If you are fans of Bravo’s Newlyweds The First Year by now you know Tarz Ludwigsen and Tina Sugandh, or “Tarzina” as some like to call them. Probably the most recognizable couple on the show, thanks to outgoing personalities, offbeat senses of humor, and prior careers in popular culture, the duo keep fans entertained with their “sarcasm and banter.” Talking to them both, however, one gets a sense that they are completely in sync. Finishing each other’s sentences and singing each other’s praises it’s very evident that, as they become household names, they will remain one another’s biggest fan!
TBB: How did the opportunity to be on Newlyweds arise?
Tina: I’ve been performing with my family every weekend since I was 5 years old. I’ve been signed to labels like Sony and Hollywood Records, and have videos out at TINAworld.com with everyone from Fat Joe to Ringo Starr. Point being, when you’re out and about in this industry, you run into people and make a lot of contacts. We heard about this show, the timing was right, and it seemed like an adventure-so we thought, why the heck not?
TBB: Tarz how were you with the idea of being on a reality show?
Tarz: I’ve always been into tech and robotics and that sort of thing, for example I currently have a media technology company called Pandoodle, but I’ve also been in the entertainment industry in the past. So I’m happy being more of a behind the scenes kind of guy, however I am very comfortable in front of cameras as well.
Tina: He’s going to kill me for bringing this up, but while he always had a geeky tech job, he was also modeling and acting too. He was on Guiding Light for a while, acted in a bunch of movies and even underwear modeled, and then at the same time he’d be managing a ton of people at some big tech company. When we first met, I did that thing that you’re not supposed to do and I “judged a book by its cover”. I was thinking, this “blond haired blue eyed surfer looking dude” has just got to be a total moron-but the fact is he’s brilliant!
TBB: So Tarz, how does acting compare to Reality TV?
Tarz: I dabbled in acting, but I wouldn’t necessarily call myself an actor as the term applies in the industry. With this reality show, the crew was just so amazing, and just really created a very comfortable environment which allowed us to be ourselves and just forget that the cameras were there.
Tina: Yeah, our incredibly brilliant and prestigious producer, Lauren Lazin, is a total gem, and all the crew was so gracious and warm and wonderful. We kept waiting for the “asshole” to show up, and make us all uncomfortable, but there never was one! We were really able to be ourselves. Although, after watching my insanely big mouth on the show, I probably should just lie and say it was all acting!
TBB: The first year of marriage is stressful enough. Why invite a production crew in and add to the pressure?
Tina: Honestly, we expected our newlywed year to be peaceful and blissful. But we instead had a lot of unpredictable tragedy come up, from trying to recover from the loss of my incredibly beautiful mother, to pregnancy issues, to in-law brawls and battles. I wish I could say it all gets better in the next few episodes, but there is tragedy to come. It sucks for our real life but I guess it makes for good reality TV, right? We have nothing to hide, and Tarz and I have a really strong foundation which is why you see us laugh and make sarcastic jokes about everything!
Tarz: There was no pressure since we feel like we’re just normal people. We have faults and insecurities and family drama, and we hoped other couples can learn from us what to do-or what not to do!
Tina: Yeah, and dealing with the pregnancy issue on national TV made me feel less alone and I hope it helps other woman going through it to feel that way. I didn’t realize how common it was until I got tons of feedback from fans of the show! Similarly, I also thought maybe people who lost their moms or loved ones like I did could relate. My mom was my entire universe and it takes time to heal and fix your family dynamic after such harrowing tragedy.
TBB: Have you met any of the other couples from Newlyweds?
Tarz: Bravo wanted to keep us separate, which I thought was brilliant on their part since we now see that although we are 4 completely diverse couples, there are so many relatable issues that we all go through. The key point is ‘Look at all these different people in a bunch of totally different situations. Now look at all the similarities with the problems and resolutions we all face.
Tina: Tarz and I always live-Tweet during every show, and so we’ve been on Twitter with the other couples a bit, and have had some nice back and forth-as well as some smack-talking with them! But I’m hoping we have a “where are they now” reunion with them! I would love to meet them all and hangout, and maybe have some “in person” smack-talk as opposed to just doing it through Twitter. My big mouth would have a lot of raw questions for them for sure!
TBB: Tina, your father is very traditional. Did it take some convincing to get him to agree to be on Reality Television?
Tina: No, he was really awesome about it. He said “Sure, if this is what you want.” In the past, he always supported everything I did, but he’s done a “180” since my mom passed away. Now he’s broken and not so nice, which is why Tarz and him have some serious battles on the show. Mom and dad had daily-bliss in their 37 years of marriage. Even after 37 years, he’d come home early from work because he just couldn’t wait to see his wife. He’s still that guy beneath all the anger, bitterness, and sorrow. He just really misses my mom and is broken without her. As you see on the show, Tarz and I just don’t know what to do or how much BS to take from him. It truly sucks.
TBB: Tarz, your relationship with your father in law is one of the issues on the show. How are you getting along now?
Tarz: I would say we have some ups, but lots of downs. We come from two very different viewpoints. Like Tina said, a lot of his anger is due to his wife passing away which is understandable of course, but I ended up being the primary target of his frustration. A lot of it is figuring out how to deal with it and how much to take-both for the sake of my marriage and for Dad’s sake as well.
Tina: It was very hard for him. He just lost his wife and then suddenly feels like ‘I’m losing my daughter to this man’. My dad and I are really close so I think that even if Tarz was his dream son-in-law, they would still have the same battles.
Tarz: It’s no longer a day-to-day struggle. We were with him daily after her mom passed away, but we aren’t together as much anymore.
Tina: So basically Tarz is saying that it’s only an issue when we are actually around him. Nice going, Tarz!
TBB: Did Tina have any difficulty fitting in with your family?
Tarz: She’s laughing cause “yes”. My father is in the military. We’ve lived in Germany, Russia, and all over the world, so it’s not anything cultural. There’s just a lot of getting used to Tina. She has a strong personality, and says some outrageous things-whereas my family is a bit more laid back and not as vocal about everything. Tina has an incredibly beautiful heart but she is sometimes a bit of an acquired taste if you’re not used to all that fun craziness.
Tina: The first time I met Tarz’s incredibly dignified and proper mom, who is always happy and pleasant and ‘everything is wonderful and beautiful’ in her world, I jokingly said to Tarz, ‘I hate you’. His mom later told me that she was taken aback by that statement, and was thinking ‘You actually hate my son?’ She is in the next episode, and you’ll get to see what a tough time she has with my big mouth. Although, I guess it’s probably not a good idea to ask your mother-in-law for techniques on how to get her son into bed, and to ask her if she thinks her son could possibly be gay!
TBB: You had a traditional Indian wedding. During the skit, Tina you angrily dropped the F bomb when Tarz accidentally broke your cellphone. How did you feel watching that happen on television?
Tina: Umm, that I am “coo coo for cocoa puffs” bipolar and should probably go see a doctor? It was a shock to see since I really do not remember that at all! Honestly though, that was the most stressful week of my life. I’m not making excuses, but between having lost my mom and dealing with her not being at the wedding, to having my dad there with him openly objecting to who I was marrying, to just planning a entire damn wedding by myself since Tarz was too busy to do anything because of his start-up, Pandoodle.com-I just basically lost it! Plus there may have been some alcohol involved. I’m just grateful I have family that accepts me regardless of what a nut-job I am.
Tarz: Like Tina said I honestly don’t recall that moment at all. I didn’t think too much of her saying “I hate you” though since we are always very sarcastic and we banter back and forth.
Tina: Yeah, some people just don’t get our sarcasm and humor.
TBB: Your major storyline right now is your desire to become pregnant. We know you can’t reveal too much, but is it difficult to share something so personal with strangers all over the world?
Tina: It’s not difficult to share because it’s not like I did anything wrong and I’m not ashamed of it. So many women experience the same frustration. However, it is emotional to watch the let-downs. We actually do not know what’s coming up on each episode, so we are in it with the audience! Every week, we’re like ‘Bravo! Just tell us! Do we buy a crib or not?!” (laughs)
TBB: On the last episode the doctor told you you are about to be “old” as far as reproductive terms. I went through IF treatment at your age and was never made to think that by a physician. It was actually quite the opposite. Did you stay with that doctor?
Tina: Dr. Sawyer was speaking medically, in which case I was at the “risk age” and about the be considered “old”. Also, the lines leading up to it were cut out as there is only so much time when you edit these things down for a reality show! She’s actually incredibly passionate about bringing life into this world, and her knowledge and bedside manner is amazing. She was trying to get it through my head to not to waste time trying to stop having sex before ovulation in order to have a girl, since that decreases your chances of getting pregnant in general. She was like, just do it and get pregnant already- and you will love your boy the exact same way you’d love a girl. I absolutely love Dr. Sawyer from Loma Linda Hospital!
TBB: Is there anything else you would like people to know about you?
Tina: As far as the show, it’s unfortunately going to get worse before it gets better. I have not seen the show or any upcoming episodes, but I know what happened in our real life-and it’s not so pretty.
Tarz: Yeah, I actually am really interested in seeing how our story is put together from here. I will say Tina and I always find time for our fun sarcastic humor, even through the “downs” of life-so I’m sure there will be lots more funny moments too.
Tina: I’d also like everyone to know to please reach out to us. We love talking to people! Tell us we suck or tell us we’re great-whatever! All of my social media links are at www.TINAworld.com. Tarz’s links are at www.Tarzu.com ! Thank you guys SO much for watching, and for the support, and thank you TBB Reality for this interview!