In this day in age, the shock and awe factor is completely irrelevant in our society. People just don’t get shocked easily anymore. Being a 35-year-old entertainment and pop culture enthusiast, I can open-heartedly say: I have just about seen it all.
And I can also confess I am a faithful viewer of a great deal of reality television. I love to vicariously experience their worlds as I sit in my recliner and huddle up by my television and watch the over-the-top, dramatic endeavors of somewhat ordinary people who engage in not so ordinary things. In that spirit, WE TV hit the jackpot with their new show “Love After Lockup.” It follows the lives of several couples both men and women who are in committed relationships with people who are incarcerated for various reasons: anywhere from theft with a deadly weapon to drug possession, you name it. You can learn more here: www.wetv.com/shows/love-
One group in particular that I happened to enjoy was Johnna and Garrett from Tampa, Florida. This is their backstory according to their WE TV bio (which paints a different picture than what really happened behind the scenes, as you’ll discover in the interview below):
A wine-fueled evening of looking for love online led Johnna to Garrett, who was serving a seven-year sentence for burglary, grand theft, and several other counts. While Johnna believes Garrett is committed to her, she’s having trouble convincing her father to meet him…let alone accept him. Johnna knows exactly what she wants…including a ring and wedding soon after Garrett is released. Is Garrett on the same page or will he be easily tempted by his new freedom?
I enjoyed this particular couple because to me, of all the couples, they provided a lot of mixed emotions, trials and tribulations and a heaping portion of drama. Johnna, a women who seemingly has all of her ducks in a row, with a career, a home and who, during her episode TV interviews, seemed very charismatic. And her beau Garrett, a young man who had spent his entire teenage years up into his early twenties incarcerated and once was released, seems to be on the right track to rehabilitation, getting his life together and settling down with Johnna.
Then once the cameras started rolling, it was a whole different ball of yarn, if you will.
Garrett was ready to party, go out and make up for lost time, staying out all night partying, having fun–the works. This wasn’t what Johnna had imagined for their life together, and it created a strain. The show depicted her showing signs of irritability and possessive tendencies, even to the point where she was getting Garrett a smart phone and putting a tracker on it to follow his every move. (On a more personal note: I guess this particular couple intrigued me because in the past I was in a relationship with a girl who treated me similarly.) But I am also the type of person who tries to find the good in everyone. So I thought, could there be more to Johnna than meets the eye, more to the book than the cover? What’s the real story behind this so-called “reality” depicted on the screen. So I sought her out to ask her myself [Spoiler Warning: if you are watching the show and haven’t finished the storyline of Johnna and Garrett, this interview contains major spoilers]:
What made you decide to share this very unique and interesting story to all of the world?
So I don’t know if you know the real story. Garrett and I knew each other when we were younger and the place we met, I ended up getting a job there, and so it made me think of him, so I started asking around, looking for him on social media and I couldn’t find him, so finally someone said oh that guy (Garrett) is in prison. And I was like what? Because he was such a good guy when we were younger. He never was a trouble maker, so curiosity got the best of me and I had never talked to anybody in prison before, and I kind of didn’t know what he did to get in there and at the time I didn’t know how to look people up. I was very naïve to it all, so I sent him a letter saying hey this is a change what happened? So it went from there. We started writing back and forth for a few months and then finally he sent me a visitation form and then again I asked myself, do I really want to go to prison, and my friends said to me “I should totally go, this is so funny.” I went and we just ended up really clicking and I just ended up sticking around. I regret it now, but at the time I guess it seemed like a good idea. As far as sharing it with the world, by the time they had reached me for the show we had been together for over three and a half years, and I truly thought he was a changed man and that he was my soulmate. I was thinking that this was an opportunity to share our story. I was not told it was a reality show. I was told it was going to be more of a documentary, and that they would be following our lives and not what ended up being put on television that we were portrayed as.
So based on what we saw on television, you didn’t just have a few drinks and decide to go looking for companionship with an inmate online?
No I definitely did not. The show made it seem one way because I guess it was more entertaining but that is not how it happened. I might have had some Moscato in my system but just to get the courage to talk with him because I thought I was going to be writing him on Facebook or Instagram and that takes some liquid courage but I definitely didn’t know I was going to be putting a letter to prison.
Your dad was a factor in your story and seemed not to be for the relationship at all according to the show. Was he against the relationship the whole time, considering you had a 3+ year history?
So in the beginning he was asking me what the heck are you doing? Then when he saw that the relationship was keeping me out of the bars and clubs because I was always there on the weekends he was like alright. But then when I started talking about how we wanted to get married and that Garett was going to move in with me, then he started to get upset again and he started to freak out and my dad expressed how he felt on television. But what was not shown was that he and Garret eventually formed a bond. They were getting lunch together weekly. When the hurricane came here to Florida they boarded the house up together. My dad was really upset when Garrett and I broke up. Of course, the show didn’t show that because nobody cares about a happy family dynamic.
I saw via your social media you are about to move for a fresh start, and one of your choices was Nashville, my beloved home. Where did you decide to move to and have you ever been to Nashville?
No, I have never been, but it is on my bucket list. But basically my dad told me that I should go to Austin, Texas because it is a booming city and it has a lot of people my age and it is a great place for singles and for a fresh start. But we also decided that Nashville or Charlotte, North Carolina would be a good option as well. So I just applied to a bunch of places in all three areas and I was not hearing back from a lot of people in Nashville. I was hearing back from a lot of people from Austin, but they wanted to meet me in person. Well, I can’t just fly into Austin for one interview especially in the month of March because it is spring break and SXWS is going on there, so flights are close to $1800.00. So I’m just going to move there and hope for the best when it comes to finding a job because it’s not that I’m not getting any call backs it’s just that I am not able to go to the interviews.
Being that Rockingodshouse.com is a Christian entertainment website, I would like to discuss your cross tattoo that I saw on your arm during the show. Do you have a relationship with Jesus Christ?
I grew up Catholic, so I went to Catholic school in elementary school and I would have gone to Catholic high school here in Florida but my step-sister didn’t get accepted to it and she was going to public school. So I fought my parents because I did not want to go to private school if she didn’t have to.
So with the revelation at the end of the season that you and Garrett decided to go your separate ways, are you dating now?
I am definitely single. Obviously I knew that I was planning to move so I wasn’t looking to start anything up. I have been casually dating but nothing serious. I would of course like to meet someone someday, but it is not on the top of my list right now because I just got hurt and my walls are up and I am very guarded. I am not really trusting men right now. I just want to focus on my happiness and meeting some cool girlfriends when I move out to Austin.
Learn more about the show “Love After Lock Up” here.