tv review

The Odd Couple Is a Real Mess

“We should be on a better show.” “Yes, I agree.” Photo: CBS

Slobs get divorced like this, whereas neat freaks get divorced like this. Women: We hate them, and yet we want them to touch our penises all the time. Men: We love them, and yet we want them to touch our penises none of the time. America. Welcome to your new Odd Couple, premiering tonight at 8:30 p.m. on CBS.

Matthew Perry stars as Oscar, the messy one, and Thomas Lennon plays Felix, the neat one. Oh, my queendom for a better show for these two. Instead we get Perry as the rom-com cliché of the glorious bachelor: TVs! Sports! Non-caring about laundry! What a dude’s dude, truly. Lennon is just Niles Crane lite, all air purifiers and curated slideshows on his phone. “He seems a little gay,” one of Oscar’s friends says. “No, he seems incredibly gay,” Oscar replies, because ha-ha-ha, only gay people could possibly care about, I don’t know, food? I get the original Odd Couple is from the ‘60s, but when is this boring, homophobic nonsense from? After Felix huffily puts out someone else’s cigar, Oscar pleads with his friends not to leave in protest. If we give up cigars, we’ll live longer, he offers. “You’ve met my wife — why would I want to live longer?” his friend snaps back. Yeah! You probably want to kill yourself! Because of your wife!

A new Odd Couple is a valid enough setup for a show, particularly because many, many comedies are more or less The Odd Couple anyway. But this spin seems so out of touch with the world and contemporary comedy. Two different characters mention having maids within the first eight minutes of the show, because I guess that’s a super-normal thing to talk about. All this “take my wife — please!” material is lousy enough, but it seems particularly off base on a show where the two main characters are reeling in post-divorce anguish. Oscar skeezes on his female neighbor (Leslie Bibb) in weird, manipulative ways, which he himself refers to as “stalking.” There’s this whole big world out there, and yet this is where The Odd Couple has decided to mine its humor. I wonder which jokes didn’t make it.

CBS only made the first episode of the show available for review, and sitcom pilots are notoriously terrible indicators of how a show really is. I’ll be truly thrilled if The Odd Couple gets its shit together and decides to be about something, to have values in any way congruent with modernity, to put forth fresher and more original material and ideas. Until then, the oddest thing about The Odd Couple is that it took Perry, Lennon, Bibb, Lindsay Sloane, Dave Foley, Yvette Nicole Brown, and Wendell Pierce and wasted every molecule of their combined talents.