Married At First Sight: Rescue Needed

david-ashley-married-at-first-sight-2

I am convinced that poor David Norton () was sorely in need of rescuing during the entire six weeks of what I, from my viewer’s perspective, can only describe as a tragic marriage.  I don’t care what happens in next two weeks.  He has received such shabby treatment in the first four weeks that they should be counted as serving double time in marital hell.  This past episode has me wondering how often the “experts” review the footage of the daily interactions of the newlyweds. If they aren’t reviewing the footage on a daily basis, who alerts them when red flags are raised?  More importantly, what are their guidelines for intervening in relationships? I realize that it wouldn’t make sense for the experts to be present every day, but unless the editing has us all fooled and David Norton became a monster when the cameras stopped rolling, he deserved better. Had he made such an awful a choice of a partner on his own, it would be easier to watch. His hot mess of a marriage was inflicted on him because he trusted in experts whose matchmaking skills deserve serious questioning.  FYI Network (@FYI) has invested a great deal of money, time, and energy in recasting #MAFS season after season.  Is it time for the network to put those resources to use in recasting the experts?

david-ashley-married-at-first-sight-4Norton is damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.  If he tries to spend time with Ashley, he is forcing her to interact and she is not ready. She needs space. If he leaves her side, even during a party they are hosting at their home, he is abandoning her. The guy was watching the grill and entertaining their guests.  Why didn’t Ashley go stand next to him, talk to him, interact with him? Their relationship feels emotionally abusive and it is painful to watch.  David’s days are spent trying to make Ashley 100% happy, without being given the slightest idea of what herculean task he would have to perform to make that happen.  Last week we learned that Ashley couldn’t think of three things she liked about David, despite his ability to quickly provide a list of what he thought her best qualities were.  He forgot to add that it is really neat the way she is able to blink, walk, and talk while barely registering a pulse!  (Cheap shot, I know.) She couldn’t find one nice thing to say, in return. She wanted to go and “think about it”. Hell, I spend less than a hour per week with the guy, and as a viewer even I can find three things I like about David (great sense of humor, kind, patient).  What sucks most is watching him take full responsibility for Ashley’s unhappiness and unwillingness to get beyond her lack of physical attraction to him.

At this point, I hope it IS true that David has asked another woman out for drinks.  He has
been treated as a pariah in his own home for at least a month by the airing of the last episode.  Under most circumstances I would stand by the adage that “it takes two”.  In terms of making a marriage work?  tres-vanessa-married-at-first-sight-2Yes.  In terms of working to make sure a marriage falls apart? No.  Ashley is doing a great job sabotaging the marriage, all on her own.

At least the other two couples are bringing something good to the table.  They almost redeem the experts – if you ignore the rest of the experts serious misjudgments in prior seasons.

Vanessa Nelson () and Tres Russell () are still as cute as buttons and I like watching their struggle even when it gets bone tough.  Tres’ concern about abandonment when Vanessa went “home” to spend the night away from him was telling.  It was also heartbreaking.  How quickly the childhood pain of his mother leaving him came back (or never fully went away and is always sitting at the surface). I think it is fair to say that Vanessa had not yet made the leap of thinking of them as a committed couple since her apartment was “home”, not the space she shared with her husband. So…shouldn’t she should have made room for Tres’ occasional uneasiness?  P.S. His distancing comments in response to his friend’s observation that he and Vanessa seemed to be in love were boneheaded… THINK IT, man, don’t talk about your uneasiness in a room full of invited guests.  She is your wife, not a live-in hook up.

sam-role-neil-bowlus-married-at-first-sight-zoom-3e604e89-57d9-4545-ab7e-8f59f99ff2a3

Samantha Role () and Neil Bowlus ()  are a sweet surprise for me.  She has become softer and is now open to seeing the good in him. I think Neil is amazing, based on what we’ve seen of him so far.  He is becoming more assertive in saying what needs to be said.  It feels as if Neil is beginning to see Sam as a person, instead of simply as “his wife”. As recently as last week,  I wanted poor Neil to run and never look back.  Now I am wondering what a loving relationship between these two would look like.  I am looking forward to watching their journey unfold. On the shallow end, who didn’t love Neil’s response to seeing Sam work out on the silks?  I am sure some of his reaction was sheer awe that Sam, who is typically serious and businesslike, has an artistic side.  I also can’t help but believe that if Neil was attracted to Sam before, he was after that day.

David and Ashley leave me hoping this show is cast by actors, while Vanessa and Tres, as well as Samantha and Neil. have me hoping just the opposite.

If Ted Cruz won Iowa, did Sarah Palin lose?

I am still trying understand what the value of Sister Sarah’s endorsement was, other than to provide Saturday Night Live with another winning political season.  SNL once again capitalized on the questionable phenomenon that is Sarah Palin by lampooning her bizarre and rambling endorsement. as seen in the video posted below.  (I would advise you to skip the actual endorsement in the first video and enjoy the pure comedic gold of the second video):

Palin endorsed Trump, prior to the Iowa Caucus,  without hesitation, she claims in an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer and Savannah Guthrie.  Despite her long held ties to Ted Cruz (Iowa 2016), despite the support she gave Cruz in his bid for national office during his Senate run, and her belief that he is a “true conservative”, Palin tells the Today Show hosts the following about Cruz: “I want to keep him in the Senate, and I want Donald Trump to be our president.” Why not?  Cruz has routinely distracted the Senate from the work that needed to be done in favor of throwing rotted red meat at those for whom his circus act plays well.

 

His ideological, highly unrealistic, approach to governing has not served the nation, nor his party, well in my opinion.  His legislative record is paltry, at best.  His most significant accomplishments in congress may be his ability to help shut down the government and to keep media attention on himself as he makes promises to his base that he is improbably going to be able to deliver.

Given the serious miscalculation of the value of Palin’s endorsement, and her inability to swing conservative voters into Trump’s camp in meaningful numbers,  this will hopefully be the end of the courtship of Palin by Republican pols. Trump, himself, now looks more like “Palin the Failed Promise” than “Donald the Future Leader”.  It now feels as if they  share the same penchant for saying anything, showing zero competence in discussing ANY issue,  ability to gloss over the reality of voter mood, and an ability to spew meaningless rhetoric.  We’eve been down that road, and ONE the individual who helped take us there in 2008 just endorsed Trump and probably cost him Iowa and the party’s nomination.

Ultimately, the greatest irony is that post Iowa, both Cruz and Trump are beginning to be viewed as placeholders for Marco Rubio.  No matter the outcome on the Republican side, this should be an interesting election season and one that should make Hillary Clinton feel optimistic about the election this coming fall.  Months, money, and motivation… down the drain, because in the end both Trump and Cruz will be stumping for a weak Rubio.

In any case, this all feels like a WIN for Hillary Clinton:

Trump is too much of a reminder of the obnoxious boss many people can’t wait to get away from.  He reminds you of the boss who sorely underpays you and then shows you the pictures of the expensive remodel on his grand new home.  Despite his recent run away from his comments that “wages are too high”, that comment will live with him.  Note that American hourly wages are too high.  I don’t recall any statement where Trump questioned the wages of the workers at the top.

Cruz is too much like that odd neighbor whose odd behavior leaves you feeling uncomfortable for reasons you can’t explain. You know enough to not to do business with him or leave him alone with your valuables.

Rubio?  Sigh. Poor Rubio.

 

RHOA / RHOP The struggles over race are real!

AshleyandHusbandThe Real Housewives of Potomac is beginning to feel more like equal parts serious business and guilty pleasure.  It is quickly becoming a Rorschach test on race and racism in America, while sneakily exploring the complexities of perceived race in the African-American community.  The more Real Housewives of Potomac (#RHOP) airs, the more I love the show and its contrast with the Real Housewives of Atlanta. I am still a proponent who believes there is more than enough room for both.  At this time, I am simply more fascinated with the Potomac crew.  Fans have commented on the ” color struck” nature of the Potomac wives.  The point is well taken with the introduction of Ashley Darby (@_AshleyDarby) and Katie Rost’s (@KatieRost) immediate questioning of the race of Darby’s husband and whether Darby, herself, was biracial.

I have been to my fair share of social events, with friends and with strangers.  I have never heard a single soul ask about the race of another person’s spouse or significant other at an event.  I couldn’t tell if the two women knew one another, if only by reputation, and this was Rost’s clumsy way of introducing the fans to another housewife with a White spouse/boyfriend.  Maybe the outburst was simply indicative of Rost’s standard way of introducing herself to others.  Color struck?  Maybe, but my question to you is: “How do the issues regarding race in the Potomac differ from the issues of race being raised by the #RHOA?”  The difference I see is that race is partially weaponized by the #RHOA while the #RHOP use race for the purposes of identification and asking the “big” and “small” questions.  Evidence?

The short list for #RHOA

  • Phaedra Parks refers to Apollo’s preference for canned vegetables as a product of growing up with a White mother.  She has made a couple of references to his childhood that are rather racially charged and inappropriate – at least her comments are ones that I think most individuals (not just viewers) would find inappropriate.
  • Phaedra also claims that Kenya Moore is so full of “—-” that it made her skin brown. (Uh, that is one damned low blow in any context).  Whatever you think of Kenya Moore (@KenyaMoore) please give her credit for her role in African-American history.  Kenya Moore’s participation in the Miss USA pageant was more more step forward in America’s realization that brown skin is beautiful.  Brown skin is NOT the color of “—-“.
  • Phaedra comparing the Glen Rice Jr. incident to tragic loss of innocent young lives (Michael Brown (age 18), Eric Garner (age 43), Treyvon Martin (age 17), Tamir Rice (age 12), and so many others).  To my shock and sadness, Kim Fields co-signed. Parks even invoked the name of #BlackLivesMatter (@Blklivesmatter), adding insult to injury by stating that Kenya Moore behaved like some “old white lady in the suburbs” who, because of racism, was needlessly afraid of black men.  I watched the after-altercation video posted by Kandi Burruss Tucker as a counter to Parks claims.  They were all hiding in a bedroom, the night of the incident.  No one ran to embrace Rice or his “Aunt Tammy” when they returned to the house that evening.  Suburban hysteria? Nah.
  • Nene Leakes referred to Claudia Jordan as a “half breed” last season.  I don’t think anyone needs help understanding why this one was 100% rude and cruel.
  • Nene Leakes accused Kim Zolciak of treating Sweetie like a “slave” and not respecting black women.  For my money, Kim treats everyone who works for her like a slave. I  don’t see a problem with race, in that regard.  I think the attack was used to stoke the flames more than register a serious complaint about the treatment of  women of color.  Did Nene somehow miss Kim’s treatment of Sweetie when they were great pals?  It didn’t seem to bother her, then.  It only became a weapon when she seemed to grow tired of Kim’s friendship (or became jealous of Kim’s unlikely/undeserved chart topping success).
  • Phaedra’s focus on race as a social issue (onscreen) happened only recently, to my memory, after Apollo Nida’s conviction.  Referring to brown skin as the color of human waste is, in my book, inconsistent with a genuine concern for equality.

#RHOP’s approach

RHOP_Photo ShootI am not always happy with the approach taken by the #RHOP when talking about race but I appreciate the fact that the discussion is deeper than assuming  it is acceptable to treat race as an insult.  I have already challenged my own ideas about race (and religion) watching this show.  Unlike Gizelle Bryant (@GizelleBryantand Robyn Dixon (@robynbdixon), I don’t have a problem with Katie Rost’s identification as a Jewish woman.  Her choice to practice Judaism is not, and should not be, about how many other people of color choose Judaism.  Her choice is about her relationship with God and it is personal.  I don’t mind the fact that Katie’s knowledge of African Americans who  have practiced Judaism is so limited.  Here is some light reading regarding African-American Jews/Judaism:

10 Celebrities you didn’t know were Jewish

15 Celebs who are Black and Jewish

BlackJews.Org

African-American Converts Finally Recognized as Jews in Israel

Black Synagogue Takes a Big Step Forward

Chicago rabbi set to become chief of black Jews group

I don’t find the fact that Rost doesn’t speak Hebrew to be particularly disconcerting nor the fact that she attends Temple only on the high holy days.  CEO Christians (Christmas and Easter Only) get that.  I have Jewish friends who are not people of color and are no different from Rost.  My problem with Katie is that her biracial and Jewish identities seem to come from a place of rejecting the notion that she has African/African-American heritage, as well, instead of a fully inclusive embrace of her diverse identity.   I suspect that Dixon and Bryant have the same concerns. Rost has seemingly found every way possible to reject African-American identity and anything associated with it:  she loves the White boys and the Jewish boys, she is biracial – without references to her African-American heritage.  I don’t want Rost to be any less of the things she loves and values.  I just want to see evidence that she values all of the pieces that make her who she is, not that she owes that to me.  I even question myself in regard to why it matters to me that she embrace her African-American heritage.  Do I, or does anyone else, have the right to tell her that being African-American helped shape her character?  Do we have the right to tell her that her children should be asked to embrace their African-American heritage as well?  I am landing on the side of the fence that says that she should want that, but I don’t believe it is my decision, as a viewer, to make.  My only hope is that if she chooses to ignore her African-American heritage, it is not another “#RHOA brown skin moment”.  African-American heritage is not inferior or ugly.  It is complementary.

Charisse KarenAdmittedly, Rost is not the only person I question.  I view Charrisse Jackson-Jordan and Karen Huger’s pretense that they understand and fit in to “high society”, instead of being hoi polloi , as an unconscious defense against stereotypes linked to African-American identity.  If they feel like the genuine article, to you, I apologize, but nothing rings true about them, for me.  The pretense, as I see it, reads like a barrier against the racist charges of being “nothing more than a poor girl raised on a farm” or a “section 8 recipient”, stereotypes which confuse issues of race with issues of socioeconomic status.  Neither of those descriptors deserve to be treated as badges of shame.  Ashley Darby understands that and it makes me admire how much she embraces her past – a past which shaped her and motivated her into becoming the person she has become.  She is definitely hoi polloi (as I proudly am) and she is worth a dozen of the self-proclaimed high society mavens.  Far from inoculating them, the pretense of Jackson-Jordan and Huger makes me wonder all the more about their pasts and what they appear to be running from.  Poverty is not race.  It is not shameful.  It is not to be mocked and maligned.  It saddens me when those who are directly or indirectly impacted by those stereotypes use them to attack others and to establish self-serving hierarchies.

Oddly enough, while I disagree with the exception they  Dixon and Bryant take to Rost’s self-identification as a Jewish woman,  they are the only two wives, so far, whose voices about African-American people, and especially African-American women, feel and sound authentic.  It will be heartbreaking, enlightening, and enriching when the epic fight about racial identification with Rost takes place.  Rather than shut their voices down as belonging to silly women, stuck on color and fighting dumb fights on a reality show, I hope the scenes end up challenging us to talk about race in a meaningful way.  I hope the show challenges us to think about culture, cultural appropriation, self-identification, and the true beauty and diversity of the African-American community.  We are Lauren London, Craig David, Lisa Bonet,  Amar’e Stoudemire, Sammy Davis Jr., Nell Carter, Jackie Wilson, and Drake (African American and Jewish).  We are Ne Yo, Tyson Beckford, Denyce Lawton, Kelis, LeShonte Heckard and  William Demps (African-American and Asian).  We are Laz Alonso, Judy Reyes, Tatiana Ali, Gina Torres, Kid Cudi, Maxwell, Zoe Saldana, and Victor Cruz  (African-American and Latino).

We. Are.

I appreciate the fact that #RHOP is pushing the envelope of understanding with regard to race and identity. I plan to keep watching, keep thinking about my own views, and continue questioning.  I will see you around if you plan to do the same.

Catch my review of the second episode of The Real Housewives of Potomac at All About the Tea.

 

Defending Bravo TV, Andy Cohen, and the Real Housewives of the Potomac

Post the Amandla Stenberg fiasco, defending @Bravotv and Andy Cohen () is an action I NEVER thought I would take, and right now I am seriously hoping there is a reality show detox program I can put on speed dial (one that will help me win back my sanity).   That said, the launch of the Real Housewives of the Potomac leaves me feeling compelled to applaud the efforts of bringing the #RHOP to canvas, as well was the results.  Despite its relative success, the real housewives franchise has struggled in offering diverse views of women of color.  My hackles are still raised when I think of the ill treatment of the first Latina housewife to join #RHOBH, . Despite being constantly attacked and maligned, handling the pressure with more grace than I think most of us could muster, Joyce was dismissed after one season – while Brandi Glanville and her defender-in-chief, Yolanda Foster, were permitted to stay on.  In a just world, the person who made the decision to keep Glanville and Foster over Giraud is now spending their days clipping coupons while hoping to turn 5 dollars into $800 worth of processed foods and assorted junk on a TLC special.

I was astonished, and frankly a bit gutted, that despite filming in Miami, the network seemed unable to find engaging Latina women to open viewers up to a new world – one that didn’t treat Latinos/Hispanics as “the other” but showed the beauty and complexity of the various cultured communities.  We have yet to see the successful integration of Asian and Asian-American women who, like Latina women on the other series, are often treated as bit players in the lives of the housewives. Even #RHONY fan-favorite scene stealer, Sakoto Yamazki (@Satokonyc) is only referred to as “Sonja’s facialist” by nearly every site that mentions her.  The one series that is given credit for bringing diversity to Bravo’s HW franchise, The Real Housewives of Atlanta, is the franchise I often find the most troubling.  #RHOA fans may disagree, but I view the show to be one that is long on racial diversity but short on dispelling the negative stereotypes that have, for far too long, dogged African-American women.  So far, the #RHOA has worked to seemingly confirm the big four (as I view them):

1 – The stereotyped angry black woman.  This myth looms large in the entertainment world, but no where is it as heavily and predictably cast as in reality television.  If asked which reality show maven best exemplifies this ugly stereotype, I would have to say that  Nene Leakes tops the  list.  From the ear piercing tantrums not welcomed in a preschool classroom -much less a room full of professionals, to altercations that border on verge of being considered a criminal assaults, Nene’s behavior has been so outrageous that she became the punchline on UnREAL, a show that takes a swipe at the seedy side of reality t.v..  On the show, an African-American producer encourages two remaining African-American contestants on a dating show to “go big”. He tells them to become a Nene Leakes or Omarosa, or get ready to go home.  One of the contestants calls him an “Uncle Tom” for asking them to lower themselves into that gutter.  The other takes his advice, accuses an innocent contestant of making a race-based insult, and attacks her.  I will leave it to you to determine the full implication of false accusations for profit… yeah, thanks.  Add that to the fact that Leakes’ antics have landed her on THR’s top ten disliked celebrities list and the clips below that highlight (or lowlight?) “not ready for prime time” behavior will make perfect sense:

There are times when Leakes has been genuinely funny, and presented a portrait of a strong, not necessarily angry, woman.  Those instances of strength, which feel too few and far between, are overshadowed by the all too frequent moments of poor behavior similar to the clips above, in my opinion.

2 – 3 The Thought-free Princess of Thotlandia –   In three short seasons, fans have had the curious experience of watching Porsha (Stewart) Williams transition from a wife who was grateful to her husband for “letting” her spend time with her cast mates (groan) to a self-proclaimed “twerk-a-holic”.  I am glad to see the stepford wife go.  I am not so happy to see the twerking twin that showed up in her place!  Is there no in between?  While every woman has the right to own her sexuality, it would be nice if more women who are given such a huge public platform would define their sexuality in a way that wasn’t so consistent with the “fetishized”, highly-sexualized and demeaning, images of women of color that are already in place.

This housewife gives us a “two-fer” – This particular stereotype links the “Thot” image with the “thoughtless” meme (as in void of thought).  It is a stereotype which portrays women of color, in particular, as “poorly educated”.  Sadly, Porsha also transitioned from hosting fundraisers for her grandfather’s illustrious civil rights foundation to looking for the underground railroad train tracks beneath church floorboards .

I can’t help but believe that Unground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman wouldn’t mind coming back to punch Porsha’s ticket for that one.  Haven’t most of us been learning about the underground railroad since kindergarten?

4 – Propensity toward criminal behavior.  Apollo Nida.  Enough said?  Fans still debate the veracity of Phaedra Parks claims that she knew nothing of her husband’s illicit activity – despite supporting his claims of spending thousands a dollars a night in strip clubs.  She told us that she was ok with is as long as the money wasn’t hers.  It was apparently a hobby funded by money that he  earned in his difficult-to-define “asset recovery” business (a business that led to another major stint in prison for the fallen reality star).  Add to that Phaedra’s own alleged past misdeeds and we are talking full on cluster pluck.

#RHOA is a show that is supposed to highlight the lives of people who are living well, far exceeding in what we aspire to as part of the American dream.  Is there any wonder why so many fans see light at the end The Real Housewives of the Potomac tunnel?  While they are not perfect, they add new and refreshing images of women of color. Women like Katie Rost and Gizelle Bryant are full-time linked into the Potomac power structures.  Rost’s family is, reportedly, obscenely loaded.  Both women are from prominent families and have a history of rubbing elbows with political movers and shakers.  Charrisse Jordan-Jackson and Karen Huger don’t seem, to me, to have the same sort of connections, but are women who (so far) seem to have access real wealth and their own highly regarded social circle.  Charrisse’s estate is huge, and we have since learned that the Bravo photo shoot for this season took place in Chateau Charrisse (see what I did there?)  Robyn Dixon appears to have had access to wealth, at one time during her marriage, but is now a working mom who takes pride in the accomplishments of her distinguished extended family as well as the choices she’s made for herself and her children.  So far, there doesn’t appear to be a angry woman in the group, no twerk monsters, not a thot, not the thoughtless, no reported criminal records, and most appear to be well educated and hard workers.  My only regret is that Kenya Moore wasn’t cast on this show, instead!  These are her housewife soulmates!

For every #RHOA twerk session, there is a #RHOP etiquette lesson.  For every #RHOA explosion of child-like anger, there is a #RHOP stomp off.  I think my heart is FULL, people!  There is finally a little more balance and a hell of a lot more nuance in the portrayal of the African-American community – for as much as a true portrayal can happen on a reality show.

To be clear, I don’t think there is an argument to be made about whether the #RHOA or #RHOP should be the standard bearer for African American women and their families. If an argument is to be made, the answer for me is that neither can represent us all.  There is yet more complexity in the African-American community to show, but I like where this is headed, so far. I think the two housewife shows are nice complements of one another. There is something for everyone, just as #RHOC, #RHOBH, #RHONJ, and #RHONY offer different views of women who are not minorities.

You may want to turn away at this point, but to @Bravotv and  I say, Job Well Done!  I hope #RHOA and #RHOP both stand the test of time, though admittedly, I hope the presence of #RHOP helps the women of the #RHOA up their game and pushes them away from the stereotyped images which become more extreme every year.  I want more of who the Real Housewives of Atlanta use to be – before the fame turned them into what they are now.  A new housewife or two, to add more balance to the current group wouldn’t hurt.  As for the #RHOP?  So far, so good.

Read my review of the first episode  of the series at All About The Tea and check the site for future reviews of the show.

Married at First Sight – We Need Ground Rules!

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

mafs-tres-and-vanessa-wedding-9-p

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?

mafs-tres-and-vanessa-wedding-4-p— 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

mafs-david-ashley-wedding-6-p

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:

mafs-david-ashley-wedding-8-p— 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

mafs-neil-and-sam-wedding-3-p

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.

mafs-neil-and-sam-wedding-8-p— 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.

 

 

f

If you have a mother, sister, girlfriend, wife, friend, cousin, or neighbor you love

PLEASE watch this video:

I am right there with Jackson Katz.  Violence against women is a men’s issue.  Violence against children is about the adults.  Violence against minorities is a non-minority issue. Violence against the LBGTQAI community is about the straight community.   We are all in this together.  We can stop the violence.