‘Along for the Bride,’ a boring one at that
TLC series makes it clear the bridal genre has run its course
November 20, 2012
On a bride's special day, she has the right to see to it that she or those closest to her can be ridiculed and held in contempt by total strangers. A long list of wedding-based reality shows helps make that possible.
The latest such show is TLC's "Along for the Bride," which focuses on clueless, aggressive or self-absorbed bridesmaids and the chaos and unpleasantness they can cause. One of those reality shows that apparently encourage people to be on their worst behavior, it fails, despite its artificial feel, to make us sufficiently identify with or laugh at its subjects.
Premiering this Thursday, Nov. 22, at 10 p.m., "Along for the Bride" is clearly intended to be a reality version of the raucous 2011 comedy "Bridesmaids." In the first episode, a soft-spoken young woman named Aki, from Marina del Rey, Calif., can't handle the diverse women who make up her wedding party.
Aki can't count on her maid of honor, her best friend, Kelley, who is identified with an onscreen graphic that says "The Flake of Honor." Luckily for Aki — and for the producers — Aki has met an extraordinarily disciplined woman named Jakeisha, identified onscreen as "The Bionic Bridesmaid." Jakeisha steps up and handles the maid-of-honor duties that Kelley has been shirking.
The three other bridesmaids are Amy, Aki's tattooed future sister-in-law, identified as "The Farmer-in-Law Bridesmaid"; Christie, a friend of Aki's from church who says she didn't think that she and Aki were that close, identified as "The Righteous Bridesmaid"; and a Lindsay, a friend from work who gazes blankly throughout the episode, identified as "The Oblivious Bridesmaid."
While Aki is a rather bland center of attention, the others stick to their assigned personas. Kelley, who was unreachable for three days after a DUI arrest, fails to plan the bachelorette party, then shows up late for it. She misses the rehearsal dinner entirely.
Amy, who is clearly meant to fill the Melissa McCarthy role, talks about how she used to sell sex toys for a living. When the women head out for the bachelor party, they all dutifully act the way women on reality TV act when they go out together, doing shots, screaming "Whoo!" and flirting with random men. Later, one bridesmaid kisses another one on the mouth.
Aki has no visible emotional connection with any of her bridesmaids. The episode is supposed to build suspense over whether Aki will choose Jakeisha to replace Kelley as maid of honor, but neither they nor Aki seems to care.
The series' second episode, although it feels less faked, lacks even this mild suspense. Airing on Thursday at 10:30, it's best appreciated as a mini-documentary about the death of shame in America.
Michelle, a single mother from Huntington Beach, Calif., is planning to get married for the first time to her childhood sweetheart, Sal. Her grown daughter, Amanda, whom Michelle had at age 19, is too emotionally overwhelmed to be an effective maid of honor because she's just given birth to her own daughter. Neither father is mentioned in the episode.
One of the bridesmaids is Michelle's cousin Lora, who spent some time in prison because she made "bad choices." Most of her sound bites involve weak jokes about her criminal past. When the bridesmaids go to a sex shop and see a pair of handcuffs, Lora says that she wishes her handcuffs had come with a key.
For her part, Michelle says that Sal would be excited by one sex toy, completely grossing out Amanda.
Another bridesmaid is getting married in a week. Like Amanda, she's emotional because she's pregnant.
Once again, someone — in this case Lora — has to take over from the maid of honor and plan the bachelor party. (Amanda invites a friend who looks like a Snooki impersonator.) And once again, a bridesmaid is late for the party.
The fact that the second episode is already repeating plot points from the premiere suggests that if there ever were potential for comedy or drama in wedding documentaries, it's been used up. "Along for the Bride" might have been fun 10 years ago. Now it's a bad choice.
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