April 4, 2011

"MOBBED": Why Justin's proposal irked but ultimately worked

Mobbed is a new series on FOX that premiered after last week's Idol. Howie Mandel hosts the program, which exploits celebrates the more-popular-than-ever flash mob phenomenon and uses it to deliver private messages -- messages like Will you marry me?

No surprise that Howie's first episode centered around a groom; large-scale proposals (esp. those involving singing and dancing) never fail to rake in huge viewer numbers on YouTube. And I could sit here and bash the newest addition to our reality-based scheduled programming, but it would be far too easy. Instead, I'm going to take the road less traveled; I'm going to find the good in the intolerable.

[FYI - major spoilers here, so if you're genuinely concerned about that sort of thing, I would suggest watching the episode first.]

My primary issue with the planning of the flash mob proposal and subsequent wedding (yes, the couple got married moments after he popped the question at the Americana at Brand in Glendale) was that the creators/planners/organizers didn't take the personalities of the couple into consideration. Howie's plan involved an elaborate hoax, some occasional singing and acrobatics, and a crowd of hundreds breaking into spontaneous dance sets. But does that over-the-top proposal fit every couple?

Think back to that popular Madison Square Park proposal (like I said: two million plus viewers). Woodrow, the groom who orchestrated that impressive number, is clearly a performer by nature. I watch that video, and without hesitation, I believe that that proposal was precisely what he wanted and that he coordinated the performance, the t-shirts, the signs, the whole bit. It's an extension of his personality and, hopefully, of their relationship.

Justin, the groom on Mobbed, is no Woodrow. He's uncomfortable with his body, generally low-key, and in no way a song-and-dance man (though he does he mean "dice throw"). Howie dreams up this elaborate event that occurs over the course of an hour, involves over a thousand people and spans an entire outdoor mall ... but Justin seems uncomfortable. In his audition tape, he confessed that things had been rocky in their relationship, and he wanted to show that he was 100% committed to Nikki. In this groom's humble opinion, the best way to do that is to plan and deliver a heartfelt proposal that reflects you as a couple. This proposal, despite the bells and whistles, was entirely Howie's creation. Unless the editor was given specific direction to cut Justin out of the planning process as much as possible -- it's clear that the groom played a less than pivotal role in shaping this event. He may have popped the question, but the environment in which it happened (the Disney Main Street pandemonium, the Broadway-style performances, the three-ring circus) was the work of another man.

So why doesn't this critique matter? Well, (a) I'm not their demographic, at least not in this episode. I like a good flash mob as much as the next guy, but I suppose I'm more drawn to the darker, more subversive side of that world -- more like the happenings orchestrated by the creative minds at Improv Everywhere.

Moreover, (b) the bride loved it. She was in tears for more consecutive minutes than any person in the history of televised proposals.

When I turned to my 2Es, sitting on the sofa beside me, I knew that the proposal (flaws and all) was successful. She was a mess. Typically unimpressed by pageantry, she was swept up in the emotion of the moment and sincerely touched by Nikki's reaction. And after reading fellow bloggers' responses this weekend, I see that she wasn't the only one who found the proposal touching and somewhat magical, though many were less than pleased with Howie's idea to turn the flash mob proposal into a flash mob wedding.

So ignore all that stuff I said at the beginning and watch the episode because 2Es (and millions of women across the U.S.) found the sentiment in the spectacle. And just don't think about the couple's drive home that evening, when a glowing, newly-married Nikki asks Justin, How the hell did you plan all of that?, and he has to give all the credit to that guy from Bobby's World.


  1. I wouldn't have responded to such an ostentatious proposal well. Such overly done drama fueled situations definitely stir up the emotions and at times can cause people to agree to things they wouldn't normally do. I love the proposal my fiance did about two weeks ago: simple, asking of my mom (who passed on 3/30), asking my dad, and asking my son. It was great that my dad and big sister were present and it was straight from my fiancee's heart. I wouldn't doubt if this quickie marriage is annulled simply because the couple was caught up in orchestrated TV drama. I agree that had the groom been integral in the planning, it would have been much more meaningful to him and the bride. Oh and a big LOL to your "that guy from Bobby's World." I have to add the "guy that used to blow up latex gloves on his face."

  2. Thank you for giving us a woman's perspective, Kristen. Good to know that we're not the only ones who see flaws in the delivery.

    And so sorry to hear about your loss. I can only imagine how heartbreaking that would be. Hopefully you and your fiancee and your son have taken some time off for yourselves and to be with each other. My sincere condolences to you and your family.

  3. I thought it was absolutely great...I cried just as much as she did...you people should just wish the best for them and let it be...

  4. Dear Anonymous,

    A few things:

    1. Who is "you people?" Bloggers? Grooms? The Irish? Who exactly are you talking about?

    2. Congratulations, you are the reason this proposal "ultimately worked." You are one of the millions of people who bought into the premise, and for that, the producers thank you.

    3. I don't think "crying as much as she did" is a valid argument. My wife cried as well; but in the end, she had to admit that the proposal was shallow and empty and not the work of the Groom. ***It is the Groom's job to execute the proposal.*** He can certainly ask for help -- but it is his job. In my opinion, Justin did not do his job.

  5. Brian; Well said. There's too much "show" and "upstaging" these days in proposals and weddings (thx reality tv) - what ever happened to 2 people in love simply being themselves? Let's hope their relationship outlasts their 15 mins of fame.

  6. It was awesome- c'mon now-- are we so jaded that we can't appreciate how completely sweet that bride was? I wish we could all be so lucky to have such a magical night!

    1. Beth, I'm afraid the bride's sweetness is not in question here. As this is a groom's blog, we're focused on HIS role in all of this.

      If I was jaded, I wouldn't find THIS video awesome in a thousand different ways: https://vimeo.com/42828824. But I do. The groom clearly played a role; he involved friends and family; and NBC didn't need to bring in the Cirque du Soleil acrobats to fill in the gaps. It's beautiful and personal and reflects them as a couple (they're both performers, I read in an interview).

  7. I am just coming across this gem of a video. There are arguments from both sides that seem valid. However, I would like to make two observations that I think people are overlooking.

    1. As a guy, If I were totally head over heels in love to propose marriage to a woman, I would be hard pressed to pass up a once in a lifetime proposal and marriage completely funded with more bells and whistles than than the Macy's Christmas Parade. I can see why, in so loving this woman that he would go along with whatever the producers wanted to give her all that he could give her. As a guy I get this.

    2. The Bride is model, and a runway model to boot. Being in front of people and cameras is her thing. Ergo, having that kind of attention lavished on her would not necessarily be unwanted. Even if it wasn't the Groom's thing, on your wedding day, isn't really more about the Bride anyway?

    I think this marriage will last, and I hope that two years on it is going strong. As I hope for all couples who have found love, and decide to be partners legally or otherwise.

    off the record, yeah, This proposal made me cry like a baby.

    What I don't like is the unreasonable bar this is setting for the guy who can't afford a ring, or is in the right place to get his proposal and wedding on national TV. Of course herein are discussions of shallowness, etc. I will leave that debate for those who wish to do so.

  8. i guess that , regarding such matters , there is no such thing as a fixed coherent objective point of view . these things depend of taste , and for some couples a quiet calm wedding could seem much preferable to a parade. it depends on personality and preferences . for instance i wasn't impressed or touched as the rest of the women who saw the video because i wouldn't really feel comfortable being rushed to a sudden wedding in a random gown and in front of thousands of strangers . i like super discrete simple modest elegant weddings . but that is just another perspective.
    i would also like to add that , this should definitely not set a higher bar for men , as love can be expressed in much simpler ways that can be much more passionate and awesome . Money ain't always the key