Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Stereotypes aren't funny..skip 'Rules of Engagement'

Monday night, Mrs. Expat Teacher and I watched the heavily promoted new comedy from CBS, Rules of Engagement. Apparently, we weren't the only ones. "Rules" opened to 14.8 million total viewers and a 5.2 rating/12 share among the key demographic of adults aged 18 to 49.

Well, Mrs. Expat Teacher and I won't be watching next week. The show just isn't funny.

It uses all the standard stereotypes as set gags for several very obvious punch lines.

The show is about a 'veteran' married couple, a newly engaged couple and a horny single man.

  • The veteran couple fights about the husband's beer drinking habits. The veteran husband realizes that his wife always gets her way. They fight and the veteran wife is upset, but won't tell her husband because he should just figure it out. Finally he does and she 'wins' again.

  • The newly engaged couple moves in together with no set date for the wedding. He is moving into her space and he tries to change her immediately. Like getting his fiancee to bake a cake and let him put up a giant Mets shadowbox in the living room. Fiance is worried that their great sex will end after they get married because his single friend is having plenty of anonymous sex.

  • The single guy laughs at the two attached guys and brags about his ability to sleep with "whoever will let him."

There you go. That's the plot.

Humor requires two things. 1 - shared experiences and 2 - timing. This show had neither.

I've been single, engaged and now happily married and I can't identify with any of male characters in the show. When I was single, I was looking for a friend and a partner, not a cheap bimbo to get my rocks off with. When I was engaged, Mrs. Expat Teacher and I got a new place and we decorated it as we both wanted. (My baseball stuff went into the 2nd bedroom. ;-) )

And as a married man, I like my beer, but Mrs. Expat Teacher doesn't always win. She wins sometimes and I win sometime. Mrs. Expat Teacher and I talk when we fight. I don't make her guess and she doesn't make me guess, either.

In addition to the lack of shared experiences, the obvious punch lines negated the timing aspect of humor. The characters didn't speak like real people do about relationships. They spoke like any stiff and shallow characters from a short-lived primetime sit-com.

Now, if Rules of Engagement had shown something other than stereotypical Henny Youngman jokes, it might be worth watching. But it isn't, so it isn't.