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The Telefile
<I>The Marriage Ref</i>: Like <I>Match Game</i>, But Without Joyce Brothers The weirdest thing about The Marriage Ref is that I knew a lot of people who were unironically excited for it. People who are very invested in television, who usually have great taste in not only TV but comedy as well, looked at those promos and were like "that looks funny." So weird. That must be the Jerry Seinfeld nostalgia that NBC is counting on at work there, because if you take the fact that Seinfeld was a good show out of the equation The Marriage Ref is pretty undeniably terrible.

I could forgive the nonsensical baseball metaphor in the credits (it should really be boxing or something; baseball doesn't have referees, and that game is 9 on 9, not one on one). I could even forgive the frequently noted issue with someone like Alec Baldwin -- the most bitterly divorced man in the world -- giving marital advice. But the whole show is like some bad '70s game show throwback, with random celebrities delivering their pre-scripted one liners regarding how wacky marriage can be, peppered with frequent cuts to Jerry Seinfeld laughing hysterically at his corny friend (and Marriage Ref host) Tom Papa's pole dancing routines. And don't even get me started on the awkward Today show cross promo with Natalie Morales on hand to pretend like she'd Googled stripper aerobics.

And it doesn't even try to spark any kind of interesting discussion! These conflicts aren't in the least bit divisive. Is it weird and gross to have a taxidermy version of your recently deceased pet displayed prominently in your entertaining space? Most people would agree that it is! Is it inconsiderate and a waste of money to install a stripper pole in your bedroom if your wife is uncomfortable with that proposal? Most people would agree that it is! And so did the celebrities. Problem is, I don't care what Kelly Ripa thinks about taxidermy. Especially if it's the same thing everybody thinks about taxidermy.

I get that NBC is desperate for a new hit, and I get that Jerry Seinfeld is bored, and that he knows a lot of celebrities who enjoy being on television no matter what the show is, but come on. You have a grand total of four or five shows on your network and you decide to cut the closing ceremonies of the Olympics short to tell me that one time Jerry Seinfeld needed someone to explain to him that it's rude to point out that someone has cankles? Great use of airtime, guys. I'd honestly rather watch a Nickelback encore.

If you missed the awful premiere, Hulu's got it:


Did you watch it? What did you think?

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