Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The four pillars of the male heterosexual psyche

Wherein sociology class is adjourned; this is all you need to know

Steve Moffat's Coupling is one of the funniest sitcoms ever aired. At least the first three seasons culminating in the Spiderman dance. Season 4 we do not speak of. We also do not speak of the NBC version that was quickly and correctly euthanized.

Season 1 started off a bit slowly as the characters are introduced and situations arranged, but by episode 3, Inferno, they were off and running. This episode introduced the first Steve rant.

Here's a youtube clip, followed by a text excerpt.

Look, I like naked women! I'm a bloke! I'm supposed to like them! We're born like that. We like naked women as soon as we're pulled out of one. Halfway down the birth canal we're already enjoying the view. Look, it's the four pillars of the male heterosexual psyche. We like: naked women, stockings, lesbians, and Sean Connery best as James Bond. Because that is what being a bloke is. And if you don't like it, darling, join a film collective. I want to spend the rest of my life with the woman at the end of the table here. But that does not stop me wanting to see several thousand more naked bottoms before I die. Because that's what being a bloke is. When Man invented fire, he didn't say "Hey, let's cook!" He said: "Great! Now we can see naked bottoms in the dark!" As soon as Caxton invented the printing press we were using it to make pictures of - hey! - naked bottoms. We've turned the Internet into an enormous international database of... naked bottoms. So, you see, the story of male achievement through the ages, feeble though it may have been, has been the story of our struggle to get a better look at your bottoms. Frankly, girls, I'm not so sure how insulted you really ought to be.

Update: This was going in the comments to answer Pooh's question, but it grew a bit.

The actor playing Jeff quit before season 4 started. He was afraid of being typecast. For me, the main problem with season 4 is the character that replaced Jeff. One way of looking at the show is that Steve and Susan are "complete" characters, making Jane/sally different aspects of the female personality and Jeff/Patrick the different aspects of the male personality. Jeff was the insecure part, but Richard Coyle brought this sort of "mad Welshman" portrayal that was utterly fascinating. He'd go off on these Jeffisms, like the sock gap or the giggle loop, that were showstoppers. As great as season 3 was, the Jeff role had become predictable and slightly silly, so I can see Coyle's misgivings.

Oliver was the season 4 replacement and he didn't work because Moffat wrote him too much like Jeff and the actor couldn't pull it off. He reflects the main problem the NBC version had. Coupling had a very unique, non-sitcom style--the dialog was very conversational, not jokey, and the Jeff character walked a fine line. A stereotypical American comedy is based more around punchlines and Jeff became just another "goofy neighbor," completely losing the nuance Coyle brought to the character.

I watched the NBC version just to see how badly they mangled the scripts. Unfortunately, the show was canceled before they aired their version of The Girl With the Two Breasts. This is a classic Jeff episode and its storytelling techniques--hafway through the episode it switches to Hebrew with English subtitles--are what hooked me for good.


Blogger XWL said...

Hard to argue with that, it's all just basic evolutionary biology.

Bottoms Up!

8/08/2006 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger Philip said...

Quite possibly the greatest show ever created. I own all 4 seasons on DVD because it's so good.

The best of Season 4 is when Jane comes over to Oliver's flat and he's got the mountain of porn and pile of TP. I love it when she's analyzing the mags and she says "she doesn't look brazilian." That brings up a good question: why do women never look for the logic in their lives but the moment they look at something they don't approve of (i.e. porn) they use logic.

Anyhoo, I agree about season 4 being bad. It wasn't that bad, but the first three were awesome.

8/09/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Pooh said...

They got rid of Jeff for season 4 right? That, in and of itself, kills the show, IMO - he's the only Kramerian character in the history of TV I've ever liked.

8/10/2006 05:13:00 PM  
Blogger Allison said...

Yeah. After Jeff was gone, I watched an episode or two thinking that the rest of the cast was good enough to pull it off without him, but sadly, no. Not unwatchably bad, but clearly didn't measure up to the previous seasons.

The NBC version really *was* too awful to watch, though. Flops like that make me even more impressed when a show like "The Office" translates so well.

8/11/2006 12:12:00 PM  

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