NEW YORK (AP) - They're often drunken and controlling, weepy and abusive, but you won't have all those bridezillas to kick around come November.
The cranky grande dame of reality wedding TV, "Bridezillas" is ending its decade-long run, having morphed from a relatively sane look at stressed-out, spendy New York brides into a hit for WE tv featuring off-the-rails couples from all walks of life around the country.
As the cameras trail along a week or so before their big "I dos," these brides curse, scream and threaten, break stuff, whine for bling and sometimes get physical, usually with their spouses-to-be or overworked and unpaid bridesmaids.
But fear not fans: A spinoff, "Marriage Boot Camp: Bridezillas," offers some sustenance as it follows five `zilla couples from seasons past as their stretched-thin unions teeter on wacky therapeutic exercises like playing dead for one another in a coffin.
Before there were any marriages, though, there was that big day. In more than 180 episodes that included one "gayzilla," everything goes wrong, nobody listens, vendors deserve to die and wedding vows are incomprehensible. The series finale- No. 184 plus specials- is scheduled to air Nov. 1.
Laura Halperin came on board as an executive producer deep into the third season, rising through the ranks as a story developer once the sleepy little show focused more sharply on the negative.
"There really weren't very many wedding shows on. Now it's kind of like a wedding-palooza out there," she said. "I think that we said what we needed to say, which is sometimes the ladies take things just a little too seriously."
Who wouldn't, what with all the incompetence swirling around these brides, and all the people trying to steal their limelight, and all the- gasp- fat people in their wedding parties.
Tricia Cha, now mom to two daughters in Portland, Ore., was part of the tamer freshman class on Season 1.
She bankrolled most of the wedding herself. The worst it got for this strong-willed decision maker, on camera at least, was a bridesmaid's dress delivered in the wrong size. Cha reveled in her gifts from Tiffany, met with her high-end photographer, toured her trendy West Village reception space she picked without her groom and eventually slipped into her $4,000 Richard Tyler gown with a smile on her face.
Would she sign on as a bridezilla now?
"I would not," she laughed. "I don't think the word bridezilla is one most people would like to have their name attached to."
But she felt the show fairly portrayed her union to her hubby Jeff. "We weren't the screaming lunatics that other people were so I don't think there was a lot of moments for us to be portrayed too differently," she said.
Enter Melissa Adams Moore of Season 7.
Her tipsy exit-interview advice after the wedding went like this: "This (expletive) is not worth it. Don't do this (same expletive). I love you. We're married. So beautiful. Tear. Don't do it."
But before those sage words, she threatened to gouge out her mother's eyes and strangle and eat her cake designer. Not satiated by their 15 minutes of reality fame, this bridezilla and husband Chris re-upped for this year's "Marriage Boot Camp," acknowledging trust issues and other relationship troubles. The first season of the spinoff finishes up July 26.
"I would have rather eloped in Vegas," Adams Moore said from Daytona Beach, Fla., of their stint on "Bridezillas."
"It's not really worth it. You take so long to plan for months and months and months for this one day and nothing is ever going to go exactly how you want it. It was too much stress and drama and dependence on people."
Hence the heavy drinking for oh so many bridezillas. Kirsten Walker of Season 6 was among the thirsty.
She was a theater actor before hitting the show and demonstrating Oscar-worthy drama, warring with her band, lamenting tearily that her dress had been cut too short ("It's called math!") and sobbing "My tan is running" on her wedding day.
Leigh Edwards, a professor at Florida State University in Tallahassee, said "Bridezillas" and her TV kin put a tangle of cultural anxieties on the line.
"At stake is a larger cultural debate about the status of the family as a social unit, i.e. expanded definitions of what counts as a family, questions about whether the household will replace the family as a social unit, questions about how central family is as a social unit at this point in American culture," said Edwards, who wrote "The Triumph of Reality TV: The Revolution of American Television."
Walker and husband Seth also landed on "Marriage Boot Camp," noting at the start that they no longer slept in the same room most nights. They now have a 2-year-old daughter who Walker happily dresses in tutus.
"I think that every bride has a bridezilla in her," she said from Dunedin, Fla., outside Tampa. "The people they put on `Bridezillas' just happen to maybe get a little bit crazier than some of the others in the world."
Crazy is one thing. (Hello Jeanine of Season 9 and your in-law hating infamy.) But made crazy by the wedding process is another.
Alpha-bride Calisse Latta of Season 3 did the proposing to hubby De'Andre.
As her DIY wedding approached, she threatened a dress seller with a punch and a lawsuit when he gave her the wrong size for a flower girl. She fell seriously apart when her father went missing the day before the wedding and melted down on her sister for defying her over the timing of a rehearsal just hours before the ceremony.
Then the rings went missing, prompting her mad dash around town only to realize she had them all along at the church.
"They don't coach you or tell you to do anything. My husband was like, this is all you in your natural form. You see this? This is you," Latta laughed.
Happily married with two sons, what's the rage level these days for this bridezilla alum in Los Angeles?
"I try not to get so upset or angry, but it's taken time to implement," Latta said nearly seven years after her episodes aired.
And was she fairly portrayed? "Yes, unfortunately."
Follow Leanne Italie on Twitter at http://twitter.com/litalie
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