At the start of Lifetime’s dramedy “American Princess” (premiering Sunday), the wedding-day dreams of socialite Amanda Klein (Georgia Flood) implode in an instant, after an ill-timed video call reveals her betrothed in a compromising position.
Humiliated and clothed in only her bridal undergarments, Amanda flees the debacle astride a cycle rickshaw and stumbles upon a Renaissance festival where she finds herself among a community of welcoming — albeit scruffy — oddballs and decides to run away from her problems and join the Ren fair.
The uproarious series from creator Jamie Denbo and executive producers Jenji Kohan, Mark A. Burley and Tara Herrmann (the folks behind “GLOW,” “Orange Is the New Black” and “Weeds”) offers outrageous escapism from the expectations of modern life.
“It’s a pretty random place to end up, but I think it represents any place that someone would want to escape to,” Flood says. The Australian actress admits that the festivals aren’t a “thing” Down Under, but she understands what her character is drawn to and, ultimately, finds: love, acceptance and support from those who live and work at the fair.
The “Rennies” form an unlikely family of craftspeople, washer wenches, mud beggars and Queen Elizabeth I with her Tudor entourage. William Shakespeare is also there, and while his permanent residence at court isn’t historically accurate, the delightfully snarky character is a clever foil for Amanda, our former English major heroine.
Life as part of a Renaissance faire isn’t only jousts and turkey legs. After hours, the employees wash off their Elizabethan persona — literally and figuratively — and enjoy lives that are partially occupied by the banality of vagabond life (tent-living and communal showers) and part Woodstockian nirvana.
After Amanda finds her bearings, she reinvents herself as a bar wench she dubs “Ophelia Feelsgood.” Flood describes donning her character’s Renaissance faire costume as “the cherry on top of an acting cake.”
With encouragement and a few helpful pushes from her new friends, Amanda starts to see what life could be if she’s true to herself.
“Even though it was a tragedy what happened to her on her wedding day, it is almost a bit of an opportunity for her to escape and find a real family — or a different family,” Flood says. “Where you come from isn’t necessarily where you belong.”