Shot at Georgia Public Broadcasting in Midtown Atlanta, the show debuted nationwide on Monday, September 18 in most of the country. Locally, the CW69 began airing it at 2 p.m.
The focus of the show is about infidelity. The Cutlers sit side by side in judge outfits and spend each half hour assessing the accuser and the accused.
In episode one, a pregnant 30-year-old Carrie Hendricks suspects her husband Christopher, 38, is lying about sleeping with an ex. If she finds out the truth, she said she's leaving the marriage.
"I'm to the point where I want closure on it," Carrie said up front. "I gave my life to someone who didn't care."
Christopher, who comes across as an arrogant chef, said he pretends to be single at work and flirts with the wait staff to ease tensions.
"That's preposterous!" Dana said.
Carrie provides texts from women who want to sleep with him and caught him one time with a naked ex girlfriend. He denied anything untoward happened, though it looked bad. At worst, he admitted to one "emotional" affair with a co worker years ago which included some kissing. He said at the time he wasn't getting enough attention at home.
The show hired a female private investigator to surreptitiously talk to him. She felt he was being open and honest. He also received a lie detector test. Surprise! He passed. He may have flirted but he didn't believe he cheated on his wife.
"I'm sorry," a chastened Carrie said.
"I wouldn't stab you in the back," Christopher told her. "I want to go home and be happy. Start over."
"What this court about is getting to the truth and helping couples resolve it together or separately," Dana said on the show, noting that they have therapy resources for the couple after the taping. "Do not cheat yourself out of a happy, healthy relationship."
Credit: Rodney Ho
Credit: Rodney Ho
In an interview in July during taping of the show at Georgia Public Broadcasting studios in Midtown, Keith said it's up to him and his wife on the show to handle both legal and emotional issues in a relationship.
"I think the second or third episode we taped, it was very sobering because the emotions were so raw," Dana said. "These really are people's lives These really are people's feelings. We have to be respectful of that... It can be very charged at times."
Though neither are actual judges, Dana said even putting on costume robes felt "daunting."
The Cutlers met as freshmen in Atlanta 35 years ago when he attended Morehouse and she was going to Spelman. They were friends at first. "I was trying to set him up with a roommate," she said.
But over time, friendship blossomed into romance. (They became what is known as a "Spelhouse" couple.) They married seven years later in 1989 and had three sons. She now practices in education law and has been president of the Missouri Bar. He is a civil defense trial attorney.
"We've had our ups and downs," Dana said. "We've been broke. We raised three kids. How do you manage different spaces in your life and still have a healthy relationship?"
David Armour, the show's producer, said he sought a couple that "knew life, love and the law." They searched coast to coast but found the Cutlers special. "They were relatable," he said."There was nothing fake or put on. They weren't dying to be on TV. They are trying to help people. And they've got chemistry."
Harbour said the show is not meant to be therapy. (And given the time limits of the format, that would be impossible.)
"They provide some life lessons. Hopefully, someone hears something someone else has been going through and it helps the light bulb go off. They're not alone," Armour said. Occasionally, they will even bring in witnesses to provide perspectives for the litigants.
Coming back to Atlanta to tape the show has been a bonus, Dana said.
"The symmetry is unbelievable," Dana said. "We love Atlanta. We've always come back to Atlanta even before this. It's lovely to be home."
"Couples Court with the Cutlers," 2 p.m., the CW 69, beginning September 18, 2017