The "Marriage Ref" Makes Tina Fey Unfunny

What Women Really Think
March 5 2010 11:45 AM

The "Marriage Ref" Makes Tina Fey Unfunny

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The first hourlong episode of the Jerry Seinfeld-created show The Marriage Ref ran last night with special guests Tina Fey and Eva Longoria, and boy, was that an endless 60 minutes. NBC aired a 30-minute long preview version of the show last Sunday, and Entertainment Weekly 's Ken Tucker thought that was a better fit for this format-the show runs videos of couples' spats, and then three celebrities comment on the fight before voting for the husband or the wife as the "right" one. I must disagree with Tucker. Regardless of length, the premise of the show is unappealing.

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As EW 's Tucker wrote, guest commentators Longoria and Fey, "passed judgments without seeming to really care one way or the other. And why should they?" The stakes are pretty low when you're deciding who's right in a fight over table settings. But the saddest part of The Marriage Ref is that it managed to suck the humor out of Tina Fey. One of the best parts of her comedic persona is what Fey calls her dash of "high-school bitchy." The Marriage Ref is not meant to be edgy, it's meant to be sweet, so Fey was effectively defanged. Watching her force laughs at Eva Longoria's lame jokes made that long hour almost unbearable.

Photograph of Tina Fey by Robyn Beck/AFP.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.