Merchandise-manipulating marriages are becoming all the rage. Trista and Ryan Sutter, the play-actors who created the only marriage to unfold out of the stilted, staged ABC shows "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette," have seemingly turned their entire lives into a promotional opportunity. After turning their bachelor parties and wedding into a reality miniseries, viewers half-expect the new series "Trista and Ryan Try To Have A Baby." The latest "Bachelor," Bob Guiney, is being sued by the show's producers for capitalizing on his plastic romances by shamelessly selling his new CD, not to mention T-shirts, hooded sweatshirts and the "Bob Guiney Beanie." Another scuzzy season of "The Bachelorette" is just around the corner.
Now, Fox is planning its latest putrid plot cheapening a wedding, titled "My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance." Marriage is merely the subtext for what Fox is promoting as "the ultimate practical joke." The "bride" -- and even Fox puts the word in quotation marks -- is a 23-year-old first-grade teacher named Randi, who thinks she will earn a million dollars if she can fool her family into thinking she's really going to marry the obnoxious fat guy of the title, named Steve. But Randi is also duped, believing that Steve is also a reality-show contestant and has to fool his family ? except Steve and his "family" are all professional actors aiming to make everyone else nauseous as they attempt to go through with what they believe is a real wedding ceremony.
"Obnoxious Fiance" isn't any improvement in its time slot, filling the void left open by the failure of the porn-merchant drama "Skin." Fox has a habit of replacing unsuccessful sleaze with more sleaze. Overweight people are already taking exception, with one TV critic promising "You can bet your big fat obnoxious show that this big fat obnoxious woman will be watching a different network altogether on Monday nights."
The neglected loser in this jungle of TV publicity stunts and merchandising opportunities is real-life marriage -- that alternative lifestyle of everyday endurance, sacrifice, support, and eternal love and devotion. It's privately revered by so many, but publicly promoted by too few.