Zero sum game show: celebrities decide who’s right or wrong in The Marriage Ref

Billy Collins, a former two-term Poet Laureate of the U.S., penned these lines on the end of marriage:

Once, two spoons in bed
now tined forks

across a granite table
and the knives they have hired

Alas for many divorcing couples, sharp metal objects make an apt metaphor.

It’s also an image in keeping with the popular depiction of marital discord, which often frames it as all-out take-no-prisoners combat between two feuding camps.

Now, stepping into the marital fray is comedian Jerry Seinfeld, who will be hosting “The Marriage Ref“, a game/reality TV show in which bickering couples will submit their disputes to nonbinding arbitration before celebrity guests who will “comment, judge and decide who’s right and who’s wrong in real-life disputes between real-life spouses.”

Of course if you’d rather resolve your dispute anonymously, try the web site Sidetaker (“Let The World Decide Who’s At Fault”) and let the hive be the judge.

3 responses to “Zero sum game show: celebrities decide who’s right or wrong in The Marriage Ref

  1. Ugh! Without having seen the show, my guess is that their depiction of arbitration will mock and diminish the work that actual arbitrators do, and possibly tarnish their reputation.

    Two similar examples come to mind. Both TV shows, “The Office” and “30 Rock”, have portrayed mediation as ineffective (useless, actually), and portrayed mediators as biased, uncaring and completely inept. I expect this show to do the same.

    I hate to think that these examples might have been based on anyone’s actual real-life mediation experiences because I took these examples as critiques of the field and a dismissal of mediation as a valid and useful service.

    We’ll see how the show turns out, but I’d say that we still have our work cut out for us to improve the public image of ADR.

  2. A mentor of mine once told me that there are usually three sides to every debate.

    1- My side.
    2- Their side.
    3- The truth.

    I’m guessing that this show will provide some entertainment value but not much educational value. Without yet having seen it, it strikes me as using an “identify the winner” approach rather than a “resolution” approach. I’m interested to see how it actually plays out.

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