Thursday, June 09, 2005

Weddings Are Weddings

After watching the second episode of Global's new series My Fabulous Gay Wedding one thing became absolutely apparent and that is that a wedding is a wedding is a wedding, and a show about a wedding is a show about a wedding. It doesn't matter if the couple involved are a man and a woman, a man and a man or a woman and a woman.

The second episode of My Fabulous Gay Wedding featured two women, Nikki and Debbie. Both are divorced - from men - and each has two children of whom they have joint custody with their exes. When show host Scott Thompson, formerly of Kids In The Hall goes to them with the application for the wedding license, Debbie immediately states that she's the Bride. As nearly as I can tell the license applications in Ontario haven't been changed to reflect the reality of Same Sex Marriage. After this is taken care of and we learn a little about Nikki and Debbie's relationship (the met when Debbie answered Nikki's newspaper ad, and got her to pull it from the paper after just one day) Scott has to pull together their wedding in just fourteen days. Well really his team of wedding gurus have to do it. They are wedding planner Fern Cohen and her event planner assistant Gregory White, design expert Eric Aragon, fashion stylist Jim Smith, and caterer Barbara Stuart-Peterson.

Of course the essential part of any wedding is what the couple wants and doesn't want as a theme, food, music clothes and of course location location location. This is part of Scott's job; between his talks with them and blatant snooping around their home, he has to give the event team some sort of idea of what they want in a wedding - and hope that he and they get it right. In the case of Debbie and Nikki, what he doesn't find out much until he finds a CD of music by lesbian singer and comedian Lea Delaria. Fern (who is straight) doesn't know Delaria, but her male assistants are very excited about the prospect of having her for the wedding. It just so happens that she and Scott are close friends so he's able to arrange her appearance at the wedding, if they can get her from Boston to Toronto on time. There are other problems. Nikki and Debbie say they don't want a church wedding, but the facility that the team finds for their 1920's speakeasy themed wedding looks suspiciously like a church. That shouldn't be surprising; it used to be a church. Once they have the local they have to get a piano for Lea's accompanist only to discover that the doors of the place aren't big enough for the grand piano that Fern wants. Eventually the piano is reduced to a pianette which will fit into the ex-church. Meanwhile Debbie and Nikki, who describe themselves as retro women, are balking at the vintage clothes that Jim's suggesting to them. Still, with the exception of almost missing the deadline to get the wedding license before the appropriate offices closed for the weekend, things on the wedding planning front run relatively smoothly.

I mentioned that for the most part the concerns of same sex couples getting married are almost identical to the concerns of heterosexual couples. Well that's not entirely true. In some cases there's resistance from family. While Nikki's son and daughter are happy for them, and her mother and godmother both show up. Things are rockier for Debbie. After she and her husband broke up, he begged her not to come out of the closet and initially refused to let her two sons attend even though it was her weekend to have custody of them. Debbie was willing to stand up to him, saying that she wanted to be "gay with a voice." But the real problem was with her parents. They refused to attend because they felt the need to "protect the children" by which they meant her sons. Debbie reached the point where she called off the wedding and told her parents that, but they didn't believe her and were actively lobbying he ex husband to keep the boys away from the wedding. In fact on the night before the wedding Debbie's parents were calling around town trying to find Debbie and her sons. Eventually Debbie's ex-husband relented and lets the boys attend although he refused to allow them to be shown on camera, so in virtually all of the shots where they'd be seen in the wedding, their faces are "fuzzed" out.

Scott Thompson describes the show as a "heartwarming comedy" but from my perspective most of the comedy comes from the self-described (I swear) "Wedding Fairy" himself. Thompson is funny although not in the same way as he was during his Kids In The Hall days but he has his moments. On the whole he seems superfluous to the proceedings as Fern and her team seem to do most of the "heavy lifting". In the end - for me at least - the series falls flat. When it comes right down to it this is a wedding show of the sort that wouldn't be out of place on a network like TLC, Lifetime or W (the Canadian equivalent of the Oxygen network) if the couples were a man and a woman. For me, watching a wedding where I don't have any emotional connection with either of the participants isn't interesting regardless of their sexuality. It seems to me to be a little bit cynical for Global to air this show on the network since it is my impression that they wouldn't put a wedding show about heterosexual couples on their broadcast network. I'd like to suggest that the decision to air the show in the summer in "peak viewing hours" (as defined by the CRTC) is at least in part an effort to keep the network's Canadian content numbers acceptable. Certainly I'm willing to bet that having something unique to sell to the American MTV's new, gay-themed, cable network called Logo may have made the decision to produce the show a lot easier for the programmers at Global. Then again, maybe I'm the cynical one.

No comments: