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Seinfeld Turns "Tell Me My Spouse is Awful" Game into a TV Show

UPDATE: It was as bad as expected (maybe worse, thanks to replaying the meanest two things said in each episode) and unfunny to boot.

Tonight's the night. Jerry Seinfeld's new Marriage Ref show debuts right after the Olympics closing ceremonies. It's the "Tell Me My Spouse is Awful" Game for others' amusement.

You know the game. Someone comes into the office or runs into you at the supermarket and wants your opinion on just how dreadful their mate is. Their spouse or life partner wants something or claims something is true. They disagree. You are asked to take sides. Right there, right away, with just one of the parties in front of you, in obvious pain.

You are asked to confirm their usually unjustified belief that the two possibilities laid in front of you are the only possible options for them, so this friend or colleague can feel justified in his or her anger or, worse yet, doomed to a painful marriage. If you refuse, you leave this sad or angry person even more so. If you play along, long after they make up, you are left with a negative impression of their mate.

But you will have lessened the chances of them making up just by playing along. Because you will have reinforced their fear that these two unacceptable choices are the only ones available to them.

Let me give you an example provided by NBC, courtesy of Access Atlanta columnist Rodney Ho.

He wants a stripper pole in the bedroom. He won't be the one dancing on it. He plans to tell their four kids (at least the two young enough to fall for it if they don't hear about this episode at school) that it's mommy's exercise pole. She does not want a permanent reminder of the things she's willing to do while playing in the bedroom.

If you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you already have thought of at least one obvious Third Alternative that might make both of them happy, like a private hotel room with a pole. Might even look a lot sexier than the $150 pole he's thinking of planting in their bedroom. And it might get a much sexier dance out of her, minus the embarrassment of his asking her mother to side with him on this.

Instead, a group of comedians will crack jokes about their dispute, cement it into a permanent either-or, him vs. her issue for them. Comedian Tom Papa will let them know who wins. (Their relationship always loses.)

If you're interested in the success of your marriage, and you still want to watch the show for the laughs, do it with a notebook on hand. Listen to what the spouses say they like or don't like about the two options and jot down two or three Third Alternatives for them. Your notebook could be invaluable if you and your spouse ever find yourselves in the middle of the same dispute.


My goodness. What a spectacularly cruel concept for a TV show.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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