I got the opportunity this week to screen the pilot episode for ABC’s newest comedy-drama, Cupid, starring Bobby Canavale, Sarah Paulson, Rick Gomez, and Camile Guaty. Since then I’ve been struggling with exactly how to review this new show. To summarize my feelings of the pilot I’d have to say that this show is cliched, predictable, and too smothered in love and romance for any guy to like. But if I were to continue, I’d also have to say that the show was fun, smart, well written (except for the cliched and predictable parts) and smothered in just enough love and romance for any girl out there to like. Confused yet? Now you see my dilima in writing a review about something that I both enjoyed, and didn’t enjoy so much.
The premise of the series is fairly straight-forward. Bobby Canavale plays Trevor, a guy living in New York who just so happens to claim that he is Cupid. Um…that’s Cupid the greek god of love we’re talking about. So Trevor/Cupid claims that he was cast out of Mt. Olympus, and won’t be let back in until he matches 100 couples in the world. In the old days he could have done this before lunch, but without his magical bow and arrow (as he explains) it is a bit more complicated. Oh, and he can’t just match up couples for a tryst, or a one night stand. In order to count towards his 100 matches, it has to be the kind of love that people ‘would cross oceans for.’
Sarah Paulson plays Claire, who is a psychiatrist who treats Trevor. Naturally, the notion that he is Cupid is insane, and it is her opinion that he has been damaged by love so badly in his past that he has buried the pain and taken on this notion that he is Cupid as a defense mechanism, and a way to avoid relationships in his own life. Since he is in no danger to others, she helps to have him released from a psychiatric ward, but because she is responsible for him, she takes it upon herself to watch over him, and ensure that he doesn’t become a danger to anyone else or himself.
Seems simple enough, and really it is. But in order to discuss the good and bad of this new series, lets do something a bit different, and break it down based on gender. Now, obviously, not all women will agree with what I think are the possitives and negatives of this show, and the same goes for men. But this will also help to enlighten the very cliche’s and stereotypes that are so present in the series itself. So let’s get started, shall we?
Generally speaking romantic comedies are not the types of series that men enjoy (which is precisely why movies of this nature are referred to as chick flicks). Cupid is no different, and the very premise of the show, the search for unconditional love, and exactly how is that kind of love defined, surely will push most men away from watching this show. But if you pride yourself in being a more modern man, or your wife simply controls the television and you don’t have a choice in the matter, there is some good in this show for you.
For starters, Trevor (Bobby Canavale) is actually a really cool guy. He’s a bit cocky and very much in charge of his actions. It’s also entertaining to wonder whether he is really Cupid, cast out from Mt. Olympus, or just a regular guy that has been burned so badly by love, that he’s altered his life drastically in order to protect himself. But at the same time, as a guy, you have to be thinking, ‘Dude, just grow a pair and get on with your life’ if that is the case.
The other positive for this series, for men in general, is the way Trevor and Sarah’s He Said/She Said views on what exactly love is varies so greatly. Sarah, it is obvious, has been damaged by love as well, and she teaches classes and helps people to understand that love is a life-long committment. In one scene Trevor says “Love is passion, love is heat, chemistry, sex,” (which, oddly enough is my definition as well). Sarah responds by saying , “Love is what’s left after the heat and the passion dies,” (which oddly enough is how my ex-wife defines it). Fundamentally this series is showing us how the two characters views on love are both wrong, and both right. Its a bit predictable how they go about it, but its still fun and entertaining to watch them, well, for lack of a better phrase go at it.
If we were forced to split every woman in the world into only two groups pertaining to perspectives on love and romance, I feel confident that one group would contain the hopeless romantics of the world, who still think that love is an unbeatable, fantastic, euphoric feeling that they yearn for. The rest of the women would fall into the group who have been damaged and hurt, often in extremely emotional as well as physical ways, and who are now cynical skeptics that love can or will exist for them. What makes Cupid a great show is how it addresses and nurtures both of these groups of people. Sarah, afterall, is a character who has obviously become cynical and though she hasn’t yet given up on love, she no longer believes in the passion and heat of a romance. She’s all about building the foundation of love for the future, and she entirely misses the point of living for the now. She hasn’t given up on love yet, but her cynicism still means that she’s in the second group of people. Many women will be able to relate to Sarah’s character, and even sympathize with her.
At the same time Trevor gives us the hopeless romantic side of the equation. He is completely about the passion and the romance, and doesn’t even seem concerned or admit to the notion that a foundation is necessary. But through the episode, as Trevor tries to match up his true love couple of the week, we get to glimpse how both of them are right, as the foundation is just as necessary as the passion and the romance. This is the element where Cupid succeeds, especially with its female viewers (though there are no doubts that there are men who are going to connect with this aspect of the show as well).
So while overall I’d probably only give this new show a rating of a 5 out of 10, if you are a person, male or female, who is intrigued by the connections people make, and discovering both passion and foundation in a relationship, then give Cupid a chance and see what you think. While it might not be a show for the masses, it could very well find its niche, and still be a successful series that grows into it’s own.
Cupid premieres on ABC on Tuesday, March 31 at 10/9c.