I’m just going to say it: I really like Perfect Couples.
Not just “like” it in that I can watch it while I bide my time between Community and The Office. I legitimately like this series now. In fact, I’d probably be willing to argue that the last few weeks, Perfect Couples has been funnier than The Office. I know that sounds crazy, but if you’re one of the very few people who is actually watch this, you probably feel the same way.
There’s been a lot of discussion about the “white friends with relationship problems” trend this season — and for good reason — but after watching multiple episodes of Better With You, Traffic Light and Perfect Couples, I think it’s safe to declare my allegiances to NBC’s offering. I still think Traffic Light has more natural, friendly vibe that makes its characters more likable and appealing, but Couples is certainly much funnier on a regular basis.*
*And in case you were wondering, I mostly hate Better With You.
In my review of the pilot episode, I noted that Perfect Couples felt like it was trying too hard to jam as many jokes into every second with the cutaways and all that nonsense, but they’ve calmed it down a little bit over the last few episodes. The pace is still rapid and there isn’t a lot of time to just get to know the characters as people like there is on Traffic Light because they’re too busy being vessels for somewhat outrageous gags, but if those gags are consistently funny like they’ve been over the past few episodes, I can’t really complain.
Because the series isn’t too advanced — and that’s not a bad thing — I don’t know how much real analysis I can provide. However, there are just a few things I wanted to talk about in reference to Perfect Couples just because I wanted to write something about it.
First of all — and again, not an original thought here — I love how the series is willing to let all the characters be the fool at any moment. Even though Dave and Julia are supposed to be the “normal” couple, they end up providing a good amount of the series’ best moments, which is great. It’s really easy to write super-broad characters like Rex and Leigh and even Vance and Amy to a lesser extent, but it’s at least moderately difficult to make your “lead” characters likable, hilarious, goofy, etc. without sacrificing some of the other adjectives. They can be likable, but maybe not so funny. Or hilariously broad, but not inherently likable. You know the drill.
However, Julia and Dave happen to be the best part of every episode because while all these moderately goofy things are happening around them, the series finds time to make funny moments out of being happily married. Obviously, the writers are being helped by the performances and let me just say, Christine Woods’ performance here is a minor revelation. She was clearly trapped in the suffocating world of FlashForward last season, but she’s been surprisingly awesome throughout Couples‘ short run this year. She’s unbelievably goofy in her comic timing, but it works wonderfully for the pacing and vibe this series is putting out there. And everyone likes Kyle Bornheimer, so it’s no shocker that his Dave is pretty great too.
And even though I said Traffic Light has been better at creating a natural rapport between its characters, that doesn’t mean Perfect Couples totally sucks at it. I thought the first few episodes were pushing way too hard to be funny, but when the writers pumped the brakes a bit and let the characters bounce off one another in a more realistic way, it’s slowly pulling things together. This week’s episode is a particularly strong example of that, with Dave and Vance’s friendship and Rex and Julia’s sibling aggressiveness being put out front. Both plots allowed the episode to deepen the history between these four people, enough so that I’ll probably remember from now on that Rex and Julia are brother and sister (which is something I had not accomplished before this episode). Again, it’s certainly not anything new or groundbreaking, but a few fun character moments — like Vance’s saved voicemail from Dave or Rex and Julia’s tennis grunting — that also provide solid laughs make for fairly decent comedic television.
And at this point, Perfect Couples is definitely fairly decent comedic television. There’s nothing wrong with that.