Although “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” remains a slightly faded fixture on ABC, the mid-2000s push toward “feel-good” reality TV largely fizzled, with series like “Miracle Workers” and “Three Wishes.” Undaunted, producer Mark Burnett, DreamWorks and TNT unabashedly revisit the genre, hoping the femme-friendly milieu of matrimony will propel “Wedding Day” into the happily-ever-after category. Laying on the schmaltz thick, the show trots out “Queen for a Day”-type sob stories with a “wedding of their dreams” payoff. All told, it’s manipulative, sappy and probably a smart springboard to launch the new drama “Hawthorne.”
Of course, no good idea in reality TV happens in a vacuum, so wedding-themed programming (“Hitched or Ditched,” “Don’t Tell the Bride,” etc.) has broken out all over like a bad bout of acne.
“Wedding Day” ups the ante as far as largess is concerned, from springing to have a popular band play the “first dance” song in the debut to treating the first bride — who nearly died in a car accident — to a “Sex and the City”-style bash, complete with Manolo Blahniks. Hell, the show even remodels the church for the occasion.
Tears flow. Parents beam. Distant friends who were supposed to be unable to attend are miraculously flown in.
Granted, such benevolence invariably comes at a price. In this case, that includes having conspicuous product placement during your wedding and so much going on that the happy couple are essentially transformed into bystanders at their own big day.
In some respects, “Wedding Day” is being offered as an antidote to our current reality (and even much of our unscripted TV) — a brassy, happy-ending fantasy, at a time when a lot of people could surely use one. And if that all seems a little ersatz — basically “Extravagant Makeover: Wedding Edition” — I suppose there’s nothing wrong with letting these crazy couples enjoy one ostentatiously happy day before facing a big, cruel world just as likely to pull that gilded rug out from under them.