The new SBS VICELAND series Couples Therapy unlocks a hidden world: other people’s relationships. It plants a camera crew in the weekly therapy sessions of four couples, and manages to steer clear of reality-show caricatures.
Therapist Dr. Orna Guralnik deftly guides the couples through the minefield of honest confrontation with each other and with themselves; she calls them out when she needs to, and discloses her own concerns about the power she wields with other people's lives, in extraordinarily private moments behind closed doors.
The show centres around the question, “Can you film a therapy session without undermining the experience?". The answer is yes: You can film people at their most vulnerable, as their relationship is in crisis, and avoid making the experience exploitative, or something akin to Real Housewives-with-better-production-values.
Let's not kid ourselves that there isn't an element of voyeurism in watching the participants go through the wringer about their sex lives, their childhoods, their traumas. But the process itself isn't set up to exploit their pain, and co-producers Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg manage to walk an ethical minefield, to achieve something truly remarkable.
We see these couples weekly, and we see them put in the work for their partnerships.
Couples Therapy screens Thursdays from 9:25pm on SBS VICELAND. All episodes are now available at SBS On Demand.