Married reality stars get a bad rap: Think C-listers staging paparazzi photo shoots or the Botox-filled, wine-drunk couple Will Ferrell and Cecily Strong portrayed on “Saturday Night Live” earlier this year.
“That ‘SNL’ skit was hilarious, but just not applicable to our lives,” said Cary, who’s been front and center on “The Real Housewives of Dallas” since the show premiered in 2016.
“It was pretty funny and could be spot-on for some reality stars, but I really don’t consider us reality stars at all,” said Mark, a plastic surgeon. (Cary is a nurse at his practice. The pair have been together for 10 years.)
“We are ourselves on screen,” he said. “We’re not playing a persona.”
Still, it had to have been a game-changer to suddenly have their marriage broadcast on Bravo. The Deubers told us what it’s really like to be in love and on a reality show.
Mark, what was your reaction when Cary told you she wanted to be featured on ‘RHOD’? Did you need any convincing?
Mark: I was involved and supportive right from the start; we’re both risk takers who are inclined to take advantage of all of life’s opportunities. When confronted with an unusual door during life’s path, we both very much want to see and experience what’s behind it. I firmly believe you are more likely to regret the opportunities you don’t take advantage of than the ones you do.
Cary: We are very much a team and approach life decisions together. I’m very thankful for our partnership within our relationship.
Do you have any rules about how much of your marriage and personal life can be filmed?
Cary: As you may have seen, pretty much nothing is off limits with us. I think we have been very open and honest with the process. Now, that doesn’t mean I haven’t had moments of remorse or terror!
Mark: We both went into this with an open mind and felt that it will be most beneficial to share as much as we can. Cary always says we both have a strong work ethic. That’s meant we’ve been willing to give more rather than less; we’ve never really said ‘not today’ to the production team, and we appreciate their respect to our home and family as well.
Your 5-year-old daughter appears on the show. What kind of conversations did you have with her to prepare her for filming?
Mark: Zuri was just 2 when the show started filming. She’s been around the crew and really grown up with it. There really hasn’t been a point where we have had to prepare her for it yet.
Cary: It’s funny, I’ve never prepped Zuri for anything to do with the show. She is just herself. Sometimes she will ham it up because the crew is there and she wants to impress them. She’s a natural chameleon with a one-of-a-kind personality!
You’ve been on the show two years now. How would say it’s changed your marriage?
Cary: It’s made our relationship stronger. A process like this will show you the holes or weaknesses in your relationship. Any that we have found, we have corrected and strengthened together. It’s almost like therapy. You go through some tough stuff. We have weathered the storm and are an even greater team.
Mark: In my view, Cary really hasn’t changed much at all: She’s the same beautiful, amazing, funny, confident, sarcastic girl I married. She’s always been very comfortable in her skin.
Do you watch the episodes together?
Cary: Yep, he keeps me calm and is a great sounding board for me.
Like any “Real Housewives” star, you have dealt with other cast members spreading rumors about your marriage. In Season 2, LeeAnne Locken made claims about your sexuality, Mark, which you denied and addressed on a reunion show. What is it like to have things like that play out in the public eye?
Mark: Rumors are just that ― rumors. People love to hear them, love to repeat them and certainly it helps drive the popularity of reality TV. So I guess it’s a necessary evil. I think the hardest thing about it is when you have teenage children. I have two older kids from a previous relationship. I don’t like them to have to hear such nonsense when we all know teenagers have a hard enough time finding their own way in life without that added stress.
Cary: To be honest, it was extremely frustrating. Once someone puts something untrue out there in today’s universe it becomes “fact” to the public. I have found that, in the end, all that matters is that we know the truth; our friends and family know the truth. People can speculate and finger point; we have learned to be unaffected by the negative energy.
Any big misconceptions about being on a reality show ― or about your marriage in particular?
Mark: Cary and I have an extremely strong bond. We really get each other and each other’s sense of humor. We are both incredibly sarcastic but, unfortunately, not everyone gets our private jokes. Sometimes simple things that we might mean as funny can come off differently, and we never want to come off as mean-spirited or negative. The show has helped us in that way. Being able to see yourself through others’ eyes can be very telling and, in our case, very helpful as well.
One funny thing is all of the people who assume she has all of this plastic surgery because she’s married to a plastic surgeon. In fact, plastic surgeons don’t as a rule operate on our wives all the time or give them crazy access to all sorts of treatments. Cary has never had facial plastic surgery. She has undergone some body contouring procedures (long before we were together). I did replace her implants after silicone was re-approved for general use. And since she’s been on the show, she has significantly cut back on Botox. For example, her brow shape is her natural shape but people on social media love to say ‘it’s way too much Botox’ or ‘you’ve got to lay off the procedures.’ Perhaps it’s a sad statement on our society that some people feel a need to be so negative.
Cary: I think a big misconnection is that we’re super famous. It isn’t much different than it was before TV. I still wait in the carpool line for my kiddos!
How has starring in the show changed your interactions with locals in Dallas?
Mark: I actually think I have changed for the better. This has been a very introspective journey for me. I have learned a lot about myself and have chosen to use this experience to better myself and sharpen my people skills.
Cary: We live the same life we always have here, but now we’re always approached on airplanes or when we’re out of town. It’s generally the same: Either people come up and say hello like they know us but can’t place us, then they’re suddenly embarrassed because they realize they know us from TV, or it’s genuine fans who just want to say hi. Either way, we’re both really good sports about it.
Do you guys hang out with any cast members from the other franchises?
Cary: Definitely. We text, chat on the phone and see each other at events. Being in Dallas, we are pretty far removed from the other franchises by location, unfortunately, but I chat with Tamra, Dolores, Dorinda and Teddi from time to time. It is always nice to see a friendly face when we run into each other at an event.
Cary, your current tagline in the show intro is, “When life gets messy, just build a bigger closet.” What goes into crafting a good tagline, and if House Husbands had taglines, what would Mark’s be?
Cary: You really just have to be yourself and think of something you’d say around your close girlfriends.
My tagline idea for Mark would be: “I may work in plastics, but our love is 100 percent real.”