A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Odd Couple is a sitcom about two divorced men who move in together. Jokes are mostly mild but can be off-color, involving bodily functions, bodily fluids, sex, religion, race, marital infidelity, and other sensitive topics. Jokes objectify women, such as a riposte about "a stripper" and a man hoping to have casual sex on a date with an attractive woman. A prissy man is said to "seem incredibly gay." Characters talk about drinking and curse mildly: "What the hell happened in here?" Expect flirting, dating, kissing.
What's the story?
Based on the original play/movie/TV show by Neil Simon, this modern update stars Matthew Perry as lovable schlemiel Oscar Madison and Thomas Lennon (Reno 911!) as the buttoned-down Felix Unger. The pair, friends since college, become unlikely roommates when both of their marriages end at the same time. The timing seems fortuitous, but the two start quickly driving each other crazy, as Felix's uptight tendencies clash with Oscar's louche habits. Lucky for both of them, they have plenty of affection for each other -- and they're going to need it.
Is it any good?
Launching just as CBS's inexplicable monster hit Two and a Half Men winds down, The Odd Couple is clearly being positioned as its successor, with a super similar plot line (odd bedfellows become almost literally bedfellows when they room together) and the same hacky rhythm: One actor says a line, the next says the joke, pause for canned laughter, another joke, pause for canned laughter. Admittedly, some of the jokes are not bad: "I'm not telling you what we're having for dinner, but dirty hands are a fon-don't!" says Felix, played by the always-charming Thomas Lennon. Others are definitely not good: "This town is teeming with women!" says Oscar. A taxi beeps and a female voice advises, "Move it, you jackasses." "Well, maybe not that one," says Oscar. Mug, mug.
It feels so dated that you're forced to wonder what on earth Perry was thinking, as there could have been a way to update these beloved characters instead of relying on jokes and situations that would have seemed stale in 1970. Felix will drive Oscar crazy by putting down shelf paper or doing yoga stretches in the living room first thing in the morning. Oscar will retaliate by peeing in the shower. The jokes almost write themselves! And that's not a good thing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the other iterations of Neil Simon's original comedy. Which have you seen? Do you like this take less or more than others? Why?
In the original Odd Couple, Oscar Madison was a newspaper sportswriter. Why is Oscar a radio personality in this version? What has changed about the newspaper business since the 1960s?
Putting very different characters together and playing their differences for laughs is a common comedy gambit. Why? What other shows or movies can you think of that share this setup?