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Jerry Seinfeld on The Marriage Ref

Published February 23, 2010 in Television
By Fred Topel | Image property of NBC
The Marriage Ref The Marriage Ref
Jerry Seinfeld has a new show on television. It’s not another sitcom, nor is it a vehicle for himself. It is a comedy though. The Marriage Ref makes fun of all the silly fights that couples inevitably have.

Jerry Seinfeld Talks The Marriage Ref


“Basically the idea of the show is it's married couples, real married couples having a real fight in their home,” Seinfeld said. “They're not in the studio. We watch the video in the studio with a live audience and a panel of celebrity guests and Tom [Papa], who is our marriage ref. We're going to watch the argument. We're going to discuss the argument, who's right, who's wrong, and we're going to make a call in favor of the husband or the wife, very similar to the way it's done in sports. We felt the sports simplicity is what's missing in marriage.”

The Seinfeld home is no exception. In fact, that was the inspiration for The Marriage Ref. “If you ever played a sandlot game and there's no umpires, the fights just go on and on. It's like marriage. That's really how the show got originated is I was in my apartment in NewYork, and I'm married for 10 years, and we got into a difference of opinion. I can't even remember what it was, but it was one of those where you just know this is going to go on all night. A friend of hers happened to be there, and the friend got a little uncomfortable and said, ‘You know what? Maybe I should go.’ And I said, ‘You know what? I'm glad you're here. You stay here. We're each just going to tell you our side of this issue. You decide who's right, who's wrong, binding. We will accept it, whatever you say. And we'll be done with this in five minutes.’ That's exactly what we did so I said my side, and she said her side. I believe I lost, but that's not the point. The point is it was better because it was over. That's kind of the idea of the show, to shorten the fight.”



Don’t worry, this isn’t some highfalutin social experiment. The point is just to show silly arguments. “We're not presuming to help these people. We're not going to fix your marriage. We have a couple where the dog died and they get into an argument, ‘Should we stuff the dog or not?’ Now a fight like that could go on for a year, and we just end it. We do try and make the right decision, but it's like in baseball, and Tom and I are big baseball fans. I kind of like when the ump blows the call. That's part of the game. It's just a game about human beings. So we're not so big on right and wrong.”

So what is the show? Is it a game show? Reality? “Tom and I were working this past weekend doing a standup show, and we were thinking, ‘What do you think they're going to call it? Is it a reality show, a panel show, a comedy show?’ I decided that we really should put it forth as a challenge to the media to come up with what the hell this thing is because it is a unique conglomeration of different things, some familiar, some not, but never brought together in this recipe before. That's what we're really most excited about is that there's no question that you're going to watch us and go, ‘Well, this feels unlike anything I've ever seen.’ That to me is job one if you're going to try and make television.”

Find out what call he makes when The Marriage Ref premieres Feb. 28 on NBC.

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Fred Topel
Sources: Image property of NBC
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