Married by America
Final Episode – Recap
Do We Get to Keep the Presents?
So we come to the end of this great experiment in arranged marriage. At least that is what Sean tells us every week. I think that perhaps, arranged engagement is more accurate, and in retrospect, it really wasn’t that great of an experiment either. I am sure that it was a great success for FOX though, even more so if the two couples decide not to get married, then no one wins the grand prize.
This week, we found out if either of our two final couples had the courage to get married, or perhaps more appropriately, the courage to back out gracefully. The previews from last week hinted at a lot of bad things happening, and we were not disappointed.
We take a look back at the last four weeks that the couples spent together. Wait a second, did Deep-Voice Announcer Guy say four weeks? Yes he did. But this is day 17 now on the show. Hmmm, let do some quick math here… carry the one… divide by three… take off shoes to allow for numbers above ten to be counted… yeah… double check work and voila! I have confirmed that 17 days does not four weeks make. In fact, the weddings are on day 20, so we continue to have a time problem here. Not that this program has any kind of credibility issue or anything.
A quick recap of the show to date. Basically, Matt and Cortez didn’t have enough chemistry to make hydrogen. Xavier and Jennifer hate each other, and for good reason in Xavier’s case. Denise and Steven made some progress, but in the end, he wasn’t attracted to her, though that didn’t stop Steven from getting to know all of Denise, if you know what I mean, prior to their boot.
That brings us to Tony and Billie Jean, who have gone through “a roller coaster of emotions”, in addition to Jill and Tony, who have argued about Playboy posing but through it all, have “evolved passion”. Evolved passion, is that like giving in to primal urges?
Final Boarding. This Plane is Going to Marriedville
Brunch for the couples. Sean arrives to tell them that slacker time is over, and they need to get hopping on their final preparations for the big day, only a short 72 hours away. They need to go get marriage licenses, write their vows, and generally resolve any last minute feelings that they may have.
As Sean walks away, the couples are silent. You can almost see the wheels turning in their heads, “holy crap, they are really going to make us get married!”
The stress level goes even higher for Kevin, who takes a private phone call from his brother Shawn, who was to be his best man. Was to be is the key phrase, for Shawn doesn’t support this marriage in such a short time frame, and therefore cannot go on with the lofty duties of best man. This is pretty good timing for Shawn. He already had the opportunity to attend the free bachelor party in Vegas, so why not back out now?
Kevin is upset, but respects Shawn’s decision. He tells Jill the news, and she soon comes to decide that it is yet another slam on her from Kevin’s family. Gosh Jill, I tend to think that the explanation that Shawn feared supporting a marriage on such shaky terms was a good one. It isn’t all about you, though I am certain that Daddy raised you to think that way.
Tony and Billie Jean are first to arrive at the marriage license office. As the notary public begins to type the license, Tony confesses, “Every click of the typewriter is another nail in the coffin.” Now, I am not expert on marriage, just ask any of my seven ex-wives, but to me, such a statement is not indicative of a healthy desire to get married. Perhaps I am wrong though.
Tony makes it through the license acquisition process without requiring the use of an air sickness bag, but he continues to ponder his pending fate saying, “It makes me feel like I am going to be married soon.” Ah, yes Tony, a sure sign of pending nuptials is getting your name typed on to a marriage license. Columbo has nothing on you buddy!
In general, Billie Jean is amazingly happy to have the certificate, while Tony has passed terrified on the fear meter and is well on his way to panic.
Jill and Steven repeat the process, and afterward we see that Jill is sick to her stomach. Perhaps because her stomach never gets any direct sunlight? Just a theory of mine. Meanwhile, Kevin is relieved to have that step out of the way. These two are slipping fast.
Roses are Red, Violets are Blue…
It is time to write the wedding vows. Kevin and Jill immediately know what they want to say, and get right to work doing so. That would be a good sign.
However, Billie Jean and Tony are not clicking on this one. Apparently Billie Jean saw the pen and paper, and decided it was time to make a grocery list. What follows is an argument related to the preparation of that night’s chicken. It is like a scene from Forrest Gump. Billie Jean wants to know how Tony wants their chicken to be made. Chicken Cordon Blue, or fried chicken, or Shake and Bake chicken, or chicken cacciatore, you name it, Billie Jean can make it. Tony, for his part, doesn’t seem to care. He is still shaken from the marriage license meeting.
They argue about the meaning of “we” in the context of Shake and Bake chicken. Yes, this age old philosophical discussion rears it’s ugly head yet again. For those of you who have not taken Chicken and Interpersonal Relations 401 at the graduate level, let me give you the crib notes. First, never go with regular Shake and Bake, as that indicates a deviant mind. Always take Honey Glazed, it is the safe pick. Oh, and if in doubt, pick C.
The conversation ends, but not the argument, when Billie Jean storms off calling Tony a “Dumb Jerk” in the process. Ah, young love!
Later on, Billie Jean writes a letter to Tony, professing her love, and her desire for him to open up. I have had my doubts that Billie Jean was ready to get married, and in fact, I still do. However, there is no doubt that she has fallen for Tony, and there is also no doubt he doesn’t feel the same way. This is not a good combination.
Sensing trouble, the producers arrange for the pastor to visit Billie Jean and Tony. He wants to discuss their pre-wedding emotions, and assures them that everyone has such feelings. I don’t know that calling your soon to be husband a “dumb jerk” at any point prior to the marriage is a normal emotion. Though perhaps she just wants to get an early start on that in preparation for married life.
In the end, Tony says that he has had many friends who have been in bad marriages and have cheated. He is concerned about hurting Billie Jean.
Billie Jean can’t wait to be married so that they can, “explore more intimate levels together.” Wow, that is quite a statement coming from her. I didn’t think it was physically possible for these two to get more intimate. I am guessing they will need to bring in circus equipment or something.
At dinner that night, Billie Jean pours her emotions onto the table. She is totally in love with Tony, and wants him to trust in her. Tony accepts her feelings, but says that he honestly cannot say the same thing at this point. It is honesty that once again Billie Jean accepts. That part is good, but what is bad and getting worse, is that Billie Jean is completely open to getting crushed by a guy who admits he doesn’t love her.
Back to Jill and Kevin. The dilemma of the Best Man continues on. Jill is still mad about Shawn backing out, and now she wants to know who Kevin has chosen. Jill expresses her fears about Kevin’s family and it’s influence on him. Kevin has a pretty fair counterpoint, that being Jill’s dad. Jill says that she can’t control what her dad does, and that Tony is going to need to be strong. Apparently she cannot apply that same advice to herself.
At dinner, our couples learn that they will now separate until the wedding day. This was a surprise, and no one seems to happy about it. Billie Jean is crying as Tony leaves.
The next morning, the four contestants ponder their futures with some alone time. This is all clearly staged, as Tony and Jill are both at the beach, while Billie Jean and Kevin are near the stables. I can see it now on the production sheet: 9AM – 11AM Pondering Shots.
Billie Jean surmises that all Tony really needs is some time to get used to the situation. Yeah, that will do it. Open your eyes!
Tony roams the beach, and this close to the wedding thank gosh they cut out any scenes where he might have been cruising for bikini clad women. It might have gone like this:
Tony: “Hey, before the wedding I can kiss topless sunbathers, but after the wedding, that is off-limits”
Billie Jean (later): “Yeah, he was picking up women on the beach, but the wedding isn’t until tomorrow, so I really can’t say anything about that. Oh, hold on, my stripper and whipped cream are here, can we pick this up later?”
The families arrive later that day, and as per the norm, Jill’s dad does not disappoint. While looking his grown daughter over, head to toe, he remarks, “You were getting chunky, now you lost it”. That seems to be a good thing, though with this guy, who knows.
Dad further pontificates, “I am against this process, but I want to give my daughter a chance.” WHAT? Yet again I remind you that Jill’s dad has been more than happy to participate in this process since day one. He selected Kevin for gosh sakes! Now he doesn’t like the process? You didn’t seem to mind all of this camera time.
Duane and Paige arrive to spend time with Billie Jean. The normal level of screeches, yelling, dancing, and laughter ensues. I am guessing that Duane and Billie Jean’s neighbors hate them. In any case, Duane says that Billie Jean looks confident.
Tony’s Dad has gotten out of recovery from his last encounter with Billie Jean, and joins Bender at his side. Bender tells Tony that this marriage scares him. “You haven’t even said the L word yet.” He points out.
Kevin’s friend Robert arrives, and is happy to accept the invitation to be best man. That crisis solved, we can move on to more pressing matters, such as the final dress fitting.
Jill and Jennifer go, but not to worry, dad is right there to supervise as Jill tries on her dresses. I am sorry, but this is getting a little too creepy. Dad gives the approval for the dress that Jill chose, which is good, because it is too late to change. Besides, she looks pretty darn hot in that dress, so don’t change a thing!
Billie Jean and Paige are talking during her fitting. Paige remains apprehensive. Billie Jean assures her that everything will be fine. “He knows that it would hurt me if he dumped me at the altar” says Billie Jean. Experienced reality TV watchers will tell you that the statement itself was a guarantee that Billie Jean was going to get dumped. It was just too obvious. But, I am jumping ahead.
Pre-Wedding Jitter Dinners
Tony has dinner with the guys. He assures them that he has no doubts about Billie Jean as a person. Later, when Tony is gone, Bender speculates that he feels Tony will go through with the wedding. Another friend says he doesn’t think so. Bender counters that Billie Jean is as good a match for Tony as he has ever met. These guys all seem like they have some healthy partying together under their belts, I am kind of surprised they didn’t open a betting poll on the topic.
Billie Jean is having dinner with her friends and sister. She is glowing with happiness. “I’ve got a family, I’ve got a man, I’ve got the world!” She toasts. Yup, Billie Jean is in for a bad day tomorrow, no doubt about it.
Over in Camp Jill’s Dad, the dinner discussion has turned to the topic of Kevin’s crazy family. Dad feels that Kevin is a “momma’s boy”, and that is bad. Now that statement is a great example of hypocrisy and irony all at the same time. Gee, you don’t think that Jill is daddy’s little girl?
Not to be outdone, Kevin and company are being equally harsh toward their counterparts. Kevin’s mother says that Jill is an attention seeker. We didn’t know that already? What is next? Grass is green? The sky is blue? Richard Simmons is annoying? Kevin’s mom has a tremendous grasp of the obvious.
At the end of the night, the families leave our contestants to their solitude. As Jill’s family leaves, she remarks, “It is great to discuss all the negatives, that helps.” Really? You have a remarkable view of things that are helpful Jill!
By this standard, having a wrestling Battle Royale between the two families would be a great step. “In this corner, weighing in at an undisclosed weight, is the lethal weapon from Long Island, the bain of boyfriends, the destroyer of relationships, in the purple trunks, here he is… Jill’s Dad!”
T Minus 4 Hours
It is the big day. Everyone is getting ready, some more so than others. Kevin is hitting the bottle, and this will become a regular occurrence throughout this day.
The foreshadowing stick is now repeatedly whacking us across the head as Billie Jean says, “I hope nothing bad happens…”
Sean’s work is never done, and he decides that he needs to walk about visiting with each of the contestants, and reminding them of the seriousness of their day. You don’t think that the producers were praying all along that things would fall apart do you? Nah… not these professionals.
This is an important step though. If someone had doubts at this point, the polite and proper thing to do would be to pull out here. Yet, Shawn phrases it such that the decision is to be made at the altar. It was subtle, but probably intended to ensure that any ensuing fireworks are let loose in front of the families.
Jill and Kevin’s Wedding
Jill and dad depart by horse drawn carriage. Kevin is waiting by the altar, and they have done a good job of setting up a romantic little wedding. There seem to be 20 or so guests for each family; as was discussed early in the show’s run.
Dad delivers Jill, imploring Kevin to, “take care of my baby”. I am beginning to think that dad is working on a Emmy nomination. No matter, it is time to get this show on the road. The minister begins with the usual gobbledygook describing the obligations and responsibilities of marriage.
We get to the vows, where Jill says, “Everything in life happens for a reason. Our weeks together have felt like years…” Whoa, they felt like years? You know, that really isn’t a compliment Jill. She continues on, and we turn to Kevin, who says that he is honored and blessed to be standing there, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Moment of truth, the minister asks Jill if she will take Kevin as her husband. She hesitates, then says that Kevin is an amazing man, and she wants to enjoy marriage once. Perhaps this shouldn’t be the way.
Kevin is speechless at first, and then his speech is slurred as he responds, though that could well be due to the several drinks consumed prior to the ceremony. He gives a nice response, and handled it well. He feels that this relationship could well work outside of the show. He wants to give it a chance.
Jill says later that she was scared to rush into it. Why again did you do this show Jill? Oh that’s right, more shots at another Playboy spread.
The family is mixed in their emotions. Jill’s mom is disappointed; she really felt that Jill was getting married today. Kevin’s mom is happy, almost joyous. Jill’s dad shares that feeling. I think Kevin’s dad summed it up well when he said that while he may not like Jill any more now, he definitely respects her. Well, it is a start.
Back in their rooms, Kevin is getting drunk. Jill is crying, and true to form, blames Kevin’s family for her hesitation, and then throws in that she is still concerned with Kevin’s direction in life. Now, I happen to agree with Jill that those are very valid concerns to resolve prior to marriage. Good for her in identifying them.
However, Jill knew all of that before she made Kevin stand up there and say his vows. She could have saved him the embarrassment, but decided not to. It is not about Kevin’s family, Jill. All you need to do to find the problem is take a close look in the mirror.
Billie Jean and Tony’s Wedding
Fortunately no one decided to toss any chairs around at the Kevin and Jill’s ceremony, so after a quick vacuum and chair rearrangement, we are ready to go for round two.
Billie Jean arrives with Duane in the horse drawn carriage. The foreshadow stick is working overtime as Billie Jean shouts, “Who is having the best day ever?!” Well, let me answer that for you Billie Jean, it isn’t going to be you.
Fast forward to the vows. Billie Jean says that Tony is her beautiful bird. She feels free to fly away with him. Duane is crying, no surprise there, he has cried for about half of his screen time on the show.
Tony replies with his vows, saying that Billie Jean is amazing. He promises her that he will have an open heart and open arms for her. Hmmm. It appears that all is well with these two.
The pastor asks Billie Jean for her “I do”. She gives it freely.
Tony is next, and he hesitates before answering. Uh oh, Houston, we have a problem.
Tony continues, “I have no doubt about you. My feelings are not on the same level as yours. You deserve to be here.” He continues on for a bit, but basically he laid out a completely honest response. Really the same response he has given for several days now. I suppose this shouldn’t be a surprise. Yet, again I ask, why did you let it get to this point? This is just cruel to do to someone, especially someone on national TV.
Billie Jean is shocked and silent. She stands motionless for about a minute, and then simply says “I have to go”. She walks away with some dignity, Paige in tow. Duane follows, but he decides to cut lose with several admonishments to Tony regarding his loser status, followed by “You are not even a real man.” He takes his rant back to Billie Jean’s room, shouting down to the wedding party below.
Bender rushes Tony off to the side for some privacy himself. Tony is clearly shaken now. Dad joins them saying, “You did the honest thing.” Bender agrees, “You did the right thing. It was either hurt her now, or crush her in six months.” I think Bender was right.
Tony simply stands there, now arguing that, “I would have fallen in love.”
Meanwhile, Billie Jean has retreated to the closet to hide and cry. She is devastated. I found no pleasure in watching this, and really felt that the production team went way too far in taking the camera to the closet to get the shot. We know she is crying, this isn’t your typical reality show, a little bit of consideration would have been appropriate.
Billie Jean says, “I am a joke.” Perhaps one of the saddest things someone can say about themselves. Yet, a confirmation that Billie Jean is looking for a savior type guy, and I honestly don’t think Tony has the capacity to be that right now.
Duane is downstairs arguing with Tony’s friends about the way he handled it. The truth is, Duane has a point, Tony shouldn’t have let it get to the wedding, but he pretty much loses the argument when he gets mad and attempts to toss his beer bottle. All he really succeeds in doing is confirming that he will never win an Olympic beer tossing competition, as most of the beer ends up on his back. His marks are 2.3, 2.3, 2.4, and a 1.2 from the Russian judge.
Bender is still with Tony, and advises him that he should go talk to her. They meet. Billie Jean says, “I can’t believe you did that.” She wonders if he lied about his intentions in coming on the show. Tony is crying, and tries to assure her that he did intend to meet the right person. He wants her to move to LA and continue their relationship. He says he doesn’t care about the money, house, etc…
They are holding each other throughout this entire conversation. Billie Jean has heard what Tony had to say, but says, “I can’t see you anymore.” She leaves.
This is just beyond the point of entertaining even from a train wreck standpoint.
Sean is here to put a Springer-esque perspective on our grand experiment. He tells us that Jill and Kevin would have won the grand prize if they had gone through with the ceremony.
We get a quick “where are they now” update on our five original couples:
Matt and Cortez have spoken once since the show. They have no plans to get together.
Xavier and Jennifer have gone their separate ways, and as we speculated, that have never said another word to each other, and they like it that way.
Denise and Stephen flew home together. Denise would like to stay in touch, but Stephen has no desire for romantic involvement with Denise.
Billie Jean and Tony still talk. Billie Jean will be moving to LA regardless, but Tony is still urging her to join him in Los Angeles.
Jill and Kevin remain engaged, and are working on their issues. Good luck to them.
Sean speculates that all the participants learned a lot about love and commitment. It is my hope that we learned not to take this type of show this far in the future.
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