- Marriage or Mortgage -'Marriage Or Mortgage' Is 'Four Weddings' Meets 'House Hunters' Meets Insanity
Feel like weeping for the future of humanity? Then Netflix has you covered with Marriage or Mortgage, a new reality series in which wedding planner Sarah Miller and real estate agent Nichole Holmes strategically tap into the heightened emotions of young couples who can either afford an overpriced house OR an overpriced wedding. But never both, because unless you're a Kardashian, the idea that you might be able to get married and become a homeowner in America is madness in 2021 — at least it is in theory.
Yes, the premise of this show is baffling, but it's not quite as baffling as the people participating in Marriage or Mortgage. These couples are far better off than many Americans — I'm sorry, but I can't be asked to feel bad for a couple with a $400,000 house budget — and yet, they're still not smart enough to figure out that blowing their life savings on a lavish wedding is a terrible idea (sorry, Sarah, but the wedding industry is a racket).
In one episode, the show introduces viewers to Nicholas, a firefighter, and Denise, a former professional cheerleader and current recruiter. The couple has $25,000 saved for either a down payment on a house or for a Graceland-themed wedding (I know), and they also want to adopt in the future (Nicholas already has a daughter from a previous marriage, as well). Enter Sarah and Nichole, who each try to leverage memories of Denise's late father to convince the couple to spend money on things they don't need.
For instance, Denise is shown a veil that costs $1,500 — which isn't included in the price of her dream dress, which is $3,200 on its own. Meanwhile, Nichole shows the couple cookie cutter houses that come with jaw-dropping HOA fees. And rather than call foul on the outlandish price tags attached to their dreams, Nicholas and Denise cry as they try to decide whether they really need an extra bedroom for their hypothetical future child or if they should just go all in on whatever the hell a wedding vignette is.
Maybe I'm cynical, or maybe I've just seen enough episodes of Fixer Upper to know that a shoestring budget can go a long way with a little bit of creativity. There's no denying that the housing market is a hot mess — according to the addictive real estate website Zillow, the average price of a house is currently $269,039, which is why millennials like myself are doomed to either share an apartment with five roommates or live with our parents until we die — but if the show's couples would just keep an open mind instead of buying the first mediocre house with a two car garage they see then they might have a smaller mortgage on their hands.
As for the wedding side of the equation, Nicholas and Denise actually prove themselves to be savvier than they appear at the beginning of the episode. In the premiere's final moments, the couple reveals they skipped the wildly overpriced veils and velvet couches for an intimate ceremony that captured their personalities without leaving them destitute, proving the irrelevancy of this show's premise. To paraphrase the great Liz Lemon, you can have it all — as long as you don't hire a wedding planner.
Ultimately, Marriage or Mortgage makes for great binge-watching material, especially if you already enjoy heckling the doomed couples on House Hunters or the over-the-top weddings on Four Weddings. If you have $400,000 to buy a house, then you can certainly also afford a wedding if you want one, and if that budget sounds like Scrooge McDuck money to you too, then feel free to join me in screaming at these clueless couples as they make terrible life choices.