Tom Papa's 5 Reasons Why The Marriage Ref Is Worth a Second Date

NBC’s The Marriage Ref debuts its (oft-delayed) second season this Sunday at 10/9c, and host Tom Papa promises that while the show’s first run didn’t quite vibe with critics, “The whole tone has become a lot more playful and fun.” Here’s what else you can expect from the Ref‘s second shot at a winning season.

Kookier Couples | If you thought the Ref‘s first cycle was wacky, wait until you see what Season 2 has in store. Papa offers his favorite out-there couples from this go-round: “One that made me laugh was a woman obsessed with throw pillows on her bed, to the point that the husband keeps falling on them in the middle of the night on the way to the bathroom. But the most bizarre one we had was a guy with a nervous habit of chewing on his TV remote control — so much so that every two weeks he had to have the cable company send him a new one.” Offers Papa, “It’s really the small things that become huge things that are the funniest.”

Surprising Guest Stars | The first season of Ref boasted tons of celeb panelists, including Jerry Seinfeld (who executive-produces the project), Alec Baldwin and Madonna, and this year is no different. “We had Mary J. Blige, who is such an amazing singer, but to hear her talk about her relationship and real couples stuff really threw me,” Papa shares. “Like, she’s just a regular person!” Additional cameos will include Ricky Gervais, four-time Oscar nominee Julianne Moore, Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy), Tracy Morgan (30 Rock), Regis Philbin, and Rachael Ray.

Singleton Smarts | Several of Season 2’s superstar guests aren’t actually married (e.g. Parenthood‘s Lauren Graham, SNL‘s Seth Meyers), but Papa tells us that such singles actually bring a welcome perspective to the panel. “Bill Maher couldn’t be more against marriage in his own life, but to have him on [the show] provides an outsider’s point of view,” says Papa. “I always say that if you’re learning how to drive a car, you’d want to learn from someone who’s really good; someone that can race the car; and someone who’s been in a car accident. You want all of those perspectives.”

The Rightest of the Right | The biggest difference between Seasons 1 and 2 is the mega-prize for the winning half of each quarreling couple — who this season will actually be present in the studio with the celeb panel. Previews Papa, “At the end of the show the audience votes on which of the [episode’s] winning spouses is the rightest of the right, and that person wins $25,000 and a billboard in their hometown declaring that they were right.”

Season 3 Will (Hopefully) Rock | Ref obviously has no problem booking big names for its panel, but there is one funnyman Papa is dying to have on — and will, should NBC renew it for a third season. “I really want Chris Rock,” Papa reveals. “We were pushing for him this year but he was tied up, so he says that next year he’ll definitely do it. That for me would be a great one. Also, Oprah has some free time now — she’d be great!”

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Sam says:

    It seems baffling that so many talented people would guest star on a show with such a limited premise. I mean, is Jerry Seinfeld just calling in every favor he’s ever received? FOR THIS?

    • Mr. Furley says:

      I agree-
      But I’m just glad that Jerry’s Celebrities Trump the Donald’s D-listers by far. I want him, his show, & his ‘do to just go away.
      Oh, can’t forget his fancy pizza silverware- he needs to take them with him as well!!! ;)

    • jsm says:

      I wonder what the producers have on all the celebrity guests – given how AWFUL this show is, it must be juicy, or they all lost bets.

    • Eurydice says:

      I think this is called “getting a paycheck in a bad economy.”

  2. Chmarin says:

    The show is finally airing when it’s supposed to – in the summer. So I may actually give it a second chance. Plus, Kathy Griffin will be on – have to see that one.

  3. Amanda says:

    I actually like this show and am glad it’s back. I like the sound of the new prize and that the audience votes.

  4. Ryan says:

    If Jay Leno likes it, it can’t be good.

  5. Mimi says:

    The worst part of this lame show is Tom Papa himself. Jerry Seinfeld can arrange all kinds of celeb visits but keeping this awful host is the main problem with this show.

    • D says:

      Couldn’t agree! Papa himself is the worst aspect of the show.

      • grannygeek says:

        Also, could not agree more! (which is what I think D meant to say)
        Papa’s robotic body language, his timing and delivery, and just generally strange demeanor kills the general low-level humor extracted from this overdone show.

    • Harry Marks says:

      Tom Papa is beyond the valley of dreadful. He gives new meaning to the word deadly. I have to question Jerry Seinfeld’s judgment on this one.

  6. Charlotte says:

    I actually really liked the first season. I thought it was funny and I liked the format. I also really liked Tom Papa as host. I never really understood all the hate on the show. I’m looking forward to the new season.

  7. Steve says:

    I also really liked Season 1, and Tom Papa was a great host in my opinion. In most cases, he was just as funny as the guest judges.

  8. Amber says:

    I’m really surprised to see this show got renewed. It had been off the air so long I was sure it was canceled. And I was kind of happy about that because it was a bit of a train wreck.

  9. We really enjoy this show and are glad that it’s finally back. It’s light-hearted fun!

  10. Tausif Khan says:

    Tracy Morgan is going to be a guest on this show? A show where he will be trying to be funny? Hopefully he will not have to apologize for anything after his appearance.

  11. Eurydice says:

    I tried watching this last night but I got bored halfway through the blah, blah, blah about the first couple. In fact, I didn’t actually get what the problem was – they’ve been married for 7 years and the mother-in-law stayed with them for 6 months. Was that a one-time visit of 6 months (in which case, who cares) or does she spend half of every year with them (which sounds like a real problem) – this wasn’t clear, or maybe I nodded off from boredom. But I guess it didn’t matter because the “refs” spent the whole time insulting the guy for saying he’s of “Jewish heritage” and for pouring soy sauce on his spring rolls. It wasn’t very funny but they were laughing and laughing – I kind of felt like the only one at a frat party who wasn’t stoned.

  12. Yo says:

    This show is on television to encourage the lost art of reading.

  13. Bob says:

    And what does Seinfeld have on Ricky Gervais? You could tell by Gervais’ comments the other night that he really didn’t want to be there (ala Golden Globes). But I watched a little bit of the show just because of his presence. I don’t see this coming back after they burn through these episodes.