Remember when the Lifetime network could claim it programmed some worthwhile shows for women? Well, these days the cable channel is reduced to The Marriage Counselor, tear-jerking pap in the tradition of Divorce Court. Real-life marriage counselor Dr. Wendy LeDoux dispenses advice daily to couples played by actors — most of them really bad actors. The troubled scenarios these couples introduce are entirely fictional, if tritely familiar. In one segment, “Brian” has an affair, and the woman gets pregnant; Brian’s wife moans to Dr. LeDoux, “I couldn’t believe my life was turning into a Geraldo show!” LeDoux is a comforting presence, but her sage words are so tentatively phrased — as if she saw a lawsuit pending were some viewer actually to go out and follow her instructions — that she comes off vague and indecisive.
Although the dubious appeal of The Marriage Counselor is that we should come to think that these are real people in real moments of marital stress, these people are ridiculously composed and articulate. Well, not all that articulate. At one point, Dr. LeDoux tells a husband reluctant to discuss his problems, “If you bury strong feelings like resentment and anger, it’s very likely that they’re going to come up again in ways that can be very destructive to your relationship.”
The guy snorts derisively. “All this mumble-jumble!” he says. No, sir — when a shrink talks in jargon, it’s mumbo-jumbo. D