When a show features both Tina Fey and Jerry Seinfeld as guest judges, one would think it would be a comedic gold mine, right? Wrong. Everything about “The Marriage Ref” is cringe-worthy at best. You watch in horror as Seinfeld loses much of his comedy-god status. How can a show that both stars and is produced by Seinfeld be such an epic failure? Two words: Tom Papa.

“The Marriage Ref

Thursdays at 10 p.m.
NBC

Host Tom Papa is like that kid in high school who really tried to be funny but just wasn’t, and clearly it’s carrying over to his TV career. Every time one of the judges makes a genuinely funny comment, Papa chimes in with nonsense that makes you want to change the channel. When Tina Fey made fun of a wife who would only let her husband eat at the dining room table on Thanksgiving — “Maybe we should substitute words in her argument to make her realize how crazy she sounds. Like saying the bathroom is only for Easter!” — Tom Papa chimed in with a brilliant joke: “Do you know what I would hate? Dust! Dust everywhere. Happy Thanksgiving!”

How does that even make any sense? Tom Papa is in need of a serious wake-up call. And the worst part is, Seinfeld doesn’t see it.

Tom Papa gets in the way, ultimately because of the setup of the show. He’s the actual marriage ref who uses celebrity panel judges to help him decide if the husband or the wife is right. Different sets of couples come on the show and present their arguments to Papa and the panel, and in the end, Papa tells either the husband or wife who is right. Therefore, in order to have a successful show about a “Marriage Ref,” you need someone who can actually succeed at that task without being a tool.

The show is so bad that it makes fun of itself. Papa even admits at one point: “Why do we care? We don’t!” Whenever the husband and wife are talking about their problem, the panel degrades them and makes them feel like complete nimrods. It’s “The Newlywed Game” gone wrong, where the couples look like fools and the problems they’re having aren’t actually “real” problems. Instead, the show focuses on issues like a husband grooming himself too much, a wife who won’t let her husband eat at the dining room table and a wife who flosses in bed. Not exactly marriage-threatening issues, to say the least.

Overall, “The Marriage Ref” needs to get rid of Tom Papa, the cheesy music and the random woman they call the “fact lady” who adds useless tidbits that no one cares about, and should probably let Seinfeld be the actual marriage ref. Or just cancel the show altogether.

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