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<I>Hef’s Runaway Bride</I>: Far More Depressing Than That Julia Roberts Movie

I never thought that I'd feel bad for Hugh Hefner, but after watching this special, I really do. Here's a guy who got jilted just days before a wedding that he was really only doing to make his girlfriend happy in the first place, and he just seems defeated. And this is a man who is surrounded by scantily clad (at best) women most of the time. He really just seems to have gotten to a stage in his life (and at over 80, it is probably about time) where he's seeking some sort of stable companionship, and looked like he sincerely imagined that Crystal Harris could give it to him. He was wrong.

The Lifetime special, which was supposed to follow the two of them tying the knot, ended up being a depressing hour that started with Hef greeting a large number of guests in his home to a movie night (which is a weekly occurrence at the Playboy Mansion), and under the circumstances was Runaway Bride. The rest of the series flashes back to three weeks prior so that we really get a look at the relationship crumbling. But the hard part is that all of the talking head interviews were clearly done after the split, so the whole thing is in past tense and generally uncomfortable.

For his part, he seems to be happy to be getting married again, even if it is mostly to provide his bride-to-be with a sense of permanence and security, more so than his own deep down desire to exchange vows. You get a sense that he realizes how badly he screwed up with Holly Madison, and is now trying to fix his mistakes in this relationship with a new interchangeable bodacious blonde girl. He wants his wedding to be a comfortable garden party in the backyard (complete with big screens so people can see the ceremony from the comfort of their tables, naturally) and lets Crystal have all of the hot pink that she can stand.

Leading up to the big day, she seems uneasy, and in these retroactive interviews says that it dawned on her that he wasn't really a one woman man (which she should have realized before she ever walked through the door to the Playboy Mansion), and that it was odd to have gorgeous women around for family game night (they play Uno! How quaint!). But still, she goes along with it at least long enough to promote her new single and do press, and her best friend/almost maid of honor talks about Crystal's desire to be a pop star and pursue her music career. She also doesn't complain about the Playboy cover that being Mrs. Hefner afforded her, so the whole thing just rings of her using Hef to get ahead before she decided to bolt.

She does say that she talked to Hef a few days before the wedding, and when she realized that a marriage wasn't necessarily what she wanted, they were working on alternatives, one of which included having a show-wedding for the cameras that wasn't legally binding. However, instead of sticking it out for show, she decided to bolt while they were watching a movie. She planned her escape like she was some sort of convict, and we see her exit via surveillance video. She left earlier in the day with one car and parked it somewhere, then came back via a ride from a friend. She then pretended to watch a movie, excused herself to go to the drug store and never returned, taking yet another car and going to her mom's house.

For his part, Hef looks shaken up by the fact that she just took off without telling him, and his now famous exes Holly and Kendra Wilkinson show up to tell him that he's better off. As do his sons, who want him to be happy and fall in love without tying the knot again (as they surprisingly subtly imply that there might be some gold-digging happening with the young ladies that Hef dates).

Crystal says that she was overwhelmed by it all and just felt trapped so she took off. She claims she realized after she signed up for a reality show that doing promotion for Playboy and being Hef's missus was actual work. But there's something unsettling to me about her taking the two cars -- it's premeditated in a way that doesn't really jibe with her just getting cold feet. And why two cars? And she talks about shared custody of their little dog and how they will have to work that out somehow, and how she hopes they can be friends. It's just not really at all genuine (the fact that she forgets her engagement ring early on doesn't bode well), and while this whole thing might have helped her become more of a household name (as the bride who dumped Hef) it just seems kind of mean-spirited way to go about it. It takes a lot for me to pity a rich millionaire who has made his career off naked women, but Crystal somehow made that happen. Here's hoping she's happy now, and that I never have to hear her awful single "Club Queen" again in my life. I'd rather listen to Kim Zolciak's "Tardy for the Party" on loop.

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