FYI’s new TV series explores racial, cultural, and generational tensions between betrothed couples and their families.
By David Goldberg
Good news: Love won! As of June 26, 2015, same-sex couples can legally marry in all 50 states. But now that LGBT couples have the option to tie the knot, they’ve got a whole new set of problems: homophobic family members, unforgiving religious traditions, and all the wedding drama that makes shows like Bridezillas massively profitable. Warped as a society by the white hetero-supremacist fantasies of The Bachelor, we may forget how often a simple proposal can ignite racial, cultural, and generational strife amongst the families of the betrothed. FYI’s new series Bride & Prejudice explores the tense interactions that occur when couples attempt to move beyond cultural stigma and unite as one.
The reality series follows three betrothed pairs: Eugene and Samantha, an interfaith couple testing the boundaries of Eugene’s Jewish beliefs; Chris and Lou, two gay flight attendants with homophobic parents; and Briana and Adam, a mixed-race couple whose families haven’t caught up with the last century of civil rights.
If this were a documentary, it could offer a nuanced portrait of what happens when disparate cultures are connected by romance. But, in the vein of other matrimonial reality shows, Bride & Prejudice goes for broke with salacious confrontations and outrageous drama. In one episode, proclamations like “Samantha’s marrying a Jew!” and “I don’t like him…because he’s white” will be uttered without irony. Of course, anyone who enjoys wrestling or reality TV couldn’t care less about staged drama, but certain blunders, including a scene in which Samantha brings her Jewish fiancé bacon in bed, are too deafeningly distasteful to swallow.
In manufacturing endless conflict to keep the hour afloat, the producers of Bride & Prejudice rush to demonize the families of the hopeful couples. Sure, the bigoted father who won’t attend his son’s wedding on account of sheer homophobia doesn’t necessarily deserve much screen sympathy, but is it possible that there could be two sides to a story?
Coming-out narratives focus entirely on the struggle of the closeted person, but what about the journey of family members who have to reconcile with their own faiths and upbringings? Rather than stage ridiculous dinner-table scenes between Jews and Gentiles in which non-kosher meat looms like a phantom, Bride & Prejudice could have gained insight into Eugene’s family’s point of view, their heritage, and their traditions. And are Lou’s parents homophobic because they are pure evil, or because of their own cultural influences? Unfortunately, we’ll likely never learn.
For all three couples, the season will most likely come to a happy ending, with their previously unyielding family members showing up under the chuppah at the last minute, crying and beaming. Bride & Prejudice sorely lacks complexity, but it at least presents issues that cannot easily be resolved and shows that love can unite peoples across a spectrum of cultural backgrounds. It’s not real, but as far as fantasies go, it could be worse.
Bride & Prejudice is not subtle by any means, but that may give the campy series a chance to shine in the wedding trash reality TV canon. But if there’s a hungry audience for wedding day tantrums and “intimate” fights among spouses, they might as well be exposed to an added layer of intersectionality.
The final four of six episodes begin airing tonight at 9 p.m. on FYI.
David Goldberg is a regular contributor to OutSmart magazine.