For those of you who never served in the military, boot camp is your basic frat house hell week and then some. It’s like hazing without the beer pong. So when WEtv decided to carry over dysfunctional couples from Bridezillas and put them into “Marriage Boot Camp,” what we ended up with was a sadistic little two-week ramble with a series of selfish brats that only resembles a real boot camp in the way the directors think it’s therapy to treat people like crap. Conceivably, if the couples had gone to a real boot camp, they might have learned something. Then, to create a high-concept show, WEtv started giving us “celebrities” with “Marriage Boot Camp Reality Stars.” Perhaps using the adjective “reality” gives the producers license to call these people “stars,” because unless you watch TV 17/7, you’re gonna be hard-pressed to figure out where these people came from. Here’s this season’s opening show rundown for you:
Married Couples who have the same last name:
- Aviva and Reid Drescher from “The Real Housewives of New York“
- Heidi and Spencer Pratt from “The Hills”
- Jim and Elizabeth Carroll, the directors of the Boot Camp (do they count?)
Married Couples who don’t like each other enough to have the same last name:
- Syleena Johnson from “R&B Divas” and Kiwane Garris from some unnamed NBA team
- Natalie Nunn from “The Bad Girls Club” and Jacob Payne from some Brazilian Arena Football Team (I know, I know.)
Not Married and Most Likely to Not Ever Be Married Unless They Get Really Drunk in Vegas One Day:
- Rachel Foulger and Tyson Apostol from “Survivor”
Helper elves — not a couple, never will be a couple:
- David Bishop and Isla Norman, co-directors of the boot camp.
As with other seasons, the couples arrive at the rented McMansion and sniff each other’s butts like dogs. Little digs fly because the best reality star is one that knows how to throw the shade for that camera time. Natalie looks like the early front runner, coming out of the gate kicking up dirt. Spencer and Heidi — whom I refuse to call Speidi just because that’s what they call themselves — are the last to arrive and everyone in the group gives each other the look like, “oh well, there goes the neighborhood!” After the butler serves refreshments, Jim and Elizabeth, our camp counselors, come out and read everyone the Shirley Temple version of a riot act. It’s a good thing, too, because if they had come off like the D.I. in “Full Metal Jacket” someone would have blown their brains out. Seems the Shirley Temple treatment was enough to get Heidi crying and storming out right off the bat. How dare they ask Spencer to be real, she cries? In confessionals, Natalie and Tyson both think Heidi‘s playing it up for the cameras.
Jim and Liz — it’s too much to have to type Elizabeth every single time she opens her mouth — tell the remaining group that “marriage counseling fails 80% of the time. “Marriage Boot Camp” succeeds 80% of the time.” I have to confess, I haven’t watched all the previous episodes to confirm that stat, but I know most of the schmucks do end up leaving together even if they still hate each other’s guts, so I guess that’s some kind of success.
Cut to the kitchen where Helper Elf David is talking to Heidi and Spencer to try to find out what’s up. We don’t actually care because she signed a contract, didn’t she? Well, guess he has to pretend to care. She claims it’s not fair of Jim to come after her husband like that and accuse him of not being real. After all, they’re only there because she wants a baby and he doesn’t. Having to behave like fully-socialized human beings was not in the plan. Spencer‘s a jerk and everybody should not only know that, but love that seems to be the prevailing thought process behind their strange union. Heidi says, “I feel like we should really have an apology from them.” Aidez moi! Oh, my sides! No one told me I was going to die from laughing my head off watching this season! Oh, my . . . okay . . . I think I can pull it together.
In the confessional, Spencer gets in Jim‘s face. Let’s see if he does in front of Jim, shall we? They go back into the living room where Jim and Liz unveil the lie detector test. Spencer says nothing, so there’s our answer.
First up is Natalie. Wired up, they ask her a few questions and each one indicates deception. The final question — what they call the “game changer”: Would you give up your career for your husband? Well, she says yes, but Jim won’t reveal if that was deceptive. They put the answer in an envelope to be revealed later. Jacob is up next, and Natalie gets to ask the “game changer” question: “Would you leave me if I didn’t stop doing reality TV?” So, you get the picture. These are not real life questions or game changers in real life. In real life, if your marriage was in trouble, wouldn’t it be more like, “Did you sleep with my brother, bitch?”
The questions Jim and Liz ask are more like the questions you would lie to your spouse about because you don’t want to hurt their feelings. Nothing kills a marriage like too much honesty. Everybody knows the answer to, “Do I look fat in this?” is always, “No” even if your wife does look like an over-stuffed “Worst Cooks in America” sausage in her jeggings.
Move on to the bedrooms, and everyone has a room that is designed to give each couple a constant reminder of what their marital issue is in order to force them to work through their issues together. Heidi and Spencer have a room full of toys. I would think that would be a great room to play in myself – forget about the baby! Aviva and Reid have a room decorated with tabloid covers about Aviva, and all the pix are flattering, so what’s the biggie there? Reid does seem to think celebrity is a problem in their relationship, but I seem to remember he’s related to Fran Drescher, and I’m wondering if her 30+ year career bothers him, or does he know from first-hand experience, publicity is ? Rachel and Tyson get the wedding room, Natalie and Jacob get the room with pictures of Natalie‘s big ol’ butt that she took herself to post on social media sites. They’re pretty grotty pix. Syleena and Kiwane get the schizo room — half is “roommate” and half is “romance.” Theirs seems to be the most practical room because as every married person knows, it is all about being a good roommate and being romantic.
Jim and Liz go into Heidi and Spencer‘s rooms to confront them, but it really fizzles out. Everyone’s holding back on the drama. Well, they are all pros, and this is only the first show.
See you on the flip side, kids!
Wendy Owen is a freelance writer for All About The Tea.