Reunions are never easy when it comes to reality TV shows, but nothing was more tense than Maci Bookout and Taylor McKinney’s sit-down with Ryan Edwards’ parents and mediators Dr. Drew Pinksy and Nessa on the Teen Mom OG Season 9 reunion. Ryan’s parents, Jen and Larry Edwards, accused Maci of limiting their contact with 12-year-old Bentley (Maci and Ryan’s son and their grandson), insinuating that she was somehow trying to manipulate or turn her son against his father, per a clip from the show. Larry and Jen were begging Maci and Taylor to understand that they care very much for Bentley, but that they also want to continue to support Ryan no matter what during his recovery from addiction.
In Maci’s defense, Taylor spoke up and told the Edwards that he sees Maci “bending over backwards” to help Bentley maintain a relationship with his grandparents despite everything that “Ryan has put us through.” It was intense and awkward to say the least — particularly when Taylor and Larry got into it — so we asked Lynne Franklin, body language and persuasive communication expert, to help us break it down.
The women want their hands clean
It was really the men who were getting rather emotional throughout the interview. In fact, Jen Edwards and Maci Bookout McKinney both seemed to strive for peace with their words, but their body language shows that in some ways, they are “outsourcing” the anger they feel to their male partners. For example, Maci is speaking calmly, body language expert Lynne Franklin tells Nicki Swift, but her arms are crossed, indicating that she is “nervous and is trying to soothe herself.” She also “gives an exaggerated smirk of disbelief” when Larry Edwards says that he has nothing else to say, sort of egging him on.
Franklin tells Nicki Swift that Jen may be the ultimate peacemaker here, considering her words and body language suggest that she just wants her son Ryan to recover and to get more time with her grandson. Franklin says, “Her anxiety that this won’t happen is expressed in two ways: one, in tears when she speaks of Bentley and her fear that visits will be curtailed; and two, trying to restrain Larry first with a calm but warning tone of voice and then by physically touching to hold him back.”
Still, Maci does eventually just speak to Jen directly and shows empathy about supporting Ryan and keeping Bentley in their lives, Franklin says, noting that she was “genuine” in her body language. The men on the other hand? They came to fight.
Larry and Taylor face off
Larry Edwards looks like he’s trying to play calm, but body language expert Lynne Franklin isn’t buying it. She tells Nicki Swift, “He says he understands that Maci [Bookout McKinney] may be controlling the number of visits, but doesn’t look at her when saying this, so I don’t believe him. Then he moves into defensiveness when he doesn’t believe he’s being heard, which shows up as arms crossed over his chest.” She adds, “He says he has nothing to say, but it’s clear he has plenty. This escalates to anger when the idea that he would put his grandson in an unsafe position or is forcing him to spend time with the child’s father, Ryan.” When he leads forward to talk to Taylor [McKinney], it’s clear that he’s angry,” Franklin adds.
But he found a good sparring partner with Taylor, who clearly came to defend his wife from her ex’s parents. Franklin thinks that the two men “mirror” each other. “Taylor’s body language immediate mirrors Larry’s when Larry leans forward. Taylor also narrows his eyes and stares intently at Larry when raising his voice — ready to do battle with a man he sees as an adversary,” she said. Franklin also sees his body language — like a pat on Maci’s knee while he’s talking — as a sign that he wants to defend her no matter what.
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