In the event there is intelligent life on Mars, one can only hope they’re not receiving any of Earth’s TV signals. If they catch a glimpse of Fox’s newest reality show, they may decide to stomp us out like a common breed of cockroach.
“My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance” tries to distinguish itself from other reality shows by claiming its heritage as some sort of scripted series/reality show hybrid. But Webster’s is going to have to rethink its entry for the word “reality,” so grievously manhandled of late, most notably by Fox.
Mixed with several unfortunate “real-life” folks being duped on national TV by paid and supposedly professional actors, “Fiance’s” gimmick is that Randi, an attractive first-grade teacher from Scottsdale, Ariz., is told she can win half a million dollars if she convinces her family that she is marrying Steve Williams (Steven Bailey), a bumbling Chris Farley type who burps and dances around rooms in his underwear.
That a thoughtful and well-acted show like WB’s “Everwood” might lose viewers to fare like this foretells a discouraging fate for Mankind, or worse, a greenlight for more “unscripted” series. Even “Half and Half” and “Two and a Half Men,” the show’s biggest competitors, look attractive next to “Fiance” and its equally tacky cousin “Average Joe: Hawaii.”
Good news is that “Fiance” has just six episodes to hook viewers.
Skein, from the ironically named Rocket Science Laboratories, is from the makers of “Joe Millionaire” and “Temptation Island,” two reality franchises that wear badly with each repeat performance.
The catch here is that the big, fat and obnoxious Steve and his family are, gasp!, paid actors out to sabotage Randi’s plan to lie to her family and friends. (What ever happened to just switching the regular coffee to Folgers?)
It’s a premise so contrived that shows like this likely will find it increasingly hard to lure viewers — as well as ordinary folks to dupe.
In what has become a standard for reality shows, “Fiance” features a nondescript host to chaperone the proceedings (here it’s Claudia Difolco, who looks as if she singed off her eyebrows in some kind of flash fire). Typically, said proceedings include limousine escorts, spa treatments, fabulous mansions, insipid voiceovers and tearful personal interviews.
If the average viewer hasn’t already been desensitized by anything else in the 500-channel universe, Randi crying over the prospect of pulling one over on her parents with the uncooperative Steve certainly will do the trick.
With Trista and Ryan vying for magazine covers with Ben and Jen, it’s no wonder there are people like Randi looking for their piece of the reality pie. But the real sting isn’t that Steve is so obnoxious and rude or even a total fake. In fact, Steve is sort of endearing with his goofy laugh and twinkling eyes.
Supposedly the joke is that this beauty would never marry such a beast. It’s an ironic notion to try to sell to viewers, considering several current TV sitcoms hinge on that very premise.
Moreover, Randi, it appears, is the real beast. According to teasers for future eps, she brings her family to near ruin because she pushes on with the charade. Is half a million really worth alienating the people who have loved and raised you, even if they are as, she describes, judgmental and hard to please?
Remember that this woman is a first grade teacher and has influence over small children. School districts may want to add reality show contestants to the list of those unfit to instruct America’s youth.
Production editors seem to relish Steve’s thick back hair and clownish behavior — and considering there isn’t a lot else going on here, offer plenty of slow-motion replays — and Randi’s constant looks of disgust.