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ShePop: Is a 'reality' show really the best way to celebrate the sanctity of marriage?

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http://ewpopwatch.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/here-newlyweds_l.jpgThe season premiere of ABC’s Here Come the Newlyweds (Monday at 10 p.m.) is only the beginning: This summer, TV seems determined to assault us with nuptial-related programming until we’re smothered in white tulle and choking on vanilla cake with white butter cream frosting washed down with cheap champagne. Granted, they’re not all bad — Newlyweds isa relatively benign (if kinda boring) exercise in post-marital silliness, a reality takeon the old-school Newlywed Game that loves battle-of-the-sexesstereotypes (men like sex! women are bossy!) but also celebrates marriage at its core. (If there’s any message, it’sthat there’s a such thing as a perfect match.)

But some prove that if anyone’s threatening the sanctity of marriage, it’s TV producers. Later this week The CW’s Hitched or Ditched premieres (Tuesday, 9 p.m.), giving longtime-dating couples their dream weddings in seven days — and thus forcing them to decide in a week whether they’re tying the knot or chucking each other for good. It’s hard for me to enumerate the things wrong with this concept, but let’s just start with its exacerbating of everything wrong with wedding culture while sucking the very soul out of marriage itself. Here’s the thing: If a couple hasn’t taken the plunge on their own, there’s a good reason. A very, very, very good reason. Did I mention the reason was seriously very good? Whether one or both parties don’t want to do it, and whether or not both parties know that both parties don’t want to, is, well, none of America’s business. (Obvious point that apparently needs to be made anyway: National television is not the place to sort out such reasons.) To dangle a fancy wedding in front of the couple is to confuse them — and to miss the very point of weddings, which shouldn’t be to check off a box on a list of things to do in life, but to celebrate the mindful lifelong union of two devoted human beings. To force the issue is to ruin lives, plain and simple. (Did I mention I was once engaged and called off a wedding and resent seeing such a heart-wrenching decision trivialized for an hour of summer television brain candy? Yeah.) Kinda makes WE’s Bridezillas (new season starts June 7!) look thoughtful. At least those producers aren’t purposely making those ladies crazy; they come that way. The fact that this paints women as blinded by dreams of princess-bride weddings and concerned far more with getting a ring than finding a soulmate is old news by now.

But, hey, there’s hope marching down the aisle later this summer: On June 16, TNT’s first unscripted series — from none other than Mark Burnett — is the kind of enterprise I’ll watch purely on principle, to show TV programmers that this is the kind of show that weddings deserve. It’s basically Extreme Makeover: Home Edition: Wedding Edition: Each week a deserving couple (community outreach workers, Army captains, etc.) will get the kind of high-class wedding they deserve. While celeb-caliber pros plan their nuptials, the show will tell the story of their courtship and love. Expect much jerking of tears. I’m all for producers emotionally manipulating me for an hour, it’s messing with people’s entire lives that sets me off.

What do you think? Which wedding shows will you devote yourself to this summer? Which ones irritate you to Bridezilla proportions?