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the grossness of bridezillas

this weekend i watched for the first time two episodes of bridezillas — the show on WEtv where women act absolutely batshit as their wedding approaches. by the end, i was feeling mentally icky.

this is the highest rated show on WEtv, so i asked out loud to my (female) viewing companions: why do women watch and enjoy a show where women absolutely embarrass themselves — a show that revels in the instability these women display and finds glee in ridiculing them. answer: because it makes the viewer feel better about not being that nuts.

this made me really sad.

i cannot think of a male equivalent of this, where men watch other men act like idiots and feel good about not being an idiot themselves. there are shows where men do dumb shit (jackass, for one), but these guys aren’t derided; they’re objects of hero worship. people want to sleep w/ these men or hang out w/ them or get a beer. that is definitely not the case in bridezillas. (here, i recognize that idolizing men who hit themselves in the nuts is probably as twisted as finding joy in watching a bride-to-be throw her “cheap” platinum wedding band in the wine, but whatever.)

now a bit of disclosure: i already have a huge bias against this show since i’m coming from a stance of moral condescension. i do not enjoy watching bad things happen to people. i can’t stand america’s funniest home videos, and have never fully appreciated the office or seinfeld b/c they rely way too much on the utter humiliation of their characters for laughs. i realize most people find this sort of thing funny, but i think it takes a partially cruel mind to find it entertaining. i might be coldly rational, but i have no taste for schadenfreude.

and now that i’ve just insulted almost everyone, back to bridezillas.

this show is exactly the type of entertainment i’ve just derided, which is bad enough, but it takes it to a new, depressingly anti-feminist level. this isn’t a passive sort of “bad/awkward things happening to sort-of good people” (like the aforementioned sitcoms); bridezillas is about the active self-destruction of these women. and, just because it’s too obvious not to say, this “reality” show plays into the overemotional, highly volatile, irrational female stereotype — whose use would be more insulting if it didn’t have the ratings to back it up.

i’m not appalled that the women on these shows exist, but i am appalled that so many women watch it. i could probably go on for longer, but you get the gist.

and to end on a tangentially related but hilarious note: WEtv = wet v. entertainment for women (damn straight).

15 Responses to “ the grossness of bridezillas ”

  1. J-Ho said:

    “i cannot think of a male equivalent of this, where men watch other men act like idiots and feel good about not being an idiot themselves.”

    I can think of two: I Love New York and I Love New York 2. Wow, do those guys ever suck. And does it ever make me feel better about not sucking!

  2. Miss Schwab said:

    I felt physically icky after watching Bridezillas. I was nauseated.

    Though maybe it’s because I singlehandedly consumed at least one pound of meat earlier that day.

  3. Maggie said:

    I disagree with some of your points in this post. I think a lot of women watch this show just because women like shows about weddings. Period. Not that that is a better reason, but it’s a different reason. Also, I don’t think you can compare it to The Office or Seinfeld because it’s a reality TV show, and why do people watch any reality TV? Not necessarily because it makes us feel better about ourselves, but because we enjoy the drama and unpredictability (if that’s a word) of watching other people’s “real” lives. Obviously a lot of reality TV does have the effect of making us feel better about ourselves, but some is just entertaining because we’re curious (like Jon & Kate Plus 8, for example) and like to see pretty things like weddings or cute things like 4 year old sextuplets. Anyway, I’m just saying I think you have to consider Americans’ obsession with weddings and reality TV (there are other shows that combine these themes on WE and Oxygen and TLC that don’t showcase crazy, mean brides) in your analysis of Bridezillas, which I agree is a horrible show.

    Also, I know one man who likes to watch “Cops” because it makes him feel better about himself.

  4. alison said:

    i think that’s a good defense of all three different kinds of shows separately (reality, bridal, and schadenfreude), but what i’m saying is that it’s the combination of those elements that’s gross.

    i actually watch “who’s wedding is it anyway” and a handful of other reality-ish shows, but the kind i really don’t like are the ones where the entertainment is primarily derived from “real” people acting like nutbags. shows that are exempt from this are: jon & kate, almost all of hgtv, and even survivor and amazing race.

    actually, cops is the best analogous show that i’ve heard so far, but it doesn’t have that obvious gendered element that bothers me in particular. it actually strikes me as an implicit indictment of “stupid poor people,” but maybe i’m way off base b/c i don’t watch a lot of cops.

  5. Mike said:

    That picture might be more white trash than this wedding…

  6. Maggie said:

    I don’t watch a lot (or any) of Cops either, you would have to ask the expert. But isn’t it on Spike TV? So even though it still has the poor people element, I think it’s being marketed towards men (or at least the reruns are).

    If Bridezillas makes me feel schadenfreude, is Platinum Weddings supposed to do the opposite? Because that show doesn’t make me jealous; it disgusts me in a completely different way. Which I think is an interesting point, because both Bridezillas and Platinum Weddings make me think, are there really people like that out there? So for me, I kind of view these shows like I would a Shark Week show: I’ve never seen a shark in the wild (never been to a $500,000 wedding) or been bitten by a shark (never known a Bridezilla or been friends with/related to one), but it’s fascinating to watch the shark footage or hear stories about shark bites (just like it’s fascinating to see Bridezillas scream at their bridesmaids or to see someone spend $50,000 on centerpieces), just to know that kind of stuff happens, because it is all very foreign to my experiences. Do you like my analogy? Maybe I’m just excited for Shark Week (July 27- August 2).

    Is it wrong to compare brides to sharks?

    Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? is the best one. Yes, I do enjoy the wedding shows from time to time.

  7. Ratt Stink said:

    thanks for linking to schadenfreude, i didn’t know what it was before.

    now if you’ll excuse me, i have some tivo’ed cops to get back to…

  8. alison said:

    while you’re at it, can you please watch all that damned anthony bourdain and monster quest? goddamn.

  9. alison said:

    re: maggie
    i think there is an anthropological argument to watching bridezillas once or twice, but this is their most popular show! justify that.

    shark week only happens once a year, and yes, i think you somehow bolster my argument by comparing sharks to bridezillas. somehow.

  10. Maggie said:

    But I am also comparing sharks to ridiculously rich people, which would not bolster your argument. And it’s not just shark week, but my analogy could apply to any Discovery show that is about a foreign species/environment. I think it’s fascinating for its different-ness.

    I cannot justify why Bridezillas is their most popular show. I’m just saying that for some people, and admittedly it’s probably a minority of people, although I’d like to think it applies to me, it’s not about schadenfreude. For me Bridezillas is only a “if there’s nothing else on” kind of show that I watch (I won’t say enjoy) for its “wow” factor, which is the same reaction I have to Platinum Weddings.

  11. Tom Harkin said:

    J-Ho has an interesting point about I Love New York and I Love New York 2, but I think his argument is flawed. He confuses the participants with the audience. True, the show’s participants engage in silly, degrading, belittling behavior, and they seem to get some perverse satisfaction out of watching their fellow competitors be abused by the show’s neurotic star. But these people, these actors, are actually on the show, not sitting at home. They are willing participants in this sordid game, they accept the show’s rules and demands, and they do silly things. As for the audience, my guess is that most of the people who watch the show are female, not male. Women may get satisfaction out of this show for a variety of reasons — female empowerment, male-to-female ratio, etc. But I doubt that many men watch it in general. If they do, it’s probably to see a woman make a fool of herself, rather than to derive satisfaction of the suckiness of her suitors.

  12. alison said:

    i retract my shark statement.
    at least w/ platinum weddings (and all shows about wanton materialism, like my super sweet 16), there are pretty and shiny things to look at. you could turn off the sound and treat it like a high-end catalog with people in the way. no such luck w/ bridezillas.

  13. Maggie said:

    Good point. Although the most shocking part of Platinum Weddings is silent: when they show the dollar amount of how much something costs. But I agree- Platinum Weddings has lots of pretty things, and Bridezillas, well, usually doesn’t have any pretty things. I’m just saying the most entertaining aspect of either show is its shock value. But I definitely prefer the pretty, expensive things.

  14. Coop said:

    First of all, this is the first blog I’ve seen where the author actually tells her reader to watch something to clear it off their shared Tivo. That’s got to be a first.

    Second of all, I think a number of reality shows make you laugh at embarrassing men. Social rejects on Beauty and the Geek, a roided-out Bonaduce on Breaking Bonaduce, Verne Troyer pissing on himself in Surreal Life. I remember a True Life episode, “I want the perfect body in which some vain guy lamented how he couldn’t get his calves just right and got calf implants. I felt pretty good about myself after that one.

  15. sean said:

    ha, i saw that episode of true life. he showed his new calf implants off to some chicks and they said something to the effect of, “gross, you have breast implants in your legs.” my thoughts exactly.

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