Rob and Amber’s disingenuous, contrived Fox Reality series debuts next week

Next week, Fox Reality debuts Rob & Amber: Against the Odds at 8 p.m. ET on Thursday, Jan. 11. The series follows the reality TV couple as “Rob decides to take their cash and go all in to become a professional poker player” in Las Vegas, according to the network.

Because that’s the premise of the series, the entire first episode doesn’t have a single scene that feels genuine and not set up, as the cameras capture Rob suggesting this to Amber, Rob going out to Vegas to check it out, and the two of them packing up to leave. The show basically treats viewers like idiots, expecting us to believe that all of these decisions weren’t made long before the series was even conceived. At one point, Rob “spontaneously” decides to join a poker game, and the show expects us to buy that a camera crew would be allowed to wander in after him and film a live poker game at the Venetian without the casino’s permission, never mind the permission of all the players.

If Rob and Amber aren’t terrible improv actors, then their relationship has not developed past the awkward, Laguna Beach-style conversation stage, and the producers were just oh-so-lucky to be there at these moments. But even their house in Pensacola feels fake, like it was rented for the express purpose of filming these set-up scenes. If Rob and Amber actually live in a home that looks like every home ever featured on Trading Spaces but with tackier furniture, they need to spend some of Amber’s winnings on some stuff at Ikea.

But despite all of this incompetence and/or malfeasance, the show is still ridiculously boring. The preview for the entire season suggests that there will be many ups and downs for Rob in his quest to spend all of Amber’s money as he tries to become a professional poker player, but watching Rob and Amber (fake?) bicker is nothing like, say, watching Nick and Aaron Carter beat each other up.

The big takeaway here, though, and the series real power is in showing us that Rob and Amber only work in opposition to other people. They cannot power their own television show, as their personalities seem empty without an exotic canvas behind them and other people to play off. Thankfully, they’re among the past cast members returning for the upcoming all-star Amazing Race, which means they gave up this boring mess and returned to what they do best.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the show debuted Jan. 4. Apologies for the error.

Rob & Amber: Against the Odds [Fox Reality]

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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.