Interview: ‘DeMarcus Family Rules’ Are What’s Important to This Rascal Flatts Member
At the start of DeMarcus Family Rules, the new Netflix reality series starring Rascal Flatts' Jay DeMarcus and his brood, there's a blink-and-you'll-miss-it moment: DeMarcus and his wife, Allison, hashing it out with their marriage counselor, mimicking each other's expressions in a bid to know each other better.
However, once the show begins in earnest, Barry, the counselor, is never seen again. From then on, the show itself all but becomes the family's therapy. It's equally therapeutic for the viewer to see how Jay, Allison and the couple's two kids — Madeline, 9, and Dylan, 8 — handle humor, heartbreak and more.
"Hopefully, people will see a little bit of themselves in our show," DeMarcus tells Taste of Country. "We deal with situations similar to what they experience in their own lives, with their own families and marriages. You know, there's no handbook for when you decide to spend your life with someone and raise children."
The show's an exciting turn for the seasoned musician and Rascal Flatts member, who's been married to Allison for 16 years. DeMarcus previously dipped his toe in TV as a guest star on a handful of scripted shows. But it was he and his family's appearances on the popular reality vehicle Chrisley Knows Best that led to DeMarcus Family Rules.
Todd Chrisley, the Chrisley Knows Best patriarch and central star, acts as an executive producer on DeMarcus Family Rules, and it was he who convinced DeMarcus and his crew to put their life on the small screen. Although DeMarcus is a professional entertainer, he was initially hesitant about the prospect.
"A TV show wasn't really in our thoughts," the Rascal Flats bassist, pianist and co-vocalist explains. "We had gone on theirs a few times and had fun — they're dear people and great friends of ours. But after a few episodes, they took us out to dinner one night, and Todd said, 'I think you guys have a show.' He had to talk us into it, but as it unfolded, we developed a love for doing it as a family. That's what makes it special."
Chrisley was clearly onto something — the DeMarcus clan's rapport shines bright in DeMarcus Family Rules. On the program, Allison comes through as the sensible counterbalance to Jay's lovable (and often cheerily misguided) antics. But while she's a triple-crown beauty pageant winner and an executive director of the Miss Tennessee pageant, the show thrusts her into the spotlight in an entirely new way.
"Jay's lived a very public life all these years," Allison says. "And I have through him, but not quite as much. So filming the show was different, and it wasn't easy at times. But it was great because I felt like we were going through the same things that most people go through at various times in their lives."
Some extended DeMarcus family members get a taste of TV stardom as well. In particular, the show focuses on Allison's side of the family in the wake of her father's 2016 death. Miss Jane (Allison's mother), Amy (her sister), musician James Otto (her brother-in-law), Ava (her niece) and Paige (her friend) fill out the peripheral cast — as do Mickey, the family's chef, and Chris, Miss Jane's best bud. When things get emotional on DeMarcus Family Rules, it's usually when Allison and her sister remember their dear dad.
"My whole family got shook once we lost my father so unexpectedly," Allison remarks. "We filmed this in the fall of 2019. That was our first Thanksgiving back together with the whole family because we just tried to escape it for the first couple of years, to get away and not have to deal with it."
But surrounding the show's premiere is a new reality that one can't as easily escape. Now that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has upended everyday life, DeMarcus Family Rules serves as a near-past time capsule of the family's activities before the global health crisis emerged.
"When we were at Thanksgiving, nobody thought that every mother in America would be homeschooling their children the following year," Allison points out. "We just all assumed, like everybody else, that we'd be in a vastly different place from where we are currently. It's going to be fun for us to go back and watch the show since it was all done pre-COVID when no one even thought about wearing masks."
Of course, the pandemic also affects DeMarcus, whose group was due to embark on a farewell tour throughout the year. In its place — the trek was canceled in May — Rascal Flatts released a new single and accompanying EP, How They Remember You. As for when a tour could pick back up, it's anybody's guess.
"The simple answer is we just don't know yet," DeMarcus says. "We had planned to end it for a little while with the farewell tour. How and when and what a new tour looks like, I really don't know. There's a lot of unanswered questions right now, but we promise to share as we know more."
For now, both Rascal Flatts fans and reality TV lovers can tune in for a heartening slice of the DeMarcus family's life. In such an uncertain time, it clearly shows what's most important in Jay and Allison's household. And, who knows, maybe it's the start of a budding television empire for the DeMarcus family.
"It's going to be fun to see what happens with it," the musician adds. "I love making people laugh, and I love making people feel better about where they are in their own lives. So hopefully this will do that."
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