A Review of The Marriage Ref, NBC’s new show

Watching the Olympics I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the ads for “The Marriage Ref,” produced by Jerry Seinfeld, who has been happily married for 10 years. The concept was birthed when Jerry and his good friend and stand-up colleague, Tom Papa, decided they could help save America’s marriages while out ice fishing. Each show will feature several couples in conflict and the celebrity panel will give a vote on who they think is right in the matter. Tom Papa is the host and the “Marriage Ref,” who ultimately decides who’s right in the dispute. In addition, there’s a fact checker, NBC News’s Natalie Morales, who gives the panel advice on their decision making. Morales gives the program necessary heft, but while still keeping everything light.

On the preview show after the Olympics, we had divorced Alec Baldwin, married Kelly Ripa, and married Jerry Seinfeld. Almost all of them voted the same way on the two couple conflicts. The first couple lives in Long Island and the husband kept his dead stuffed dog in the house. The wife hated the dog and one of the best days of her life was when the dog died. The other couple had a dispute over if the husband should buy a stripper pole for their bedroom.

Seinfeld and Baldwin were the standouts on the show that felt long even though it was only a half hour. The material felt very safe to me and I hope Seinfeld doesn’t hold back from us in future episodes (which look fairly decent).

I’m rooting for this show to succeed since it’s so pro-marriage. Perhaps the media is swinging the pendulum back to marriage after the glorification of the single life in Friends, Sex in the City, and Will and Grace. In these shows, marriage was portrayed as boring and the death of fun. So stayed tuned!

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