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Finally got around to clearing the debut episode of It Takes a Church off my DVR. Sorry it took so long, but I had to get through the previously recorded golden nuggets of Sandlot and Mighty Ducks II.

The show starts in Charlotte, North Carolina, at a church desperately in need of an air conditioner (insert Building Fund offering here). Meet Angela, a beautiful, 30-year-old, engineer in an adorable yellow skirt who hasn’t found Mr. Right. Angela apparently doesn’t know that the church is about to hook a sista up. But before she finds out, host Natalie Grant must belt out a few bars of a gospel tune. I have a feeling these impromptu songs are gonna happen a lot on this show.

Bachelor #1: Nick (31, Motivational Speaker). Maybe he’ll motivate Angela to succeed in a relationship, but I don’t think she needs much motivation. “He’s fiiiine.”

It Takes a ChurchBachelor #2: Lenroy (27, Foreign Exchange Analyst). I don’t understand what his job means, but he brought flowers and can apparently “put a ring on it.” Beyonce in da house!

Bachelor #3: McKinley (27, Recording Artist). He sings a song to Angela right there in front of the whole church. Natalie be like, “Who’s this stealin’ my thunder? I was nominated for a GRAMMY, son!”

Bachelor #4: Senyo (28, IT Professional). He says his life is “infectious.” He works in IT. Am I missing something here?

Bachelor #5: Dr. Bradford (32, Dentist). Oh come on, he’s not a real doctor.

Bachelor #6: Brian (30, Law Student). His mama says “he’s real cuddly.” Uh oh! Mama’s boy alert!

Bachelor #7: Travis (34, Insurance Specialist): He’ll plant Angela some flowers “that will last a lifetime.” So I’m confused. Does he work in insurance or botany?

I can’t even handle the bachelor with a gold wrestling belt draped over his shoulder like Stone Cold Steve Austin. Nachooooo!

Lots of other bachelors crawl out from under their pews and Angela gets increasingly excited with each one. She’s in “a sea of men!” The congregation gets to vote to determine the top three men she will date. Queue ushers with voting ballots and little golf pencils!

Angela admits that her favorite bachelors were Motivational Nick, IT Senyo, and Dr. Bradford (the dentist). After the ballots are counted, the three lucky bachelors are Motivational Nick, Courtroom Brian, and Botanist Travis. Angela is learning to let others help her pick, instead of just basing her attraction off appearances. But then, a crazy, Ryan-Seacrest-level twist! The pastor chooses a fourth bachelor: Dr. Bradford (the dentist).

Let the dating begin.

Round One: Community Service Connection

During a clothing drive, Angela spends a short amount of time with each bachelor (and his matchmaker) while doing some community service.

      • It Takes a Church 3Botanist Travis tells Angela he’s single because he hasn’t met anyone like her. Oh man. The cheesy pick-up lines are starting already. Angela folds a baby sock and lets Travis know that he uterus is ready for a baby like NOW. Slow your roll, girl. First date!
      • Courtroom Brian and Angela play Duck Duck Goose with a bunch of rowdy kids. Awesome way to get to know someone. Angela brings up babies again (Girl!), and Brian says he “maybe” wants kids. And just like that, another one of Angela’s eggs dies forever.
      • Motivational Nick leads a dance party with some borderline-sexy moves. But it gets serious quick when Angela brings up the topic of babies yet again. (Angela. Stop it.) Thankfully, he wants as many kids as the Lord will give them. (He does know that babies aren’t immaculately conceived, right?)
      • Dr. Bradford (the dentist) is in charge of grilling up the hot dogs. But instead of cooking, he pulls out the saxophone he hid behind the charcoal bags and begins serenading Angela. It’s super awkward, even for a dentist. We also learn he’s is divorced with two kids. Angela has dealt with Baby Mama Drama before and doesn’t seem thrilled to go there again.

So this is where I stop agreeing with the set-up of this show. So far it’s been cute and funny to have the church involved. But now Angela has met the bachelors and is starting to feel (or not feel) chemistry. Yet she doesn’t get to voice her opinion (which is a sad reflection of how women are treated in many churches still). The pastor and matchmakers vote on the bachelor that gets eliminated, just from their opinions gained while watching Angela’s interactions from afar. The woman in me says, “Heck no.” I have a voice and it matters.

Despite the horrific Kenny G impression from Dr. Bradford (the dentist), the pastor and matchmakers choose to send Courtroom Brian home.

Round Two: Field Day

It Takes a Church 2Coached by Pastor Frank, bachelors must walk a blindfolded Angela through a “mine field” of eggs, water balloons, and cups of water. I suppose this is the Christian version of The Bachelor‘s sky-diving and rock-climbing trust exercises. If anyone even mentions a trust fall, I will lose it.

      • Botanist Travis was a nightmare. Angela stepped on at least a dozen eggs.
      • Motivational Nick was a little too motivational for me. Calm down, Joel Osteen.
      • Dr. Bradford (the dentist) thinks Easter egg hunts are a recipe for cavities.

Then the pastor sits down with each bachelor to learn more about them. I like Pastor Frank. He seems down-to-earth, despite the huge cross necklace. And, I suppose, despite the celibacy questions. I mean, Motivational Nick is celibate now, but aren’t they all? I would hope they’re not sleeping around while getting to know Angela. It implies that Botanist Travis and Dr. Bradford (the dentist) aren’t celibate. But the real question is why Christians focus on sex so much. Yes, abstaining is the wise choice for many reasons. But there are many important things to consider when dating — not just sex.

Finally (finally!), Angela gets to actually voice her opinion (albeit reluctantly)! She chooses the two bachelors she wants a one-on-one date with: Dr. Bradford (the dentist) and Motivational Nick. Botanist Travis, if you’re reading this, hit me up. I’m single and I love me a teddy bear!

Round Three: One-on-One Dates

      • Motivational Nick goes bowling with Angela. He turns up the flirt (and the cheesy pick-up lines) and it’s not cute. “Whatever your personal trainer is doing is working.” Are you serious, Nick? Is this how your motivational speaking works? You make me want to eat two dozen doughnuts. But Angela (surprise, surprise) likes it. She also finds it “amazing” that Nick wants to bless the food they eat. This girl is easily impressed. Until she finds out he’s very similar to her ex-boyfriend. Except, wait, he’s celibate now! He must be incredible.
      • Dr. Bradford (the dentist) sets up a horse-and-carriage ride. Have you ever taken one of those? I can smell the horse manure from here. Ugh. The horse is super cute, though. Let’s hope the dentist doesn’t pop out another brass instrument. Angela is wearing the exact same outfit as her date with Motivational Nick. I know we’re low budget, Game Show Network, but throw a girl a new outfit or something! They go out to dinner and, to me, it seems like the connection isn’t there. The dentist seems great on paper, but I think Angela is still choosing with her eyes.

We’re back at church for Angela’s final decision. Natalie tells Angela to walk out of the sanctuary, and then walk down the aisle (so to speak) with her chosen bachelor. The congregation is ecstatic to see she chose Motivational Nick. I mean, he’s celibate!

Forty-seven Christian Mingle commercials later, the show comes to an end. Here’s my take:

      • The show is cute. The concept is sweet. Cheesy at times, but what dating reality show isn’t?
      • Low budget, but not to the point that it’s off-putting. Think lower red rose budget than The Bachelor, but better camera quality than Fireproof.
      • The show gets the church talking about dating, which is long overdue. Despite Angela’s obsession with making babies, the show focused on dating and the “connection,” and not on marriage — huge plus.
      • Disturbing downside that Angela’s voice gets suppressed until later in the show. I like that she gets guidance along the way, but let a woman speak!
      • Could use an update on how Angela and Motivational Nick are doing. I just don’t see him as long-term material. I think Angela’s initial “player radar” was correct. Will we ever find out what happened?

Overall, I’d give It Takes a Church a C+. The matchmakers are a funny touch, but I’d like to see less input from them and more from the couples. I will likely watch another episode.

Serious question: Do any of you know if there’s a dating website that’s just for Christians?

~Ruth