditional media, without registering an obvious decline in media coverage.
What Harry has to prove now is whether he can become an expert source on the issues he wants to advocate without attracting any real new revelations. For now, things seem to be going well.
Key quotes from the Duke of Sussex in the new documentary
On the challenges facing society:
“I believe even more that climate change and mental health are two of the most urgent problems we face and, in many ways, they are related. The connecting line has to do with our collective well-being, and when our collective well-being erodes, it affects our ability to ultimately care for ourselves, our communities, and our planet. ‘
On how to approach the debate on self-harm:
“A lot of people are afraid of being on the receiving end of that conversation (about suicide) because they don’t feel they have the right tools to be able to give the right advice, but what you are saying is that you are there… Listen, why listen and train part of that conversation is undoubtedly the best first step you can take. ‘
On the stigma attached to mental health:
“As parents and as siblings… certainly, from what I’ve learned, there is an element of shame that we feel because we are, like, ‘How come we didn’t realize it? How did we not know? How did you not feel comfortable enough to come to me and share it with me? We all know that when people are suffering or struggling, we are all incredibly good at covering it up for those who know we are covering it up.
On the “invisibility” of mental health:
«I have the feeling that many parents do not feel prepared to deal with these problems because many people think that there is a mental illness and then there is everything else … How can we collectively, as a society, prepare and make parents feel more comfortable and better equipped to be able to deal with daily stress or daily ignorance of what their children are going through, growing up in this world that we have allowed to create, which I think is making us sicker? »
On how the pandemic has affected opinions on mental health:
“Before covid, there was probably an ‘us and them’ situation when it came to mental illness. And now I think it’s just ‘us’.