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ISSUE 117 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/10/2003

The demise of television; "Coupling" a cheap imitation of shows past

By Jonathan Graef
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 10, 2003

Suppose that television shows and motion pictures could form axes, the way countries do during wartime. Then imagine that “Seinfeld,” “Sex and the City,” and “Swingers” formed an axis. These television shows and movie decided to take the forming of catch phrases out of common occurrences (“Seinfeld”), the raciness and euphemisms of the other (“Sex and the City”), and finally, the male dress and male behavior of the characters in the last one (“Swingers”). Put these distinct characteristics into a blender.

Oh, one thing I forgot to convey: this newly-formed axis is an axis of evil, to use the parlance of our times. Undoubtedly, much like an actual axis of evil, this fictional axis of evil is capable of producing weapons of mass destruction.

Indeed, if such heinous alliances were possible, and had destructive powers, those powers would culminate in a show called “Coupling”. What is “Coupling?” Why, it’s the terrible new show on NBC. I would tell you when this show airs, but in doing so, I may unconsciously give you incentive to watch it, and that would be truly heinous.

“Coupling” (whose working title was “When Yuppies Cocoon”) has received large amounts of publicity due to its sexual content. Let me make it clear that I do not have any problem with sexual references. “Coupling” is on late enough that young children probably won’t be watching it. What I do object to is rampant stupidity and lack of originality. If lameness and cribbing from better shows were an alternative energy source that could be used to replace petroleum, then “Coupling” could power the entire Western hemisphere.

The show depicts six friends and their romantic escapades. These stereotypical characters are simply not worth caring about. I made a bet with a friend on whether or not the blonde character was going to be the “slutty” one. Not surprisingly, my friend did not take this bet, because he knew I would win. Of the males, we get the sensitive one, the jerk, and the dumb one. Hmm, where have I seen that configuration? Besides everywhere, I mean.

There are also political stereotypes too. Remember the male jerk character? He’s a Republican. One of the women is open-minded and sensitive, but I’m afraid she’s a bit loopy, and not all that bright. (Because there is no such thing as a nice Republican, or an intelligent Progressive). No, that would involve a show with thought. We wouldn’t want that!

Controversy is a peculiar thing. In order for something to be controversial to me, it needs to make me think. “Coupling” is explicit about the sexual habits of its characters, but I found most of the explicitness empty, shallow, obvious, and reeking of cynicism. Is it really that shocking to people to suggest on a television show that a woman has a vibrator, as “Coupling” does? If you stopped watching the T.V., actually got out and had a meaningful conversation with a woman, I bet you would discover this exact information eventually, and it would not be a big deal. I know it’s just a comedy show, but is it that unreasonable to want characters we can relate to?

Some may find a show like “Coupling” provocative or taboo-breaking, but it does so in a manner lacking any intelligence and thought. But to be honest and fair, “Coupling” did make me think of one question to ask myself: “Who watches this garbage?”

Staff Writer Jonathan Graef is a junior from Glenview, Ill. He majors in English and political science.

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