Life in the Spouse House is heating up, with the second episode airing last Sunday on TLC.  Chock-full of wild-cards, love triangles, squares, rhombuses and just about every other geometric configuration, it’s dizzying in scope and endless possibility.  Picking up where the first episode left off, the climactic Engagement Ceremony revealed that no proposals were made, prompting a vote of elimination by the cast.  Ashley P. and Jonathan were evicted, only to be replaced by Sandra, 37, and Jake, 29.  If you’re unsure who Ashley P. and Jonathan are, don’t be concerned—they didn’t receive much camera-time during the first episode.  Possibly due to the prescient showrunners’ knowledge of their impending evictions?

In this week’s article, I (or should I say ‘we’) will explore two of the more prominent multi-faceted love entanglements, as well as two individuals I have, perhaps somewhat spuriously, deemed ‘wild-cards’.

Tom, Kelli Jo, and Ashley Lauren

So, I don’t know about you, but Tom seems to have a thing for women with two first names…  But on a more serious note—and one that I think touches closest to home for us Kinda Kind’ers—this particular love-triangle was the most readily apparent.  Tom and Kelli Jo have a history and an easy, relaxed way with one another predicated on their past—they’re able to eschew some of the traditional road-bumps encountered when two people meet for the first time.  Tom and Ashley Lauren have grand ambitions and a determined vision for their respective futures that, while complimentary, are not contingent upon the other for success.  I mentioned in my previous article their large personalities.  In episode two, we see these personalities at work.

Tom is, to put it bluntly, intense.  In fact, he was accused by Jimmy of monopolizing both Ashley Lauren’s and Kelli Jo’s time.  Potentially risking his career to be on Spouse House, he’s not wasting time and energy ‘exploring his options’.  When Kelli Jo implied that it was Fate that brought them together, Tom played it cool, reacting positively, but noncommittally.  And for a minute (or 15, if we’re being accurate), ‘noncommittal’ seemed the perfect word to describe him.

Of course, that was until he shattered that notion utterly, pulling Kelli Jo aside and explaining to her—in that calm, hyper-rational manner symbolic of every guy who’s ever attempted to end a ‘complicated relationship’ cordially—that he would be pursuing Ashley Lauren.  (Pursuing… It sounds a little chauvinistic, doesn’t it?)  A devastated Kelli Jo figured it was probably for the best.  Unconvincingly.

But is Tom too late?  Amidst his period of indecision, Ashley Lauren and Albert got to talking.  Albert, quiet, a bit reserved and a bit older, exudes a tranquil, self-assured confidence that proves subtly formidable in the face of Tom’s overt, Alpha-male swagger.  Where Tom knows who and what he wants to be, Albert maintains a calm, collected sense of who he is.  Tom knows what he wants; he just doesn’t know who has it.  As Tom blew back and forth between Ashley Lauren and Kelli Jo like a tornado on Ritalin, Albert bided his time, waiting for an opening.  So, the real question here is, Will the doubts stirred by Tom’s noncommittal ping-ponging be too much—or too little?—for Ashley Lauren?

As the Kelli Jo-Tom-Ashley Lauren love-triangle burned out, a new romantic triumvirate emerged from its still-warm ashes.  While both men possess qualities Ashley Lauren is looking for, the real question is how does she see her future?  With Tom, I have no reason to expect anything less than a powerhouse couple whose ambitions always exceed the last goal attained (Then again, I am biased).  Albert is the safer choice, in that he knows what he wants, which, at the moment, is Ashley Lauren.  He proved it not only by waiting for the right moment to approach her, but in his cliff-hanger proposal during the Engagement Ceremony.  Tune in tomorrow at 10/9 Central to find out Ashley Lauren’s answer!

Chris, Brianne, and Missy

In eerily similar fashion to the above, the Chris-Brianne-Missy situation also features an indecisive male caught between two women.  Every indication form the first episode suggested that Chris and Brianne would be the first to couple up.  I mean, the show ended, leaving us all in the lurch, anticipating a proposal from Chris.  And right before the credits rolled, Missy interrupted, and verbosely voiced her own interest in Chris, with the extremely bold statement, “Our children are going to be beautiful”—as though a decision only she was privy to had already been reached.  This is the same woman, if you recall, who likened her stay at the Spouse House to an “appetizer platter.”  Yet, somehow, it worked: Chris did not propose to Brianne.

And while Brianne, one of the youngest of the Spouse House cast, was ready to go all-in with Chris, Missy’s interjection caused Chris to balk.  It also garnered a lot of confused looks from the cast.  Like Kelli Jo before, Brianne simply doesn’t want someone who isn’t as committed as she is, the only difference being that she has a choice in the matter.  Chris is looking for someone to stand up to him and who “won’t put up with [his] shit.”  In this respect, if I were a betting man, Missy would be the overwhelming favorite.  It would appear that Brianne’s too mild-mannered for Chris, despite what seems an obvious connection.  But if Brianne truly sees Chris as her husband-to-be, she’s going to have to fight for him.  Against Missy.  Which won’t be easy, and segues perfectly into the final topic:

The Spouse House Wild-Cards

via GIPHY

And now for the two people I perceive to be the ‘wild-cards’ of the Spouse House: Jimmy and Missy.  They couldn’t be more dissimilar in their approach to meeting their mate if they were of a different species.  Where Jimmy manages to fly beneath the radar, at least at first, Missy’s approach is more akin to blowing up the entire signals station.  Earlier, I mentioned a couple quotes from Missy, and there’s hardly a shortage.  In almost the same breath, she both announced her interest in Chris, Jimmy, and Danny, and then promptly rebuffed Jimmy and Danny.  For the record, neither appeared in the least bit disheartened from this new-found lack of attention.

And so, Missy turned her attentions to Chris.  Not one to mince words, step lightly or, by all available accounts, inclined to think before speaking, when Chris expressed concern about Missy’s age with regards to future children, she didn’t miss beat.  In fact, she changed the song entirely, insisting she was ready to have kids immediately.  And just in case Chris—or anyone else, for that matter—harbored even the slightest inkling of skepticism, she informed him that she was not only off birth control and in possession a sperm sample, but that she put off her IVF treatments to appear on Spouse House.  And, I admit, showing, with stalwart conviction, her readiness to have kids and start a family.  Chris, as unfazed as anyone could hope to be in light of such an abrupt revelation, gallantly, chivalrously, offered his ‘goods’ up at discount.

Jimmy, in true poker-playing fashion, began by slow-playing his hand.  An unlikely move given the immediacy necessitated by living in the Spouse House.  He cozied up to Kelli Jo while Tom was with Ashley, sowing minor seeds of discontent aimed at discrediting Tom.  Always in a light, off-the-cuff kind of way, presumably so as not to diminish himself in Kelli Jo’s eyes—truly masterful work.  Rather quiet, even a bit reticent, Jimmy’s rarely at the center of attention, preferring instead to be in the right place at the right time.  While Tom was doing his utmost to be gentlemanly in his ‘break-up’ with Kelli Jo, (a feat I have yet to see mastered, by the way), Jimmy was conveniently talking with Ashley Lauren.  That way, when Tom came over, and, somewhat brusquely, asked Jimmy to step aside so he could inform Ashley Lauren of him and Kelli Jo, Jimmy took the opportunity to ask for a quick word with him.  Jimmy, true to his covert MO, asked Tom if he had broken up with Kelli Jo, and revealing, for the first time outside of a ‘talking head’ segment, his interest in her.

After only two episodes, it’s hard to draw any accurate conclusions, but Jimmy and Missy are the two I believe will be the ones to keep an eye on coming up.  Naya and Danny, with the recent addition of Jake, form another budding trigonal affair—something to watch for as relationships and bonds form and fall apart.  I expect the rest of the season has quite a lot in store as the stakes rise and the tenants get better acquainted, for better or worse.  At least we can rule out the possibility of bigamy…  Or so I would think.

One stark fact sticks out more than any other, though, and that’s the dichotomy in how the two genders approach this game of love and marriage.  The women (for the most part) appear to pick one guy on whom to focus their attentions, i.e. Kelly Jo with Tom, going so far as to suffer an acute case of ‘tunnel-of-love-vision’.  In keeping with fairly accurate, if somewhat simplified, portrayals of the sexes as pertains specifically to the show, the issue of male-gender-biased-ADD is all-too-obvious.  The men (again, for the most part) are having some issues in the ol’ decision-making department.  If it seems generalizing, that’s because it is.  But the emergent patterns are there nonetheless.  Aside from its purely-entertainment value, TLC’s Spouse House also offers a unique glimpse into the generalized dating practices of both men and women.  Hell, if you pay attention, you might even learn something worthwhile, you know, in between bouts of dramatic titillation.  If you missed last week’s episode, check it for free on TLC.com.

Also, keep an eye on the Cry Counter on our homepage.  Every time Ashley Lauren cries (on-air), she will donate $10 of her own money to an as-yet-undetermined charity.  Follow this link to learn more, as I know so very little.

All photos courtesy of TLC.com
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Jack Kehres

Jack Kehres