Purity Rituals Make Good TV

After ten years on air, one reality TV show points out there’s still a market for ceremonial cleanliness.

It’s an American show, but it’s sprouted regional versions all over the world. Because ceremonial purity is something everyone, everywhere wants.

The show is called (you might have guessed it), Say Yes to the Dress.

It’s about the journey of brides-to-be and their families, seeking the perfect wedding dress at Kleinfeld Bridal in Manhattan, NY. To see an episode is to see a purification ritual:

People go on pilgrimage from all over the world to seek the temple (Kleinfeld’s). There they hope to find what will cover their blemishes and inadequacies and make them beautiful and clean. In this sacred space, the priests (Mara, Ronald, and Randy) greet the pilgrims and assess their needs. The pilgrims are astounded by the special knowledge, wisdom, and craft of the priests. The pilgrims have journeyed far and are willing to pay great sums to the priests in order to gain access to the clean white robes they seek. The brides are willing to make sacrifices of time, emotion, and money, for where else can they be covered and made pure?

Possibly a scene from Season One.

If you’ve ever seen the show, you know there’re problems: Sometimes, as the pilgrim’s insecurities and fears mount, they retreat from the temple. Sometimes they find what they’ve been seeking, but the cost of the white robes are too high. Sometimes they desire even greater purity and beauty, and so say “No” to the dress, and seek another temple and another priesthood.

Now there’s a reason why shows like these don’t have in-depth follow-up. While each episode has a very happy ending, we all know the dress didn’t actually solve any deeper issues. Despite the personal sacrifice, the brides’ hearts remained impure; they continued to be dogged by the same guilt, shame, envy, anger that they had before they came to Kleinfeld’s.

And their circumstances were unchanged; they still had difficult relationships, crazy demands at work, health problems, etc.

It seems there are some things that even a really really white dress can’t solve.

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