â€œBridezillasâ€? is a show aired on WE: Womenâ€™s Entertainment. The show focuses on â€œbridezillas,â€? a term Iâ€™d actually never heard previously, but the word itself is pretty self-explanatory: brides (who can be male or female) who turn into monsters during the planning of their wedding. In most cases, the women/men are already somewhat â€œmonstrous,â€? but become even worse during the wedding preparations. The episode I viewed followed two heterosexual couples, Malia and her husband Richard, as well as Dana and her fiancÃ© Michael. Malia and Richard were given the most airtime on this episode, and I will focus on their relationship and attitudes in this critical analysis. Malia and Richard live somewhere in California, probably in or around the Los Angeles area. Malia is obsessed with celebrities and insists that she has celebrity stylists make her up on her wedding day, a celebrity DJ at her wedding, a couture wedding gown, even a celebrity astrologist analyze her and her husband before the big day. Their wedding is held at the Wattles Mansion in Hollywood, supposedly a place where many celebrities hold their weddings. Richard is retired major league baseball player. While Malia comes off as high-strung, materialistic, and high-maintenance throughout the episode, Richard seems indifferent and unconditionally compliant to Maliaâ€™s impulses.
â€œBridezillasâ€? is a WE original series that airs on Sundays. It is part of the â€œWild Wedding Nightâ€? lineup âŽ¯ all reality TV wedding shows. The channel focuses on attracting women viewers. WE is owned by Rainbow Media Holdings LLC, which is a subsidiary of Cablevision, a publicly traded company and the fifth largest cable provider in the U.S. As well as owning several entertainment channels, Cablevision provides internet services, owns some stadiums and theatres and local news stations. Cablevision has also started programs to educate children and encourages kids to stay in school. The Cablevision website states that WE is â€œthe only cable network dedicated to helping women connect to one another and the world around them.â€?
â€œBridezillasâ€? is marketed towards women in their late twenties to early thirties, probably single. I seemed to get the feeling that the show might also be targeted towards single women who were eager to get married but so far unsuccessful, who might watch the show to heighten their self-esteem, as the soon-to-be brides on the show are mental. I could also see married women and men (probably under the age of forty) watching the show for a good laugh, or even so they could say to themselves, â€œat least I wasnâ€™t that terrible during my wedding planning.â€?
Though the show focuses on women (and in one instance a homosexual male) who are powerful and domineering (and the WE website claims that it aspires to empower women) the show ultimately catered to the patriarchal nature of our society. What the brides are actually doing though their behavior is stereotyping gender statuses, or â€œthe socially recognized genders in a society and the norms and expectations for their enactment behaviorally, gesturally, linguistically, emotionally, and physically (Lorber, 49).â€? Throughout the program I was waiting for the husbands to put leashes on their wives or smack them upside the head to knock some sense into them. By filming these wo/men, the show is affirming in skepticâ€™s minds that yes, women and gay men are too emotional, needy, materialistic and overbearing. One of the promotional images for the show has a bride in a straight jacket, and often times the â€œcuckooâ€? sound effect plays while the bride is talking.
The program does decent job of covering several different ethnic couples though the producers do not include weddings that are not under the Christian faith (much time is spent finding the stereotypical â€œperfectâ€? white wedding gown). The show does include the marriage of a homosexual couple.
Myra Mendibleâ€™s article entitled â€œHumiliation, Subjectivity, and Reality TVâ€? was really helpful when analyzing this television program. As with many reality TV shows, I often find myself wondering how anyone could subject him/herself to such embarrassment. In the case of these â€œbridezillas,â€? especially Malia who is obsessed with celebrities and celebrity status, the prospect of total humiliation to herself and to women, as well as feeding stereotypes of the â€œcrazy brideâ€? is validated by the fact that millions of people are viewing them on television. Mendible embodies this phenomenon by stating, â€œin this sense â€˜beingâ€™ on TV creates an ontological condition always already validated; how can you feel â€˜put downâ€™ if millions of people think youâ€™re worth watching?â€? It is this phrase that leads me to believe RTV will continue grow in popularity, both in the number of viewers and participants because it gives viewers heightened self-esteem to see others humiliated, but also gives participants heightened self esteem merely to be seen on television.
Maybe the producers of Bridezillas thought that their show would empower women by showing them who not to be like and what not to do, but for the skeptical viewer, I hardly think that his or her positive attitude towards women will be heightened after watching Bridezillas. Even I was sinking my hands in my face during half of the show. But maybe thatâ€™s why itâ€™s become WEâ€™s most popular program: because itâ€™s so humiliating on so many levels.
Lorber, Judith. â€œNight to His Day: The Social Construction of Gender.â€? Feminist Frontiers. Eds. Leila Rupp, Verta Taylor and Nancy Whitter. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Companies Inc., 2007. 49.
Mendible, Myra. â€œHumiliation, Subjectivity, and Reality TV.â€? Commentary and Criticism. Eds. Sujata Moorti and Karen Ross. Taylor and Francis LTD, 2004. 335-336.