Calling A Penalty On the Marriage Ref
Have you heard about this new show, The Marriage Ref? I’m guessing you have since the incessant advertising campaign leading up to its premiere has reached the point of feeling like something out of A Clockwork Orange, our eyes sadistically pried open and bombarded with images that we are powerless to look away from or ignore.
So, yes, I watched it. And I laughed, a little. But mostly I just winced. The show is clearly meant as nothing more than a comedy platform – a chance for the three celebrity panelists and the stand-up comic host to come up with snappy zingers. But what about the real couples they’re bouncing their clever one-liners off of? Clearly they’ve entered into the arrangement willingly, for their misguided chance at their 15 minutes of fame perhaps? Who knows what motivates people to participate in these things. Humiliation as entertainment is very big business on American TV and there seems to be no shortage of clowns willing to step up and be sprayed in the face with seltzer for the hungry audience.
The first couple in the show’s one-hour kickoff episode was from New Jersey. Hooray, another stellar example of our great state’s stereotypes to bounce around the airwaves! A quick connection to the Jersey Shore idiots came within minutes, with shiny glam girl Eva Longoria worrying that the husband, who was being accused of spending too much time tending to his beauty regime, was overdoing it at the tanning salon under the influence of “The Situation” and his bronzed and brainless cohorts. And there was the wife, with her ultra-highlighted big hair, honking exasperated complaints at her overgrown himbo spouse with television-ready Jersey-style rat-a-tat delivery. Hilarious.
The celebs went on to lightly mock the pair and their problems. That being the clearly stated purpose of the show, it didn’t really bother me. However, when it came time for resolution, for the host to poll the panel on which of the pair should “win” the argument and then “make the call”, it struck me what a creepy premise this whole thing is based on. Forget compromise, forget finding the underlying cause of the disagreement, forget strengthening a relationship by working through a conflict. What “The Marriage Ref” advocates is marital bullying. I’m right, you’re wrong, and they agreed with me on national television so shut your pie hole and never bother me about this again.Continued on the next page