Shedding for the Wedding, reviewed: Fat couples compete for their dream wedding.

What you're watching.
March 15 2011 8:10 PM

Shedding for the Wedding

Fat couples compete for their dream wedding.

Shedding for the Wedding. Click image to expand.
Shedding for the Wedding with host Sarah Rue

Bridalplasty has gone off the air for the season, leaving a hole in the lives of a fraction of the populace. It being that Bridalplasty is an E! reality show on which brides-to-be compete for one lavish wedding and many cosmetic-surgery procedures, you would not be incorrect to interpret "leaving a hole in the lives of" to mean "having extracted the souls from." (To signal that a contestant had been dismissed, the graphics team on the show's Web site superimposed an illustration of a scalpel and an image of the word cut across her headshot, and so, as the season ground on, the losers piled up like so many unwanted skin lesions in a medical-waste disposal bucket.) But also, with Allyson (wish list: brow lift, breast lift, tummy tuck ...) having ultimately vanquished Janessa (redo bonding of teeth ...) to win a beachside ceremony in Malibu, there was, for a few edgy weeks, a notable void on premarital-makeover trash TV. Into the breach steps Shedding for the Wedding (the CW, Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET).

It is, of course, common to embark on a prenuptial fitness regimen. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the average American bride and groom hope to drop 162.9 pounds, jointly, by somehow getting the mother of the bride off of their backs, but Shedding for the Wedding contestants bear the additional burden of being fat.

The series introduces us to nine betrothed couples ranging in physique from somewhat husky to quietly obese, and it introduces them to an entourage of dreamweavers and taskmasters ranging from barking personal trainers to bleating wedding planners. The couple that sheds the most weight will win the ceremony of its mediated dreams. Depicting their triumphs and setbacks with imperfect sincerity, smooshing together various reality-show formulae with an awkwardness that is at times touching, the series sheds light on a corner of the psyche where the princess-y obsessions of the wedding culture meets a mutation of the great American tradition of self-improvement.

My, how they cooed last week when told it was time for a consultation with a florist! After one couple, Valerie and Dave, got a load of the florist's vision, they recommitted themselves to earning victory. "It's almost become like a celebrity wedding, things you only see on TV," said he. Compare this with her words at the end of a recent weigh-in ceremony, when she was torn about derailing another couple's hopes by saddling them with the dreaded "one-pound penalty": "It sucks because I really want to win this so that we can have the wedding that we deserve." Here, glitter-blinded entitlement meets the Hobbesian state of nature.

Also, it meets the Protestant work ethic, couples counseling, game theory, and footage of tubby people taking pratfalls. Of course, it wouldn't quite be a reality show if the sin of morose delectation were not also in the mix. Unlike some reality competitions, Shedding for the Wedding treads gently in fabricating its villains. The willing viewer has already adjusted himself to the fact that he is watching, in a typical challenge, the teams ploddingly attempt to carry four-tier wedding cakes along a 12-furlong obstacle course—up stairs, over a hill, through a wading pool, and down an aisle to the finish line, while saying things like, "Do you know how hard it is not to eat this icing off my nose?"—and with this kind of production, which intends to be good-natured, it helps to be fond of most of the people losing some of their perilous dignity.

Obligingly, the contestants make themselves likable, with the notable exception of disobliging, slothful, self-pitying Taylor, who's always full of excuses about why she isn't keeping up with her food journal. It wasn't too morally taxing to watch the young lady dry heave into a bucket while exerting herself on a treadmill. Watching this, you receive the entertainment you deserve: a decent gag.

Troy Patterson is Slate's writer at large and writes the Gentleman Scholar column.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Meet the New Bosses

How the Republicans would run the Senate.

The U.S. Is So, So Far Behind Europe on Clean Energy

The Government Is Giving Millions of Dollars in Electric-Car Subsidies to the Wrong Drivers

The Best Thing About the People’s Climate March in NYC

Friends Was the Last Purely Pleasurable Sitcom

The Eye

This Whimsical Driverless Car Imagines Transportation in 2059

Medical Examiner

Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?  

A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.

A Woman Who Escaped the Extreme Babymaking Christian Fundamentalism of Quiverfull

John Oliver Debunks the Miss America Pageant’s Claim That It Gives Out $45 Million in Scholarships

Trending News Channel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Over There
Sept. 22 2014 1:29 PM “That’s Called Jim Crow” Philip Gourevitch on America’s hypocritical interventions in Africa.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 22 2014 1:37 PM Subprime Loans Are Back! And believe it or not, that’s a good thing.
  Life
Lexicon Valley
Sept. 22 2014 1:22 PM Is Arabic Really Just One Language? 
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 22 2014 12:29 PM Escaping the Extreme Christian Fundamentalism of "Quiverfull"
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Television
Sept. 22 2014 2:12 PM Crusader, Sans Cape The superhero trappings of Gotham are just a clever disguise.
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 22 2014 12:14 PM Family Court Rules That You Can Serve Someone With Legal Papers Over Facebook
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 22 2014 12:15 PM The Changing Face of Climate Change Will the leaders of the People’s Climate March now lead the movement?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.