If Chris was left frustrated, angry and heartbroken by his parents’ inability to accept his impending same-sex marriage, at least he had the support of virtually the entire Bride & Prejudice viewing audience to console him.
In a case of reality TV becoming maybe too real, Channel Seven on Monday invited viewers to watch as Chris confronted his parents, Yvonne and Geoff, who can’t accept that he’s homosexual.
He lost comprehensively, but not surprisingly. In the first episode, they’d made it clear that his sexuality contravened their views (his Mum on religious grounds, his Dad because “I feel sick if I see two men together”) but he still wants their blessing.
The tension is unbearable from the moment Chris arrives at their home and shakes hands with his father.
He hasn’t been home for many years.
“You don’t wear those earrings to work do you?” asks his Mum. “Would you like a coffee? A real coffee? How do you like it because I don’t know how you like it anymore,” she continues.
The pleasantries over, she says she knows Chris wants to have a chat with them.
“I met someone who is my partner,” he says. “His name is Grant and we have been together for three years now. It’s really important to me. He’s really important to me.
“And what we are doing is we are getting married in a month’s time and we are getting married in Palm Springs, in the States, and I wondered if you guys would come.”
His Mum quickly makes it clear his trip has been wasted.
“You know I have strong beliefs on that situation so, for us, that’s not an option,” she says.
“I know you are disappointed and hoping for another outcome but that’s not going to happen. We love you and we are happy to have contact, but we don’t want to have any part of this. And we want you to respect that.”
Does “contact” include meeting Grant?
“No, we don’t want to meet Grant,” she continues.
“You can choose all of me, or none of me,” says Chris.
“If that’s the way it has got to be …” says his Mum.
It seems we’ve just seen the death of a parent/child relationship played out on television. Everyone’s pain is palpable.
“Thanks for taking the time,” Chris says as he leaves. “I’d like a hug before you go,” says his Mum.
“You know what … no,” Chris says as he walks out the door.
Up pops a producer with a rather crass question. “How do you feel? You just lost a son.”
“It’s heartbreaking,” says Chris’ Mum.
“No, you’re wrong, we lost him 23 years ago,” says his Dad.
“I don’t have parents,” Chris says. “It’s just too painful.”
The response to the confrontation on social media was swift and overwhelmingly in support of Chris.
— Laura Lochner (@LauraaJanee11) February 6, 2017
How does a parent inflict this type of harm on their child? As a parent, how do you deny your child the right to love? #brideandprejudice
— Olivia (@OliviaSPM) February 6, 2017
Wow just wow. I'm disgusted. If you can't support your child you don't deserve to be a parent. I want to hug Chris. #brideandprejudice
— Samantha McPhee (@sammymac49) February 6, 2017
Turns out Chris will have happy in-laws, though. Grant’s parents have arrived in Australia from the US for the engagement party, despite never having travelled longer than 90 minutes on a plane before.
Pam, Grant’s Mum, reiterates her parental vow is to “love him regardless”.
Grant thanks his parents for their love and support.
Having checked him out and like what they have seen, Pam says to Chris “we will be honoured to extend the same to you”.
#BrideandPrejudice MOVE TO THE STATES Chris! You're parents suck. Start a new life with loving people.
— Gidgit VonLaRue (@GidgitVonLaRue) February 6, 2017
A win for Chris, then.
But will his parents put aside their views and turn up for his vows? I wouldn’t count on it.
And should this painful confrontation – and others in the show – be played out on television? I’m not sure, unless it changes minds and helps parent/child relationships prosper. Otherwise it threatens to fall down on the wrong side of exploitative.