Coupling was written by former Doctor Who writer Steven Moffat, and tells the tale of Jack Davenport (Commodore or ‘the posh one’ in Pirates of the Caribbean) as Steve and Sarah Alexander (who’s in too much to name) as Susan, and recounts their relationship, from meeting until the birth of their first child, based loosely on the experiences of Steven Moffat’s relationship with the show’s producer Sue Vertue. As the couple begin their relationship they realise they are going to have to take each other’s baggage for the ride too and it is here where the comedy lies.
It will be unclear to many what these exactly mean, but that sex is a common theme. It is here where many critics of the show pick their holes. Moffat himself says there have been claims the show is all knob gags, and sex jokes, this however is simply untrue. The shows main topic is relationships, and so sex plays a large part, but the humour really comes from the way the minds of the sexes function. As Jeff claims in the show, "if women knew what went through men’s minds the world’s population would die out."
Coupling had a lot of success at the BBC, and was even bought by NBC for American television seen as a potential replacement for Friends. But the show did not carry across the Atlantic for many reasons, and was cancelled after only a few epsiodes (of which some are available on YouTube).
The main reason the show did not succeed in America was the same reason that the show was eventually cancelled after four series in the UK: Jeff. Jeff and Richard Coyle are by far and away the highlight of the show. Somehow through a combination of a fake Welsh accent and some excellent facial expressions he manages to make a character who says some seriously odd and awful things seem fundamentally likeable, a bit like Jay in The Inbetweeners, but more endearing.
It has been 10 years since Coupling ended, and for me it is a forgotten gem that many will never hear of because it’s not relentlessly thrown at people on UKTV Gold or Dave. While this is a shame as the show may never get the credit it deserves, perhaps for those in the know it helps preserve its charm.
Did you watch Coupling?
What did you think?
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