The Marriage Ref

Common Sense Media says

Superficial marriage spats aren't always kid-friendly.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

The general message is that marriage generates conflict that requires a third-party referee. There's no sense of real resolution or compromise.

Positive role models

The couples' problems aren't serious, but many seem like they're playing up conflict for the sake of the cameras.

Violence

Some spats deal with death (ie. a dead pet or a long-deceased relative).

Sex

Some light kissing and sexual humor (a couple argues about whether they should have a stripper pole in their bedroom, etc.) Provocative terms like "sexy" and "get freaky-deaky."

Language

Some spouses bicker on camera and tell each other to "shut up," etc.

Consumerism

Barbasol sponsors a regular wrap-up segment called the "Barbasol Shot of the Day." Contestants win a cruise from Royal Caribbean International.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Some fights might involve drinking or smoking.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that some of the disagreements up for debate in this game show aren't kid-friendly, such as an ongoing argument between a husband who wants to install a stripper pole for a little fun in the bedroom and his wife, who adamantly refuses. But the show's late-night time slot should preclude most younger viewers from seeing anything they shouldn't. Just know that topics -- and content -- can change from week to week.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

In THE MARRIAGE REF, a feuding couple brings its most pressing (but surface-level) problem before a rotating panel of celebrity "experts," who weigh in on who's right and who's wrong in the relationship. But it's up to the referee himself -- host and comedian Tom Papa -- to make the final call. Each episode deals with two different couples and two different disagreements, although both couples go home with prizes for sharing their stories. The rotating cast of judges includes Jerry Seinfeld, Alec Baldwin, Tina Fey -- even Madonna.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The Marriage Ref is the kind of show married couples might make up while they are sitting around the table with their married friends. You know, the kind of idea that starts out with a simple premise that everybody adds to, one ridiculous idea after another, until you end up with something that's so absurd it would never, ever fly on prime time television -- and then you forget about it.

Except in this case, someone gave it the greenlight, and now it's actually on the air. Maybe that's due to the married couple who dreamed it up: Jerry Seinfeld and his wife, Jessica, who aren't exactly chopped liver when it comes to wooing NBC execs. (See: Jerry's wildly successful sitcom.) Whatever the explanation, it now exists to delve into the superficial issues of marriage and weigh in with laugh-tracked judgements. But we're calling a foul.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the show's portrayal of marriage and whether it's fair. Moms and dads: How do you and your spouse typically deal with conflict? Is there something you can't agree on that would benefit from the panel's wisdom? Also, are the type of arguments featured on the show realistic representations of marital problems?

  • Does the show take itself seriously -- and how can you tell? Do you think a celebrity panel can honestly solve a disagreement between two married people?

  • What role, if any, do corporate sponsors play in the proceedings? How does the show use consumerism for comedic effect?

TV details

Cast:Jerry Seinfeld, Tom Papa
Network:NBC
Genre:Game Shows
TV rating:TV-PG
Available on:Streaming

This review of The Marriage Ref was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byawesomesense1997 July 11, 2011
AGE
10
QUALITY
 

Know your kid, I am one too!

My parents let my little brother watch it but he is smart enough to know that that isn't the way to solve marital issues. He is ten.
Educator and Parent of a 3 and 5 year old Written bySierra Filucci March 5, 2010
AGE
13
QUALITY
 

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