Jerry Seinfeld is returning to network series television after an 11-year hiatus as creator and exec producer of an NBC reality series that seeks to mine laughs out of marriage problems.Seinfeld explains that, despite the fact that the show depends on marital problems for its existence, it's "not a therapy show; it's a comedy show," the concept for which he developed after nine years of marriage wherein he "discovered that the comedic potential of this subject is quite rich." It's an opinion with which the author of News from Shakes Manor would hardly disagree—although it's never occurred to me to make money off mocking other people's marital problems on national television.
The comedian and his Columbus 81 Prods. are teaming with longtime "Oprah Winfrey Show" exec producer Ellen Rakieten to create "The Marriage Ref," a nonfiction series that will feature opinionated celebrities, comedians and sports stars offering commentary and advice to real-life couples enduring "classic marital disputes."
…"Jerry called us up and told us he had an idea," [NBC Entertainment co-chair Ben Silverman] said. "He flew in to sit down with us, and he and Ellen pitched the show. We were laughing the whole time as they went through the concept. As Jerry noted, some of the greatest comedies in history have been about marriage."
I am a huge fan of stand-up comedy—and there's almost nothing I like to watch better than a great stand-up comedian who can eviscerate a topic from a new angle, whether that topic is Hot Pockets or womanhood and the rape culture or religion or shitty stand-up comics (Dawn French rulezzz, lol).
Because I love it so, I watch a lot of stand-up comedy—but most of it is garbage. And the reason most of it is garbage is because most of it is tired, hackneyed, rehashed rubbish (which wasn't even funny the first time) about "relationships." Men are horny dogs! Ha ha ha! Women are shopaholic chatterboxes! Ha ha ha! Mars and Venus, baby. Mars. And. Venus.
Oh, my aching sides.
The most unremarkable, uninspired, unchallenging, and unrevolutionary subject in all of stand-up comedy is relationships. Across the comedy spectrum, that well has been mined totally, utterly dry by hundreds upon hundreds of men and women who obligingly insert into their routines some barely indistinguishable variation on the same old unoriginal (and heterocentrist and sexist) battle-of-the-sexes shtick—observations regurgitated ad infinitum in insipid sitcoms, interchangeable romcoms, and adverts hawking everything from burgers to deodorant.
It the rare comic indeed who offers subversive material like (avowed feminist) Wanda Sykes' above-linked "Detachable Vagina" bit—and I seriously cannot begin to imagine (unfortunately) that "The Marriage Ref" is going be featuring comedy which deconstructs a, say, sexual problem through the lens of the rape culture and/or treating women's bodies like public property (no matter how relevant such a position might nonetheless be).
And even if there weren't a dearth of comics doing this sort of innovative and defiant work, the producer of the show promoted his last film with rape jokes and homophobic and transphobic promo spots.
I've little hope that the combination of a scarcity of groundbreaking and norms-shattering material and Seinfeld's sad retrofuckery are going to yield anything but a patriarchy-propagating monster.
Which will probably be an enormous success.