Again twisting a movie title into a reality show, “Things I Hate About You” begins with the undeniable premise that even happy couples frequently annoy each other, so we might as well tape and devise some sort of contest around it. Ideas don’t get much wispier, but there is a degree of perverse fun in watching the irksome things people do, especially if it’s to someone else. Besides, having generated buzz by becoming the de facto gay network before Viacom invades that cable niche, Bravo at least demonstrates that it hasn’t entirely forgotten the straight community.
In essence, this inoffensive exercise hinges on deriving pleasure from seeing spouses bicker about the equivalent of leaving the seat up — the 1950s-style notion being that couples can threaten to “Pow! To the moon, Alice!” each other at will while their marital bonds stay unshakeable.
In another tepid hosting sojourn after a bland “The Smoking Gun” spec for Court TV, “The Daily Show’s” Mo Rocca explains that the couple is competing “to prove who is more irritating.” Flanked by camera crews, they document their partner engaging in all kinds of perplexing behavior, which is then evaluated by a trio of white people (there are no other distinguishing characteristics), with the most grating judge, Jacqui Malouf, billed as a “relationship expert.”
Casting-wise, the producers get off to a fortuitous start with Patrick, who belches and farts excessively; and Renee, a classic control freak who whines for back rubs and clearly loves the dog more than her husband. Both are highly irritating, so there is ample suspense as to who will lose.
Fortunately, it’s all handled lightly enough, though the contest portion (a prize is awarded at the end) proves a transparent excuse to goof on the participants. In the press release, producer Amanda Murray — already responsible for a British version on the BBC — promises that ventilating these pet peeves yields “great drama and great fun,” though I’d suggest the show is on safer ground with the latter, lest it drift into “Jerry Springer” territory.
Although the show is scheduled to benefit from adjacency to signature makeover series “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” Bravo — home to “Blowout,” the upcoming male-model search “Manhunt” and the gone-but-not-forgiven “Boy Meets Boy” — says only one gay couple will be featured in the 13 episodes, which seems like a missed opportunity.
Then again, if there’s one thing to like about squabbling couples, it’s that whatever attributes they may possess, they never seem to go out of fashion.