Hit or Miss? Seinfeld's 'The Marriage Ref'

>Oh, Jerry Seinfeld...first Bee Movie, and now The Marriage Ref. Fans of the comic looking for Seinfeld's return to television are lucky to have had the pseudo-Seinfeld "comeback" on this last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, because that's all they're going to get. Jerry's latest venture finds him teaming up with stand-up comic Tom Papa—who hosts the new show—and a panel of celebrity "refs" to settle videotaped cases of arguing couples.

NBC aired a preview of the show directly following last night's closing ceremonies of the Olympics—or in the case of Eastern and Central time zones, interrupted the closing ceremonies—and the reactions are harsh. The show is set to air Thursdays at 10, leading in to Jay Leno, but judging by critics' reviews and the fuss on Twitter, the show's days may be numbered...

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NBC


A roundup of reactions:

  • Linda Holmes, NPR: In fact, it's so painfully bad that I cannot help but tell you that as I was preparing this post, I learned that Alan Sepinwall and I had both, independently of each other and without discussion, come up with the word "heinous" to describe it. That is serious.
  • Daniel Fienberg, HitFix: Is the rationale of "The Marriage Ref" that thanks to the Internet and Tabloid Culture, ordinary Americans spend their lives chortling at the foibles of the celebrity elite? So this is finally the show to turn the tables? Regular couples are made to look like buffoons by the very icons they've called buffoons themselves? And for their troubles, they get a sponsored prize?
  • EW's James Poniewozik on Twitter: So I guess whoever bet Jerry Seinfeld he couldn't get NBC to put #themarriageref in prime time has to pay up now.
  • Greg Evans, Huffington Post: Jerry Seinfeld already gave us the greatest sitcom in TV history. He owes us absolutely nothing, and delivers it in spades with The Marriage Ref.

Not everyone had such a scathing review of the episode, however. EW's Ken Tucker called it "silly fun," adding, "Taken on its own terms, as non-scripted entertainment, Ref is at the very least more fun than American Idol is these days."

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Aylin Zafar is a freelance writer based in New York.

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