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Soapbox: Why You Should Watch "Significant Others"

Soapbox: Why You Should Watch "Significant Others"

We all have TV shows that we champion long after they've been canceled, and one of mine is "Significant Others." Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the Jennifer Garner series of the same name that Fox canceled in 1998. This show, which aired for two seasons on Bravo in 2004 and 2005, featured a cast of unknowns and an almost entirely improvised script about troubled couples in therapy. It's still one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV.

I've been looking for an excuse to write about it, so I was thrilled to discover all six episodes of the show's first season on DotComedy, NBC's answer to YouTube.

In case you missed it the first time (don't worry, almost everyone did), "Significant Others" focuses on four couples: Ethan and Eleanor, the overgrown indie kids who don't know how to deal when Eleanor gets pregnant; James and Chelsea, who got married after a weekend fling and discover they just piss each other off; Bill and Connie, who are stuck in a passionless marriage and split when Bill starts having an affair with Connie's sister Ginny; and Alex and Devon, whose biggest issue is their belief that they have no issues. It's often awkward, occasionally poignant and totally hilarious, so

The fast-paced show flips between scenes of the couples in the therapist's office (the actual therapist is never seen nor heard) and in their daily lives. A friend of mine called it "squirm comedy," and it can be truly uncomfortable when, say, James starts asking random guests at Chelsea's gallery opening how many people they've slept with.

But it's the kind of show that grows on you. Sure, the characters can veer into caricature, but they're funny — I love that Ethan takes his Game Boy to Eleanor's ob/gyn visits, and the second season episode in which Bill first introduces Ginny to his friends and they toast to things like "loyalty and sisterhood" gets me rolling on the floor every time. I wouldn't say "Significant Others" sheds light on what love and marriage are really like these days — for everyone's sake, I hope it doesn't — but it's a pretty good look at the worst-case scenario. And if nothing else, it will definitely clarify what you're not looking for in a mate.

If you get hooked, you can also Netflix the boxed set of both seasons, which came out last year on Valentine's Day (perfect!).

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