Eddie Judge and Tamra Barney (Source: Bravo)
Eddie Judge and Tamra Barney (Source: Bravo)

Tamra’s OC Wedding: Mondays at 8 p.m. Eastern on Bravo

Happy Labor Day everyone! We are in September, which means tons of new TV around the corner (most of it hits around the middle of the month). Tonight we get the first show that could be plausibly called “new fall TV”, and it’s in the form of a spin-off of the series that has it’s long tentacles fully wrapped around Bravo TV.

Tonight marks the debut of Tamra’s OC Wedding. It follows Tamra Barney, one of the Real Housewives (Orange County edition) as she prepares for her upcoming nupitals to Eddie Judge. Presumably, like other similar spin-off series, this show will take us from engagement to wedding and will find at least six quality hours of looking for dresses, photographers, honeymoon destinations, wild relationship threatening bachelor parties, and of course, the big day at the end.

So, does the long elaborate process that comes with planning a wedding turn into compelling TV? Well luckily, Tamra tries to squeeze a level of grandiosity in such a short time frame (five weeks) that it feels like the Iron Chef of wedding planning. Luckily, her planner Diane Valentine is game for a ridiculously extravagant wedding. Needless to say, Eddie’s cries for simplicity will fall plaintively (though when you consider it’s his second and her third wedding, he kinda has a point).

While the dynamic that occurs between Tamra and Eddie works, it also ends up exposing the sheer vapidity of Tamra’s cause for the most elaborate wedding ever. This is particularly notable whenever a price tag comes up, showing Tamra’s desire for $2,500 wedding cakes, $100 hand delivered invitations with glasses of champagne, and an anticipated expenditure of $60,000 for food. Conversely, when a story from Heather’s bachelorette party ends up , it was amazing to see Eddie try to carve out some space to screw up later that night.

Needless to say, when Eddie tangentially screws up that night (someone buys him a lap dance, during which he commits the capital offense of being aroused while being ground up on), we see a total role reversal, with Tamra going berserk (because the takeaway of this whole show is that the wedding is to be entirely about her and not a partnership) and flipping out at Sapphire’s (the aforementioned strip club).

A pleasant surprise is the considerable restraint used on many of the production aspects of the reality show playbook. It’s tracking shots are used judiciously, it doesn’t seem fluffed to death, and any manipulative editing feels considerably less noticeable. Unfortunately, much to Bravo’s fiercest attempts otherwise, I felt much more likely to sympathize with Eddie at every turn over the very egocentric rantings of Tamra.

The Final Verdict: At it’s best, it can be light, empty, entertainment, but unfortunately Tamra’s OC Wedding often feels vapid and convoluted. As much as it tries to play Eddie as an affable antagonist, at no turn are you convinced that Tamra’s trials are the fault of anyone but herself, whether it’s blowing the budget or feeling the need to know what nasty lap dance her fiancee is receiving. While it’s no worse than many of it’s contemporaries, that doesn’t necessarily make it good. Check it out if you’re really into Real Housewives style drivel, otherwise skip it– there’s enough on Monday nights now that it’s the fall.