The Ex and the Why

TV review by
Melissa Camacho, Common Sense Media
The Ex and the Why TV Poster Image
Getting back together is focus of MTV reality show.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The focus is very narrowly on getting back together with an ex, which sometimes entails apologizing or making amends for past wrongs. But there's not a lot of focus on building long-term healthy relationships.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Participants are mostly young adults from all across the United States. Couples are both same- and opposite-sex. Some seem more mature and handle the reveals better than others.


People occasionally talk about arguments and other events that led to the break up. People often get upset at the reveals. 


Infidelity is discussed, but not in great detail. 


Words like "douche" and "pissed" are audible; curses like "f--k" are bleeped. 


iPhones are occasionally visible, but the logo isn't prominently featured. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Photographs of people drinking are sometimes visible. Some folks talk about getting a beer after the reveal. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Ex and the Why features young adults trying to convince their former romantic flames to get back together with them by doing it in front of MTV cameras. The show includes some references to jealous arguments, cheating, and other events that led to break ups. Expect occasional bleeped language ("f--k"), and there are pictures of and references to drinking alcohol. Older tweens might be interested, but it's a show best left for teens. 

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What's the story?

THE EX AND THE WHY is a reality show featuring folks from across the United States who want a shot at getting their ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend back in a big way. Each episode features two young adults who regret breaking up with their former boyfriends/girlfriends, and want to pull out all the stops and meet them on camera to ask them to take them back. Their exes, who have been told that they are appearing on TV to receive an unexpected surprise, are sent to a location and blindfolded in anticipation of the big reveal. Once the blindfolds come off, the participants try to convince their exes to take them back. Some reveals lead to positive endings, while others leave broken hearts unmended.

Is it any good?

From apologizing for cheating to convincing an ex that they have matured enough to be worthy of being taken back, the young adults on this voyeuristic series are trying to convince their ex-partners that they are truly committed to rebuilding their relationships by making grand, on-camera gestures. But most of the show focuses on the big reveal, and the time spent talking about what makes a healthy relationship is pretty minimal. 

The unpredictable and often awkward outcomes make the series entertaining, but one has to wonder if these folks are serious about rekindling these romances, or if they are more interested in appearing on a reality TV show. Nonetheless, teens who like this sort of thing will probably find it worth tuning in for. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about relationships. What makes a healthy relationship? When do you know that a relationship is no longer working? What kind of messages does the media perpetuate about love, romance, and relationships?

  • Why do you think the participants on this show agreed to approach their exes on a reality show? Is this decision really designed to convince their exes of their love, or are they doing it for other reasons? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: April 21, 2014
  • Network: MTV
  • Genre: Reality TV
  • TV rating: TV-PG
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

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