“I don’t mean to be racist, but obviously he’s white; you know, we’re Asian. He’s not the dream I’ve ever wanted for my girls.”
These are the words of Fai, a second-generation Mauritian mother whose daughter Shaaba is engaged to a white man named Jamie. Fai disapproves so deeply of Jamie that in the past she disowned her own daughter, but now the young couple are getting married and fighting to win Fai’s blessing.
Shaaba’s family is one of three featured in the first episode of Channel 4’s new documentary Bride and Prejudice, all of which have objections to the person their relative has fallen in love with. The show is a window into the lives of modern-day Romeos and Juliets who prove the persisting relevance of that dreaded line in a wedding ceremony: “If anyone knows any reason why these two should not be wed, let him speak now, or forever hold his peace.”
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In the debut episode, we also meet gay couple Rob and Simon. Rob’s parents refuse to accept that their son plans to marry a man, or even that he is gay in the first place. His father Steve, who says his first reaction to Rob coming out was one of “horror”, says: “If he was a genuine gay, you’d notice it from a very early age, I think. You know, the mannerisms.”
“Limp hand, the way they walk,” adds Rob’s mother Linda.
The third couple featured is Dee, aged 24, and John, aged 59. Dee’s grandfather Paul, who is just eight years older than his granddaughter’s future husband, is finding the relationship extremely hard to accept. “I’m not actually mates with John that much, to be totally honest,” says Paul – the understatement of the year.
All the contributors are exceptionally candid and honest. There is a heartbreaking scene when Rob goes to speak to his parents about his sexuality for the first time since he came out to them six years ago. Steve and Linda admit they haven’t told anyone their son is marrying a man and that they are already worrying about the moment that he and Simon kiss at the ceremony. “You ain’t going to do that are you? Because that’s…” Steve asks, before Rob interjects with, “What? Disgusting?”
We also see Dee’s grandfather Paul torn over whether to do a speech at her wedding, while there’s an interesting twist to Shaaba and Jamie’s relationship too.
Bride and Prejudice is a fascinating insight into ‘forbidden love’ in the modern age and will hopefully reassure couples who are watching and going through the same thing that they’re not alone. Though the lack of acceptance is troubling at times, the documentary carries an age-old message at its core: love conquers all.
Bride and Prejudice airs on Tuesday 5th June at 9pm on Channel 4