Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Marriage Ref Penalizes Intelligent Viewers

I must begin by confessing to a general bias against, what has come to be known as, reality TV. Most of it is centered around seeing who can back stab whom in order to further their own interest. If back stabbing people to achieve one’s goals is a reflection some people’s reality, those people probably aren’t living a healthy life style. There are reality shows though, which focus on finding talented individuals, which is a laudable goal. However, in addition to seeing top notch talent, viewers tune in to see untalented buffoons make asses of themselves, and the interplay between the nice judges and rude judges.

Like everyone else, I heard Jerry Seinfeld was creating and producing a new reality series. Being a big Jerry Seinfeld fan, I decided to put aside my general distaste for reality TV and give The Marriage Ref a shot. The premise of the show involves real life couples who have been having an on-going fight for a long time. A video clip is shown to the three-member celebrity panel, showing both sides of the argument. The celebrity panel, made up of comedians, actors, and pop stars, then make jokes under the guise of, "discussing the merits of each side of the argument." Then the panel votes on who they think is right. While the Marriage Ref, Tom Papa, may take their advice, he is free to make up his own mind about who is right, and he announces a winner of the argument.

The first, regularly scheduled, episode began with Paula's gripe about her husband, Joe, a retired Passaic County cop, spending so much time grooming himself that she has to do all the yard work and take the kids to their games, which he won't attend anyway because there are bugs. The panel of Tina Fey, Jerry Seinfeld, and some Desperate Housewives actress made Jr. High School level jokes for a few minutes, then advised The Marriage Ref that cleanliness is good, so the husband was justified in practically living at the salon, at the expense of his family. The Marriage Ref agreed.

I couldn't bear to watch another minute of this shallow minded tripe. OK, Joe’s propensities for getting manicures, pedicures, waxings, hair stylings, and tanning touched on the feminine side of the behavioral spectrum. In fact, he referred to himself as a metro sexual. Thus, I can kinda see celebs leaning his way out of fear of being labeled as homophobic. I get that. However, the core issue wasn’t feminine versus masculine leanings. It wasn’t even about cleanliness. The issue boiled down to selfishness. Primping to the extreme extent he did took it from being about grooming to being a hobby. Joe, putting his hobby before the needs of his family, demonstrated a gross level of selfishness on his part. The fact that nobody on the show was smart enough to recognize the fundamental issue, only proves how unqualified they are to be diagnosing people’s problems.

Now let’s be fair, The Marriage Ref is a comedy show, first and foremost. If you want to gawk at losers so you can talk about them around the water cooler at work, you’ll get a few sophomoric chuckles from this show. However, if your sense of humor, intellect, and moral sensibilities have evolved beyond those of a fifteen year old, I strongly suspect you’ll be offended at the reduction of people’s problems into a string of juvenile one liners topped off with a helping of super shallow advice.

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