As if all the shows from The Bachelor franchise weren’t enough already, NBC released a new dating show, “The Courtship,” that premiered on Sunday, March 6. The premise is nearly identical: A group of 16 eligible suitors compete to win the heart of a young, single woman, of course complete with weekly eliminations and almost too much drama to handle. However, what sets “The Courtship” apart is that it is set in Regency-era England (think “Bridgerton” or a real-life “The Selection” book series — still waiting for that to become a TV series, but that’s besides the point). Contestants wear period-appropriate clothing, refer to each other by last name and follow many other customs of the time. The leading lady is Nicole Rémy, a USC graduate, former Seattle Seahawks cheerleader and current software engineer, who believes going back to a time before dating apps and social media might give her a better chance of finding Prince Charming.
One of the most notable aspects of “The Courtship,” aside from the obvious aesthetics of the show, is the panel Nicole has with her. Unlike “The Bachelor,” where contestants meet the lead’s family in the final few weeks of the show, Ms. Remy’s parents, sister and best friend are there from the very first night; they meet all the men and even select who will be on her very first group date. With only one episode released, it’s difficult to tell how significant of a role her family will play in her future choices on the show, but it certainly adds a fresh dynamic that hasn’t been seen on modern dating shows. Further, it grounds the show more in the era it is inspired by, as it was customary for parents to play a role in finding the right match for their daughters.
Keeping with the theme, grand balls replace cocktail parties and final dances replace roses. Instead of pulling aside each of the men for a brief (and assuredly soon-to-be-interrupted) chat, Ms. Remy weaves her way through the ballroom and through the men, stopping to talk to them individually as she makes her rounds. Her panel is also present at these balls and can talk to Ms. Remy’s potential suitors and get to know them. At the end of the night, a group of men who are in the bottom tier are each offered a final dance as their last chance to persuade Ms. Remy to keep them. She is able to tell the men her reasons for letting them go, as well as tell the ones she keeps what she’s looking for from them. It’s a small detail that will hopefully lend her a more successful journey, but the chance for more conversation and confrontation can only lead to more drama as the season progresses.
With just the pilot out, only time will tell if Regency-era England makes for more successful relationships or if the drama will continue to stay at the forefront of yet another reality show. For the sake of our bachelorette, I hope she finds everything she’s looking for and that it’s smooth sailing from here, but for the sake of viewers and drama-lovers (myself included), I don’t think the difficulty of dating multiple people at once will change all that much, even if we are set back a couple of hundred years.
Overall, “The Courtship” is exactly what is expected from a dating show, but hopefully by taking the cast back in time and making some changes described above, a greater emphasis will be placed on the quality of each relationship. Yes, “The Courtship” is just another dating show, so there isn’t anything too special about it, but if you’re craving some more reality TV and wouldn’t mind an old-English twist, “The Courtship” is for you.
Daily Arts Writer Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.