I gotta be honest, before VH1 introduced me to “Tough Love” host Steve Ward, I had no clue matchmaking still existed. I know that internet matchmaking sites exist, but the word matchmaker was so old fashioned to me. When I hear the word matchmaker all I can think of is the play “Fiddler on the Roof” and how it was my grandmother’s favorite. However, after watching all of season 1 and 2, I was hooked. Suddenly, the term matchmaker became something as modern as “marriage counselor” or “couples therapist.” It was only natural that I would have to then start watching Mr. Ward as he went from pairing people up on “Tough Love” to seeing if pairs could hold it together on “Tough Love: Couples,” which premiered on VH1 last night.
Let’s not get too serious just yet. This is still a VH1 show. No contestants from “I love Money” have shown up yet, but it does look like we have some “Jersey Shore” rejects in our cast. Namely, Mario and Christina. As I’m watching them arrive to the mansion, I’m hoping that Mario will break the Italian- Jersey stereotypes that MTV has brainwashed me with. (Although not likely since according to his vh1.com bio, the couple met when Mario’s cousin Luigi introduced them. Yes. Mario and Luigi.) Either way, we are not even 10 minutes into the show and they are a stand-out couple.
We meet the couples, we meet Mr. Ward and his fiercely stunning mom, Joanne Ward, and the couples are briefed as to why they are here. The problems with these couples range from trust issues, to commitment issues, and there is even a couple that has already been engaged before. The couples are given their first task: decide if they could get married tonight. It’s a test to see if they are on the same page or if they are on opposite ends of the spectrum. The sexes separate and contemplate their decision. If they can get married tonight, the men put on a tuxedo and the girls put on a wedding gown. If not, they stay in their normal clothes.
Here’s where Mario first begins his slow transition into the worst boyfriend ever. He’s wondering if he could just have sex with one girl for the rest of his life. He’s wondering this outloud. He’s wondering this to anyone who will listen. He repeats this confusion over and over again from under a kangol hat (which only makes it seem douchier.) Does he even know that cameras are on him? Poor Christina.
Mr. Ward is at the alter. Each groom is waiting for his bride, either wearing normal clothes or in a tux. Most of the guys in normal clothes expect to see their woman wearing the same. A few of the guys are right, occasionally they are wrong. One sweet moment comes when the couple of Dennis and Simone both arrive to the alter in a tuxedo and wedding gown and Dennis begins to cry. They are on the right track but they still have a lot of work to do.
I bet you can guess how Mario showed up. Of course, he is in his normal clothes. He is asked if he could be with just one woman for the rest of his life and good ‘ol Mario has no response other than a goofy smile. His beautiful girlfriend arrives in a wedding gown and every viewer that didn’t cringe over the awkwardness of the situation has no feelings. My heart went out to her as she talked about how she didn’t want him to touch her and he told her how much he loved her. Her response wasn’t the most eloquent but boy did it get the point across. “I’m in a fucking wedding gown.”
Steve Ward has an interesting way of teaching his clients lessons. In the first season, it was a speed dating event, in the second season it was having a poolside beauty pageant, with these couples it was a test at the alter. The lessons seem a bit wacky, but they work. It’s only the first episode and already I know that Christina has her work cut out for her in this relationship. One viewer of the awkward alter encounter puts it best when he says, “She’s like an 11 and he’s like a 1.” A guy like Mario should thank his lucky stars every day that a girl like Christina is interested in him.
Even though my dislike for Mario has consumed me, Mr. Ward reminds the viewer that at least Mario is being honest and if he didn’t want to work on his problem, he wouldn’t be here. Fair enough Mario, you have won this round. You have Steve Ward to thank for that. There are a lot of guys just like Mario out there that wouldn’t be willing to do the work that Mario has just signed up for (like his cousin Luigi, perhaps?)
“Tough Love Couples” takes real people with big relationship problems and targets the issues. The couples are taught how to work things out and move on so that their relationship is healthier. It seems simple enough, but sometimes it helps to have a third party person step back and say, YOU HAVE A LOT OF WORK TO DO. When you’re in a relationship, you don’t want to see all the cracks in it. These people may be looking for their 15 minutes of fame, but I like to think that they are looking to make things better for themselves and their relationship. I’m going to give them the benefit of the doubt before I write them off as future “I Love Money” contestants.
The show is an interesting look at problems real couples face (and not just you’re typical problems like Brett Michaels not being able to find a nice girl.) It’s nice to see people actually learning a thing or two about who they are, what they want and how they feel. I recommend catching an episode of “Tough Love: Couples.” It might make you rethink the idea of matchmaking being outdated.