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Recap: Marriage Boot Camp Reality Stars: Breakfast Vodka Edition

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“This is what you call a breakfast vodka,” Traci Braxton knows how to set up the opening to an episode, but this new crew isn’t the drinking bunch of last season’s “Marriage Boot Camp” on WEtv, and she and Kevin are the only two who seem to really be drinking dawn til dusk. At least they do it together.

Gretchen is so fascinated by Tanisha and Clive screaming at each other the night before that she’s suffering major anxiety over it. It’s probably easier than focusing on her issues with Slade. Of which there are many.

“If I have cray-cray going on over here, I don’t feel like I’m going to be able to focus on us because I’m going to be so focused on keeping her from killing me,” Gretchen whines in interview. Okay, legit concern. Unless you shut your yap and stop trying to “help” Tanisha.

Quite a few campers got no sleep because Tanisha snores like a bear and you can hear it through the walls and down the hallway.

During breakfast, without Tanisha present, Clive explains to everybody that he’s losing his hearing and how it happened and how he deals with it. They all seem clueless about it.

“Sometimes it’s hard to kinda communicate,” Clive explains.

“I want to see Clive stand up more for himself –that’s hard for me to watch,” Roger says and tells Clive that he should talk to Jim and Elizabeth Carroll, the Marriage Boot Camp Directors, and get them to help moderate.

Traci and Kevin’s impression of Tanisha yelling at Clive is funny as hell. How come I can understand them in interview, but when they talk to each other during the show, it sounds like they have mouths of mush? Is it the breakfast vodka kicking in?

So when they all walk into the first Boot Camp exercise and there are newspapers all over a wall representing their issues, Tanisha turns into a big fake.

“What is it with this damn press, I just can’t get away from it!” Seriously, girl?

You’re making shows on multiple networks and doing everything possible to get press. You behave badly because they cover it and that’s how you got famous. It’s just getting old now, and so are you. Stop giving the paparazzi the heads up when you’re going to do stupid shit and you’ll see less negative press about yourself.

And I’m sorry I can’t resist writing this – after I spent an hour being snarky about Tanisha in a live-tweet during the show – she was the FIRST person to “follow” me on Twitter after it ended. Seriously? Bahahahaha! You’re chasing the press girl. And some of us can’t run fast enough. tanisha follow

But back to the show… all of the couples have to go up and choose newspapers with headlines that reflect their own issues – things like “infidelity,” “money,” “trust,” and “resentment.” I know it’s hard to believe, but Tanisha and Clive have the biggest pile of newspapers.

“I think you have every single problem,” Elizabeth congratulates Tanisha and Clive.

“And once your issues become public, they can take on a life of their own,” Elizabeth explains.

Gretchen give us an earful about how she feels about wanting to get pregnant. And it’s the most disgusting and somewhat pornographic description of fertility that I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to. Children are a big issue for her and Slade because she wants them NOW and he’s had a vasectomy that needs reversal and isn’t in a hurry to make babies pre-wedding anyway.

Apparently the doctor told Gretchen she’s ripe, but she’s not bright enough to articulate it in interview so instead we suffer through her description of being fertile.

“I’m plushy and juicy somewhere, and I just don’t want to run out of plushy, plushy juiciness.” No, seriously. That’s exactly what she said. I checked a few times. Maybe Slade doesn’t want to have children with her because she’s a moron and should not procreate. Just sayin.

Lots of speculation about the apparent money problems too because Slade supposedly made millions in real estate and Gretchen is rocking Louis Vuitton shoes but she’s basically bitching at him all the time to get a real job. She thinks she’s holding them up. Where did all his money go? Vasectomies aren’t THAT expensive. JWoww and Roger want to know too.

But at least they have a sex life because Roger says that he and Jenni don’t.

“I’ll be honest with you, Internet porn is pretty much keeping my relationship together,” Roger jokes.

“You get it with your hand all the time,” is Jenni’s response. She must’ve put out at least once this year, Roger. But who’s counting?

Right after everybody chooses their newspaper “issues,” the campers get a break.
Everybody takes the time to wind down except, of course, Tanisha and Clive. They’re having a big old, full-volume brawl that looks like it’s going to get physical. Actually, it does a little bit but I think these two usually beat on each other seriously so the little pushes and slaps mean nothing to them.

“Stop touching me,” Clive warns her. And she gets up in his face telling him to hit her. I wanted to hit her myself, but I was proud of him for resisting the urge he HAD to have. She was literally asking for it.

“I’m gonna punch you!” Tanisha, girl, you’ve just gotta stop it. This whole argument is because you’re pissed he didn’t do what was on his “to do” list before the show. The throwdown gets so threatening and scary that Ryan decides to interrupt. Go Ryan!!! Somebody needed to step in.

“I apologize for interfering with you guys because this is your personal issue, but I can’t… I would feel bad if something happened,” he says.

Ryan is a firefighter – a lieutenant to be exact – and he’s got years of experience responding to the aftermath of domestic violence. I bet he was appalled, horrified and somewhat traumatized by the very thought that somebody in the next room was about to get seriously injured and nobody was trying to help. He’s a good guy.

“I heard some ‘don’t push me… I’m gonna knock you out.’ Maybe it’s time for one of you to take a walk,” Ryan suggests and then leaves, taking Clive with him.

His fellow castmates applaud the intervention, calling him “Superman.”

Ryan jokes, “I was like the scaredest superman of all time.” Nobody wants a beat down from Tanisha.

Jim and Elizabeth use the opportunity to grab Tanisha for a one on one and she explains how she’s mad she has to do everything in their relationship and he didn’t even get his own hearing aids fixed before the show like he was supposed to. She’s angry for the right reasons when she explains it, but the way she expresses herself is completely unacceptable, for any wife. For any human being.

She knew Clive was losing his hearing when she married him, so why is she so damned nasty about it now? The vows say “for better or worse, in sickness and in health,” not as long as you can clearly hear me bitching at your constantly.

Hearing loss is a medical condition that, while it’s no doubt difficult for the spouse, is far more traumatic for the person for whom the world is going quiet. Her insensitivity should get her banned from speaking to any group who supports the Americans with Disabilities act. I’m not even joking. She’s flat out MAD that Clive dared to go deaf on her. I do not know whether to laugh or cry.

Meanwhile, Gretchen cried because listening to them fight made her so sad.

Nobody looks prepared when they get called in for the next exercise.

“Welcome to the ring of fire,” Jim greets them.

The directors explain that the more unresolved issues you have in a relationship, the more you destroy the relationship and hate each other. So this exercise is supposed to help them resolve or let go of the issues that are putting them in the “ring of fire” in the first place.

Basically, they have to “own” each issue and then it gets tossed in the fire pit of the owner, raising the flames and heat. They’re wearing flame retardant suits in the “ring of fire” but it’s a bit of a joke. The visual is far worse than the actual exercise. Looked good on TV, I guess. Maybe.

“They’re going to burn us alive,” Tanisha says when she sees the set. Not yet, Tanisha.

Just for the record, the Twitter world was largely in agreement that this was simply a rehearsal of what Tanisha can expect when she dies.

There’s nobody else to hate on this episode, yet. Gretchen comes off as a moron but Slade is being open and honest about how he feels about the situation. Sounds like she signed up for something else but maybe the agreement was in her own head? Lots of space in there.

Again, we want to know where Slade’s money went and why Gretchen feels like she has to pay the bills. “Stop helping me, help yourself,” Gretchen demands in the circle of fire when they discuss money problems. And she still wants a baby NOW NOW NOW while she’s all “plushy and juicy.” Ugh.

“When you feel this way, it literally makes me want to let you go,” Slade tells her. RUN, Slade, RUN!!!

Trista and Ryan are the least fucked up couple at Marriage Boot Camp. Apparently there are insecurity issues and it turns out that Trista has a box of old journals about old boyfriends that she won’t let him see. They’re both weird about it. Mostly Trista. Why not just let him see you get rid of them so you can let go of the past? If you won’t let him read them, you need to toss ‘em. I’m on Ryan’s side on this one.

But really? REALLY? You’re in televised marital counseling because of that? Methinks Trista and Ryan share a common issue with Roger and JWoww – she still wants to be on television and in the spotlight, and he wants to live their lives privately and normally.

“I don’t get it, you guys don’t need help,” Tanisha says about Trista and Ryan. Probably the only time she thought about anybody other than herself the entire episode.

Traci and Kevin both have big issues with the past.

“You can’t think you’re just gonna do infidelity and I’m not gonna react on it,” Traci tells him. They’ve been playing tit for tat in the cheating game and they’re both guilty as hell now. Traci blames her cheating on the fact that he did it to her first. He says he always wanted her.

“I want to feel like a woman, like I’m beautiful, like I’m special… then why would you give someone else that attention instead of me?” Traci asks.

“It’s obvious to me that this ring of fire is something you guys never get out of… your relationship hasn’t grown in a long time,” Jim tells Traci and Kevin, implying that they have to start somewhere.

Jenni’s getting burned up when it’s her turn in the middle with Roger. She’s the one who lies and has trust issues and withholds sex.

“When I think of intimacy I think of romance…,” but she complains that Roger is happy with just sex and a sandwich afterwards.

“Why did we hump like jackrabbits when we first met then?” Roger asks. She says she doesn’t feel romantic when they’re fighting and he says they’re fighting because she’s lying… even today. It’s not just about the lies of the past, she’s still not trusting him with the truth. The issue of “resentment” is a serious one with these two.

“If I did to you what you’ve done to me, would your resent me?” Roger asks Jenni.

“I wouldn’t be with you,” Jenni replies without having to even think about it. I guess that says it all. At least she owns it. Sort of.

“I withheld information but I never blatantly lied,” JWoww explains. Sins of omission, my dear. They’ll get ya every damned time.

Tanisha and Clive are fun to watch in the center of the fire ring. She’s hot immediately.

“That’s a good thing. Keep going,” Clive says when Tanisha freaks about it getting hotter. She’s very worried about her weave (you said it’s “Brazilian” last week so it shouldn’t melt, girl). Maybe she’s seeing hell in her future and it’s making her nervous.

When she got really afraid, Clive held her and suddenly he was her hero. I was like “say what?” I mean, great that your husband doesn’t want you to catch fire and all, but don’t you think that’s probably more because he doesn’t want to get yelled at for it if you do?

After the exercise, Elizabeth explains that these issues they’ve tackled are now “our” issues,” not his or hers, and they get a break before evaluations.

During that time, Gretchen and Slade discuss fertility issues in front of Trista and Ryan, with Slade bitching that Gretchen was too hard on him. Ryan speaks up and agrees.

“You were way too hard on him about the kids thing, he’s totally right,” Ryan says. Go Ryan. Maybe you can be the interesting deep guy this season.

Traci and Kevin talk about fixing their marriage and how it used to be.

“I’m determined to have that again,” Kevin tells his wife. But she’s not really having that. I’m thinking there’s been some recent infidelity that will be revealed eventually.

“There’s still some freshness to it,” Traci let him know that all is NOT forgiven.

Evaluations were interesting only because Gretchen and Tanisha got into it in the beginning when Gretchen told the camp directors she was feeling upset and disturbed by Tanisha and Clive’s ongoing fights. And Tanisha tells her to mind her own business, again.

But right before the evals, Tanisha was joking about her own marriage. “Our relationship is a hot rotisserie mess.” Meanwhile, Gretchen thinks they “nailed it” – is she as dumb as she seems? As they say in the south, “bless her heart.” She and Slade think they’re going to “win” something in a marital counseling evaluation?

“I was scared though,” Gretchen complains about Tanisha and Clive’s fight. It’s almost like she wants Jim and Elizabeth to threaten to kick out Tanisha. Is Tanisha getting all of Gretchen’s air time and she’s jealous or what?

“Gretchen, the white Oprah, puts her two cents in… Put a muzzle on it, seriously,” Tanisha says afterwards.

The bitchslap of the night was that Gretchen and Slade’s eval was much harsher than Tanisha and Clive’s. Despite the constant fighting and the domestic violence (we all saw a few things that aren’t okay), they apparently made progress with the “ring of fire” and got props for it.

“He stepped in to protect me,” Tanisha saw Clive in another light and now she wants to do him. Great. I guess that’s progress. He’s her hero. For the night.

“Anger is very often a secondary emotion to hurt,” co-director Ilsa Norman suggests.

Gretchen looks pissed they got a decent evaluation. And honestly, Tanisha said it best, again. “Who the fuck are you to tell me when you got problems of your own, boo?”

Gretchen looks shocked when Elizabeth says that a man who has a vasectomy is basically saying to the world that he doesn’t want children. And they’re warned that if their relationship is staged, as has been alluded to many times, they don’t belong in “Marriage Boot Camp.”

“I see you guys growing old together, but not growing emotionally together,” Jim tells Trista and Ryan. Of course, she told us last week that they can’t split up because it would upset their fans, so we both know she’s got the priorities all screwed up. I think Ryan is more grounded.

Traci and Kevin have so much bitter resentment between them that they don’t have a prayer if they don’t adjust their attitudes. “You’re missing the whole point,” Jim tells them.

Jenni and Roger’s issues have more to do with trust and resentment than anything else. But Roger isn’t cutting Jenni any slack. Apparently her transgressions aren’t solely in the past.

“If it was just in the past, I think I could do that,” Roger says. But it’s still going on so he’s not going to let it go.

I’m interested to see what next week brings. I think they filmed the Reality Stars differently (and not just in one-third of the number of days they filmed the Bridezillas couples). I’m willing to bet there was a whole lot of “hell no, you’re not filming this” going on. These are all seasoned reality vets with good representation. They aren’t going to do anything they don’t want to do at the end of the day.

Should be a challenge to see how Thinkfactory Media and WEtv made these celeb relationships seem as real as last season’s couples. The ratings are up, but is that because of the names of the “Reality Stars” of the show, or the show itself? I’ve gotta keep watching to figure it out.

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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