Tiffany says no to Ashley at the altar as There and Back loses its magic

The ratings for There and Back have been growing, making the show the third highest-rated show on cable last week. That’s impressive, especially because the show seems to have jumped the shark after the birth of Lyric.

There still have been some great moments, such as during last night’s episode, when Jacob Underwood said, “Dude, I have a monkey and it’s too much work already.” The context doesn’t even really matter.

Shortly after, Ashley and Tiffany dared each other to get married at a wedding chapel, and there were were amused by a sexist hearing-impaired minister who sounded vaguely like John O’Hurley’s J. Peterman. But the best part came as the producers burned through their second Gavin DeGraw song in as many minutes: Tiffany refused to say “I do” at the alter. After darking Ashley right back (“Drive us to the fucking wedding chapel. He’s bullshitting.”), she bailed, saying, “Baby I don’t know. … I want Lyric to be here.” So they didn’t get married.

But the rest of the episode was boring, with more than a few minutes taken up by another studio recording segment, also known as an infomercial for Ashley’s forthcoming CD. And the exposition segments, where Ashley peels himself from the screen, have gotten tired, because they’re overwritten and don’t really provide much insight–or at least, insight that appears to be genuine.

There’s the other problem: Too many of the scenes seem like set-ups, made-for-TV moments orchestrated by the producers. Ashley speaks earnestly nearly always, so it’s hard to tell when he’s playing it up for the cameras, but the others aren’t as good. Plus, the scenes just seem contrived, such as when Ashley’s manager happened to just offhandedly mentioned he was friends with the Maloofs and that Ashley and Tiffany could take off to Las Vegas, where they would stay in The Real World Las Vegas suite at the Palms.

The series needs new life, and by that, I mean that Ashley has to become poor again and Tiffany needs to go back to being pregnant and funny, because she’s far too rational without a baby inside her. That, or just let Jacob and his monkey be in ever scene.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.