For TLC, Thanksgiving weekend isn't considered time for a breather when it comes to serving up a steady diet of junk food.
Thanksgiving night brings the premiere of "Along for the Bride," a half-hour series about bridesmaids -- and particularly tension surrounding the maid of honor -- designed to tap into the "Bridesmaids" audience. Fortunately, no sinks were harmed in the making of the first two episodes, but any distinction pretty much ends there.
To the producers' credit, it isn't easy to set up a handful of bridesmaids, a bachelorette party, a mini-crisis (The maid of honor had a DUI!), and a wedding all in a half-hour. But they speed matters along by giving each bridesmaid an onscreen nickname ("Farmer-in-Law," etc.), so they can still make it to "You may kiss the bride."
Also, you get to hear brides say things like, "I'm the most important person here," reminding us that weddings are perfect for reality TV, inasmuch as they tend to breed drama and behavioral excesses.
Speaking of excess, "Extreme Cougar Wives" -- for now merely a pilot, airing on Nov. 25 -- is really just a case of repackaging, since one of the three women, 76-year-old Hattie (pictured), has already had her moment in the spotlight on the network's "Strange Sex." Hattie likes guys in their 20s, but boasts about having bedded an 18 year old recently.
While Hattie is on the prowl for new conquests (and as the most extreme, age-wise, clearly the star of the show), the other two women -- Stephanie, 65; and Jude, 53 -- are each in committed relationships with guys more than 30 years their junior. In the latter case, Jude has an awkward exchange with the disapproving parents of Kevin, who is 21, which results in more tears than a rose ceremony on "The Bachelor."
"This is a mess," the father says.
Hey, leave the criticism to me, buddy!
Actually, the main problem with both shows is they feel pretty conspicuously staged, and it requires an enormous suspension of disbelief to watch Hattie pick up a guy at the pool without him wondering why she's being followed around by a camera crew.
Assuming you can get past all of that, the show has a certain car-accident quality, which ought to work to its advantage, provided that most of the target audience isn't glued to Lifetime's "Liz & Dick." (I'll resist the temptation to reference "The Walking Dead." Oops.)
"While these couples are in relationship bliss, friends, family, and onlookers often do little more than gawk or pass judgment," the press release says.
Or at least, TLC certainly hopes so.