Gary Janetti Explains His Sympathetic Shift in Meghan Markle Parodies: 'It's Not Fun to Pile On'
Fans of Gary Janetti’s popular royals parodies on Instagram may have noticed a tone shift in recent weeks: The TV writer’s take on Prince George has been more sympathetic to Meghan Markle amid heightened media scrutiny in the U.K.
“I haven’t really watched [the ITV documentary], so I don’t really know that much about it, but I do know it feels like they’re having a rough go of it — I think that’s the gist,” Janetti tells PEOPLE two days after Harry & Meghan: An African Journey aired in the U.K.
Meghan and Prince Harry‘s emotional documentary found the 38-year-old opening up about the stress of being a new mom in the public eye, saying in a now-viral clip that “not many people have asked if I’m okay.” (The project will air in the U.S. on ABC Wednesday, Oct. 23. at 10 p.m.)
“The way I see it, in my world, she is family, they are family, and George rallies around family,” Janetti says of his latest memes, including one where the fictionalized George tells Meghan they’re going on a spa day together. “Now he sees that people and the press have piled on her, he doesn’t like it, and he’s rallying around the family. As of now, Meghan — he wants to take her under his wing. Now we’re seeing George might secretly like her. You know, he does not like to kick somebody when they’re down.”
Previous posts on Janetti’s Instagram found the 6-year-old future king of England — for whom the comedy writer pens sarcastic captions — jokingly criticizing Meghan’s every move, including her fashion choices, philanthropy and royal status. But there were always hints “peppered through” that George might have a soft spot for Meghan, says Janetti. Case in point: When Janetti’s pseudo George wondered why he wasn’t invited to Meghan’s baby shower in New York City in February.
“Infrequently, there are moments when he feels like, ‘Okay, even I like this,’ or, ‘Okay, this isn’t bad — good for her.’ Recently, because the press in Britain can be so tricky, I think he now is like, ‘She’s family, and I want to support my family,’ ” says Janetti of how he approaches his character development. “And it gives him an opportunity play the hero, in George’s eyes. So he’s still getting all the attention, the way he would see it.”
As for how Janetti’s fans have reacted to the new memes, “I think people are really responding,” says Janetti, who is known for his work on hit comedy series Will & Grace and Family Guy. “It’s like a story turn, if you think of it as a long-running series. Stories can take turns. The turn, right now, is that he wants to be her champion. It’s not fun to pile on. George can afford to be generous, and where that goes, we will see.”
Janetti is optimistic about the real George someday looking at the posts through a comedic lens.
“I would hope that he would find it super funny, and have a sense of humor about it, and obviously see that everything is meant … it’s ridiculous, and it’s all meant with affection, you know?” Janetti tells PEOPLE. “And I would hope he would have a sense of humor about it and think it was funny.”
In his debut book — Do You Mind If I Cancel? (Things That Still Annoy Me), out today — Janetti turns the focus to his own youth, exploring his formative years as he struggled to find his life’s purpose as a gay man in New York.
“It’s autobiographical comic essays from my childhood and young adulthood — that period in my life before I had anything figured out and was trying to figure out how somebody figures out things,” he says.
After Janetti finished the book, his husband Brad Goreski, the celebrity stylist and former Fashion Police host, gave it a read while they were on vacation over the summer.
“He was finding things out about me that perhaps he hadn’t known previously, and I think that that was kind of neat after we’ve been together for 18 years,” says Janetti. “There are things that I had written about that I hadn’t necessarily talked about with him. Or anybody!”