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Recap: ‘Marriage Boot Camp’ over-beveraged and divorce court

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There wasn’t very much funny on “Marriage Boot Camp” Friday night. However, Julian taught me a new word. He wasn’t drunk. He’d been “over-beveraged.” Bahahaha… I’ve heard of over-served, but that’s a new one. And that’s where the humor stopped.

So every episode of WEtv’s “Marriage Boot Camp” they do a couple of exercises led by camp directors Jim and Elizabeth, designed to teach a lesson – this episode it was experiencing divorce court and unplugging your spouse in the ICU. The second one I have a LOT to say about. But we’ll get there in a minute.

Gloria and Mark didn’t do well in divorce court, but Gloria started out looking better than her husband. Turns out he’s been caught lying a few times, and has a history of cheating. “Mark is a dirtball.” Way to talk about the man you’re supposed to be in love with, Gloria.

But Gloria is not blameless. Apparently, she believes in a good “whoopin” for the kids once in awhile. I actually don’t disagree with her. I’m a better person today for having been spanked and had my mouth washed out with soap. But it turns out Gloria is also hitting Mark. “Yeah, I’ve hit him,” she admits. Lotta domestic violence going on in this house. And the judge says violence has become a way of life for them.

The judge didn’t cut cards with Sophia and Shaun either. “You folks are a walking disaster.” Seems like Sophia’s biggest offense is that she hasn’t been contributing enough financially because she’s busy paying off her boob job. And he’s mad about this? I’m confused. Meanwhile, Shaun doesn’t acknowledge his alcohol or anger management problems. Maybe they should show him some footage.

Blanca and Julian had a tough time in court. She doesn’t have a close relationship with the truth. She lied more than once and got busted. Does anybody else HATE her voice? It’s torture listening to her whine. When the Judge tells her she’s going to pay alimony, I laughed. “I don’t think that there’s much here to salvage. Blanca is filled with contempt for the court, as well as contempt for you.” Oh damn, Julian. Pick up what pride you have left and hightail it out of there. For real. You seem like a nice guy.

But Julian says “I don’t want to get divorced.” I’m so sad for him because Blanca is a narcissistic iceberg. “I’m not sure what I’m sorry about” she says after the court exercise. One scary bitch. Please do not have children.

Tasha and Jeff are so forgettable that I had to look up his name to write this blog – I could not remember it. They’re the ones who are already in the middle of a divorce. And with the exception of all the pink (it’s my favorite color too, but girl, lose those stupid flowers in your hair), Tasha seems fairly well grounded. We came into this thinking she was bitchy and nuts and after only two episodes, I totally understand why. That guy doesn’t talk, doesn’t react and doesn’t show emotion. Jeff’s lucky she hasn’t brained him with a flower pot during an argument just to get a reaction.

Straight up, anybody else think that maybe Jeff suffers from Asperger’s or some form of autism? Did you see the way he moved out of the group during the fight when Shaun was going all Incredible Hulk? While he was probably one of the smarter ones to do that, it definitely demonstrates that he avoids physical drama as much as verbal. That doesn’t make him a bad person, but his inability to communicate like a “normal” person has ruined his marriage. And what this guy needs, no marriage therapist is going to fix in a limited number of episodes. This divorce is a foregone conclusion.

“Marriage Boot Camp” Director Jim is so direct with Jeff that you almost hurt for the guy because you know that somewhere, down deep inside, this has gotta be killing him – and he’s not able to react. “You are so broken and cold, and the disconnect between here and here [head and heart]… you are going to destroy your marriage if you don’t really dig in hard to fix yourself the rest of this boot camp.” Gotta be pretty hard to hear that from the senior therapist in the group. Again I ask the question: Are Jeff’s problems really marital issues or is the guy just in need of serious therapy period?

I don’t think Tasha thinks that she and Jeff are getting anything out of the experience, other than to see they’re not the only ones with problems. “All these people are completely crazy… the more I listen to these nutcases.” And she’s right. Their marital problems center around Jeff’s personal emotional problems – they’re not drinking and fighting and hurling nearly as many mean words as the others. They just don’t communicate interpersonally.

Again, coming back to my armchair psychologist role – Jeff left the hospital to go to work 30 minutes after their baby Dallas was born. Tasha, it’s not about you – Jeff can’t communicate with or feel love for anybody or he never would have walked away the day your daughter was born.

My husband Bill likes to joke that this show is saving marriages across the United States because couples are realizing their own marriages aren’t nearly as fucked up as they’d thought they were after watching this bunch. I’d have to agree that I find myself thinking “who says that to their husband/wife?” and I’ve been known to have a pretty wicked tongue during a particularly bad marital spat. The things these couples say to each other – daily – would lead to divorce in a number of houses. I guess it’s all about how you were raised and what you are used to.

Speaking of things you shouldn’t be used to – what was with the whole brawl in the living room? Am I wrong or did all that start because two other wives got into a snarkfest about what was going on between Sophia and Shaun? Focus on yourselves ladies (and I use that term loosely) – that’s why you’re in therapy.

Then the guys get involved when one of the husbands calls Gloria a bitch. “You can’t talk to my wife like that” is the common theme but suddenly people are shoving, hitting, throwing furniture and all hell has broken loose. That’s when I saw Jeff step out of it (first smart move of the show). Unfortunately, he didn’t lead his wife Tasha out of the melee, he left her behind. Hmm.

I know that it’s good for the show to have some crazy – and I’ll admit I was waiting for the chair-throwing scene they teased, but my ex-cop husband sits and cringes as Shaun gets worked up. He’s like “Okay, production’s is going to have to step in… oh wait, shirt coming off – get in there now!”

Bill explains that taking off your shirt, kinda like those wedding guests on TLC’s “Wedding Island” who took off their shoes and earrings to come after me, is telegraphing the fact you’re about to kick somebody’s ass. And he was right. Two seconds later, the producers, cameras and sound guys are all in the shot as they tear apart whomever is actually fighting with each other. I think everybody was in it… except Jeff.

I’m not giving that scuzzball Shaun one minute more fame than he deserves (zilch), but if I don’t mention his drunken rage, tearing up his shirt, I would be remiss. Seriously, if he’d suddenly turned green like the Hulk too, I don’t think it would have shocked me. Is he on steroids or not? It keeps coming up. He may just be a mean drunk. But whatever it is, Sophia needs to get out of that house before he knocks the shit out of her one night and deflates those new boobies.

How bizarre was it the next day when Shaun tried to take credit for “diverting” the situation by throwing chairs? Seriously, did you just say that? Please please please tell me that somebody is going to show this meathead his footage of the prior night’s activities before he really hurts somebody. Or cut off his alcohol supply. Or his roids. Do something. Just make it stop. We’ve got the point. He’s drunk and abusive. She’s annoying and scared. Bad combination. Recipe for disaster and it ain’t gonna get fixed in a couple of weeks at a reality television boot camp with four other couples.

I did not like the ICU exercise and I’m going to tell you why – I think it was insensitive to the viewers, and possibly irreparably traumatic to Gloria who had actually unplugged her previous husband from life support. Cutting off life support isn’t something to playact at. I was really disturbed by last season’s casket scene but this was worse.

Shame on you, Jim and Elizabeth, for letting production get you to participate in that. I cannot believe licensed therapists would really use that as a technique and I would love to hear your colleagues’ opinions on your methods. Especially for Gloria.

For those of you who weren’t watching, last season they put one spouse in a casket and had the other read a letter. It was hard to watch and I didn’t like it. This season, they’re bringing in the “meaner” spouse and telling them to imagine a scenario where the couple had been out driving, had a fight, and a big car wreck. Their spouse was the passenger, and now is dying. They have to be taken off life support. So the spouse left standing has to go stand at the hospital bed and tell them what they feel and then turn off life support. For real? You are some sick fucks.

Look, when Gloria’s first husband was dying, she had to make the decision to remove life support. That’s something that never ever leaves you – especially when they had a whole bunch of tiny children. Putting her through that exercise to make her appreciate Mark more was a load of crap and I’m really, really angry about it.

I don’t find Gloria to be a particularly sympathetic character, but I do agree with her assessment that Jim is picking on her. “Jim has it out for me.” This is the first time I’ve questioned the integrity of Jim and Elizabeth’s methods – I think it was over the line.

I have to ask why Mark agreed to participate in that, knowing what Gloria has already been through. We aren’t told the specifics, but clearly he knows. So either he’s too weak-willed to have put the kybosh on it, or he’s so mean that he wanted to traumatize her. Either way, I’m not okay with it.

I don’t know whether WEtv or production came up with that warped “pull the plug” exercise on their own, and then it just so happens that Gloria is a participant. Or if she’s right about them creating it just to fuck with her. Whatever the case, I think it was twisted and sick and if I had been here, I would have walked right out of there with Elizabeth clucking at me that I was supposed to be giving “100 percent.”

The whole thing was in poor taste and they should have thought about their viewers. That’s a real scenario to a lot of people and using it in this context was a slap in the face to anyone who has ever had to make a life or death decision about their spouse or another family member. I know of more than one person turned off the television when the sequence started. And no, they won’t watch “Marriage Boot Camp” again.

There was all this yay-rah baloney they fed Shaun after he cried about killing his wife (more or less – he was drunk driving in their scenario), but it was probably the only positive feedback Jim and Elizabeth could come up with for this guy. Everybody’s probably terrified to piss him off during evaluations.

For Tasha, the ICU experience only solidified what she already knew about her relationship with Jeff. Privately, afterwards, she tells him “If I died, you wouldn’t shed one fucking tear… This is why I’m ready to go home, I’m done.” Gloria’s probably packing too. You guys should share a cab to the airport.

I haven’t said much about Mai-Lee and Tomas this time because they didn’t do anything too horrible or bizarre – I actually think they’re pretty funny in their interviews. Apparently there’s some disagreement on how much they spent on their wedding, but I’ve got to admit that my husband didn’t know the final number on our wedding til I told someone in an interview when our reality show aired. And he almost passed out. LOL

The directors want Tomas to start showing more emotion. Probably not a bad idea. But I’m curious to see if this couple emerges as more nuts than they seem, or if they were wrongly cast because they haven’t been married long enough to have real marital problems.

The first two years of marriage are an adjustment time for everyone and these two hadn’t hit six months yet when they went to boot camp. Just because she was a “Bridezilla” doesn’t guarantee a “wife-zilla.” Maybe being around some of the awful behavior of their fellow campers will make them see what they have and fix what ails them, or maybe next week they’ll be the ones throwing lamps. But I hope not. I wanna cheer for somebody.

Sandy Malone is a reality TV star, expert wedding planner, and internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast's BRIDES and The Huffington Post, in addition to Monsters... read more
Sandy Malone

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