We finally have a new set of newlyweds and one thing is abundantly clear to me regarding this show. If this show is to continue moving forward into new seasons, we need ground rules! Without them we run the risk of having each cycle of this show become mind-numbingly the same as the prior cycles. In some ways, I feel as if I am watching the same issues from the prior two groups play out in group 3. Have the experts (and the network) learned nothing?
Vanessa and Tres
So far, Vanessa and Tres are my favorite couple. Why? On the shallow end, they are freakin’ gorgeous, young, and fun loving. They could be have been models for their own cake toppers! Tres’ smooth move of proposing to Vanessa at the altar didn’t hurt, either. On the deep end (which is just one level above the shallow end when it comes to reality shows), I love that they laugh together, as if they actually enjoy one another’s company. They get it in a way the other couples don’t, or at least they seem to get it. They are strangers coming together to see if they can try to let go of their old unsuccessful patterns of dating and make something real of their marriage. If I hear Sam or Ashley refer to the fact that they are married to strangers one more time, I will scream – and you, no matter where you are, will hear it. It is weak and it is tired to keep complaining about being married to a stranger. Did neither of the other two women read the show’s description?
While Vanessa and Tres held off on immediately consummating the marriage, the fact that they consummated the marriage once they moved into their new home concerns me. Intimacy? Yes. Hand-holding, hugs, and kisses, but Vanessa still had doubts about how committed Tres was to being married, instead of getting married to avoid being alone. Shortly after they consummated the marriage, he gave her good reason to wonder about the kind of husband he would be when he stayed out all night drinking with his father and uncle to celebrate Father’s Day. I think it was his inability to understand her concerns as much as it was the “out all night” drinking session that was an issue. I will keep my fingers crossed, even though I am not fully hopeful this couple will make it. I would not mind seeing Tres step up, and Vanessa to take a step back. He is too chill, and she is too tightly wound, in my opinion. It is not clear to me that these two opposites will remain attracted for too much longer.
Vanessa – Tres inspired ground rules?
— Sex is not the only form of intimacy couples can experience. Would it hurt to give the couples a two week moratorium on sexual contact to allow them to have some time to just talk and get to know one another? Most of these couples probably would have held off on having sex for an even longer period of time if they were just dating. These couples are combining dating and marriage into a tightly wound six weeks. Those who reach out to this show to be paired with a potential life partner often speak to the fact that their old dating practices haven’t worked or helped them find “the one”. Rushing into a sexual relationship with someone you have just met clearly hasn’t been the answer for most of the couples this group of experts has put together over three seasons, either. As much as I like them, I would be completely surprised if Vanessa and Tres made it. Her attraction to him, and his attraction to her, seems to have prevented them from seeing the small traits and behaviors that would have given them pause under other circumstances.
— You should not be allowed to be filmed using the words “consummated the **** out of our marriage”, unless you are in high school, and then you have a whole lot of other, much bigger, issues that need to be addressed. Every moment in which I believed that Tres respected his wife and cared for her fell away in that one scene. Now I am doubting him as much as Vanessa did on their honeymoon.
— Someone should tell these couples that their past behaviors (you know, like “partying hard”, Tres), were not the kinds of behaviors that led to successful long term relationships in the past and definitely don’t feel like behaviors that will lead to successful long term relationships in the future. They should be as critical of their own bad habits as they are of the habits of their mates. More than anything, this show feels like it is a show about a group of people who think they are perfectly ok, and that everyone else in the world needs fixing.
The lack of openness to change is not unique to Tres. This “heal thyself” ground rule should apply to all couples.
David and Ashley
My least favorite couple? David and Ashley — and believe me, I struggled in trying to figure out if they were even more deplorable than Sam… no, not Sam and Neil, – just SAM… but more on that later. Poor David. talk about being alone in a crowd. I can’t tell if Ashley is self-confident to the point of being obnoxious, if she lacks self-confidence all together, or what the issue is. Ashley tells us that she is not attracted to David because he doesn’t LOOK like the kinds of men she’s used to dating (none of whom have married her or even tried to, as far as we know). He doesn’t have dark hair and dark features. David is immediately attracted to her. OUCH! The more she rejects him, the more desperate he seems to prove himself worthy of her.
David’s desperation gives me anxiety, as a viewer, so I can’t completely fault Ashley for being a little anxious around him. David’s seeming desperation to be in love and happily married is far from nefarious. To the contrary. She is a student, so he wants to take the financial pressure off of her by paying for their living expenses and giving her a wonderful home to live in while she prepares for her nursing school exams. Too bad he doesn’t have dark hair and dark features. THEN that sort of gesture would be meaningful, I guess. He may have even gotten a hug. I sure hope this future nurse has a sense of warmth so far missing from the show. Am I the only one who gets the feeling that I am watching the sequel to “I, Robot” when she’s on screen?
David and Ashley inspired ground rules:
— If dating the people you were physically and emotionally attracted to, in the past, was working for you, you would still be doing it. SHUT UP about it. Unless you tell the experts that you are only willing to marry someone who meets your definition of physical attractiveness, you are showing intolerable cruelty to the person you agree to ultimately marry.
To be fairer to Ashley, she may have “Googled” her new hubby and found out about some of the accusations of seedy behavior on his part. They have been around for as long as the guy has been filming the show. I hope the rumors are not true, but who knows? If S2 Ryan is any indication of the vetting process conducted by the network, I am already sad.
— Learn to let it go. David’s serial attempts to get Ashley to notice him seem to work in pushing her further away. She either wants him to stop talking to her and leave her alone, and my money is on this option, or she simply enjoys watching his begging escalate to new heights. Either way, the guy owes it to himself to not work so hard just to get a high five. I hope it was a scripted moment and not a true confession when he said that he high fived her because it was the only way he could get her to touch him. Sweet cheese of Wisconsin. Who deserves to be treated that way?
I would love to see a rejected spouse in this situation walk away instead of wasting six weeks being treated like a devious interloper who secretly replaced the real groom/bride the rejecting spouse thought they were going to marry. I don’t know how to feel about S3 Ashley, S3 Sam, S1 Jaime, S1 Vaughn and S2 Sean – whose initial attraction to Monet and Davina, respectively, seemed unsustainable. I give them all credit for not faking their feelings but remain deeply disturbed at how far each partner is willing to go to tear down their spouses. Will anyone ever forget Vaughn telling Monet that her happy demeanor annoyed him?
The experts would do well by giving rejected partners tips at how to protect themselves, emotionally, and tips to help them learn to stand up for themselves. More than anything, I would love for the experts to find people who won’t need counseling in how to behave as adults. Neil has been the healthiest, so far, in my opinion. He says that he knows that not every woman will be attracted to him so he accepts his wife’s statements about his looks as issues about her preferences in men, and not about who he is as an individual. He has also learned to tell Sam to stop putting him down with respect to her ideas about his “manhood”. Although she managed to make herself the victim in the discussion, we need to see more participants standing up and valuing themselves instead of placating selfish partners. If I wanted to watch someone take a brutal verbal beatdown each week, I would follow the GOP primary.
Sam and Neil
I don’t know what Neil did in a past life to deserve Sam, but WOWZA it must have been awful. It’s not just the fact that she is not attracted to him. She seems to hate everything about the fact that he is not cut from the same cloth as her father. The only thing he seemed to do right was stop her from driving head on into traffic on their honeymoon. Good luck being able to reach such an impossibly high bar for acceptance.
Sam and Neil inspired ground rules:
— Read up on Oedipus Rex (Oedipus the King) and the theory of Oedipal conflict and then get over it. If you date rugged men who are carbon copies of your father, good for you. Add that behavior to the “Ashley” rule. Realize when that dating criteria hasn’t worked out for you in the past and then move on. Sam’s hero worship of her father speaks to a great and loving relationship between the father and daughter, one every child deserves. Sam, however, confuses me (and probably herself) by highly valuing her independence and ability to take charge – but seeking a man who will take on a dominant role in their marriage. And again, I ask… why hasn’t she married a man like that, yet? It is not like finding a man like that, especially in the financial markets she works in, would be difficult. She treats poor Neil like a little brother she has to raise rather than a husband she has a chance to love.
— Attacks on your husband’s manhood are viciously homophobic, where I come from. Men, no matter how they identify, are diverse. Neil is a man who has managed to become educated, successful, and happy in his life. He doesn’t define manhood as keeping another person under control and making all of the important decisions – some of us call that enslavement, not marriage. He and Sam are a lot like David and Ashley. The more David tries to show care towards Ashley, the more she seems to reject him. The more Neil tries to show Sam respect, the more she seems to reject him. I would love for this couple to get to the point at which she accepts that Neil is his own man and begins to show him respect, but I know I would only end up wondering how long that would last.
My hopes for this season are as follows:
That Vanessa and Neil find true love, either now or in the near future.
That Tres grows into his marriage or realizes what a loss Vanessa was, if they don’t end up together. Hopefully he would then grow in his next serious relationship.
That David finds someone who wants him for who he is and that he can finally give up high-fiving for affection.
That Sam and Ashley find what they need, not just want they want. I have a feeling that neither would be happy, for long, if they finally found the partners they claim they want.
For the viewers? Let’s hope there is something “real” about this reality show before we invest any more of our time in this series.