U.K. television critics have blasted the new BBC Two show Tonight With Vladimir Putin as an unfunny spoof, and it has also riled up Meghan Markle fans with a sketch in poor taste that portrayed Markle as "trailer trash." The sketch was blasted as racist by her supporters online, with some calling for a boycott.
According to The Telegraph's one-star review of the series, it includes a sketch called "Meghan Markle's Royal Sparkle," in which a CGI Markle asks questions from the studio audience. At one point, the CGI character threatens to "cut" Kate Middleton.
"Portraying Markle as vacuous trailer trash with a penchant for violence was offensive and borderline racist," Telegraph critic Michael Hogan wrote. "Characterising Putin as a cuddly comic figure was in similarly poor taste, considering his regime's bloody wars and human rights record."
Markle is voiced by Gbemisola Ikumelo, who stars in BBC Three's sketch show Famalam. While she does well in that show, Jake Seale of The Guardian wrote that she "plays the character as a vulgar, vituperative egotist, ie everything the real Meghan isn’t."
"Satirising people by imagining how they would act if they were a different person simply isn’t a thing: no joke can come of it," Seale continued. "You have to feel particularly sorry for Ikumelo, who doesn’t even get to show the fleeting glimpses of improv talent that Tapley displays in his performance."
In one scene, a member of the audience asks 'Markle' what makes her angry. Whenever Kate asks to use her brush, she replied.
"I say no because that’s gross and then I leave my room and come back and I can tell she’s used my hairbrush anyway because it’s covered in skanky hair that’s going grey and I say, ‘Stay the f– out of my trailer or I’ll cut you, Kate,'" the character replies.
Critics were not the only ones unimpressed and offended by the show. Fans took to Twitter to instantly slam it, especially because of its portrayal of Markle.
Extremely Disappointed! in this portrayal of Meghan, I really thought BBC/UK humor was above and beyond this type of 'entertainment'.— Heather (@Heather_HeyHey) June 24, 2019
@BBC stop your racist depictions of Princess Markle. It’s beneath you. Apologize— RG (@Statebird2) June 26, 2019
@BBC I would never have imagined that the BBC would ever be involved in such a racist parody of Meghan Markle. It’s bombastic and ignorance at it's finest and you @BBC have lost a viewer. Whoever created and green lighted such disgusting trash should be fired!— Liza (@LizaG17) June 25, 2019
Ikunelo later defended her character, telling The Telegraph she plays the Duchess of Sussex exactly the opposite of how she behaves in real life.
"Anybody who has seen anything of Meghan Markle in public will know that she seems incredibly agreeable and friendly, always smiling. So I was interested in finding humour in the ridiculous," Ikunelo said. "What if somebody who seems super lovely in public actually has a really mean streak? What would that look like? So I introduced an over-the-top, shouty, hill-billy drawl."
That disgusting skit of Meghan Markle on BBC needs to be shut down and I’m saddened that BBC network is defending this racist content.— Chinenye (@ChinenyeUgwa) June 24, 2019
The actress later added, "If a character I chose to play happens to be angry in a moment, I’m okay with it. Because black people and people of colour are entitled to the whole spectrum of emotions being human demands. So I’m done censoring legit choices and feelings because someone might misinterpret me as an angry black woman. That trope belongs to the media, not to black women."0comments
The BBC also defended the show, saying viewers will "clearly recognise this performance as a spoof and highly satirical, within the context of a programme which lampoons a wide range of public figures and the public’s perception of them."
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