Scott Thompson almost saves My Fabulous Gay Wedding. The much-hyped Toronto-based reality show premieres Wed, Jun 1 and Thompson manages to inject just enough piss and vinegar to liven up the proceedings. Sadly, it’s mostly just another reality show – the life affirming, true-love-forever-after kind, as opposed to the bug-eating, dragged-behind-a-Mack-truck variety (well, actually, seeing supermodels scarfing down scorpions and trying not to puke can be quite heartwarming). But My Fabulous Gay Wedding gets tripped up in its own unavoidable contradictions.
As soon as same-sex marriage became legal in Ontario, the wedding industry sprung up virtually overnight to reap some of the pink – and politically progressive – profits. My Fabulous Gay Wedding has the planner and her assistant, the caterer, the fashion stylist and the event design specialist – all perfectly nice people, don’t get me wrong – who get a cut of the spoils of our newfound legitimacy. Thompson is the host and the self-proclaimed “wedding fairy” who breaks into the guests’ homes to snoop around, gets the couples to speak openly about their feelings for a few painfully awkward – nay, cringe-inducing – moments and generally comment on the high-pressure machinations that go into making a wedding happen in only two weeks (with none of the details revealed to the lucky couple until the ceremony).
The show diligently moves from one consumer interaction to the next like a well-oiled machine: the jewellery store, the martini bar, Caban. But we mustn’t forget that being legally allowed to wed in a handful of places in the world and thus being encouraged to blow lots of money on kilted go-go boys and buckets of champagne (the MFGW team indulge in a celebratory toast more often than most of us go to the bathroom) does not do away with queerphobia. No amount of money – or over-the-top, high concept themes – that the team lavishes on poor, lovely Debbie’s big day could buy the support of her parents and her ex-husband, who refuses to allow her two sons to attend her wedding to Nikki (who also has two kids).
Debbie’s emotional devastation doesn’t fit very comfortably with the continuous shopping spree going on around her. In fact, the juxtaposition is heartrending at best and morbid at worst. Not to open up a can of Marxist whup-ass here, but the logic of capitalism simply cannot put a shine on Debbie being rejected by her family and treated as if her lifestyle is a kind of leprosy that her children must be protected against at all costs. It’s sad, and hearing the techno-wedding march theme song every five minutes just drives the pathos home.
That’s where the fabulous Scott Thompson comes in. A national treasure, Thompson was doing queer TV with the Kids In The Hall 10 years before the safe, American-imported pap came around that everyone has their panties in a “God almighty we’re free at last” twist about. He is self-conscious and critical enough about mainstream gay culture to be a refreshingly salty presence, especially in the “Rob And Greg” episode. After going through their photo albums for clues about what kind of wedding they would like, he quips: “They never seem to be wearing shirts.” Then he delivers a deadpan diagnosis to his minions: “Lots of naked men, lots of meat pies, lots of Scottish music.”
Later, his clearly mocking squeals of “Yay! Cosmetic procedures!” when he brings the vain duo to their requisite Botox appointment is a welcome rejoinder to Rob’s jaw-dropping post-treatment revelation that he finds it “really, really cool” that his forehead and eyes “barely move.”
Despite Thompson’s valiant efforts, My Fabulous Gay Wedding left me equally numb. Catch it while you can for, as a friend pointed out, few straight people will tune in (and Global TV sorely needs them to) because unlike Queer Eye, heteros don’t get to be the centre of attention here.