Mein Mann Kann (2010, Germany, Sat 1)

With ITV about to do a pilot for a British version of this (called, imaginatively, My Man Can) we thought we’d take a look at the original German version from RedSeven Entertainment. It’s had two series in Germany and the occasional celeb special, and whilst it hasn’t quite set the ratings world alight it is a format that has sold internationally.

The titles. Poker chips play an important part of the show as the show is basically about women betting on their husband’s ability to perform in games of skill, mental ability and daring.

The theme is upbeat disco with a woman belting out the words “MEIN MANN KA-ANN!” every few seconds.

Our delightful hosts Britt and Harro. Throughout the show Britt will be with the ladies at the poker table, Harro will be administering the games, and helping the ladies by playing a few of them himself.

Each of the four couples are introduced and get to walk down the stairs. The audience are quite lively.

Whilst the women go and sit at the poker table, the men are placed in booths. The booths are quite important, the men can see and hear everything the women are doing (usually) but they are soundproofed so the women can’t hear them.

And now the rules. Mein Mann Kann is a poker game played out over seven rounds. In each round the ante increases, beginning with two chips in round one to 12 chips in round six. After round four the couple with the fewest chips is eliminated, and there’s another elimination after round six. The two couples left fight it out in one more all or nothing challenge in round seven for the money.

When it’s poker time the table revolves and a chandelier lowers from the ceiling. The women will not be able to see their men behind them, they must bet according to how well they think they know them.

Britt collects the round one antes using an entire unnecessary yet glamourous rake. Two chips each in round one. This begins the pot.

For those who don’t player poker, these antes are forced bets all the players must make.

Britt lays some cards down on the table which are a hint to the challenge ahead, but seeing as they don’t get to bet until they’re told what the challenge is this strikes me a bit a of a wasted opportunity.

A bear, and a someone missing some chest hair. What could it be?

It is of course! a test of how many wax strips do you think your man can take?

And doesn’t he look pleased!

To give the ladies a guide, Harro has previously filmed the challenge. Here he is at the beauty parlour filled with many good looking women. He gets relaxed, takes his top off…

…BUT THEN A MAN COMES IN TO DO IT! Good old the Germans.

Anyway, he takes five strips, although the challenge in the studio is slightly different.

Strips will be taken from various parts of the body, front and back, and in a specific order as shown on the board (there’s a second board behind it with the back strips). There are twelve maximum, how many do you think your man can take?

The first person to bet rotates with each round. The first person makes a declaration of how many they think their man can do, in this instance she starts low by betting two, and lays thetwo  chips out in front of her. The next person in sequence must either increase the bet by at least one (there is no lower raising limit, so you can always raise by just one if you want) or drop out. In this instance, player two has decided her man can take three.

Player three Nina however has decided that there’s going to be no messing about and comes straight out and bets the full twelve. And doesn’t her husband look pleased! As she’s bet the maximum possible for the game, nobody else can bet.

Now, if her man succeeds in the task she wins the entire pot to herself – all the antes plus all the chips put forward for losing bets. If her man fails, the other ladies get their bets back and they each split the antes and the bet put forward by the loser.

The booths part to reveal the set-up. They’ve set up a beauty parlour in the studio!

As it turns out he’s pretty hairless – and fearless! And passes the test without too much trouble. The nature of the task is displayed in the bottom left all the time.

As winner of the challenge, all the chips are pushed forward in Nina’s direction.

And here are the running totals.

Because game two is going to be comically awkward, the men are required to put on headphones during the explanation and betting so that the challenge will remain a surprise to them until they discover who is doing it.

It’s guessing the ages of various women! Harro has taken to the streets to try this out himself.

And Torsten here has been charged with the task. His wife has bet that out of ten women, he can guess the age, with a two year margin of error, of four of them. He’s wrong here, he went for 21 and sh’es 28, but actually he does succeed in the challenge and wins the pot.

Although the antes increase in each round, throughout the show one chip equals one success in the challenge. As such, winning a challenge will tend to take you right to the top of the leaderboard.

Game three. You stand 12 metres away from a tennis ball firing machine. 30 balls will be fired off. How many do you think your man will be able to catch? Frank here is clearly desperate for his wife to bid up from the current bet of ten, but he’s completely powerless to do anything!

But no, she’s dropped out. And doesn’t he look pleased!

This one’s being played in the lobby next door to the studio by the looks of things. Anyway, the man who is a basketball player succeeds in the task and wins a big pot. So big in fact that his wife doesn’t bother betting the next round because she realises that even with the ante she’s in a safe position.

The final game before the elimination is a staring challenge. Given three attempts, how long in seconds do you think your man can keep his eyes open for? These two get into a bit of a bidding war, the bet goes up to 15 seconds, then 16 seconds, and now Nina has gone for 20 seconds. Husband number four is desperate for it to end there. Frank can’t quite believe what’s happening. It does end there.

He’s instructed to look into camera six whilst some western Morricone music plays in the background. Fun effect.

And with a lot of concentration and heavy breathing he makes it on the first try!

And with the fewest chips, Yvonne and Marco are sent packing.

A brief thanks for coming then they leave back up the stairs they came down from.

Those 56 chips do not go to waste however. They are added to the pot for the next challenge. Along with a 10 chip ante, that’s a massive pot to begin with!

Game five – squeezing using just his bare hands, how many glasses of orange juice do you think your man can fill up in two minutes? Betting is cagey, Nora goes for three and is allowed to make the bet. Which he easily does.

Final game before the elimination, and the men are required to put headphones on again. Being shown scenes from ten “women’s films” (which appear to all be romantic comedies) how many can he identify?

“How many do you think she bet?” “Two?” “Eight.” “WHAT!?”

He fails, the pot is split between the other two ladies and as the couple with the smallest stack is sent home.

It’s the all-or-nothing €50,000 grand final! And to celebrate the ladies get ten SPARKLY chips.

The game is Electrolimbo. The bar starts at 1m 60cm and will lower 10cm for each chip bet. Given three chances, how low do you think your partner can go? And the pole is electrified, for added laughs. The couple who went into it with the most chips get the option to bet first.

And she immediately places seven chips down, reckoning her partner, a basketball player, can limbo under a 90 cm pole.

And as you can see, he immediately suggests she’s made a tactical blunder.

Nina declines to raise the bet. So if he succeeds, Nora and Alexander win the €50k. But if they fail, Nina and Frank will.

Natrually he fails…

…giving the money to a very happy Nina and Frank!

It’s a fun show but at 1 hr 50 mins (and that’s eliminating the ad breaks) it’s very lengthy for what it is – the challenges last about two minutes each so it feels like there’s a lot of filler. The poker theme is quite good fun, and provides plenty of humorous reaction shots but really needs to be sped up somehow, I think.

6 thoughts on “Mein Mann Kann (2010, Germany, Sat 1)

  1. David Howell

    This might just be a format where ITV’s unwillingness to do a Euro-style multi-hour show counts in its favour.

  2. Chris M. Dickson

    Not my cup of tea, but I can see what they’re trying to do there. I can see ITV dialing the nastiness up a bit further and having a new attempt to find another show in the I’m A Celeb / The Door vein. It’s all a bit Your Kids Are In Charge, except with wives instead of kids.

    I frown at the heteronormativity, but I don’t think the 1950s-style joke would work otherwise. That said, ITV have a pleasantly surprising occasional track record of progressiveness here, so one might hope for something representative of real life to be thrown in from time to time, particularly if/when they make it a celeb show.

  3. The Banker's Nephew

    There should be one where all the men are called Dan, so they can call it “My Dan Can.”
    And possibly a variation where celebrities bet on how far their number one fans would go for them, called “My Fan Can.”
    Or maybe a special where all the challenges are high energy dances performed by chorus lines, and they could call it “My Man Can Can-Can.”

    1. Lewis

      How could you miss the all important grandmother special, “My Nan Can”

  4. Brekkie

    Thanks for the review – looks a half decent format which could make a decent show if it gets the required budget, or could make a rubbish show if given Keith Lemon.


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