‘I Found the Gown,’ for the select few
TLC series is the umpteenth take on shopping for a bridal dress
August 23, 2012
It's odd enough that there have been so many reality shows about preparing for a wedding — "Bridezillas," "Four Weddings," "Bridalplasty," "Amazing Wedding Cakes," and "My Big Redneck Wedding," to name just a few. What's odder is that interest in the subject is so high that at least a half dozen shows focus exclusively on the process of buying a wedding dress, including "Girl Meets Gown" and the many franchises and spinoffs of "Say Yes to the Dress."
Watching these shows is the kind of guilty pleasure that allows viewers to shut off their brains for 30 minutes. With the intellect thus disengaged, TLC's new show "I Found the Gown" is a painless and — this is rare — inoffensive way to kill time for women who want to relive or anticipate the joys of their own wedding day. But for viewers who pay any attention at all to what is going on and who think of what they could be doing instead, the show will likely be an irksome experience.
Premiering this Friday, Aug. 24, at 10 p.m., "I Found the Gown" focuses on Vows, a designer bridal outlet in Boston run by a refreshingly bland couple named Rick and Leslie DeAngelo. In the first episode, three women shop for and buy dresses at Vows, and the DeAngelos acquire more inventory.
The appeal of the store is that all the dresses are marked down at least 50 percent, something that appeals to women like the first shopper we meet, Deborah, a New Yorker who describes herself as "a label whore." Deborah, who was married the first time in a gray pantsuit at city hall, wants the kind of wedding she dreamed about as a little girl.
"I'd rather cancel the wedding than look like a bride on a budget," Deborah says. It sounds like she has her priorities straight.
Deborah is accompanied by a sister and two friends, who are the sort of people who make us wonder whether reality TV has revealed America to be a nation of jackasses or rather a nation of good sports who are willing to act like jackasses on camera because that's what we think reality producers want.
When Deborah comes out in a nice dress, her cohorts all shout "whoa" in unison. When they see a dress they don't like, they all say, "Hated it!" Encouraging Deborah to do some dance moves, they chant, "Drop it like it's hot!" One of them calls her "girlfriend."
The second bride is a single woman named Karolyn who says she refuses to pay retail for anything. She has made repeated visits, and the salesclerks have come to dread her.
As the process wears on, one starts to suspect that rather than having a specific look in mind, Karolyn has a particular markdown. Since Karolyn is evidently a smart person — she mentions that she and her fiancé both attended Yale — one would think that she would know that the retail prices in stores like this can be a little inflated.
Graphics show these supposed retail prices and the much-lower prices the brides-to-be will be paying. Channel surfers might think they've stumbled onto an infomercial for the shop.
Finally, we meet Julie, who is getting married in four weeks. She didn't want to buy the dress earlier because she's pregnant and wanted to avoid having it let out several times.
At around the two-thirds point, Julie fears she'll be unable to find a dress that fits. Tense music swells up as tears come to her eyes.
We won't spoil this bit of drama by saying whether or not she will find a perfect dress within the next few minutes.
Each of the women shares the story of how she and her fiancé got together. To put it charitably, none of these stories is the stuff of little girls' dreams.
In a stunningly undramatic segment, the DeAngelos go to a store in New York searching for dresses. "Today we're going on a buy, or what we call a 'shopping trip,'" says Rick, placing air quotes around the arcane term "shopping trip." The bargaining goes smoothly.
On the plus side, none of the women are the sort of bridezillas or bridesmaidzillas that are often favored on this type of show. The fake suspense is minimal, and no crises seem to have been contrived solely for the cameras.
The appeal of "I Found the Gown" is inexplicable but probably, for some people, irresistible. Former or future bridegrooms whose former or future brides refuse to change the channel are advised to hold their peace.
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