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'Couples Therapy' season 5 premiere recap: So much baggage

Season 5 | Episode 1 | “A Fresh Start” | Aired Sept 10, 2014

I haven’t been this excited to cover a new show in a long, long time. VH1’s Couples Therapy contains the exact right amount of “other people’s problems” to fuel my inner Mrs. Kravitz, and just enough celebrity involvement to make the personal conflicts among the couples more intriguing. For folks like me, who prefer the word “interested” over “nosy,” this show is firing on all cylinders. For a quick catch-up on who’s who on season 5 of Couples Therapy, click here.  Otherwise, read on for a look at the first episode of “the most volatile season yet.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.39.45 PMFirst up: Juan Pablo and Nikki, from ABC’s The Bachelor. For those of you guys living under a reality TV rock, Juan Pablo is known for being the worst bachelor in history because he refused to say “I love you” to Nikki, and he didn’t propose in the season finale. The world exploded with Juan Pablo haters, and he took a LOT of criticism for not doing it the way it has always been done.

The problems in their relationship don’t stem from those last few moments on the show (well, maybe a little), but from the present, in which he still hasn’t said those words to Nikki.  During our introduction to the couple, we hear Juan Pablo say for the first time (and the first of many, many times after) that it’s a cultural disconnect that is keeping him from actually saying “I love you.” We also hear the first of many, many declarations from Nikki that she wants a commitment from him and to “move forward.”

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.41.02 PMNext we meet Deena Cortese of Jersey Shore fame and self-proclaimed “meatball,” and her furniture-salesman boyfriend, Chris Buckner. Even if you didn’t watch Jersey Shore, whatever you’ve heard about its cast or whatever you think you might know about them is probably true. However, Deena claims to have grown up a bit and is ready to settle down. Luckily, Chris knows “the real” Deena, according to Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.42.40 PMher. She seems much more eager to get this relationship show on the road, and Chris is not as enthusiastic about marriage and family. Complicating matters further is the fact that Chris resents making less money than Deena, and feels emasculated when it becomes evident she has more than he does.

When Deena and Chris meet Juan Pablo and Nikki, judgments start to fly. Deena immediately shifts into meatball mode, asking prying questions, but lucky for us, Juan Pablo’s answers reveal a real condescending attitude toward Nikki. I can see a developing dynamic in which he treats her like a child, and she pouts angrily at being called a child, and the cycle goes on and on. (I’m making notes in my therapy notebook.)

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.48.34 PMArriving after Deena and Chris is Treach from Naughty by Nature, and Cicely Evans, who have been in a relationship for seven years. Cicely is mother to two of Treach’s six kids, and I get the feeling that Cicely didn’t really have her sights set on the role of stay-at-home mom and housewife when they first got together. Cicely, like so many hip-hop stars’ significant others, struggles to trust him when he’s Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.43.43 PMon the road, but she’s not pulling accusations out of the air. Treach skirts and skates the issue of infidelity, and I can see Cicely’s blood pressure rising before my eyes. His temper flares and she backs down, but I am rooting for this couple not to play out every stereotype we know about rappers and their wives.

Cicely and Treach meet the others, and Juan Pablo has troubles with Treach’s first name, calling him “trash” instead. Thankfully, Treach is out of earshot, trying out the bounce-proof accommodations in their room. Cicely, on the other hand, is already a fan of Deena, and I am crossing my fingers HARD that they become fast friends in the house. What a fun girl clique they would make, yes?

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.47.18 PMNext-to-last to arrive at the couples’ mansion is Evel Dick Donato from CBS’s Big Brother. Apparently known for being a real jerk, Dick isn’t breaking any stereotypes with his dirty-rocker looks and permanently etched scowl. He and his (ex-)girlfriend Stephanie Fischer were in a relationship for four years, then broke up because everything she loved about him in the beginning started to really grate on her nerves, as often happens. Their goal is “to come to terms with their pasts.”

The group immediately recognizes Dick as being the infamous villain from Big Brother,  and everyone Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.45.23 PMstarts to feel each other out. Dick claims his bullshit meter is going off because of Juan Pablo, Deena is afraid she will be Dick’s next target, and Cicely predicts that Dick will be the one to bring the drama, and she doesn’t mind one bit.

When Stephanie, Dick’s ex, arrives, she’s pretty nervous, having not seen him in awhile. Deena calls it when she says the scene is “really awkward.” The most surprising part of the whole matter between Dick and Steph is that they plan to share to a room after not seeing each other for 10 months, and I can only imagine how much more awkward things are going to get between them before they get better.

As Steph settles in among the group, some good-natured teasing bubbles up about Dick’s obvious feelings for her. He blushes and grins, and acts abashed, but shit gets pretty real when folks start to question Steph about wanting children. She confesses to being open to it, but the air immediately leaves the room when Dick brags about his vasectomy. So, so, so awkward. I can already tell I’m going to have to watch them through my fingers. Yikes.

Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.49.25 PMThe group meets Dr. Jenn Berman, looking lovely and poised in her gold neck cuff and immaculate makeup. She warns them about the hard work in therapy, and says the f-word quite a bit. This impresses Deena, and she leaves with a healthy fear of what’s to come—dispelling any lingering meatball misgivings I had about her at first.

Individual sessions commence with Juan Pablo and Nikki, and Dr. Jenn is trying to get a sense of what their visions are for their shared future.  Nikki feels so much more invested in the relationship than Juan Pablo, and I am trying really hard to fight the urge to track down Juan Pablo and choke him out. Nikki seems long-suffering for now, but I have a feeling we’veScreen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.50.02 PM only met her representative.

As the episode winds down, we see little moments from some of the couples while they ready themselves for the sessions with Dr. Jenn: Juan Pablo and Nikki tease and joke, Deena and Chris discuss Juan Pablo’s creepy winking habit, and Treach and Cicely get into a giant fight about what she’s going to do with her life after therapy. It gets Screen Shot 2014-09-09 at 2.50.45 PMpretty ugly between them, and I might have made a mistake throwing my hat into their ring. Maybe I need to be rooting for Deena and Chris instead of these folks.

We still haven’t met the “mystery couple.” Spoiler alert: It’s Jenna Jameson and John Wood. So who’s your favorite couple so far? Which relationship has the best chance of survival? Tweet me the best (and not the meanest) predictions for this season of Couples Therapy.

Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn airs Wednesdays at 9/8C on VH1.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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