From My DVD Collection: Coupling (UK Version)

19 Jun

Back when I lived in a tiny apartment in Austin, Texas, that provided me with free cable, I caught pneumonia and was stuck in my home for a period of 6 days. My illness coincided with the launch of BBC America (blessed channel of all channels) and their free preview weekend. Among the little gems that aired during the launch was Coupling. My opinion of situation comedies has never been the same since.

Coupling centred around the romantic entanglements of a group of 6 friends in their early thirties. The humour was intelligent and decidely grown-up. I could never imagine Ross from Friends popping out of a public bathroom stall in search of a condom, Debra from Everybody Loves Raymond decribing an ex-boyfriend as a cross between a pole-vaulter and a donkey, or Jack from Will & Grace using the image of a corpse to get rid of his erection. Well, okay, that last one I could sort of imagine, but I digress. My point is that Coupling was a humorous and often honest look at sex, relationships and the different ways men and women view the same events. The show often relied on stereotypes but not in an offensive way.

The six main players also were not your typical situation comedy cast members. Steve Taylor, played by a pre-Pirates of the Caribbean Jack Davenport, was your everyman with a massive porn collection, a healthy relationship with his right hand, and an obsession with lesbians. Nothing new there, but scratch the surface and you’ll find Steve’s predilection for going on long rants about pretty much anything, his inability to make a single decision, and propensity to lose use of his brain and body in the presence of Mariella Frostrup.

Steve’s love interest, Susan Walker, is beautiful, organized, sensible, confident and sexy. However, Susan has secrets of her own. Susan loves Australia for more than its beaches, has a bitchy streak (mostly aimed at Steve’s ex Jane) and a libido that even “pole-vaulter/donkey man” and a battery-powered vibrator could not satisfy. Her best friend, Sally Harper, is a bag of neuroses. Sally is a new Labour girl (but she probably didn’t want to shag Tony Blair like I did back in 2002) who uses moisturizers and anti-aging creams in alarming quantities while avoiding smiling at men not worth her while in order to prevent wrinkles. She’s incredibly insecure, especially about her bottom, despite the fact that she’s gorgeous in her own right.

Sally’s interest in Patrick Maitland, Susan’s ex, is puzzling to her. Patrick (a.k.a. pole-vaulter/donkey man) is a materialistic, self-absorbed, super-competitive and handsome Tory. Patrick’s biggest problem in life appears to be finding the right barber. He’s just not very complicated but one can’t help but like him.

As if these four characters weren’t odd in their own rights, rounding out the cast are the relatively “odd-ball” characters of Jane Christie and Jeff Murdoch. Jane is Steve’s ex, who hasn’t really gotten over him, despite the fact that Steve has been trying to break up with her ever since they met. Jane is constantly comparing Steve’s relationship with Susan to her four years with Steve. Jane is completely self-obsessed but also completely unaware of it. Only Jane would consider being stalked a boost for her self-esteem.

Now, Jeff Murdoch. Oh, dear. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. Jeff is a fountain of crazy ideas and terminology. Jeff can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to women. I guess it’s hard to have a rational conversation with the words “gusset” and “vulva” stuck on a loop in your head. We have Jeff to thank for such gems as “The Giggle Loop” and “The Sock Gap.”

Below Jeff attempts to chat up a girl:

I have laughed at several comedies since Coupling went off the air (like How I Met Your Mother and 30 Rock) but in so many ways I miss this show and its characters. Nothing has ever come along to replace Coupling in my heart. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend renting the first season on DVD.


One Response to “From My DVD Collection: Coupling (UK Version)”

  1. free cable July 2, 2009 at 7:32 pm #


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