Dating isn’t great at the best of times. But dating is even worse when you are a) living your best #soberlife for #dryjuly and b) attempting to diet to get rid of the McDs food baby that suddenly manifested after 6 weeks of eating deep fried apple pies and chilli cheese fries. Actually, it’s not just dating, but socialising in general, that isn’t particularly conducive with not drinking/being more restrained with food so yes I’ve become somewhat of a social recluse whose life revolves around gymming, jigsaw puzzles and Netflix. And today Rinsers, I’ll tell you about my latest Netflix indulgence…Extreme Engagement.
As the title suggests, this is a reality/docu-series that follows an engaged couple who are basically spending a year travelling around the world visiting some of the most extreme places and getting acquainted with some rather obscure communities to see how they do the whole marriage/love/commitment thing (a bit like Elizabeth Gilbert’s adventures in that book ‘Committed’ that both #zlotybaby and I failed to finish).
But before I get into it, let me provide some background. Tim and PJ are an Australian couple in their late 30s. She is a city princess and he is an outdoor mountain goat. She’s been married before (and only got 4 notches on her bed post – less than the supposed global average) and had no intention of getting married again whereas he having been the eternal commitment-phobe has experienced +/- 400 women before finally deciding that enough is enough and it’s time to settle down. They got engaged less than a year into their relationship (which is fairly common with couples who meet later in life) but that’s when the plot twist comes in. Soon after the engagement, Tim leaves PJ and goes off on a two year long adventure expedition (aka the last stint of debauchery) and then decides he actually wants to do it all again with her by his side (awww…how sweet!). Bring on the Extreme Engagement!
So their journey is made up of a handful of pit-stops in some incredibly beautiful but also rather tough locations. They begin in Cameroon where they ‘immerse’ themselves into a life with a tribal community who claim to have the happiest marriages in the world. Next, they head to Indonesia where men are expected to show their prowess through brute strength (aka fighting each other with sticks) and while Tim gets into the spirit of it all, PJ just rolls her eyes the whole time. In Papua New Guinea, they are introduced to local fertility rituals and also faced to come to terms with their slightly different views on procreation. Their relationship is really put to the test when they shadow a nomadic tribe in freezing cold Mongolia. In Nigeria, they are forced to contend with underlying jealousy issues when they experience the polygamous way of life (which I gather is the patriarchal version of polyamory). China is a bit of a therapy session as PJ is has to get to grips with her past demons and ‘cry it out’. In Brazil, Tim goes on some intense drug trip to see whether PJ will really feature in his future and finally they head to a tropical island location where it is revealed whether this experience has forced them to rethink the whole idea of marriage.
Sure, it’s an epic adventure. And I totally think that all couples should experience travelling together at some point, if their finances allow. Even a less adventurous city break type holiday has the potential to test a relationship. Of course, exploring new places while being loved up is magical but travelling and all the associated logistics can also be stressful. However, there were a couple of things that I found annoying about this series. Firstly, I wasn’t convinced the couple were for real from the get go (too much of the dialogue is scripted!). I mean spending 2 years long-distance (out of choice) after a quick quick engagement doesn’t scream #happilyeverafter now, does it? Next, the whole sex issue. The series starts by saying that the couple’s relationship has been pretty much sexless so far (no shit Sherlock. They spent two years apart!) and much of the series shows Tim trying to get lucky and PJ refusing to put out (can you blame her, a year of tent sex can’t be all the appealing!) but again this to me, doesn’t bode well for the future success of their marriage.
And finally, my biggest issue with the series is that I thought much of their attitude was off. I know we can be quite sarcastic on this blog about some of the more archaic ways that people do relationships but I think if you are going to travel to all of these far off places to supposedly learn something from other cultures then you need to do so with an open-mind and a sense of curiosity. Instead, the couple (especially PJ) tend to be quite judgmental about it all. It’s understandable that one might be apprehensive about being ‘possessed’ by ancestors and ‘crying your problems away’ but it’s clear from the footage that a lot of the time these two think that the tribal practices are utter BS. I’m not providing any spoilers for you but while this adventure certainly forces them to address certain issues about themselves and in their relationship, I don’t think there was anything there that couldn’t be dealt with by a half-decent relationship counselor. As for learning from other cultures, I honestly don’t think the couple took much away from the whole experience – she was too self-absorbed and he was just obsessed with being a BIG MAN and getting some good footage of him doing extreme things in the name of love (supposedly).
Watch the series if you are interested in getting a bit of a superficial insight into some obscure cultures and tribal life. But I very much doubt you’ll finding the leading characters all that endearing.
Have you watched Extreme Engagement? If so, what were your thoughts? Do you think it’s important to get out of your comfort zone and travel with a significant other in order to test your relationship? Or is it something better off done alone? Provide some wisdom in the comments section below.