Illustration for article titled BBC, Who Dis Woman? A Spoof of Meghan Markle Sparks Backlash
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Will the lampooning of Meghan Markle ever end? Likely no time soon, as a new satire show premiering on BBC Two indicates. The 3D-animation comedy show Tonight with Vladimir Putin premiered on Sunday night in Britain, with the Duchess of Sussex portrayed as an obnoxious, viciously jealous “trailer trash” personality who threatens to “cut” Kate Middleton and dismisses questions about her problematic relatives.


As the UK’s Telegraph reports:

She is asked: “What makes you angry?” and replies with an anecdote about the Duchess of Cambridge asking to borrow her hairbrush.

“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,’” she yells.


When she is asked by a woman what it is like being married to the Duke, she responds: “I’m just wondering why you’re so interested there, missy? I mean, what’s that about? Do you have a problem with me and Harry? Are you trying to lay claim to my man?” She then challenges the questioner to a fight, saying: “We can go right now, bitch, you and me.”


While Markle isn’t alone in being spoofed, there is one interesting aspect to her portrayal in this show: Her caricature is voiced and reportedly conceived by black actress and writer Gbemisola Ikunelo, who appears elsewhere on the BBC in the comedy sketch show Famalam.

In defense of the characterization, Ikunelo told the Telegraph, “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 humor in the ridiculous.

“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, hillbilly drawl,” she added.


“Viewers will clearly recognize this performance as a spoof and highly satirical, within the context of a program which lampoons a wide range of public figures and the public’s perception of them,” the BBC told Bazaar.


But here’s the obvious problem with applying that logic to the Duchess: Markle has already frequently been portrayed that way in the British press, notably by those who nicknamed her “Duchess Difficult” and have blamed her for driving an unconfirmed wedge between Princes Harry and William.

Tellingly, the Telegraph gave the show a single star, writing that “the BBC should have pulled the plug on this unfunny, offensive mess.” But Ikunelo brushed off similar criticism:

“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 color are entitled to the whole spectrum of emotions being human demands,” she explained to the Telegraph. “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.”


We’re not sure how legit a choice it is to characterize the California-born Markle as having a “hillbilly drawl” and a violent streak, but we do know one thing: Sometimes, it be your own people.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, an avid eyeshadow enthusiast and always her own muse. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.

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