"The Spouse House" Episode 4: Nuptials and Newlyweds
Last Week’s Spouse House Engagement Ceremony Episode three of The Spouse House culminated with the usual cliffhanger, this time with Danny proposing to Naya. The shock came when Naya, after a brief hesitation, agreed, setting in motion hurried plans to prepare their dream wedding. (I guess my assignation of them as the ‘odd couple’ in the house proved just absolutely wrong.) In the midst of his proposal, Danny finally finds his voice, expressing himself with an eloquence so endearing that it even managed to warm the cockles of this jaded cynic’s heart. Naya, who remained skeptically aloof through the first few episodes, suddenly the picture of the nervous, blushing bride, is certain Danny will make a good husband and father to her son, Lance. The housemates, receiving the news with rhapsodic zeal and good cheer, return to the house where a lively celebration ensues—champagne glasses clinking like tinny wedding bells as everyone drinks to the engaged couple’s health and future. Like giddy teens at a high school graduation party, the kitchen island is appropriately bedecked with a smattering of unidentifiable handles of liquor, completing the surreal, rose-tinged atmosphere. Hugs, handshakes, bro-hugs, slaps on the back, and tears of joy only add to the jubilee. Reactions From The Rest Of The Spouse House Jimmy, Kelli Jo’s beau nouveau, known (at least by us Kinda Kinders) for his patience, his cheery optimism, and for being the master of his domain, saw Danny and Naya’s marriage as a harbinger of hope for the Spouse House. Danny’s proposal, and Naya’s subsequent acceptance, is an inspiring leap of faith, an invigorating shot of adrenaline to a group caught in courtship-limbo. Describing his and Kelli Jo’s relationship as “completely amazing”, he heavily alludes to a proposal in his future. Bri, overcome with emotion and joyous tears that may or may not be directly related to the two-thirds-empty fifth of Fireball (“Ugh,” (*dry-heaving*)—Oh, college…), frets over her struggle to make a genuine connection thus far. It’s then she reveals, though not exactly a surprise, that she still feels strongly for Chris, who is—both literally and figuratively—engulfed in his exploratory marriage with Missy. One that seems destined to withstand the test of their dwindling time in the Spouse House. While open to her exploratory marriage with Ben, hoping it to be a “transformative” experience, as the show progresses, it becomes increasingly obvious she’s still distraughtly hung up on Chris. And unlike the rest of the tenants already entrenched in their probative connubial bliss, both ‘Bri & Ben’ and ‘Darren & Ashley T.’ are thrown immediately into theirs with little more than a “Hey, how are ya?”. (Which involves, but is not limited to, that most curious and distinct honor of sleeping beside to total stranger…) Pre-Wedding Jitters Danny’s Family And now for the main course, the meat-and-potatoes—Danny and Naya have an entire three days to prepare, inform family and friends, and steel themselves for what they’ve been yearning for most—Marriage. Danny, an unabashedly self-proclaimed “momma’s boy” immediately phones his parents back in Chi-town. To give them the good news. That, in two days, he’s getting married. It was, quite obviously, an—unexpected—revelation. When Danny’s mom finds out Naya has a pre-teen son, she lets slip a disjointed string of utterances like “Oh boy…” and “This is a shock…” and “You’ve only known this person for two weeks.” Danny insists he’s happy, and there’s nothing to indicate otherwise. His father’s rejoinder: “Well you say that…”. Did I mention that Naya’s sitting beside him on the bed, silently listening and angst-ridden, during the whole conversation? Because she is. To Danny, his family’s support means everything. Stuck between a rock and a hard place, the walls inch ever-closer—“If I had to choose between my wife and my family,” he says, his resolve shaken, but not stirred, “I don’t know.” He recognizes and understands his parent’s reticence (i.e., an expeditious marriage, step-fatherhood, etc.), and that he’s caught them somewhat off-guard. But Danny, once tentative and withdrawn, is certain Naya’s the woman for him and he’s jumping in head-first, with both feet and no floaties. Concerned his parents don’t approve, Danny explicitly asks if they plan on attending and, given that they’re concerned parents and not spiteful monsters, they assure him they’ll be there. The phone-call ends, and Naya, disconcerted (atop her pre-wedding jitters) can’t disguise her hurt, calls it a “buzzkill”, and things get emotional, both for her and Danny. But Danny, fulfilling his pledged oath of husband (to-be) comforts Naya. Sympathetic but still upset, she says she understands his mother’s reservations, but that they came here for the express purpose of finding a partner. Unconventionality is the name of the game, after all. Naya’s Family Contrary to Danny’ family, Naya’s offers her their full, unwavering support, as evinced during a video chat with her aunt and, later, with her two best friends, all of whom could aptly be described as ‘ecstatic’. She decides to wait to inform her son until they are together, and, in a fashion similar to Danny’s (but much more decisive), she asserts—to cast, viewers, and to Danny himself—that it’s imperative that her son like him before they tie the knot. It’s a deal-breaker if he doesn’t. And Danny, the kind, understanding romantic soul that he is, accepts this an immutable precondition. Wedding Planning And ‘The Day Before’ The one major benefit to getting married on The Spouse House I can glean is the fact that the love-besotted soon-to-be-weds don’t have to bother with all the crazy, hectic, soul-crushing planning that leaves you wondering if it’s really worth the hassle. Floral arrangements, ring shopping, place settings, and the rest of the tedium that makes planning the invasion of a foreign country seem both simpler and more preferable to planning a wedding. Complimentary ring choices, a rack of gifted wedding dress choices for Naya, tuxedos for Danny, eliminates the exaggerated, all-day shopping excursions championed by Hollywood films TV shows. The housemates offer all manner of support and assistance throughout the consolidated process. The day before the wedding sees those as-yet-unhitched miscreants frolicking impishly in the house pool. Tom and Ben engage in a highly competitive game of water ping pong, sans net, while Chris wantonly flirts with a prostrate Bri, lying on her stomach on a blow-up raft, sunglasses on, drink in a cup-holder. Bri admits that she and Chris have a “flirty” relationship involving a lot of playfully suggestive physical contact, laughter, and general good-time-having. She is convinced—and probably correctly—that there is still something between the two, and that he obviously has feelings for her, in some capacity, at least. And it looks like she’s right. The bigger question, the greater issue at hand, is: What exactly is Chris up to? He and Missy have been getting on like gangbusters—Is it just his personality? Or is something more insidious at play? Like that he’s maybe, possibly hedging his bets…? Whatever the case, disaster is lurking around the corner, and not only because Bri still has feelings for him. But because of the waves it’s causing with both Missy and Ben. Chris might unknowingly be setting the stage for a two-front war. A two-front war being generally inadvisable, I have a feeling that fighting even a single-front war against Missy would prove catastrophically ill-fated. Trying to keep cool about it, Missy doesn’t hide the fact that she’s none-too-pleased, and that Bri had her chance and it’s time to move on. Following that confusing, unwritten rule where the third party catches all the flak for his/her partner’s actions and/or infidelity, Missy almost seems more upset with Bri than Chris. (I’ve never understood that attitude—reason would dictate that the philanderer receives the brunt of the blame, but it so often seems otherwise.) In all fairness to the residents, though, the Spouse House dynamic is oddly situated in that it has the very real possibility of unintentionally fomenting a polyamorous 'dating pool'. In an expedited situation such as this—where everyone’s there looking for love and everyone is a potential mate—multiple loosely-formed relationships take root and, just because someone is ‘with’ someone else, it doesn’t necessarily imply (or require) fidelity. Where the rest of us have months and years to ‘dip our toes in multiple ponds’—to take things as quickly or slowly as we need, with as many people as we need—the ‘Spouse House-ers’ have elected to dispense with the ‘traditional’—given the ‘traditional’ didn’t work for them—in favor of a more, I don’t know, ‘millennial’ approach? Which, as we see, comes with its own unique set of pitfalls and missteps. So, I guess it’s just whatever works best for you. Lance Lance, Naya’s son, arrives, unaware that his mother is less than a day away from getting married. Provided Danny is granted his blessing, of course. And even though he knows why his mom’s there, the news comes as a (funny and adorable) surprise, eliciting an unpunctuated string of “Oh my God oh my God oh my God”—‘from the mouth of babes’ (more or less). He’s thrilled, but warily protective, not unlike a brother is of his sister. When Danny comes out, he keeps it cool. Plays it coy. Danny, meanwhile, looks as much the tentative child as Lance looks the mature skeptic. Because Danny knows that, if the show is to go on, he needs Lance’s patronage. They converse in a cordial manner, Lance feeling him out. When talk turns to sports, the two men in Naya’s life discover mutual ground. An inkling of comradery ignites, and Naya asks Lance if she should marry Danny. With a flair for the dramatic, Lance, following a protracted, edge-of-your-seat pause, says yes. And the crew gets to work setting up for the wedding—a small ceremony with an idyllic Malibu backdrop. The Wedding Ceremony ("Here Comes The Bride...") The wedding-goers gather and emotions gallivant freely. Danny’s mom doesn’t appear to have fully come to terms with it yet, and Danny attempts to assuage her by assuring her that marrying Naya is what he wants. Returning to the altar, his mother somewhat pacified, Danny watches as Naya walks down the aisle. Realizing that he’s never even met her mother, Danny leaps from the altar once again, this time to introduce himself. He promises her overjoyed mother that he’ll take good care of her daughter, sealing it with a hug. The wedding goes off without a hitch. When the dreaded ‘If anyone has just cause why this couple should not be married’ caveat is recited, a palpable silence takes hold (almost certainly embellished for added effect). A close-up shot of Danny shows a man flushed and statuesque—as though if he keeps utterly still, the question will vanish into a rip in time—looking as though he’s expecting an objection. When it doesn’t come, the two are wedded happily-ever-after. At the reception, it’s time for Naya to meet Danny’s parents. Sensing his mother’s quiet confliction, Naya, in a feat of brilliance, dons the floral-print sun hat of ‘Mother’, sympathizing with her, saying that if it were Lance, she’d probably feel the same way. After further assurances and platitudes, Naya promises she wants them to get know one another better and that she wants them to feel “100% comfortable.” As the party unfolds, the unmarried contestants see the possibilities that await them, some more readily than others. Forced, perhaps for the first time since arriving at the Spouse House, to process the reality of their situation, it proves a daunting prospect that leads to much second-guessing, reconsidering, and anxiety. The previews for tomorrows episode only further that sense of drama-soaked foreboding. Don’t be surprised to see things shaken up as the couples get better acquainted with each passing day—their faults, their strengths, their true selves only becoming more and more accessible the more they reveal themselves. Tune in to TLC tonight at 10/9 Central for Episode 5, or watch for free on TLC’s website.