Reviews > Television

Young and in love

Television | MTV puts spotlight on youths headed to the altar

Issue: "Building a city," March 24, 2007

Many Americans between the ages of 18 and 22 sow their oats in the fields of higher education and water those same oats with two-for-one pitchers at the local inn. But not all of them. Some do the unthinkable. They cut themselves off from the tribe of Dionysian revelry. They (Oh, heavens! Are you sure?) get married.

Engaged and Underage (MTV, Mondays, 9:30 p.m. ET) follows couples of this same age in the days leading up to their weddings. Some couples are high-school sweethearts. Some are interracial. All are confused. Think A Wedding Story for the MTV demographic.

These young couples-a husband about to go to Iraq and his bride who doesn't want to think about it, or a black man whose family doesn't really see what he sees in Latino girls-have much the same problems any couple faces when entering into connubial bliss. Families collide. Brides nag. Grooms shrug. Only here, the drama is manufactured into something more by the youth of the covenant-makers.

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And these covenant-makers make for great dialogue. One couple has a knock-down-drag-out on the eve of their wedding. She tells him, "You're a waste of my life." He tells the camera, "When she ain't fighting with me, she's pretty cool." So that's why he loves her!

The only problem with Engaged and Underage-and this is a problem for MTV, not you and me-is that the people who generally watch this channel probably won't like it. With all the fighting and the preceremonial hara-kari, this show will likely reinforce the decisions of most young viewers to stay single for as long as the beer flows.

Yet, married couples will probably enjoy the dramatic irony of watching the two smiling idiots (aren't we all smiling idiots at our weddings?) go through the flower-choosing and dress-fitting without a clue as to what's about to happen to them, to their lives, to their love. Engaged and Underage, even for all its accidental fear-mongering (married people fight!), oddly celebrates the covenant of man and woman becoming one flesh, and that's cause enough for celebration.

Harrison Scott Key
Harrison Scott Key

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