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"Coupling" Review

By Shawn McKenzie 10/22/2003

NBC has been desperately trying to find a replacement for “Friends” ever since they realized that they couldn’t keep the show around forever.  One show they started out with their hopes on is the American version of the hit British show “Coupling.”  I’m afraid they are going to have to keep looking.


Susan Walker (Rena Sofer) and Steve Taylor (Jay Harrington) are a new couple still dealing with the baggage of their exes.  Susan used to date Patrick Bateman (Colin Ferguson), a playboy who thinks he’s the hottest man alive.  Sally Harper (Sonya Walger) is a beauty therapist who is Susan’s best friend, and is now dating Patrick.  Steve’s ex-girlfriend, Jane Christie (Lindsay Price), is a bisexual woman who refuses to be dumped unless she’s the one doing the dumping.  Jeff Murdoch (Christopher Moynihan) is Steve’s best friend and his “porn buddy” (they each agree to take the other’s porn in the event of their death before their parents see it.)  Jeff works in the same office as Susan, and had an unsuccessful one-night fling with her once, but backed out because of nerves.


In the first episode, Steve and Patrick are trying to dump their girlfriends.  Steve says that every time he tries to dump Jane, they have sex.  This time, she played the “bisexual card” (she mentioned having a girlfriend in the past, which turned him on.)  When Patrick dumps Susan, he finds out that she never really considered it a relationship.  Steve and Jane almost have sex in the bathroom, but when he goes to get a condom, he runs into Susan.  They realize that they’ve met before, and he asks her out.  Before he ran into her, he called Jeff on his cell for a condom.  Jeff gets a condom from Patrick, and gives it to Steve at the wrong time.  Steve tries to break up with Jane again when he goes back into the stall, but I think they end up having sex.  Steve calls Susan to confirm a date, and then calls Jane to break up with her finally.  He gets her answering machine, and starts out with a compliment, but the tape gets full, and the compliment is the only thing on it.  Steve goes to the restaurant for his date with Susan, and Jeff shows up.  Jeff had told him earlier that his non-fling with Susan was due to her nerves, and he didn’t want the truth to come out.  Jane then shows up, thinking that they are still together.  Susan arrives and meets Jane, which makes Jane dump Steve.  Patrick arrives with Sally, because she says she’s lowered her standards.  Jeff gets all huffy about the nervous thing, but agrees to leave if Susan flashes a breast.  Everyone else is interested too, so she does it.  They all then sit down together and have dinner.


In the second episode, Steve attempts to ask Susan out again, but gets nervous.  He does it anyway, and she invites him to her place for dinner.  All of their friends assume this means that they are going to have sex.  Sally turns down Patrick’s advances, and then finds out why Susan always called him “the donkey” (he has a gifted manhood.)  He’s a Republican though, and Sally doesn’t like them (though she’s still curious about “the donkey.”)  Jane claims to be moving on by dating Howard (Paul Satterfield), a gay man (she figures that it is okay, since she is bi.)  Steve goes to Susan’s apartment for their date, and she says she’s running behind.  She tells him to watch TV while she takes a shower, but she has to get the batteries for her remote out of her vibrator.  Before she takes her shower, she tells him what she told Sally, which makes him uncomfortable.  Susan tells Steve that he is getting lucky, because she thinks it will take the pressure off.  Both Steve and Patrick want Jeff to go to the bathroom with Patrick to confirm his size.  Steve and Susan have sex anyway.


In the third episode, Jeff is afraid he will say an inappropriate word during a job promotion interview.  He explains the “giggle loop” to Steve and Patrick, which is when a laugh builds up to the point when you can’t help laughing at the worst possible time.  Jane comes over to Steve’s place to tell him that her Aunt Min has died.  The giggle loop builds in him.  She wants him to go with her to the funeral.  He doesn’t want to go because they broke up.  Later, he talks to Susan, who convinces him to go.  When he calls Jane to say he’s going, she asks him if they can pretend to still be together, because she hasn’t told them about the breakup yet.  Susan insists on going with them to the funeral.  He’s in trouble, because Susan and Jane don’t want the other to be represented as his girlfriend.  Susan invites Patrick as her decoy date, and Patrick invites Sally as his decoy date.  Jeff is going as well, since he is the only one who actually knew Min.  Patrick helps Jeff with his nerves during the funeral by telling him to picture women naked, which works.  Sally realizes that she is getting older and will be wrinkly someday.  Susan and Jane share sex-with-Steve notes.  During a moment of silence, the giggle loop builds in all three men.  They resist it, but Jeff ends up shouting an inappropriate word.  The next day at Jeff’s promotion interview, he tries the picturing-naked thing to calm his nerves, but sees his naked reflection in the mirror behind the promotion panel.


Why isn’t this show the next “Friends?”  It’s not like this is the first sitcom to ever be imported from Britain.  Everything from “All in the Family” to “Three’s Company” to “Cybil” has done the same thing.  The difference is possibly that those shows realized that Americans have a different sense of humor.  These three episodes were taken directly from the scripts of the original UK series, and just placed in an American setting.  I heard that the fourth episode was going to be the first original script, but they may be too late.  The fourth episode will air this week, but then it goes on hiatus until after November sweeps.


I love a good show filled with sex jokes, but they actually have to be funny and not just lewd.  This show is so off the mark with their sex jokes that it made Howard Stern’s old sitcom “Son of the Beach” look like comedy genius.  I can’t believe Sofer is wasting her time with this show.

I will admit, I’ve never seen a single episode of the original “Coupling,” so I don’t know if I just don’t like the show in general, or just the Americanized version of it.  I do know that the most successful transitions to America just take the core idea and do their own thing.  Take “Cybil” for example:  it was lifted from the hilarious British show “Absolutely Fabulous,” but they changed it so much that it definitely became its own show.  If that means adding or subtracting characters not in the original, so be it.  We have BBC America, so it’s not like we can’t check out the original anyway.  As for NBC needing a replacement for “Friends,” I guess they will have to place their hopes on its spin-off, “Joey.”


Ratings System:


Try to catch this show every week...

If a better show is on, tape this one...

If nothing else is on, maybe this will be good...

If this show is on, change the channel immediately!


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