Marriage Camp

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
Marriage Camp TV Poster Image
Voyeuristic show means well but isn't for kids.

Parents say

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The series is voyeuristic, but it focuses on helping people learn ways to improve their marriage. Neither Carroll or Bishop are medical doctors or licensed therapists. Most of the featured therapeutic exercises are nontraditional. The show brings up a variety of marital problems (infidelity, anger management, etc.) but focuses mostly on how to resolve and get past these issues. The leaders and the majority of camp participants are Caucasian.

Violence

Frequent arguments between spouses. Some have a history of domestic violence. Some discussion about military veterans coping after returning from Iraq.

Sex

Discussions about infidelity, sexual dissatisfaction, and pornography.

Language

Language includes words like "damn" and "hell."

Consumerism

The series promotes the Marriage Camp Program.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Some episodes discuss the negative impact of drug and alcohol abuse on marriage.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this reality series -- which follows couples in crisis as they attend a nontraditional marriage-counseling boot camp -- focuses on healing and problem solving and isn't intended to be exploitative. But watching the couples as they discuss (and argue over) everything from infidelity and domestic violence to porn addiction and substance abuse definitely has some voyeuristic qualities.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byHopeWells April 9, 2008

Non-Professionals exploit vulnerable people

I wasn't surprised to see Dr. Phil's name in the biographies of the people running Marriage Boot Camp. This is nothing more than a watered down EST o... Continue reading
Adult Written byDebbieEll April 9, 2008

Marriage Camp has my heart

I love the non-traditional approach to counseling in this show. I worry that the directors are not qualified, but it appears that the couples find the solution... Continue reading

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What's the story?

Reality series MARRIAGE CAMP follows troubled couples as they participate in an intensive four-day \"boot camp\" to learn the skills they need to keep from ending up in divorce court. In a group setting, the couples partake in a series of nontraditional games and drills designed to help them self-realize and find reasons to stay together. With the assistance of facilitators Jim Carroll and David Bishop, they spend 12-hour days talking, arguing, and role-playing in order to develop a new sense of what marriage is about. At the end of camp, the couples exchange ring boxes in front of the group; the boxes' contents will determine whether they'll stay together.

Is it any good?

The show brings up a variety of mature/sensitive topics, including infidelity, pornography addiction, domestic violence, and substance abuse. But unlike other couples' therapy shows -- such as Decision House -- Marriage Camp doesn't go into a lot of detail about these issues. Instead, it shows people trying get past them. Yet, while the show's focus is on healing -- rather than exploiting -- the pain that these couples are experiencing, it's still uncomfortably voyeuristic. Participants are shown confronting painfully intimate issues in a very public setting. Adding to the discomfort are their video diaries, which reveal their candid feelings about their marriage and their spouses.

The series' subject matter alone, even without the gory details, makes the show a bad fit for tweens and younger teens (of course, chances are they won't be clamoring to view it anyway -- unless they find people talking and crying to be good entertainment). But it might appeal to adults who are interested in learning about relationship building and problem-solving tools that fall outside of mainstream therapy.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about televised therapy. Do televised interventions and counseling sessions really help people? Do these kinds of things ever cross the line and become more about being entertaining than helpful? If so, who determines where those lines fall? What's the appeal of a reality show like this one? Families can also discuss the challenges of long-term relationships. Why is communication such an important part of any relationship? Do the show's exercises help people communicate? How? What are the benefits of seeking nontraditional medical/therapeutic help? The risks?

TV details

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