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Bada Bling Brides: Tulle and tears, but not enough bride drama

At times like this, one turns to Jane Austen: "It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife."

Props to Ms. Austen for nailing it. It is also a truth that a wedding ensues. And, further, it is a truth that the main point of a wedding is the unveiling of the bride's dress.

Thus, it is another truth that when the TLC cable network hit upon the idea of Say Yes to the Dress, it struck gold. The show, or one of its multiple spinoffs, is now on TLC approximately 180 times a week. It is set at and chronicles daily life at Kleinfeld Bridal in New York. The sales of dresses of brides-to-be is documented as sales associates, managers and the alterations department become involved.

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Each sale has some drama. The bride-to-be always has a posse, a budget and a notion of what she wants. Emotions run high. The bride-to-be can be charmingly gushy about her fiancé, but her mother-in-law-to-be can take the view that she doesn't want her son's wife to look like a hooker at the wedding. Hey, it happens. Maid of honour meltdowns. Tears, tantrums, dagger-eyed looks.

Bada Bling Brides (TLC, 10 p.m.) is new and probably meant to fall into the Bridezillas category, one that includes Brides of Beverly Hills, Jersey Brides and Along for the Bride. I think so, anyway. I have seen and enjoyed the charm of Say Yes to the Dress, but I draw the line at those shows that feature a egomaniac bride who is meant to be mocked along with her terrible taste.

For its first outing Bada Bling Brides is set right here in Canada – specifically at the Sposa Italia showroom in Woodbridge, Ont., on the outskirts of Toronna. It is humorous and rather sweet, lacking the venom and high jinks that one expects.

Sposa Italia sells expensive, very blingy bridal gowns, if you know what I mean. As TLC sums it up, "Italian brides want three things: drama, attention and over-the-top couture wedding gowns." We meet Sposa Italia's president, Lia D'Agostino and her husband Ron. Ron rides a motorbike to work. "They call me the pouffer," he says as he gets cracking in the salon. Later, he pronounces, with a sigh, "What is a dress without beads?"

The D'Agostinos' daughter Vanessa is getting married. That's the gist. She works at a bridal salon and now she's having a wedding. At the store, we meet customer Charlene, who is there "to find an extraordinary wedding dress." She says she wants something "curvy, classy." So, one of the D'Agostinos asks, "How are you with bling?"

We also meet customer Anita, there for a last fitting. Blond with a tiny dog, Anita has a crisis at the fitting. She gained a pound and now the dress doesn't zip up. "Is this fixable?" she asks in panicky voice. It is, apparently but one fears she might faint.

Mostly it's about Vanessa. She's an opera singer we are told and she's sung with Celine Dion. What Vanessa wants is a "loungy, Miami-style" wedding. Her dress has fifty feet of tulle, we're told too. Fiancé Albert wants to watch a lot of TV on the honeymoon, which annoys Vanessa.

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Her parents are pushing her around. They have a second dress they want her to wear. Annarita, the maid of honour, is a hairdresser. Before the hour is over, Annarita announces, "I don't even want to be part of your stupid wedding day." This comes a relief because, before that, it seemed the show was a too-nice, Canadian-mild entry into the bridal genre.

Things get tense when the limo driver gets lost on Vanessa's big day. And that's about it, folks.

Bada Bling Brides is not as gripping as other bridal shows. Me, I'd like to know what happened to Anita. Did she lose that extra pound before the big day?

The genre thrives, though. These reality shows succeed because, as a venue, the bridal store is a magical place populated by people who are delirious, yet strangely innocent, and then sometimes, outright savages. Weddings do that. They are their own soap opera, with juicily melodramatic plots about shoes or chiffon, fierce rivalries with friends, parental tension and the occasional psychotic bridesmaid who secretly wants the wedding to fail. Not Jane Austen, but not that far away.

Also Airing Tonight

The Real Inglorious Bastards (History 9 p.m.) is the story of the real-life Jewish-American soldiers who did covert operations during the Second World War and were the inspiration for the Tarantino movie Inglourious Basterds. Filmmaker Min Sook Lee turns the true story into a gripping, often poignant tale, well worth your time whether you've seen the movie or not.

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Airing Friday

Marketplace (CBC, 8 p.m.) starts a two-part series that promises to "deliver the dirt on Canada's hotels," and it does. Prepare to be kinda disgusted during the show's look at 54 rooms in six hotel chains across the country.

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About the Author
Television critic

John Doyle is The Globe and Mail's television critic. His column appears in the Review section Monday to Thursday and on Saturday. He has been the paper's critic since 2000. More

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