"The Spouse House" Episode 3: Mock-Matrimony
Disclaimer: For those who don't know Ashley is a contestant on TLC's Spouse House. I personally do not know the show's outcome or any secrets or spoilers, I'm simply watching along with all of you and providing an episode re-cap and some personal opinion. Be sure to watch Spouse House on TLC, Sundays at 10/9pm central. Episode three of The Spouse House sees the show quickening its pace, with eight of the ten remaining contestants taking a (required) shot at domesticity. Toyya and Albert said their good-byes as they were voted least likely to marry by their housemates—never mind Albert being the only one to propose thus far… I guess the ladies just weren’t feeling him. Oh, yeah—I should probably mention that Ashley Lauren—in a deluge of tears, wracking sobs, and emotional evisceration—declined Albert’s proposal, something that, if you watched the latest episode, you know she didn’t do easily. While Toyya and Albert got the boot, eight of the remaining ten were chosen to live to as married couples: Tom and Ashley Lauren, Danny and Naya, Kelli Jo and Jimmy, and Chris and Missy. Darren and Brianne, earned the distinct pleasure of just kinda hangin’ around (‘Hanginaround’—a great Counting Crows song) as the couples got to know each other in a more intimate setting. Before we delve into the nitty-gritty, I feel I should point out that while the housemates have gotten to know each other fairly well during the first few weeks of the show, their new living arrangements are little more than a blind date—like meeting someone on the street and inviting him or her to move in with you because you need a roommate and you both enjoy cheesy ‘80’s action-flicks. What could go wrong? Then again, when you consider that the contestants in the Spouse House didn’t apply to your average dating show, the mind-boggling expediency with which they’re tossed into what amounts to a gladiatorial love contest seems slightly less drastic. Slightly. Dinner For Two: The Spouse House Way Which is just dinner for two. By all outward appearances, it seemed like what it (kind of) was: a first date. Of course, it’s a first date between two people who’ve both expressed at least some level of romantic interest in their counterpart, so in the same way that it’s a ‘first date’, it’s also not really a ‘first date’. We’ve all been privy (I assume, since you’re reading this) to the haywire-elevator-ride of emotional breaking-points experienced by the cast—the indelible schisms and history unfolded rabidly as everyone attempted to find their soul-mate as quickly as possible, ruffling a few feathers, stepping on a few toes along the way. We’ll start with the most obvious couple: Tom And Ashley Lauren What can I say that I haven’t said already about Tom and Ashley Lauren? Prior to Albert’s proposal, things between her and Tom seemed on the optimistic uptick. Tom, in a display of chivalry long considered dead, followed Ashley Lauren out of the carried-over Engagement Ceremony, providing her gentle comfort while slyly intoning his support of her decision. At that point, it all seemed blue skies, green grass, and a fluffy, vibrant rainbow with a gold-gilt future looming prosperously at its end. But as I have so often—and sadly—come to realize (and it’s not like I wasn’t warned), all good things must come to an end. Or, at least, a point of contention that maybe, possibly, forecasts the beginning of the end? Tom—who you’ll remember from last week as the flip-flopping rationalist whose less-than-subtle interest in both Ashley Lauren and Kelli Jo played a very, well, domineering, role in the Spouse House—in an abrupt and decisive twist, opted for Ashley Lauren, leaving Kelli Jo, mouth agape, in a state of perplexed shock. Ashley Lauren, unceremoniously pulled from punch-drunk reverie back to harsh, sober reality in the wake of Albert’s proposal, took a step back to collect herself. Catch her breath. Rehydrate… Unfortunately, it was at the same time Tom was stepping forward. His repeated commentary on how ‘perfect they are on paper’ didn’t have the desired effect Tom had hoped for, either. Ashley Lauren expressed her concern, fearing he was being ruled by logic rather than emotion, and what ensued wasn’t pretty—a heated argument, spiteful words, accusations and the aforementioned crying. Tom, having finally decided, was ready to push full-steam-ahead, while Ashley Lauren, still shaken, wanted to slow things down. Right as Tom was picking up speed. And then, following some sage pop-in advice from Darren, Tom apologized. Which quickly devolved—things started getting feisty when Tom accused her of not letting him know whether she liked him. Ashley Lauren countered with the claim that he’s the only one she spends time with, goes on dates with, talks with, and kissed. Which is when Tom, in an unimaginable feat defying all odds, managed to say, with his foot right up in his mouth, “Have you kissed me? Or have I kissed you?”. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right: That’s a long sentence to say around a mouthful of toes. Things only got worse from there, before Tom finally stormed off. Probably for the best. All in all, it was a rather unsuccessful apology. Danny and Naya Danny and Naya, in my opinion, are the odd couple—Danny, despite his almost overbearing physique, is something of a conversational miser. Naya is more of an enigma. Quiet, skeptical, yet with a sparky personality as a counterbalance. If you recall, Naya was concerned by Danny’s meek personality, while Danny was equally concerned by Naya’s easy-going sociability that, in concert with her objectively attractive qualities, created a bevy of interest around her as Danny played the wallflower. To say that their compatibility was lacking wouldn’t be much of a stretch. And not much changed during their dinner date. When Danny finally opened up with Naya, whose primary concern was his lack of assertiveness, he asserted himself, alright. Bringing up the issue of Naya’s son—the only thing, for Naya, that takes precedent over marriage—Danny once again admitted he was scared. I know what you’re thinking because I was thinking it too: He tried this approach once and it failed. Well, it failed again. “If you have even the slightest doubt, please, save yourself. And save me,” was Naya’s matter-of-fact response. Feeling bad, Danny wrote a letter the next morning, after cooking her breakfast, expressing his enthusiasm for impending step-fatherhood, that he’s ready to assume that role alongside the role of husband. Naya was touched by his sincerity and that he’d taken the time to write her a letter. Definitely a smart move on Danny’s part, writing down how he felt rather than trying to backtrack over misspoken sentiment. (A condition with which I can sympathize.) Jimmy And Kelli Jo When the hosts announced that Jimmy and Kelli Jo would be shacking up together, they had startlingly contrasting reactions. Jimmy, whose approach, as I mentioned last week, is akin to that of a slow-playing poker player, was delighted. Exuberant. Kelli Jo, still reeling from Tom’s rebuke, felt her and Jimmy’s pairing was—and here I am employing some creative license—like throwing all the Thanksgiving dinner leftovers into one large Rubbermaid Food Container, smashing the lid shut, and tossing it in the back of the fridge. At least that’s what her body language and facial expressions indicated. In her pervasively creeping morass of insecurity and self-pity, she was either unable or unwilling to see Jimmy’s obvious glee, blindly stating that he’s only paying her attention now because everyone else is paired up. Jimmy comes back, saying, “I chose you from the first day,” and admitted to feeling second to Tom, even though he ‘knew it wasn’t going to work out between them’. Even if Tom had chosen her over Ashley Lauren. Jimmy’s quiet surety eventually managed to grow on a slouching, pouty Kelli Jo who sprawled herself across a poolside table, her head disinterestedly propped up by one hand, giving her ‘smoosh-face’—you know what I’m talking about. Eventually, Kelli Jo comes out of her funk, coming to the (belated) realization that Jimmy is the first “consistent” guy she’s been with. Jimmy subsequently asks her to be his girlfriend. Kelli Jo insists that he has to do it ‘like in high school’. So Jimmy, true to form—i.e. unassuming and smooth, like a silk-lined work-boot—produces a pen and paper (not sure from where), and writes out ‘Will you be my girlfriend?’ with three check-boxes. She checks ‘Yes’, and they kiss. Placated and happy, they end up a far cry off from where they started. Chris And Missy Chris and Missy make a late entrance, and by all appearances seem to be the most foundationally sound of the four couples. Sitting poolside, Chris says he doesn’t think Tom and Ashley Lauren will make it, to which Missy replies, in her usual perfunctory manner: “Chris, at the end of the day, I’m the only one here who has a backbone right now.” Her leg casually balanced on the other, head tilted back and eyes closed in passive ecstasy, I found myself vainly searching the edges of the screen for palm-frond-toting servants coming to fan her gently, that I was certain must be there. But there weren’t any. Not that you could tell from her queenly demeanor. Missy sees herself and Chris as the only ones heading down the matrimonial pathway, and I can’t say I disagree. The only hiccough—really, the beginning of a hiccough—was born from a casual comment by Missy about how she was the only one there working out that morning. Chris begrudges his lack of motivation, Danny gets mentioned—somehow—and Missy goes on to extol the wonders of Danny’s physique, issuing her belief that “…every man should be able to have one of those,” in reference to Danny’s body. Chris replies with an (almost convincingly) blasé brush-off. Furthering her run of good fortune, Missy goes a step further by detailing which attribute of each of the male contestants she likes best in some Dr. Frankenstein-esque aggregate of her ideal man. What she liked about Chris: his ‘half-assed’ jokes; Chris’ reply: a suitably half-assed joke about ‘not bringing much to the table’. Missy asserts that “Nobody’s perfect” in what I assume to be a stab (in the dark) at an apology. And despite everything that can be said about her, Missy says what she means, and what you see is what you get. Chris likes what he sees. Well, that pretty much sums up episode three. During the Engagement Ceremony, the four couples are given the opportunity to choose whether they want to stay together as a couple, change partners, or leave the Spouse House, admitting failure. All four couples opt to stay in their exploratory marriages—even Tom and Ashley Lauren, Tom having issued an apologia redux, and Ashley having accepted. The couples still hang in a suspended state of animation as their emotions and instincts engage in epic battle—attempting to sideline the instinct for self-preservation by letting their guards down and allowing their emotions to take control. As it comes time for proposals to be made, Bri and Darren—you remember them, right?—are introduced to Ben and Ashley, their respective, prospective new partners, specifically chosen for them by Dr. Isaiah Pickens and Christine Hassler. Both are sufficiently excited, to say the least. Just before the floor is turned over to those with marriage on their minds, we are informed that, if no one gets engaged and it comes to eviction, Bri and Darren are exempt from eviction to allow them time to get to know their potential spouses. As the figurative curtains draw to a close, Danny stands up, takes a knee, and proposes to Naya, who looks sweaty, nervous, and like she might possibly explode. To find out if Naya actually explodes (and while I have my doubts, I can’t be certain), catch episode four of The Spouse House on TLC Sunday, 10/9 Central, or on TLC’s website, if you’re otherwise indisposed Sunday evening.