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Here Come the Newlyweds
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that some of the discussions in this reality show about just-married couples can be frank -- for example, a sex therapist encourages them to say how often they think they should be having sex in one week. The show also plays up some broad gender stereotypes, and the couples are often seen rough-housing with each other, including playful swatting.
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What's the story?
HERE COME THE NEWLYWEDS tries to marry the back-biting competition of Big Brother (or any other reality show involving people thrown together in close circumstances) with a feel-good theme. Seven recently married couples live together in a house while they compete in various stunts ostensibly designed to test how well they communicate and work together. At the end of each week, the couples vote on who has to leave. As the number of couples dwindles, the nest egg they're competing for -- which started at $250,000 -- grows.
Is it any good?
As ridiculous as the show's stunts are (can the blindfolded guys identify their wife's kiss on the cheek?), Newlyweds might have some value if it were really about couples learning how to strengthen their relationships and work together as a team. But at one point, when the couples are asked about their spouse's best quality, all of them talk about something physical (a smile, a body part). And another couple gets teased relentlessly by host Pat Bullard because they're so beautiful. If the show is really about building communication and relationships, this is a really destructive way to do it. Plus, the cash prize and the elimination votes profoundly sour the program, to the point where it almost feels ickily voyeuristic.
The show also plays into negative gender stereotypes. Take the driving stunt -- in which the wife, as the passenger, directed her blindfolded husband through an obstacle course -- for example. Why weren't the couples given the option to decide who was better at taking directions and go from there? And when Bullard does a (theoretically funny) segment about how he gets blamed for everything by his wife, it feels like biting on a sore tooth.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how editing can change what actually happened. How accurate do you think most reality shows are? How can producers manipulate footage to make people look better (or worse) than they really are? Why would they do that? Can you tell when the editing may not be reflecting what actually happened?