Young, Mormon and Single: This BBC3 documentary shines a light on Mormon courting rituals but I didn’t really learn all that much

by Matt D

Young, Mormon and Single

As someone who isn’t particularly religious I’m not that aware of how youngsters from certain different religions meet and start families. This goes double for the Mormon faith as it is a religion I know very little about at all, outside of an awesome episode of South Park, therefore their courting rituals remain a mystery. Thankfully then we have this new BBC3 documentary Young, Mormon and Single to help us out as it follows a number of Mormons as they go on the annual trek to Duck Beach in North Carolina to participate in a weekend of activities tailored towards meeting a potential mate. As we see right from the start of the documentary, several married Mormon couples started their relationship at Duck Beach which hosts a sort of Spring Break for Mormons or as one guy calls it ‘Girls Gone Mild.’

It’s actually fairly ironic that most of my knowledge about the Mormon religion comes from a cartoon as the opening of this documentary also explains the faith via an animated sequence. Though I still don’t really understand most of it I feel it was good to put the characters of this documentary in context and by explaining what they believe I think we got to know them a little bit more. Essentially what we learn is that Mormons aren’t allowed to indulge in certain vices with the most prominent here being drinking and pre-marital sex as for most of us the two go hand in hand. Going by the documentary at least, there is a lot of pressure to get married young in order to produce big families.

The first subject of the documentary was 23 year old professional dancer Melissa who is the last one of her school-friends to still be single and who herself is looking for love. In the past Melissa has been engaged and also had a recent relationship in which she tried a little too hard to make it work. She hopes going to Duck Bay will at least get her socialising with Mormon men from her area which in turn could lead to something more. Someone who is totally different from Melissa is 31 year old Latin Teacher Bryan who is almost the last of his siblings to get married and indeed he tells us that his younger brother is working on it. Bryan comes across as a lovely guy who is good at his job and whose students adore him however this doesn’t translate into good husband material especially for someone as shy as him. Bryan, who is visibly nervous about his trip, doesn’t really know what to expect from Duck Bay but knows it will be a chance for him to integrate a little more into his society. We also meet Angela, who at 36 is the oldest singleton featured, another lady looking for love but one that has an extra issue in that she’s a divorcee. Though divorce is frowned upon in the Mormon faith, Angela claims that God okayed her decision so now after seven years of being single she’s off to Duck Bay to find a new partner. Angela tells us that the only problem is that younger guys go for younger girls while guys her own age are a bit weird if they’ve not already been married.

Young, Mormon and Single 1

The festivities at Duck Bay seem to consist of a lot of partying followed by a church service on Sunday which, judging by the amount of make-up and hair preparation, is just as much of a courting ritual as the pool parties are. As the kegs at the Mormon parties only contain root beer you’d think they’d be a lot less rowdy than traditional student gatherings however due to their crazy dancing and loud music a lot of these celebrations are shut down by the police. As far as finding love is concerned initially it appears as if Melissa will be the one to find love as her and her friends look incredibly hot strutting round in bikinis while the buff guys take turns in checking them out. However if you don’t look like a catalogue model then you’re cast to the sidelines and this is what Bryan discovers after he is disinvited to a party for the way he looks and instead goes back to his hotel room to mark some books. Throughout the weekend we do see Bryan chatting to some women, one of whom seems to take a shine to him, but the majority of his time in Duck Bay is spent lurking in corners looking uncomfortable. Finally Angela’s weekend looks the most disastrous of all three as she feels the fact that she’s so old counts against her, which is true to an extent as one of the lads says he’s looking for a girl six years younger than him, and a lot of the conversations she strikes up with men really don’t go anywhere. She is so down that she even misses church, though I reckon she probably had too much root beer the night before, and by the end of the weekend is resigned to the fact that she won’t find love. Both Angela and Bryan are ultimately unsuccessful in their quest for romance however the latter claims that the Duck Bay experience was a good one even though it didn’t produce that many good memories. However it appears as if Melissa is in luck as one of the guys she met while at Duck Bay comes to visit her a couple of times and even though she claims they’re just friends we all realise that this is a couple that could be married in a couple of years’ time.

I’m not quite sure just how much more I’d learnt about the Mormon faith after watching this documentary than I did before. I suppose to me it shed a light on one of the ways in which young Mormons can meet a future husband or wife and also demonstrated how important it is for Mormons to get married as soon as possible. To me though the exploits at Duck Bay were more about enjoying an aspect of life that Mormons often miss out on that being the beach and house parties that normal teens indulge in on a regular basis. Though it wasn’t made explicit here I’m guessing that Mormons wouldn’t be allowed to socialise in this way with those outside their faith so this was an opportunity to let their hair down a bit. To me Duck Bay ultimately came off as quite an exclusive affair where the attractive and popular people such as Melissa would have their pick of any member of the opposite sex while someone like Bryan would be discarded and have to stand awkwardly in the corner. For me one of the best things about the documentary was that three subjects were very different from the incredibly pretty Melissa to the dorky Bryan and the divorcee Angela each had their own reasons for going to Duck Bay and it was good to see that all had differing experiences.

Other than the lack of alcohol or sex I ultimately felt that there was little difference between Duck Bay and various other famous get-togethers that happen on the American coast even if this documentary tried to tell me otherwise. While I enjoyed getting to know the subjects at the end of this film I didn’t really feel that I’d learnt that much more about the Mormon faith than I already did so next time a documentary about the Mormons pops up I’ll probably just watch that South Park episode instead.

Did you watch Young, Mormon and Single? What did you think of it? Leave Your Comments Below.

7 Comments

  1. Angela on January 16, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    As UK members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day saints (Mormons) my daughter and I watched the programme and were very disappointed.It is not recommended by our Prophet that girls wear bikini’s as we have a modest dress code, but to see so many young women in bikini’s and young men topless goes against what most of us believe. The idea of wearing modest clothing is to keep the mind as pure as possible when we have strict chastity laws,and the goings on at Duck Beach are just asking for trouble. I don’t believe that girls are ‘old’ at 23-25 if they are not married and if the only thing you learn bout Mormons is from this show then you will not learn very much. With the exception of a minority, the people interviewed came across as shallow and small-minded, looks should not be a main factor in searching for a life partner and is another reason for our dress standards. I do not know anyone who watched the show and thought it anywhere near a true representation of us or our beliefs. If you really want to know about us try going to Mormon.org

  2. Jemma on January 17, 2013 at 12:03 am

    I totally agree with Angela on this! I am Young, Mormon and single and feel this programme does not represent the way i am or at least i hope i do not come across this way! I did think it was good for people to see that you can still have fun without the need for sex and alcohol but this wasn’t the best example of good, wholesome mormon fun, in my opinion.Also,some things said in it were very valid, especially about the pressure felt in young singles that time is ticking and we need to get married soon to fulfil this purpose of having a family, but that is a pressure we put entirely on ourselves and the problem with these particular people was that they were so desperate they felt the need to drop their standards in order to get noticed by boys, which is totally not the right way to go about anything! Duck beach is not a very true representation of how we go about finding a partner, we go to dances, conventions(which consist of spiritual learning, giving service to the community and interacting socially through dances and other various activities) that are backed by the church and uphold a much higher standard than that was shown here. This was something organised by a group of people but is not a church event, shown, i think by the fact that there were outcasts, people not welcome and excluded because they did not measure up in some way; at conventions this does not happen, everyone mixes with everyone no matter how you look in a bikini! I too thought some of these people were shallow and small minded. I felt Bryan was the most genuine guy and the only guy interviewed who i would consider going on a date with,sure he is a little shy and awkward but he seemed a lot more respectful in his view of women, the others probabaly wouldn’t have even considered me as i would have been wearing a one piece with a t-shirt and shorts over it, says a lot about the kind of guys they are. This programme represents a small group of people and not the church or LDS singles in general. To find out the truth about who we are and what we believe go to Mormon.org, it may be more reliable than an episode of South Park.

  3. Tim on January 18, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Sadly I’m not surprised by the content of this documentary, our church has constantly been misrepresented in the media for years and this has contributed to a negative view of Mormons. Since the early days of the church we have had to deal with discrimination, persecution and lies. I guess society still has a lot to learn, as has already been mention, I strongly encourage anyone interested in learning the truth about us to visit mormon.org

  4. Adam on January 19, 2013 at 12:08 am

    The soundtrack was fantastic.

  5. lee on January 21, 2013 at 2:19 am

    What wad the sond at the end of the programme called please

  6. lee on January 21, 2013 at 2:20 am

    What was the song at end of the prigramme called

  7. Edna on February 12, 2013 at 10:50 am

    Song at the end of the programme is called “Peppermint” from the band “Lovers”. You’ll find it on Youtube.

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