Continuing to mine the vagaries of dating and relationships, “The Bachelor” producer Mike Fleiss and his posse stage the TV version of shotgun weddings on “Hitched or Ditched,” a CW show whose title is more provocative than the concept. Longstanding couples are surprised with a made-for-TV wedding, then given a week to decide if they want to actually go through with the commitment. The payoff, of course, comes at the altar for maximum impact — essentially, “The Bachelor’s” rose ceremony without the foreplay. All told, it’s one of those series that helps explain the 50% divorce rate.
Clearly, a wedding is one of those junctures in life where people are at their most emotionally vulnerable, which explains why programmers (see BBC America’s “Don’t Tell the Bride” and an instant-marriage stunt on Fox’s “Osbournes Reloaded”) keep trying to insinuate themselves into the process. For all the talk about the institution’s sanctity, it’s amazing how many couples are willing to allow the medium that gave us “Who Wants to Marry a Multimillionaire?” to intercede in their “I do’s.”
The first not-yet-duo featured, Travis and CeLisa, have been together for four years, but friends and relatives have qualms about whether they’re meant for each other. Then again, some of these reservations are expressed by her dad, who resembles Christopher Walken in “At Close Range,” is said to drink heavily, and probably ought to have his own show on VH1.
At its core “Hitched” explores a fairly serious issue — namely, what differences signal a relationship that isn’t fated to last, despite whatever mutual attraction and history a couple share? Moreover, a later episode involves a mixed-race relationship in North Carolina (she’s white; he’s black), which brings race into the discussion — and a faux patina of sociological significance to a program that otherwise has all the depth of US Weekly.
The only way “Hitched” really works, though, is if you ignore the lengthy track record of aborted marriages and false alarms that unscripted TV has produced — and it doesn’t help matters in that regard when a relative reminds Travis and CeLisa that they have “90 days to annul this thing.” Of course, all that means is we already have the makings for a built-in sequel.