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With apologies to Forrest Gump, reviewing TV shows is like a box of chocolates. When the editor dumps the preview tapes on the desk, you never know what you're gonna get. Sometimes it's yummy, like Torchwood, reviewed here last week. But sometimes you get the real yucky ones.
The producers of the YES Stars 3 (Sundays, 22:30, beginning May 20) Face the Family reality show, in any case, must be a bunch of apes. Because this new offering, in which commited lovers head to their squeezes' parents' places to meet mom and dad for the first time, is just excruciating, and could probably have just as easily been created by giving some monkeys a laptop.
Truth be told, we couldn't really relate. After all, our future mother-in-law flew all the way to Israel to check us out, and we only met our future father-in-law about five days before the wedding.
So when we met Georgia and Rob - she Greek, eight years older than he, previously with someone else for 17 years; he an Italian bodybuilder, former exotic dancer - we were just hopeful things would go well. Except soon we began to wonder whether anyone would want their kids to marry either one of them.
No doubt Rob was a hunk, but when he opened his mouth - well, let's just say it's a good thing he relies on gifts below neck level to make a living. "I know there's something there, she knows it... We both love each other to death," he sums up before heading off to her folks' place, while she drives off to his parents' home.
Flash to Georgia's mom's house, where mom's showing the camera crew the picture of Steve, the guy Georgia was to marry until she cancelled the wedding eight weeks before it was to take place. "I don't think anybody could replace Steve," says mom, meaning our boy Rob's in trouble.
"This is Georgia, and this is her ex-fiance, Steve. I don't know how you take it, but it's not going nowhere, no matter what," says Georgia's mom as she shows Rob the picture on his arrival. "It's your house," mutters Rob defensively. Telling her mom he thinks "Georgia is the right person for me, too," mom snaps back: "But I don't think so, and John [her husband] don't think so." Then the producers threw in an actual fake thunderbolt for effect. Groan.
Georgia's not doing too well, either, with Rob's mom none too thrilled about Georgia having attacked Rob after he came on to another guest at a wedding they attended. "If I would've been there, there would've been a fight," says Rob's mom. Georgia's no prize, either, given to loud outbursts and apparently fits of jealousy whenever the name on Rob's ringing cell phone is female.
Get ready, because there are five days of these encounters, including the ridiculous moment when the parents ask what are clearly prepared questions made up by the producers - on flash cards, bearing the show's logo, no less - designed to embarrass the couple. So we have Georgia's mom, with the bad Greek accent, mangling the English language as she queries Rob about why his parents watch his sister's kids, and demanding to know just who their father is. Paging Jerry Springer!
After a showdown with Rob's mother over a phone call in which the phrase "psycho bitch" was used, Georgia storms out of the house, but soon it looks like things are getting better. The families go out to eat with the kids, and all bygones seem to be bygones.
Then all hell breaks loose as the two families meet for the first time. The Greek and Italian blood mixes about as well as oil and water at the restaurant where they get together, with Rob noting that his mom is "starting to get pissed" as Georgia's mom gives her advice on how her son should behave. Before you know it, Rob's ripping off the Gucci watch Georgia gave him. But her mom's happy - after all, now maybe she'll "go back to her old fianc Steve, and be happyâ€¦"
Besides being exploitative, cheaply made, and inane, this reality show left us feeling used, dirty and wondering why we didn't fill the half hour we devoted to it with something more uplifting, like putting away our winter clothes.
Perhaps inspired by the film Meet the Parents, starring Robert De Niro and Ben Stiller, this AOL TV offering got a deservedly quick axe. YES Stars programmers deserve the guillotine for trotting out this loser to fill their schedule.