Donnie Loves Jenny Is the Realest You’ll See Donnie Wahlberg

The new A&E series is surprisingly funny and tender, offering a very real glimpse into the lives of your new favorite celebrity couple.

Photo by A&E

Photo via A&E

Last year, overall, was a pretty Wahlberg-packed time between flipping burgers and high-grossing Transformers movies. But if there are any indicators that people are so over the Dorchester-bred clan, the series premiere of A&E’s newest show Donnie Loves Jenny isn’t one of them.

In Wednesday night’s episode of the Donnie Wahlberg/Jenny McCarthy love epic, the two are recklessly preparing for their impromptu wedding taking place in Chicago. Donnie is in Boston visiting his mom, Alma, and the initial b-roll shows the two casually bopping in the car together; Alma doing the mom go-to hokey-pokey, and Donnie a move that somewhat mimics Kanye West in “Gold Digger”:

donnie loves jenny gif

Their mother-son bond might be one of the realest and most genuine parts of the show—Alma is a fan favorite, after all. Donnie decides it’s a good idea to ask his mom for advice about integrating kids into a second marriage, and Alma, staying true to her roll-off-the-shoulder nature, assures that if she can do it, he can do it.

“My mother showed up on the doorstep with nine kids,” Donnie narrated to the camera later, literally keeling over laughing. “The guy she married had one [kid], but we never met him. He was too scared to come around. He would have got mugged.”

As for Donnie and Jenny’s interactions, their lovey-dovey behavior is over the top, but so weirdly passionate that I’m not sure it’s just for the camera’s show. As Jenny’s sister Lynette said, “As a couple, there’s so much love that pours out of them. It’s almost obnoxious.” But they’re still normal people surrounded by normal things. Donnie has a Wahlburgers iPhone case. Jenny wears sweatpants. They have a dog named Lumpy.

Wedding planner Shuki is a character with some sort of European accent that Donnie regularly mocks; he’s a small wasp of a human who always seems to be hovering around Donnie and Jenny at inept moments.

The episode highlight was the wedding itself. Donnie was more emotional than Jenny on the day of, but again, he’s at his best when he’s not hamming it up. Everyone audiences wanted to see was there: the New Kids lads, brother Paul, and mom Alma. Jenny’s 12-year-old autistic son Evan made a speech at the reception. Evan’s scenes are among the many tender moments on the show, and is also the most poignant.

So it’s clear that this show is family-centric, but, like Wahlburgers, it’s less about the dramatics and more about the laughs. The show lacks all the typical cliches of a reality series: meltdowns, gossiping, family tension, general contemptuous feelings, etc. And none of those Keeping Up with the Kardashians all-of-this-just-happened-and-it-sucks-but-in-the-end-all-that-matters-is-family takeaways either.

Which is the way it should be.