Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Ex-Ex-List

I see that CBS has canceled The Ex-List.

This does not surprise me. Although I never watched the program — apparently, I wasn't alone — from the time that I first heard about it, The Ex-List struck me as having perhaps the most limiting premise in the history of television.

Here's the synopsis: A young woman (played by Elizabeth Reaser, whom I recall from a bizarre little film entitled Stay, which I once reviewed for DVD Verdict) visits a psychic to find out whether she will ever meet her soulmate. "You've already met him," says Madame Zenobia. "In fact, you've already dated him."

Thus, our lissome heroine is told that she has only one year to revisit all of the men with whom she has ever hooked up, trying to suss out which reject was really Mr. Right, before she misses her chance at wedded bliss forever.

Being as intelligent as you are, friend reader, I know that you have already divined the pair of inherent obstacles.

Problem the First: If you have any hope at all that your series will last longer than one season, you don't saddle it with a premise that practically screams to be canceled within twelve months.

Problem the Second: Calendar constraints aside, how many seasons could you keep this show on the air before the audience loses all sympathy with the main character?

The average network drama films 22 new episodes each season. If Ms. Ex-List has to reconnect with one former beau each week, that means she's had at least 22 partners by her early 30s (star Reaser is 33). Okay, that's doable. (No pun intended.)

But let's suppose that the producers get lucky (again, no pun intended), and the show survives for Year Two. By the end of the second season, our heroine has racked up (someone please turn off the double entendre machine!) 44 dudes worth of sexual history.

If The Powers That Be gave the series a third year, Reaser's character would be well on her way to becoming the distaff Wilt Chamberlain. CBS would have to start shrink-wrapping the DVD box sets in latex.

Better to quit while you're... oh, never mind.

Then again, how many boy-toys did Kim Cattrall's Samantha toss out of the sack like mucus-sodden Kleenex in all the years that Sex and the City was on?

I think my middle age is showing.

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