The concept of young couples without children — commonly known as DINKs (double income, no kids) — is generally such a novel one in primetime today that it almost makes the midseason comedy “For Your Love” appear savvy and fresh. Almost. Love blooms in suburbia amongst three upper-crust young couples, all of whom seem to have a penchant for firing off one-liners that aren’t funny. It’s “thirtysomething” for the romantically impaired.
Part of the problem from the get-go is that the show, while undeniably loving and sweet, feeds us characters who are far too perky and pristine to be identifiable to anyone save those fortunate few whose biggest hurdle in life is deciding whether to go with a chardonnay or a sancerre at dinner.
It’s also clear that “For Your Love” is consumed with wrapping itself in stereotypes. Creator-exec producer Yvette Lee Bowser’s pilot script even goes so far as to flash onscreen labels denoting the stage at which each couple stands in its relationship, just in case the notion of figuring it out ourselves proves too taxing.
First we meet “The Veterans,” Sheri (Dedee Pfeiffer) and Dean (D.W. Moffett), who are the token Caucasians in the triumvirate of couples living in the upscale ‘burb of Oak Park, Ill. They’ve been blissfully married for five years. She does facials. He does architecture. They positively ooze spunk.
Next come “The Newlyweds” in the form of Mel (James Lesure) and Malena (Holly Robinson Peete). He’s an attorney. She’s a psychiatrist. Their rapturous little apple cart hits a crack in the sidewalk when the communication-challenged Malena thinks she’s pregnant a month after their nuptials, a development that could force her to rejigger her schedule nine months from now. Oh, the dilemma.
Finally, there’s “The Commitment-Phobics,” Mel’s brother Reggie (Edafe Blackmon) and Bobbi (Tamala Jones). They’re not married. Reggie is a restaurateur, Bobbi a divorced teacher. She wants the keys to his lake-front pad. He doesn’t want to give them to her. The conflict dribbles out in a doesn’t-really-matter sort of way.
As directed with quick-cut efficiency by Barnet Kellman, the kickoff seg hyperactively shifts between couples and their mini-crises, also showing how they interrelate (generally pointlessly). The entire enterprise feels hopelessly contrived, substituting, as it does, shtick for believable relationship give-and-take.
Stylistically, it’s really a throwback to “Love, American Style.” The innocence of the lovebirds would come across practically as quaint, if it weren’t for the fact that they all seem so lobotomized. What flows from it is akin to comedy marinated in Olestra, passing right through you without being absorbed in the cerebellum.
The best thing about “For Your Love” is its focus on men and women who seem genuinely to care about one another (in two of the three cases, anyway). And anytime a show can manage to resist the temptation to toss a bratty kid or two into the mix to take up space, it’s a plus. But warmth isn’t enough when the laughs are missing in action.