Jim and Liz — my new favorite hack “professional” counselors in the grand tradition of Dr. Phil and Iyanla Vanzant — open the show, standing outside in the bright, morning sun — she in a too-tight-for-your-age body con dress, and he in a Hagar-pants-and-knit-shirt look not seen since “The Brady Bunch — having this dialogue.
Jim: Today’s the day things are gonna take a turn.
Liz: Yes, they’re right on the cusp.
Frankly, this sounds downright creepy. They’re standing in front of a bunch of medicine balls. They have cute snap-judgment sayings on them meant to induce bickering. Jacob falls for it. Says he could end up in jail if he stays with Natalie. Syleena and Kiwane don’t fall for it and call it a stalemate. Spencer and Heidi argue about having kids. Spencer actually shows the maturity that everyone claims he lacks. He doesn’t think they should have kids after all the bad decisions they’ve made. Woo-hoo, as Vicki G. would say!! Who knew there was a brain lurking under that hair? Next, Aviva and Reid. Reid thinks Aviva is on the internet too much and not paying enough attention to the family. Meanwhile, Reid has some issue with his parents to whom he is not talking but blames Aviva for them not being around. Seems Reid is the problem here. Finally, Tyson and Rachel. Seems they both stay out till 2 A.M. to avoid each other. Since they’re not married, it’s not really any of the other one’s business, is it? Period.
Jim tells everyone tossing blame is mentally exhausting. Liz tells everyone that this is intense stuff, and how she wants everyone to go inside and think about how this impacted them. All I can think about is thank goodness this bogus session is over. But they insist on dissecting the “exercise” with their helper elves. Back in the house, left unsupervised so they can push each others buttons — is this sanctioned by the APA? — Tyson continues his rant about Rachel. He won’t be happy till he has everyone thinking that Rachel is a skank ho who’s cheating on him. Fact is, she works in a bar that closes at 1 A.M. So she gets home around 3 A.M., tries to move around quietly so she doesn’t wake him up, and takes a shower. I used to work in a bar. The FIRST thing you want to do is take a shower. Working in a bar is hard. It’s sweaty. It’s dirty. Seems no one else works because they don’t understand this and take the bait. Heidi says if Spencer did that more than twice, she’d leave him. Heidi repeats this more than twice.
As if verbal harassment isn’t enough, they’re all brought outside so their “peers” can shoot paint balls at each couple one at a time, hitting the one they blame. Uh, I thought we were just taught blame is bad. Now it’s good? Okay. Therapy, right? Could have fooled me.
Nothing intelligent is said here. Really, would you care whether a group of strangers blame you or your spouse for your problems to which they are not really privy after three days of bogus on-camera interaction? Natalie is the only one who catches on. When Rachel shoots her with the paintball, she goes into “Bad Girls Club” mode and starts in with her. This is good for air time, and Natalie knows it. Rachel doesn’t know the game, or she planned this ahead of time with Natalie. Hard to tell, and certainly, Jim and Liz don’t have the tools to discern the truth. They keep blathering on about how this helps – the blaming exercise. It’s amazing to me that anyone would pay these two for any kind of counseling. You’d be better off going to Madam Marie the Psychic on the Asbury Park Boardwalk — oops, she’s dead. Wonder if she saw that coming?
Inside the house, Natalie tells Rachel that she’s fake ass. She runs her mouth in a monologue while pushing her plate around and fussing in the kitchen while everyone else sits at the table eating their dinner. Reid basically tells Jacob he’s pussy whipped. Gee, that must feel good coming from an average-sized, middle-aged, khaki-shorts-and-pink-shirt wearing yuppie. Surprisingly, Jacob says and does nothing to Reid. Maybe he’s waiting for bedtime?
Evaluation time in the big ol’ McMansion living room. What have we learned today, boys and girls? Can you say, “Blame is bad/good/bad/good —“? Oh, fuggedaboutit! Natalie decides to go after Rachel again. She says, “So, since you wanna keep being (bleep) smart ass like you did at the table, let me do an exercise –” and this is where she heads upstairs while Jim lamely calls, “Natalie!” as if she’s gonna listen. “–you want me to keep it 100, Rachel, let me keep it 100. Let Natalie let you know how I feel.” Natalie is getting something and everyone knows it because they all move away from Rachel. “I feel like you robbed me from my experience today, shooting the gun. Here is my exercise.” Then she throws the wedding dress from Rachel‘s room over the balcony. “So that right there is me shooting you with the paintball guns today, ok? Now we can go back to the evaluation.”
“Natalie! Natalie!” says Jim. Boy, is he commanding; really in control of the situation. Brilliant.
When we come back from commercial, Liz says she wants to hear from Rachel, and Rachel tries to bring on the waterworks. It only half works. Now, mind you, the dress didn’t hit anything but the floor, and Rachel won’t be needing the dress anytime soon since she’s with that loser Tyson, but she whimpers, “To be attacked like that, is very, like, shocking to me. I had no clue that what I did today would even hurt her.”
Upstairs, Jim is so afraid of Natalie, or so into playing along, that he assuages her feelings and just let’s her know it’s okay to be a bad girl for her career — is that really a career, Jim? — but she needs to be a good girl at home. Great. Good work here, folks.
Downstairs, Liz tells everyone they are an “onion.” Like, they have layers. Wow. Kinda like a human being’s complexity is the underlying factor to sentience which hypothesizes a panpsychic theory of human consciousness, Liz? That’s deep.
“You can’t win a fight if there’s only one winner,” concludes Jim. Um. Well, hmmm. Let me digest that because I’m betting that in any sport, there is only one winner, correct? Oh! Snap! Not in soccer. In soccer, there can be a tie. But, wait a hot minute! They fixed that problem by introducing the sudden death shoot out.
I’m at a loss as to explain how a person “can’t win a fight if there’s only one winner.” I mean, I can win the fight if I’m the winner, right? Oy vey! This is all too much! It’s going to take me until next week to figure out Jim‘s pop psychology bullshit. Adio bella, gente!
Wendy Owen is a freelance writer for All About The Tea.