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Local couple featured on NBC show

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

COVINGTON -- One Covington couple got America talking about green bean casseroles.

On Thursday, NBC's new comedic series "The Marriage Ref," which was created by Jerry Seinfeld, featured a Covington couple arguing about one of the most common disputes in a marriage -- the wife trying to cook a particular dish, and the husband not wanting to eat it because of the way it looks.

But Shante Ragin isn't one to give up -- she's been trying to get her husband Kevin to eat her green bean casserole for 10 years.

"Every good dish looks a little suspect," Shante said Friday. "Ugly dishes are the best."

Each week, the show features four couples who are fighting over a trivial problem in their lives. A panel of celebrity judges watch a clip of the couple, discuss their feelings and the ref -- host Tom Papa, a stand-up comedian and actor -- "calls" who wins the argument.

The Ragins, who have lived in Covington since 2005 and work as playwrights, said someone from the show contacted them after they somehow found out about them.

"They were looking for a happily married couple who may have some small issues," Shante said. "I thought about my green bean casserole. I thought that I needed help -- I needed to bring in the big dogs."

The couple started dating 10 years ago and has been married for seven years. One day, Shante said she was watching television and saw someone making a green bean casserole.

"It looked good, so I said, 'I think I can make it,'" she said, adding that green beans are her husband's favorite vegetable.

She bought a new baking dish and made the casserole for his family's Thanksgiving dinner.

"I saw it and thought it was a paper mache art project that the kids made," said Kevin, a father of three girls. "I'm not eating that."

Unbeknownst to Shante, Kevin called ahead to his family to warn them about the mystery dish, which contained some sort of meat.

"She was trying to cook it while she was talking on the phone," he said. "I tried to give it to the dog, and we haven't seen him since."

At the family dinner, she said nobody touched her dish, and nobody at her parents' house would eat it either, after Kevin warned them, too. Years later, nobody but Shante will eat it -- even their three children, Marshonna, Jada and Miangel.

"They've got eyes and can see," Kevin said.

On the show, Shante cooked her dish for all of America to see, and Kevin held firm that he wasn't going to eat the dish.

"I won't eat it with my spouse. I won't eat it with a mouse. I don't want this casserole in this house," Kevin said on the show.

As part of the 15-minute segment, panelists Nathan Lane, Kathy Griffin and Tracy Morgan agreed that the dish looked odd.

"That looks like it's got an eyeball in it," Morgan said. "I wouldn't eat that if Nathan Lane cooked it for me."

But Griffin agreed with Shante -- Kevin should at least try it once.

"I would eat it, but I would want extra eyeballs," Griffin joked.

The host agreed -- if Kevin tries the green bean casserole and didn't like it, then Shante would never make it again, but if he doesn't, he can't complain if she makes it.

"If your wife makes you something to eat, you have to eat it," Papa said. "If you can't eat it, you have to at least try it. She spends time on it. She's made it for you. It's rude."

At first, Kevin tasted the edge of the fork with the casserole on it, but Papa said that wasn't enough -- a full bite was needed to win. But, in the end, Kevin wouldn't do it.

"I'll let her win that one," Kevin said.

Still, Kevin hasn't tried her casserole and doesn't intend on it.

"I'm not going to try it," he said, adding that she can cook other dishes he will eat like fried chicken. "But I'm not eating that."

However, Shante's not giving up and will make it another 10 years, if she has to, she said.

"I'm going to make it every year," she said. "It's the principal of the thing."

Although the couple will always argue about the casserole, it won't harm their marriage, they said.

"We are friends before anything else," Shante said. "This issue is funny and trivial ... but we want married couples to know that they can't take a small issue and make a big deal out of it. You have to laugh about it."

Clips from the couple's episode are online at www.nbc.com/the-marriage-ref. The show normally airs at 10 p.m. Thursdays on NBC.

The Ragins are presenting a jazz concert and stage play featuring NFL player Ed Hartwell, who is married to Lisa Wu Hartwell from "The Real Housewives of Atlanta," called "False Profits: God Don't Like Ugly," which exposes churches that use a pulpit as an ATM machine. It will show at 6:30 p.m. May 8 at the Rialto Center for the Arts, at 80 Forsyth St. N.W., at Georgia State University in Atlanta.