Like a bad first date, “Newlyweds: The First Year” begins with promise and anticipation, before rapidly descending into “Check, please” mode. While the challenges of marriage should be fertile Bravo territory without resorting to unnecessary histrionics, the channel has cast the show on the extreme fringes of its “Real Housewives” franchise, with crazy brides (mostly) posturing and pouting through the 90-minute premiere. With practically every participant crying in the opener or the “this season on” tease, “Newlyweds” promises no shortage of melodrama. Any viewers hoping for something more elevated than the standard formula, however, should seek a quickie divorce.
If there’s a telling moment that this is simply going to be more of the same, it comes early during the introduction of the four couples. Each pairing has at least some connection to media occupations, including a correspondent for an Australian TV show, a Bollywood actress, a music executive and his stylist betrothed, and a former TV producer. In short, this feels less about capturing the sometimes difficult process of merging lives than hitting one’s mark and delivering moments.
Meeting the players as they prepare for their weddings, the producers quickly establish the characters’ array of over-the-top quirks, from the aforementioned actress, Tina Sugandh, scattering glitter on her lawn and insisting on calling her intended “Tarz” (because he resembles Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Lord of the Apes); to Kimberly Cherebin, who demands her bridesmaids lose weight so they’ll look better walking down the aisle.
This being Bravo, one of the couples is gay, and they provide the most human component, from one family not being onboard with their wedding plans to a fairly frank discussion about sex and infidelity.
Still, where “Newlyweds” could have been relatable, Bravo has once again settled for outlandish — another line extension of the network’s table-flipping divas.
Given the spinoff-launching success of “Real Housewives” (and “Newlyweds” will premiere behind the “Orange County” edition), it’s hard to completely fault the impulse to dance with the guy who brought you. But instead of mining the opportunity to expand its view of a meaty topic, “Newlyweds” falls back on the sort of bad habits that can ruin a relationship (made-for-TV or otherwise), and far from being fabulous in its design, has instead recycled Bravo’s same old pattern.
(Series; Bravo, Mon. May 6, 10 p.m.)
Produced by Monkey Kingdom. Executive producers, Lauren Lazin, Will Macdonald; co-executive producer, Jason Crosby; supervising series producer, Diane Kolyer. 90 MIN.
With: Jeff Pedersen, Blair Late, Kimberly Cherebin, Alaska Gedeon, Tina Sugandh, Tarz Ludwigsen, Kathryn Bougadis, John Lagoudes.