I couldn't sleep last Friday night, so I found myself watching the "Email Order Bride" episode of the Inside series on the National Geographic channel.
A few thoughts:
My primary emotion watching the episode was sadness. It profiled two male clients of an International Marriage Broker (IWB) seeking Russian women. We saw profiles of two men: the first, 36yo James, starting his relationship with 30yo Uliana; the second, 3rd grade schoolteacher Gary (age not provided, but I would guess 50yo), who married his Russian fiance' Olga (I would guess 40yo) by the end of the hour. My general impression was that, personality-wise, James had a bit more going for him than Gary, but both of these men were sweet, awkward, and bereft of game. We see James' fawningly complimenting Uliana in a desperately beta kind of way; we see Gary, at the airport to receive Olga, waiting for two hours for her to clear customs, almost in tears at the possibility that she may not have made the flight. It was easy to see why these men faced difficulty in the domestic mating market. They were, in a word, harmless, it both the good and bad senses of the word.
And then there was . . . Indle King. I try to be skeptical of easy post hoc predictions in which people say, yeah, this guy was obviously dangerous. But looking at the Nat. Geo. clips of the King family's home movies (no doubt selected for affect, but still), it looks to me like Indle's issues went beyond mere lack of game. But on the other hand, what is obvious to us should have been obvious to Anastasia, who had ample opportunity to not marry a man that obviously repelled her. But instead of doing that, she waited until she was securely married in the U.S. to . . . stop having sex with him. I think I can safely say, without "blaming the victim" or justifying murder that Anastasia perpetrated a monstrous fraud on her husband, a fraud for which he had no legal recourse.
I didn't think either of the two women, Uliana and Olga, were drop-dead beautiful. Uliana was a seven, while Olga was at best a five. But they were each definitely a cut or two above what James and Gary would have qualified for here in the U.S. And it was clear that they were going through what I would call an adjustment in expectations as they realized that, no, Cary Grant didn't subscribe to IMB services. Uliana seemed cheerfully amused at James' goofiness. Olga seemed . . . resigned. Notwithstanding Gary's giddy devotion to her, Olga gave him nothing emotionally except reserved politeness, even as she married him. (Oddly, during their simple civil ceremony, the show only showed Gary stating his vows, which reinforced this impression. Again, film editors wield enormous power in managing impressions in this regard.) Heartbreaking in its way. I dunno, maybe Gary and Olga can both be happy with this arrangement. It appears that IMB marriages are more successful that domestic marriages overall. But I stand by my original warning about how cultural differences can bite your ass.