Just who is obnoxious on 'FiancÚ'?
Jan. 26, 2004 12:00 AM
The first problem with My Big Fat Obnoxious FiancÚ, though far from the only one, is the title.
It's misleading. The big fat fiancÚ isn't the obnoxious one. Randi Coy, the former teacher from Scottsdale trying to pull off a fake whirlwind marriage, fills that role for both of them. Steven Bailey - big, fat, etc. - has an excuse.
At least he's acting.
The premise of the show is that Coy and Bailey will split $1 million if they can get their parents, friends and families to sit through their "wedding" without objection. But the joke's on Coy. Bailey is actually playing the role of an obnoxious guy, trying to drive Coy and everyone else crazy with his behavior.
That's another problem. Let's give Bailey the big fat part - he could definitely stand to lay off the doughnuts - but even when he's breaking pots or screaming at rich neighbors or swigging wine from the bottle while displacing water in a hot tub with his massive girth, Bailey comes off as kind of a sweet guy. If he elicits anything, it's pity - the kind of pity reserved for guys like John Candy or John Belushi in movies where the fat guy is trying, however ineptly, to win the hot babe. And if, as in this case, the audience knows the hot babe is simply in it for the money, then all the better for him.
Coy, meanwhile, reacts as if Bailey's set himself on fire every time he so much as burps. And, in a reality-dating show staple, she cried on camera last week and moaned about how she didn't know if she could go through with the whole thing.
This isn't good for the show. We're supposed to laugh at Bailey, not with him. We're supposed to be mortified, if amused, by his behavior, not recognize it as a comic type. (Some of us may even recognize it as familiar behavior from personal experience, but that's another story.) And we're supposed to like Coy, root for her.
What am I saying? What could be good for this show? Or bad? Reality shows like this don't concern themselves with critical judgments such as "good" and "bad." Moral judgments, either. There is no morality.
What there is, and there's a gracious plenty, is greed. And it's not just a money thing, though that's the first and most obvious conclusion. The greed extends to a desperate grab at some sort of fleeting TV fame. Failing that, notoriety will do.
Coy made news last week by choosing not to return to her job as a teacher at a Catholic grade school, which she bailed on after working there for a couple of months.
Well, no kidding. Anyone surprised by that? Say hi to Santa Claus and the tooth fairy.
When talking to TV critics recently, Coy said all the right things.
"I mean, it was just an ultimate practical joke," she said. "That's what it was."
She also talked about how she wanted to go back to teaching, but how she was young, wanted the experience, all that. Anyone who heard her couldn't mistake what it sounded like she was saying between the lines: Get me to Hollywood, now.
Prediction: No stardom. But Playboy layout by August (at least an offer). Does that count?
Then again, more than 21 million people watched the Big Fat Obnoxious debut. But that was with an American Idol lead-in, something it won't enjoy this time around. We'll write the big number off to curiosity. All well and good. There's no way that many people will watch again tonight.
But if they do? Now that would be obnoxious.