Michael Endelman
February 21, 2005 AT 05:00 AM EST

. . .or has MTV’s Newlyweds: Nick & Jessica transformed from a light, Kate Hudson-style romantic comedy into a painful, John Cassavetes-esque portrait of a marriage on the brink? The opening credits’ soft-focus shots of the happy past just serve to contrast the corroded present — instead of loving looks, the pair now trade sarcastic snorts, cynical eye rolls, and nasty barbs. And in a sick twist, Nick’s birthday present to Jessica — a cute Maltipoo puppy — has become his archenemy, making a mess of the shag carpet and his sex life.

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