There’s been a lot of talk in the press lately about marriage rescue shows on cable TV channels. In one article in the New York Times, there was an interesting discussion about these shows. The writer, Kate Brannigan, was not impressed with some of the outcomes of these shows. She wrote that in her opinion, marriage rescue shows were designed to “show off a happy ending”. Brannigan also accused marriage rescue TV channels of “pushing” a relationship rather than “saving” it. There are some very serious misunderstandings in this article.
When discussing marriage rescues on TV, the writers and commentators tend to forget that these shows are merely entertainment and PR tools for the media. This new show on a network like NBC is nothing more than another chance for the celebrities and the media to make a few bucks. It has nothing to do with helping marriages to work. As Kate Brannigan implied, marriage rescues are just the latest high-priced publicity stunt.
It was somewhat interesting that the writers at the NY Times could not see past the fact that a marriage rescue was not really solving anything. It may have been a good show for June Brannigan, but it was a poor show for marriages in June and the future of marriages in June. I guess that is what makes television successful: it makes people feel good about things they may not otherwise think about or feel ready to discuss. I doubt that anyone really believes that a new show where two married people get back together in the heat of the summer will do much for marriage in the future. But it is fun entertainment for the masses.
One of the things that is most interesting about the marriage rescue angle for this new show is that it actually treats marriage counseling as a professional service that couples should seek when they are having trouble. It makes you wonder if these marriage counselors actually believe what they are saying. It also makes you wonder who on this planet thinks that marriage counseling is some sort of high-priced therapy session that should only be sought by the rich? These are all very serious questions that deserve answers. The first episode did not answer any of these questions directly and left many people scratching their heads and wondering why this show would promote marriage counseling yet again. And it appears to be just another example of a mainstream show pushing the same old ideas.
If this show gets picked up by other networks, we could be in for quite a few years of this type of programming. People are beginning to question why we can’t just move on and focus on finding a real marriage solution instead of spending our time being entertained by shows that simply have more importance. Is it because these are the best-selling shows on television? Does it have to be so hard to find good real marriage solutions instead of watching reruns of the same old tired ideas? If there is a way to watch these two new couples find real happiness and healing from the damage that has been done in the marriage, then why can’t we watch them do it?
We see marriage rescues on a daily basis, yet another marriage rescue attempt to pull a couple back from the divorce court and give them a second chance. But is it really possible that two married people who have had ten or twenty years of marriage and who know each other deeply enough to feel that it is worth fighting for can repair the damage that is done in a marriage? Or is it just another high-budget TV show trying to find a way to lure people into watching? With all of the evidence that we have pointed to the destructive behavior of television, is it really any wonder that more people turn away from the television instead of giving it a fair shake?