It might be hard to understand, but I am starting to see Married To Jonas as educational.
Hear me out. I admit it — I watch reality TV. Not all of it, but enough of it and definitely more than is good. And while I don't watch certain genres or even some of the more popular ones, I have watched most shows and I do still watch some of The Housewives, The Kardashians (I'm Armenian) and just a few episodes of the new series Married To Jonas. Two young people, Kevin (one-third of the Disney pop/rock musical group the Jonas Brothers) and Dani are starting out, completely in love but like any newly married couple, now coping with in-laws, a home, siblings, friends and — in the best-possible-still-new-struggling way — each other.
Dani is sweet and lovely but falling in love and marrying Kevin has (gently) ripped her from the life she knew and from the close cocoon of her family's love. As if just being married wasn't difficult enough — add on that your partner is famous. Famous is a lot of things. Some of them great (money and access to a lot) and some of them not (ever-present paparazzi and fans). It makes everything so much harder and she's not come from show business and has lived pretty sheltered. Thrown into a world where looks are ridiculously important and scrutinized, she's got the normal insecurities everyone has, plus she's got to contend with the media's message that she's not good enough, not pretty enough to have married this teen heartthrob. From the little I've seen, Kevin is loving and protective and trying to make this transition go as smoothly as possible for Dani but hey, you can't control the universe and you can't control anyone else. It's an inside look at the romance and angst of early love and the absolute challenges of beginning a new life with a partner there for the long haul, fame, baggage and all. I'm worried.
When we first got married (26 years ago), I knew something wasn't in sync but I couldn't figure out what, so I suggested we go for help to a place that specialized in marriage counseling. Chris was in agreement, but I cautioned, "Let's not tell anyone." I knew that if anyone heard we were going to counseling they'd think our marriage was already falling apart — four months in! Therapy turned out to be enormously helpful and simple. I'd come from a family where fighting was a daily ritual. I mean fighting with voices raised, glasses hurled against the wall shattering to the floor, doors slamming. (I used to joke there wasn't a door in our house that didn't have a fist or a foot through it. Ha-Ha.) Chris came from a family where he never, NEVER heard his parents have an argument. Seriously.
Like the steam valve on a pressure cooker, in my family people exploded, vented their anger, eventually the air cleared and things moved on. To me, arguing was cathartic. To Chris, fighting meant his world was disintegrating — shattering, like those glasses. Neither situation was ideal, but through therapy we had a better understanding of this foundational difference. We couldn't undo what was past, but it was a very helpful thing to recognize and know moving forward.
In our society we make it so easy to get married and so difficult to get divorced. (I think it should be the other way around.) Today I doubt that most young people (products of the ME generation) think through the consequences of bonding to another human being for life. And it isn't often that shows come along that present these realities in a way that's engaging and informative — HBO's In Treatment was certainly one, but I wouldn't consider it mainstream.
If Married To Jonas (with nearly 1.8 million viewers during its premiere broadcast) does a good job of exploring the inevitable consequences of married life and shows Dani and Kevin working through them to make their relationship stronger and happier, then I say this show is doing public service.