reality TV reviews and news

Marriage Boot Camp suffers as a tabloid story comes to life

Hank confesses to Kendra on Marriage Boot Camp Reality Stars. (Photo by WE tv)

Reality has, ironically enough, made a reality show worse. Marriage Boot Camp Reality Stars‘ third season has been all-consumed by Kendra Wilkinson and Hank Baskett’s confrontation over Hank’s cheating, and that has made me lose interest.

During last Friday’s episode, after a lot of build-up and avoidance, Hank finally confessed that the encounter started with him trying to buy weed and ended with him getting and receiving manual stimulation. His confession to Kendra was mediated by Jim and Elizabeth Carroll, but Kendra asked question after specific question, about Hank’s motives, pleasure, and penis.

This was dramatic but also deflated because the couple gave the story to People weeks earlier; there was absolutely nothing new on the episode, except being able to watch Kendra finally learn the truth.

That’d generally be interesting, especially along with Jim and Elizabeth guiding this process of confession of a transgression. But Marriage Boot Camp lost control of the story that was dropped in its lap. It nearly singularly focused on the drama, letting it overwhelm the season. Yet each subsequent episode (six total) didn’t really advance that story, it just kept running in place. 

Marriage Boot Camp Reality Stars other issues

Last season, I grew to really like this show and its absurdity. This season, there are glimpses of what makes the show great–the second half of Friday’s episode was an exercise during which the cast told each other why they would and would not be good partners. Like the best moments of Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars, these cut to the truth of both the couple’s relationship and the universal experience of being in a relationship.

That’s been all too rare. 

Meanwhile, I think the show has also suffered from its casting, and I’m not sure if that’s because most all of this season’s couples aren’t actually married. Travis and Aubrey’s blow-ups don’t help the melodrama. And Big Brother‘s Jeff Schroeder and Jordan Lloyd seem to view this as just another joke, which heightens our awareness that the celebrities are fundamentally doing this not for their relationships, but for money and fame. 
Yet they have shown some moments of growth and awareness, and Jeff identified what has gotten in the way of more of that–and this season’s problem. Referring to Kendra and Hank, he said, “They’re taking away from our time with Jim and Elizabeth. It’s starting to get repetitive, and it’s almost like, you know what? Be part of the group, or go home and handle your business.”

The show already feels like it’s pieced together in editing, with an insane over-reliance on voice over and a lack of visuals to match with audio. So it doesn’t need yet another thing to pull us out of the experience, and that’s all Hank and Kendra’s “business” has done. 

At its best, Marriage Boot Camp can be entertaining and serve as a useful guide. This season, it’s just been too self-serving.