Overcast 32° Good Evening
Overcast 32° Good Evening

'Chained to My Ex' review: Not ex enough

CeCe and Christian in mediation with Judge Michele

CeCe and Christian in mediation with Judge Michele Lowrance, back of camera, in MSNBC documentary "Chained to My Ex" featuring divorced couples who are stuck living together, which will premiere Dec. 23 at 9 p.m. ET/6pm PT on MSNBC. Photo Credit: MSNBC

THE SHOW "Chained to My Ex"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 9 p.m. on MSNBC

WHAT IT'S ABOUT What happens when two people get divorced yet continue living together? Comedy does not ensue -- you can be certain of that. This new doc series from MSNBC profiles fraught couples who continue living together for all sorts of reasons, from psychological to economic.

On Sunday you'll meet Sherman Oaks, Calif., couple Christian and CeCe, who were married 10 years, but have been living together for a while because a.) he has no job; and b.) she can't kick him out because he's on the lease.

MSNBC pays for a mediator to resolve their disputes, on camera of course.

This series has a Long Island connection because it's drawn directly from the life of co-creator Matt Ritter, a former corporate lawyer, now a comedian and producer, who grew up in Plainview and mediated his parents' difficult split while they were still in the same house.

"He lived upstairs, she lived downstairs sometimes I would pass messages between them," Ritter told me via email. Ritter, 33, also lightheartedly notes that "I'm voluntarily chained to my lovely girlfriend who is an actress."

MY SAY One of the weirdly implicit bargains between viewers and so many unscripted cable series these days is that no matter how lousy their life is, it's still vastly superior to what's portrayed on-screen. The bar, in other words, is set incredibly low and set incredibly low on purpose. And so, welcome to "Chained," which easily meets these standards -- but isn't funny. Not that humor could survive long under these circumstances: It would quickly be gutted by the anger, bile, sadness, guilt and strange codependency. The series would be more engaging if there was some indication this sort of shotgun living arrangement has become more commonplace during the Great Recession. But there's nothing here to suggest that. These people -- at least the ones Sunday -- live together because they can't escape the cage they built for themselves, at least until an MSNBC-paid mediator gives them a key. Yup, pathetic.

BOTTOM LINE One long whine that will leave you depleted and unenlightened.


More Entertainment