We’ve grown up with the relationship sitcom, overdosed on the reality series. Now meet the latest hybrid: Significant Others, a sitcom with most of the boring “situation” stuff pared away. Taking a hint from the loose stylings of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Significant Others relies solely on improvisation for its humor. It darts among three married couples, listening in on their therapy sessions and then following them through select stressful moments in their daily lives. What makes this show so effervescent is the flawless timing of the actors, who apparently ad-lib their way through dozens (if not hundreds) of takes to produce these comic nuggets, and then make it all seem entirely organic and off-the-cuff.
Newlyweds Chelsea and James are already wondering if they’ve made a terrible mistake: She can’t stand his bossiness, and he’s peeved to discover that she slept with 200 men before they met. Then there’s Ethan, slacker supreme, who’s having a hard time dealing with wife Eleanor’s pregnancy. Although she’s desperately hormonal and horny, he’s too freaked out to have sex. “It makes me uncomfortable to be somewhere that someone else lives,” he quips. “It’s like when one extra guy comes and there are too many people in the dorm room.” Schlumpy duo Connie and Bill have been unhappily married the longest. She’s tense and shrewish, he’s unemployed and craven, and it’s a race to see who cheats on the other first. All the actors appear hyper-vivacious all the time, as if to compensate for the static, talky nature of the show. A symphony of humorous soundbites, Significant Others nevertheless manages to cloak shards of emotion inside the humor, little bombs detonating at regular, enjoyable intervals.