Exhausting the “family with weird occupation” reality format in record time, ABC Family chimes in with this no-reason-to-exist concept about an extended clan that runs a Vegas wedding chapel. The only wrinkle here is that the main character, as it were, is the wedding mill’s 15-year-old videographer, Johnny, and the premiere focuses on him going on a date in a limo, adding a creep factor to what would otherwise be merely annoying. Attention, “Family Plots” and “Family Business”: All is forgiven.
The big tension in the debut half-hour involves Johnny taking time off to go on his date, which is no doubt calculated to appeal to a teen audience. That demographic had better show up, since no one old enough to see an R-rated movie without mom is apt to care.
Cheryl, Johnny’s cousin, has custody of him and runs the chapel, which, we’re told, performs 1,500 weddings a month, with an Elvis impersonator available to officiate. Aside from assorted relatives who fail to register as more than a blip (Uncle Chuck? Aunt Barb?), there’s also a Capuchin monkey named Harley.
If that sounds a trifle dull, it’s meant to. Someone apparently forgot to watch other reality shows, which capitalize on editing to craft stories. None of that really happens here — a missed opportunity, perhaps, in terms of the chapel’s clientele.
Coming of age in Vegas, by itself, presents a potpourri of tawdry possibilities, though they lend themselves better to scripted drama than reality — especially with a transplanted teenager thrust into the show’s spotlight.
“Garden of Love” was simply an ill-conceived idea from the get-go, one of those projects that must have sounded good at some point but, like many a Vegas wedding, probably wouldn’t have happened if everyone had been sober enough to think things through.