At first glance, Channel Seven’s Bride and Prejudice looks like amusing car crash television, but Monday night’s episode left viewers feeling something completely unexpected.
When 764,000 Australians sat down to watch gay man Chris invite his hyper-conservative parents to his wedding to partner Grant, they were provided intimate insight into a family fractured by religion and bigotry.
Tense hands were fixated on faces for the duration of Chris’ conversation with his mother Yvonne, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, and father Geoff.
“So, I understand you want to have a chat to us,” Yvonne began cautiously.
“Yeah. Basically... Well you know how I’ve been going back and forth from the States for three years now,” Chris asks.
“I actually met someone. And… his name is Grant. The reason why I want you to meet Grant is because he’s really important to me. And what we’re doing is we’re getting married in a month’s time in Palm Springs in the States.
“I was coming to see whether you guys would come.”
At this point, Chris' father, who has an army background, lets out an audible chuckle into his chest.
“Well, Chris, um … you know I’ve got very strong beliefs on that situation. So, um, for us, that’s not an option," Yvonne replied.
Geoff agreed, not because of religion - he isn't overly religious, you see - but because of his so dearly held anti-homosexual values.
"You don't know anything about me," Chris says, looking his mum directly in the eye. "And that's because of your beliefs.
"Do you think it's worth sacrificing your relationship with me because of your beliefs?" he continues. "I need to know, because over the past 18 years I have not called on you when I needed you, thinking that you wouldn't be there. I need to know because this is the life that I want with my partner - we are getting married."
"We can't [be there]," Yvonne decides.
LISTEN: The people who flatly refuse to be gay, with Meshel Laurie. (Post continues...)
The pair also decline the opportunity to meet Grant, explaining: "We don’t want to. Okay? ... The only contact we really want to have is with just you."
“Well, just me is all of me," Chris replies. "You can choose all of me or none of me. Not just part of me."
“Well, if that’s the way it’s gotta be, that’s the way it’s gonna be," says Yvonne.
"We've done our job," his father chimes in. "The choices you make are yours entirely... and [you've] got to put up with the consequences."
The crushing rejection is painted across Chris' face, as the realisation that his parents have chosen their beliefs over him sets in. He steels himself to walk out the house, the chance of him ever returning fading with each step. He can't bring himself to hug his mother, despite her request.
It's a brutal depiction of a family dynamic too many LGBTIQ people experience every single day - one marred by disappointment and non-acceptance.
Thankfully, Grant's parents have been lovely and welcoming towards Chris, excited by the prospect of their son marrying the man he loves.
Chris, we hope you and Grant have the most wonderful wedding and marriage together, and we hope you're surrounded by people who love and support you.