‘The Marriage Ref’
What: Sneak preview of new reality show
When: 10:30 p.m. following the
closing ceremony of the Olympics
It’s a classic marriage tiff: One partner wants it; the other says "no way."
For local couple Greg and Dianah Hunter, "it" is a stripper pole in the bedroom.
Any other day, the couple’s conflict might be confined behind bedroom doors, but on Sunday, the decision of "to buy the pole or not to buy the pole" will be broadcast on national television during a sneak preview of NBC’s "The Marriage Ref."
The couple has already been featured in advertisements of the show, which excites their two youngest sons, Cameron, 11, and Micah, 6.
Their oldest sons, Gregory II, 17, and Dmitry, 13, get a little embarrassed, Dianah says.
The show, produced by Jerry Seinfeld, takes a comedic look at real-life couples’ every day disputes. On the show, couples debate their issue, a celebrity panel weighs in and comedian Tom Papa — The Marriage Ref — makes a ruling.
The final outcome for Greg and Dianah is a secret until the episode airs, but both Greg and Dianah aren’t afraid to talk about their oh-so-personal issue.
Dianah, a student at Lanier Technical College, said they told their fellow parishioners about the show at church on Sunday, but didn’t go into details about the subject.
"I’m not really worried about the people in our congregation, because our pastor knows our personalities," Dianah said. "... I’m really not worried, because Greg and I have a solid foundation, and so, as we all know ... what goes on in your household when you’re married, it’s OK. But it doesn’t change who we are."
And what they are, says Greg, is "a happily married couple." Greg and Dianah, both 40, have been married for 10 years.
Probably the most difficult part of the show was telling Dianah’s 72-year-old mother about it, she said.
"I had to explain to her what a stripper pole was ... But she knows her son-in-law, so it didn’t surprise her at all," Dianah said. "I think the biggest part is when she actually sees us debating it on TV. But she knows Greg and she knows me, and she knows whatever comes up, comes out. He does that at family gatherings."
And while Greg and Dianah have been having the discussion for three years — sometimes in front of family members — it will be debated in front of a nationwide audience Sunday. Dianah said the couple’s openness might show others that they, too, can be open with their quirky marriage tiffs.
"You can sit back, and you can view it and you can laugh at it, and at the end of the day, it’s all about love," Dianah said. "It’s nothing serious, it’s nothing about divorce. But it’s all about love, and it’s all about comedy."
And Dianah might be onto something. As word has spread of the couple’s "issue," acquaintances have been bringing their own personal issues to the Hunters, Dianah said. Some give their opinion on Greg and Dianah’s issue, and Greg says "a lot of older women agree with me" — a fact Dianah finds "hilarious."
"They are all for it," she said.
Dianah will argue that the couple shouldn’t have such things in their home while they have children in the house; Greg argues that what he and his wife do in their master bedroom is their business.
"I think it builds our relationship, makes it stronger," Greg said.
And though the show is comedy, Greg and Dianah say they received some good insight from their celebrity panel of Seinfeld, Kelly Ripa and Alec Baldwin.
Through the majority of three tapings for the show, the couple wasn’t even sure their conflict would air on television. But Greg Hunter said the couple was chosen from what producers told them were thousands of conflicted couples.
"I think that our issue was so real, as to why we were chosen," Greg said. "I can’t guarantee that, but, you know, it’s an issue that’s very popular right now."
In perfect partner fashion, Dianah interjects here that the couple’s personality had a lot to do with the broadcasting company’s choice.
"It’s comedy," Dianah said. "They don’t want couples and issues where you’re getting ready to go almost in divorce. If you can look at yourself, like we can look at ourselves and laugh about our issue — those are the type couples they’re looking at."
Greg, doting husband that he is, agrees. The Suwanee restaurant owner said he’d take another issue before The Marriage Ref if he could.
"I don’t think that we have issues where we have to have The Marriage Ref on speed dial," Dianah said. "If you want to consider how he sits and just flips the TV from one channel from the next, and I’m sitting here just looking at a movie, then OK, we can call The Marriage Ref."
And Greg clarifies that a lot of marriages have comedic issues that could be taken to The Marriage Ref — it’s just the nature of love.
A sneak preview featuring the Hunters will air Sunday after the closing ceremony of the Olympics before the show moves to 10 p.m. Thursdays. The Hunters aren’t sure if other episodes may include them.