‘Royal Treatment’: What Makes ‘Cinderella Stories’ So Good?

“Royal Treatment” is surely another Cinderella Story. But we love those, right? Why does this super corny Cinderella-like movie trope still work nowadays? Full of clichés and yet they are still being produced, and still being watched and enjoyed. Let’s try to understand why.

In “Royal Treatment,” Cinderella’s name is Izzy (Laura Marano). She’s Italian-American, runs a hair salon in New York and is saving money to travel the world. Unfortunately for Izzy, the recurring incidents caused by the old building that houses the salon don’t make it easy for that money to be kept. And that’s when Thomas (Mena Massoud), the prince from the fictional country Lavania, walks into her life. 

Prince Thomas, played by Mena Massoud (Aladdin). Courtesy of Netflix.

It all starts when, because of a misunderstanding, Izzy is asked to give Thomas a haircut. She is not the usual compliant type Thomas is used to, and what perfect timing, he was actually in deep need of such a refreshment. He hires her services for his wedding (which is arranged, by the way). They spend some time together, and that’s enough for them to fall for one another. This story has been told over and over again for thousands of years. As a matter of fact, Laura Marano (“Austin and Ally”) herself has starred in similar movies, such as in “A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish.” 

The world doesn’t seem to get enough of the Cinderella trope, but what is it that makes it so successful? It does feel good to witness a woman develop a romance with a man who elevates her on the social ladder. We can all relate to that wish; there would be no need to work our way up, but simply “be” and that would charm that prince of ours. Further, there is something devilishly delightful about a girl who gets snatched from an anonymous life to live a luxurious, enviable one. And the girl could be anyone. Izzy does have her own “Izzy touch,” but in and of itself, anyone could be an “Izzy.” Her life was pretty much not taking the road she wanted; she was putting up with many difficult aspects that she let people impose on her. Then suddenly, she meets her prince and everything falls magically into place. It is as if viewers were told that no matter what they are going through, it’ll be alright. Some opportunity will come along (maybe not dating a prince, but you get the point) and it will be their time to shine. Whether we like to admit it or not, we often do worship this message. 

Izzy (Laura Marano). Courtesy of Netflix.

Making the film even more stereotypical, “Royal Treatment” closes with Thomas showing up on a horse to get his girl (we loved that Laura Marano “Dance With You” Whitney Houston cover soundtrack, by the way). On one hand, who doesn’t want things to be this easy? But then again, don’t we live in an epoch where women climb the social ladder on their own? This makes it all the more baffling that the world is so complacent, worse, welcoming of the fairy tale trope when displayed in a movie. Why does it feel this good to, dare we say, put all the girl power aside and just let the goofy magic be real, even if only in a movie? 

To address the matter from a young adult point of view, I shall say that I would have LOVED “Royal Treatment” back when I was a teenager. In actuality, aren’t teenagers the main target of this kind of movie? Because once you have delved into your twenties, you discover there is more to the cinematic universe than fairy tale films — and thank God for that. Of course, those sappy movies may still feel good when you’re older because that’s literally what they are, feel-good movies. However, interestingly enough, what makes them so ridiculously loved is also what makes them disdainfully laughed upon. It is evident that we love clichés just as much as we hate them. 

Just like Cinderella’s emblematic pure heart, Izzy doesn’t seem to have a bone of malice in her body; in fact, almost everything she does is about helping others. That trait is precisely why she is so obnoxiously good-hearted. In any case, it is almost impossible not to root for her. In “Royal Treatment,” Izzy flawlessly masters the craft of calling out bad behavior, even when it undermines her own prosperity. Similarly, she effortlessly makes everyone love her, making it simpler for her to have them help her help other people. One might even argue that she helps make the world a better place. Both she and Prince Thomas do. Netflix scores points by making both characters bring each other up in the sense that they push each other to become a better version of themselves. They bond over human values, eventually contributing to improving not only their own lives, but also other people’s. To top that off, it takes everything in her not to cross the line with her love interest, because although it is an arranged marriage, Prince Thomas is still engaged. Now is this super-duper cliché? Totally. Yet, we can’t help but be fond of it. And that is the power of the Cinderella archetype. 

Lola (Grace Bentley-Tsibuah), Lauren (Phoenix Connolly) and Destiny (Chelsie Preston-Crayford). Courtesy of Netflix.

The Cinderella trope can also be seen as an analog for the American Dream. Verily, the main character’s life in these movies often does get better. The leading female character tends to go from rags to riches, while the leading male character sees his life become incredibly more aromatic now that he has a chirpy kindred spirit to share it with. And that’s exactly what happens in “Royal Treatment;” Izzy’s life starts upgrading the moment she’s been offered to do the hair for the royal wedding — and viewers know her life will never be the same (for the better). As for Prince Thomas, his dull life must have rubbed off on him, because he is just as dim. The second he meets Izzy though, her Italian blood comes to the rescue to shake things up. Having said this, whether it’s another Cinderella Story or the American Dream, it all comes down to one purpose: the pursuit of happiness. 

Although the storyline is threaded towards an expected denouement, “Royal Treatment” is a feel-good comedy that you’ll probably enjoy watching — especially since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner. Besides, pointing out the clichés and betting on how it’ll all unfold might be a fun activity to do as well. 

“Royal Treatment” is now available to stream on Netflix. 

By Sourour Elfourti

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