Traditionally, June is the month for weddings. And, given the Supreme Court’s new rulings on marriage equality, wedding talk is certainly in the air. Before June is ushered out, I want to propose my new idea for a reality TV show.
Lots of us are suckers for matrimonial pomp and circumstance. On the treadmill (my preferred spot for watching junk television), I’ve gravitated toward the TLC Network’s Say Yes to the Dress, on which brides-to-be try on gowns while coping with crazy relatives, crazy figure issues, and crazy budgetary challenges. But since competition is now the name of the game, I’ve discovered an even more addictive show, TLC’s Four Weddings. Here’s how it works: four brides attend each another’s weddings. They then rate one another by secret ballot, giving points for best dress, best venue, best food, and best “experience.” The latter implies some fancy sort of entertainment. Like an elaborate Wizard of Oz theme. Or a multi-ethnic “Saris and Sombreros” bash, featuring mariachis and Bollywood dancers. Or a Fourth of July patriotic picnic, complete with fireworks. At the end of each episode, the winning bride receives an all-expenses-paid romantic honeymoon getaway. (Yes, her groom gets to come too.)
I can’t help being amused by those rival brides, seemingly enjoying each other’s nuptials but all the while making mental notes. (“The prime rib was overcooked.” “That poufy gown just did not flatter.” “Didn’t Missy – or Michaela – or Madison -- look a wee bit tipsy out there on the dance floor?”)
The show’s name, Four Weddings, can’t help but remind me of one of my favorite romantic comedies, Four Weddings and a Funeral. Which gave me an idea. If weddings are extravaganzas, so are some funerals. (Joan Rivers calls them “red carpet for dead people.”) Back in January, TLC actually introduced a reality special featuring some of the outrageous “home-going” ceremonies that are staged for real at a Dallas funeral parlor. (Picture, for instance, a barnyard setting and a casket shaped like a barbecue grill, in tribute to a deceased country singer known for his musical salute to Chili’s babyback ribs.) I did not see that show, which was dubbed “Best Funeral Ever.” But I was disappointed to learn there was no competition involved. Of course, if we’re comparing funerals rather than weddings, the guests of honor can’t be expected to judge one another’s festivities. But I can envision next-of-kin standing in the rear at other people’s services, making notes on the most attractive casket, the most scenic gravesite, the most inspiring funeral oration. (What prize would be awarded? My imagination only takes me so far.)
Obviously, I’m making light of death here, which probably doesn’t speak well for me. This flaw in my character was brought home just recently, when I again tuned in to Say Yes to the Dress. Needless to say, each young woman who appears on the program, searching for her dream dress at a bridal boutique, has a problem that needs solving. Like the bride who prefers elegant simplicity when all her relatives are rooting for froufrou and lace. And the two-tons-of-fun young woman determined to stuff herself into a strapless fairy-princess concoction. But one bride’s problem was of a different order. Her head was bald when she chose her gown, because she had been fighting cervical cancer. At the beachfront wedding ceremony captured by TLC’s cameras, both she and her groom looked radiant. But the show ended with a stark dedication to Margo Mallory Ambler,1987-2012. It wasn’t, certainly, something to joke about. So – enough of fun and games for now.