18 To Death
Don’t ask me how. Don’t ask me why. I’m even a little hazy on the when. But at six this evening I woke up with an intimate knowledge of a show made up entirely of bad qualities: Canadian teen sitcom 18 To Life.
You probably haven’t seen or heard of it; this isn’t because it’s some niche, underground hit that’s just waiting to make it into the big time, it’s because it’s so shit that the entire earth has made a collective blind spot and crammed the whole putrid affair into it in a box marked “Never open again, ever, not even for a joke”.
The plot revolves around Tom and Jessie, a teenage couple who’ve grown up together and get married just out of high school on a dare. Aside from a premise so contrived as to act as prime evidence that nothing new ever happens on TV, you’d think it’s main audience would be hard-right anti-sex nuts furiously not masturbating to the chastity and promotion of marital bliss. But the show strikes an uneasy balance between indescribably awkward innuendo and crashingly unsubtle social tension between her bleeding-heart liberal hippy parents and his fascist units. It’s like The Good Life meets oh God just kill me.
The situation isn’t helped by the humiliating lack of chemistry between the newlyweds. Because teenagers like nothing more than some totally hot sex within the legal boundaries of marriage (that is, after all, how Skins found it’s success), they’re constantly forced to assume the position and rut as if a demented David Attenborough were jabbing them with a cattle prod offscreen. The adult cast also constantly bent over the nearest freestanding surface to engage in ever-more kinky sex- as the shows ratings lapsed and the, presumably by this point demented, producer decided the decaying sex lives of two middle-aged couples would hit the spot. It’s embarrassing for all involved; though all the actors are sufficiently attractive, they and indeed every other element of the show find themselves overshadowed by the magnificent arse of the woman who plays Jessie’s mother. Seriously. It should have it’s own spin-off; I’d watch.
The frustrating thing is the insistence that the marriage is legitimate; they got married ON A DARE. The last thing I did on a dare was try and fit a whole packet of Pan Drops in my mouth at once. Although it took me a fair few minutes to dislodge a particularly stubborn sweet from my gullet, a lifelong commitment it was not. Aside from the fact they are a terrible, mismatched couple who live in their parent’s attic, they seem to spend a good forty percent of the show throwing strops over their parents totally legitimate attempts to intervene.
The performances of the adult cast are patchy at best though essentially irrelevant due to the aforementioned rear end. Though the writing has flashes of being kind of amusing and smart, it’s completely undermined by the complete lethargic apathy of everything else. Boxes are ticked, audience demographics are fed and the whole thing is as passionless as Jessie and Tom having a blank-faced quickie over the breakfast table. Long live television.