Photo Credit: NBC
I agree with Jerry Seinfeld: Every marriage could use a referee. (I, for one, am tired of arguing about who should take the late-night dog-walking shift. Just get a ref in here, and have him side with me already!) Anyone with a spouse probably sees the appeal of the new NBC television series Seinfeld is executive-producing, The Marriage Ref (premiering tonight, 10 p.m. ET).
Part reality show, part panel discussion, with a pinch of game show thrown in, the series will follow a straightforward formula: Real couples are taped arguing about a divisive issue in their marriage (for example: in a sneak peak aired after the Winter Olympics' closing ceremony, Husband wanted to display his stuffed dead dog in the foyer, but Wife vehemently objected). A panel of three celebrities cracks jokes about the situation and discusses each spouse's point of view. Finally, the Ref -- Tom Papa (you may know him from his recurring role on CBS' The New Adventures of Old Christine) -- renders a verdict. If he needs more info to make a call, he consults Today's Natalie Morales, whose Marriage Ref title will be "Just the Facts Ma'am." In the dead-dog couple's case, she informed Papa that each year, roughly 1,000 Americans pay to give a deceased pet the taxidermy treatment. Still, Papa ruled with the wife.
What makes celebs certified to judge marital disputes? Well, nothing, but The Marriage Ref isn't educational so much as entertaining. "We don't believe that there are experts anyway, even if we wanted them," says Seinfeld. "We feel that laughing at yourself, laughing at your marriage, seeing other marriages that are in absurd situations is wonderful medicine."
A superstar like Seinfeld can wrangle star power, and he's clearly called in favors to populate his panels. Upcoming episodes will feature Madonna, Tina Fey, Sarah Silverman, Larry David, Ricky Gervais and Eva Longoria Parker. (Some critics were underwhelmed by NBC's recent sneak peek, and they may have a point: Alec Baldwin giving marital advice? And Madonna? Are they kidding?
If the show's a hit, I think we can all agree: there's plenty of material for future episodes. As long as people marry, they'll be finding things to squabble about. At one time or another, every marriage really could use a referee.
Are you looking forward to The Marriage Ref? Chime in below!