Patrizio Buanne sings a whimsical song about his dilemma in choosing a bride. While the tune of Funiculì, Funiculà plays, the Italian heartthrob describes his agony over the worldly women who desire to be his wife. The solution to the problem is to take each home to his momma and let her select the perfect one. I wonder if Patrizio has seen the new show “La Sposa Perfetta” (The Perfect Bride) which made its debut on Italian television this week.
Italian reality TV has been under attack by Claudio Petruccioli, the president of the Italian state broadcaster, RAI. He wants the programs removed, but the board did not agree. That is good news for the five-babied bachelors and their stereotypical mothers. Ok, not all of the women fit the overbearing Italian mamma mold. In fact, some of them seem very nice, as do their sons. Why did they agree to this?
The program, which originated in Turkey, shows off eighteen young beauties to five potential husbands and their mothers. The women live together after their first meeting. Imagine this. While the elders watch every move, the younger women complete tasks that the typical Italian wife will face during her marriage. Included in this is the meddling mother-in-law factor. Even the viewers participate by casting their vote for the one they feel needs to go. Talk about a double dose of malocchio! (Can you hear me talking with my hands now?)
To add to the pressure, the matriarchs are bestowed titles of reverence with “Mamma” preceding their first names. This was, no doubt, intentional. The contestants need to know their places from the start. Coming from an Italian family, I know exactly what this means.
At the website for the show, one mother, Mamma Rosa, says, “”The secret of an ideal relationship is in the hands of the women.” In other words, should anything go wrong in the marriage of her son, Vittorio, he will not be to blame. Her perfect offspring, when she loans him to his wife, will remain god-like. Vittorio retains his crown and will never have to bother with menial tasks, such as choosing his own socks. His wife shall assume the role of mother to both him and any children she shall bear. That is a lot of pressure for a game show contestant.
I asked a couple of friends in Italy their opinions. Not much was said of the entertainment value, but I did get a few chuckles. My friends do not watch this type of television, so they were of no help. The fact remains, however, that Italian men love beautiful women. Any media that displays one will catch their attention, even if only for a few moments. (Let’s solidify the stereotype a bit more, shall we?)
While I chose Vittorio as my example in this writing, I have to admit that I have based my opinion of him on the show’s data. Vittorio may very well be a nice man, as is any male who loves his mother. However, his willingness to allow her to choose a wife for him in front of the world does not score any independence points in my book. The days of arranged marriages have not existed in Italy for a very long time, and for good reason. (Who was it that said history repeats itself?)
Italy has worked hard to erase negative images, but this show highlights the stereotypes that make most Italians cringe. Some of the columnists fear that this series will set the women back by 50 years. (Italian women are the most liberated in Europe.) It does not do much for the “mamma’s boy” reputation of the man, either. The population has been declining, so perhaps this the way of giving it a boost and letting women know that they are needed for “the greater good” of the country. (Remember, RAI is a state-run outlet.)
What will happen to the women, and men, of the show? Will the money they make cover the years of therapy to come? Will little Vittorio ever cut Mamma Rosa’s apron strings? How will they explain this to their children, if they marry and have any? Will the money cover their therapy, too?
Yes, the USA has its own reality shows that can set women’s lib back a few years. In their weak defense, none forces bachelorettes to live with potential mothers-in-law. Let’s hope that they don’t get any ideas from “La Sposa Perfetta!”