NBC Invents New Content Category: The Costume-Reality Show

A new reality series on NBC is decidedly unreal.

That’s because it takes place entirely in costume, with its participants dressed head to toe in the fashions of the British aristocracy in 1820 to play-act in the courting rituals of the time. 

With “courting” in mind, the show is called “The Courtship” (premiering Sunday) and it can be described in just a few words, as TV shows should be. It is “The Bachelor” in Regency England.

If that sounds absurd, then that is because it is. Nevertheless, just go with it. 

Filmed at an English country estate that must rank as one of the most magnificent in all of England, the show has 16 21st-century bachelors vying for the love -- and hand in marriage -- of a bachelorette.



She is 26-year-old Nicole Remy (pictured above), a software engineer from Seattle. In the show, she comes to the estate -- historic Castle Howard in York, completed in 1799 -- accompanied by her mother and father, her sister and her best friend.

All of them will be involved in Miss Remy’s decision process, especially her parents.

In keeping with the era, her parents are charged with giving their approval and blessing to any union their daughter wishes to enter into. Clearly, this is not dating in 2022.

“Dating in the 2020s is hard, but it turns out dating in the 1820s was bloody difficult too,” says an offscreen narrator to set up the show’s premise in the premiere episode.

In the show, we meet Nicole’s family and friend as they arrive in full costumes in an ornate carriage and are then helped to disembark by liveried footmen.

Later, the bachelors arrive singly or in pairs, in carriages or on horseback. They are mostly Americans.

Some have never traveled abroad in their lives, much less visited an English country estate with the goal of winning the hand of a young woman costumed as a daughter of the aristocracy.

The men are well aware that she and her family are not aristocrats. In this show, this is not some gimmick to be sprung on them sometime later.

Very generally speaking, “The Courtship” shares some characteristics with “Downton Abbey,” although “Downton” comes from a much higher class.

“The Courtship” and its castle are really located in York. “Downton” was in York also, but just fictionally. The stately home used in “Downton,” Highclere Castle, was located elsewhere.

In “The Courtship,” efforts are made to mimic a hierarchy -- familiar to “Downton” fans -- between the home’s servants and the lord, lady and their daughters.

In “The Courtship,” Nicole is referred to as “Miss Remy” and her parents are addressed as Mr. and Mrs. Other members of this pretend aristocracy are addressed the same way.

I am not sure I ever heard Nicole’s parents referred to as “My Lord” or “My Lady” in the premiere episode of “The Courtship” that I previewed this week.

But that is where the similarities to “Downton” cease. For example, in one clip seen on the premiere of “The Courtship” from a future episode, Miss Remy is seen rolling amorously on the castle’s manicured lawn with one of her suitors.

Even lusty Lady Mary didn’t do that on “Downton Abbey.” 

“The Courtship” premieres on Sunday (March 6) at 8 p.m. Eastern on NBC.

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