Sometimes I’m not sure exactly where to start my blogs about show likes WEtv’s “Marriage Boot Camp.” As both a happily married woman (almost 10 years now) and a reality television survivor (it’s not the first rodeo for any of these couples either, “Bridezillas” got them on here), I find myself both horrified and appalled by a lot of what I’m seeing.
So much of this makes me sad because there are real issues that need to be addressed and there’s no way that these therapeutic exercises can even be peeling off the first layer of the emotional onion, to borrow a phrase from the boot camps directors.
Let’s start with the least sympathetic character in the group right now – Blanca. And that’s saying something because Gloria is the most mean, judgmental bitch on the show. But at least she’s willing to make an effort, or at least pretend she is. Blanca still hasn’t figured out why she’s even there to begin with. Honey, when you sent in your demo tape for “Marriage Boot Camp,” what the hell did you think you were signing up for?
I really wanted to like her. I don’t know why, but initially I thought she was one of the more normal ones. Now I’m not seeing it that way. In fact – I’ve decided she’s got a really big problem. Even when she was discussing her flaws, she would only acknowledge her inability to acknowledge that she had them, not the actual problems.
“Nobody knows who I really am. Everybody is just judging a cover by its book.” Aw shit Blanca… did you really just stay that? I don’t know if it was a mistake or you’re just a moron, but either way, it was TOTALLY ACCURATE. We are all judging you based on what you are showing us of yourself.
Did you, or did you not, begin your day by saying to your husband “If you don’t make me breakfast, I will break dishes???” You weren’t joking. Oh sure, you wouldn’t actually break a plate but you also aren’t going to get off your ass and do for yourself. You claim Julian does nothing at home and that you personally do all the cleaning, housekeeping, paperwork, etc. But that’s certainly not what we’re seeing on the show. Did you cut a deal where you guys were turning production into a mini vacay and Julian is supposed to be your bitch the whole time? That little clip of the way you wake up was too telling.
The therapists keep telling Blanca she knows her good qualities and now it’s time to acknowledge the bad. But she doesn’t think there’s ANYTHING wrong with her. “She doesn’t see any personal flaws. She doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with her. She’s said that,” Elizabeth explains. I don’t think Blanca’s their fave either, btw, professionalism aside.
The first exercise of the episode – “Character Assassination” – was about an apocalyptic situation where they have all been infected with something horrible and there is only enough antidote for three of them. They have paintball guns and get to choose who to shoot. Those with the least paint on them live. While we didn’t get to see actually final stats comparing each person at camp (why?), I think Sofia, Tomas and Julian may have statistically survived this one, but don’t hold me to that.
Here’s the thing, I could spend a lot of time recapping this exercise, but I already can’t get back the time I spent watching it. So let’s do an abbreviated version.
Tasha shot her own husband. That says a lot. She doesn’t even think he has value to his children. Of course, Jeff’s defense of himself before they shot at him was pathetic and nobody was touched in the slightest. “I am a husband, I’m also a father…. Think how you would feel if your parent was gone.” Just the facts, ma’am. Jeff took 22 shots.
Even Julian, who I think likes and relates to Jeff somewhat, couldn’t support him. “Your speech up there wasn’t convincing. You gave it almost like a politician. It had no heart in it.” His wife isn’t quite so diplomatic. Blanca says “Jeff is just a robot.”
When Jeff couldn’t “logic it out” to Tasha as per Jim’s instructions, the director told him “You’re already dead.” Wow, that’s encouraging. Wonder if I can get some self-esteem boosting therapy from him?
None of the program directors seem to think anything is working with Jeff. Perhaps because, professionally, they all realize television is not the place to puzzle out what’s ailing this guy. Co-director Bobby says “Jeff is like a zombie – Jim, I’m beginning to wonder if he had has any emotions at all.”
Just be careful you guys don’t do more damage than good to somebody you can all tell is actually emotionally disturbed. I wonder if Wetv is doing “Celebrity Marriage Boot Camp” next while they take time to have all the next Bridezilla campers psychologically evaluated prior to production.
Shaun was actually first on the firing line. “It would be stupid to take me out…if I got your back I got your back. I’ll jump in front of a bullet.” Apparently not many folks would trust him with their backs because he took a lot of hits. He was pissed he got shot below the belt even though, honestly, he took a lot fewer bullets than most of his fellow campers.
“I definitely shot Shaun in his nuts,” Gloria brags (sometimes she’s funny even though she is a bitch). “That’s the quickest way to bring a man to his knees.” Blanca told Shaun
“You’re an angry person. I just wanted you to feel what Sofia feels.” Everybody who shot him said it was because of his anger issues.
Sofia did not shoot Shaun, and Jim asked her, “If he wasn’t your husband, would you have shot him?” She didn’t exactly say she would, but she might as well have. “I wouldn’t be able to watch somebody else bully their wife like you do to me… You try to protect me from other people when in reality you don’t protect me from yourself.” Ouch. Go Sofia, call a duck a “duck.”
Mai-Lee doesn’t want to do this exercise at all. I think she’s honestly just kind of a wimp. That doesn’t make her a bad person, just overly-cautious. And by claiming she’s afraid, she would be opting out of both the emotional and physical aspects of the apocalypse exercise. “I may end up the hospital because of a paintball,” she whines. At first, it looks like she’s going to bite the bullet (pun intended), but she freaks out when they try to tie her up and quits.
Gloria starts screaming and yelling – nobody else is being mean. Gloria is the self-appointed biggest bitch in the house. And she tells everybody what they’re doing wrong all the time. No wonder she and Mark are miserable. Didn’t he cheat? Hmm… maybe he’s just spending time with somebody who doesn’t beat him up all the time. Not that it makes it right, but I have no desire to even meet his wife. He has to live with her.
Jim takes Mai-Lee aside and tells her to suck it up and do it for them, if not herself. And she does it. But she had every right to be a little scared after Gloria’s verbal attack. She knew what was coming.
“I’m looking forward to shooting Mai-Lee. All of that non-stop complaining. I’m about to light her ass up,” Gloria brags. Mai-Lee takes 19 shots, and Blanca takes an extra one at her after Jim calls time. Tomas was crying watching it all. He loves his wife.
Blanca had a shitty attitude about the exercise before she even found out what was going on. “I will throw Julian in front of me if that’s the case. I’m not going down like that.” Blanca doesn’t think she needs anybody. “I’ll shoot you all. I’ll be out there by myself!” Julian says that’s “Typical Blanca.”
Julian held up his gun but didn’t shoot at somebody (I think it was Mai-Lee but I don’t care enough to go back and suffer through for a fourth time to figure it out) and got called out on it by the directors. Before he can defend himself, Blanca throws her husband under the bus.
In interview she rants – “Never want to take the blame for anything. Never want to take responsibility for your own actions.” Julian defends himself. “But I’m always the good guy.” Blanca disagrees completely. “No you’re not! You just don’t like to be blamed for anything so you put the blame on me because you want to look like the nice guy.”
Blanca shot her own husband – said he was weak. “If we were left out in this world then we’ll just end up killing each other. So I’ll just kill you now” she tells him. Asked what value do you have, Julian responds “None.” I’m sad for him.
Tasha didn’t shoot Julian because he makes breakfast – she would like him to swap traits with Jeff.
Blanca calls herself “loveable” in begging for her life but takes 18 shots from other campers. Julian, of course, didn’t shoot her. Gloria, as usual, is direct. “You’re useless and I don’t need a trophy survivor to sit around and do nothing.” I wish she’d be less mean because she’s on point with so many things… but I cannot cheer for somebody so constantly vicious.
“Are you taking in the feedback?” Jim asks Blanca. Her honest response – “Ah, no.” Jim probes on, “You understand your good qualities, what about the bad ones? You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge.” #truelife
But then she’s whining in interview “Every person in this house is flat-out a hater. What do I have so many haters for?” Julian tells her “you make it easy.” Blanca doesn’t like that. Of course, she already shot her husband and called him useless, how much does she expect him to take? She’s called him “weak,” but she sure does not want him to stand up to her.
Tasha took 18 shots and Julian called her “too weak to survive.” I think he and Jeff are becoming BFFs because Tasha was the only one Julian seemed to single out. He took out his frustration at Gloria with his paintball gun.
Gloria got what she had coming with a record 87 shots, quite a few of which went under her helmet and into mouth. Ha! Her plea for survival had almost as much logic and emotion as Jeff’s did. “You guys may not like me, but I do have children, so I think you should save me.”
I give Tasha 100 funny points for her response to Gloria. “That was so sweet. Put the mask on so I can blow your head off.”
The fucked up thing is that Gloria didn’t get the point of the “Character Assassination” part of the exercise. They don’t like her. Nobody does, including her husband. She thinks “they’re crazy and this proves it.” She thinks getting shot so many times means she needs a “new circle,” rather than an attitude adjustment. “These people are poison.”
Her husband Mark took a bunch of hits too and in interview, he was hilarious when he told Gloria he only got shot because he’s married to her.
Did Sofia shoot at anybody? Did anybody shoot at her? Why didn’t they show us? Maybe because even the therapists know what’s going on with Sofia and Shaun is a lot blacker and uglier than what most people realize.
Last week in the real world, the news broke that Shaun has a history in gay porn. Was anybody really surprised that dude had a deep dark secret? I figured it was steroids or something mafia-related, but gay porn works too. As to what exactly he did and what his motivations were, I’m not really interested. But I received a press release about it that gave me more information than I ever wanted to know.
Hello, elephant in the room. Depending on who you believe online, he could have had a very successful entertainment career, albeit not on prime time. It does, however, make me think about what he said to Sofia last week in the ICU scene – “You saved my life.”
From the media, I’m guessing we’re going to learn more about this on the show later in the season. If I were Sofia and Shaun, I’d put the brakes on the personal media campaign. Somebody “doth protest too much.” Gonna be interesting to see how the network handles this one.
Moving onto the later exercise where they split up the couples and discussed childhood traumas that have impacted them as adults, we start to find out a lot more about Jeff.
Jeff used to be a cop, but isn’t anymore. He’s in security. As a cop wife, I can tell you that’s unusual as Jeff doesn’t seem to be the type who lost his badge from beating random prisoners. After seeing this, I’m guessing he’s got a massive case of PTSD that hasn’t left him and made it impossible for him to continue a career in real law enforcement. But I’m also skeptical that the guy was “normal” before the incident he describes. Would be interesting to talk to other cops he worked with back then.
Jeff tells a story about a special needs girl whose parents locked her in a closet and let her die. She was 12 years old, weighed only 30 pounds, and had string in her stomach from eating the mop in her closet. Totally tragic. He says after this experience he began acting more detached. But it looked a lot deeper when Jim had him on his knees to regress him.
Was Jeff locked in a closet at some point in his life? I’d like to meet his family and friends and find out what else really happened. “It’s you in the closest. It’s you that’s shutting down and hurting,” Jim tells him. Jeff doesn’t argue. Instead, he describes his closet. “It’s dark, lonely. There’s nobody in there. It’s just me.”
Finally, Jeff says what he needs. “Please give me love. I need love.” Yes, I was uncomfortable too. Tasha is crying as she following the director’s instructions to “open up the door and take him out of the closet.” And Mai-Lee thinks “suddenly, Jeff is human.”
Gloria, always the mean one, says “Jeff, you’re as weird as I thought.” Look Gloria, we’re all thinking some version of that, but nobody else says it. Maybe that’s something you ought to evaluate. There’s a disconnect between your brain, your heart and your mouth.
During evaluation, Jim and Elizabeth tackle this lack of sensitivity in Gloria. “Mark, you are stuck between a rock and a hard place with Gloria.” Elizabeth gives constructive criticism to Gloria telling her to lose the “self-righteous label” and move to a “principled position of what’s right.” Honestly, that advice made me stop and think. It’s pretty good. I need to watch that too sometimes.
Evaluations were less dramatic than usual, so they had to have a dramatic ending afterwards. All the campers are hanging out and somebody comments, in a positive way, that Shaun hasn’t been drinking. He admits he’d like to drink, but makes no effort to do so. It seems conversational and good. But Sofia freaks out on him for even saying he wanted to drink.
“Because of you and your drinking, I can get hurt. So why do you keep doing it?” Sofia asks. “I’m controlling it.” Shaun responds. Really, Shaun? At least on TV, you’ve been sober 24 or so hours, maybe. I’d say your wife has good reason for concern. Perhaps because she’s worried you need to be in detox right now instead of production?
I don’t know if this guy is an alcoholic or just an asshole when he drinks (there is a difference), but I’m sure the program directors are watching that. But two days of effort isn’t enough to impress the long suffering Sofia, and I don’t blame her.
In the teasers for next week we see her screaming at him. “Because you’re not learning anything! You’re killing me with alcohol. You don’t get it.” Does this mean Shaun’s gonna fall off the wagon? Maybe, maybe not. But you can be sure I’ll be watching.
A quick thank you to WEtv for losing those really distracting graphics at the bottom of the screen for this episode. Can I make another request? Stick with your #MarriageBootCamp hashtag and let the rest of us nickname the cast. That’s the fun part for us.