The TV listings are jammed with new romantic comedies (or “rom-coms”) set to air in the coming weeks. The tricky part will be telling them apart. Here’s a handy guide:
• Perfect Couples (Thursdays on NBC and Citytv)
Premise: Three couples, all very different, strive for the perfect relationship. None come close. Hilarity ensues.
Stars: Kyle Bornheimer (Worst Week), Christine Woods (FlashForward), Olivia Munn Attack of the Show!) and Mary Elizabeth Ellis (It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia)
From: One of the executive producers behind Friends, Scott Silveri, who has more or less crammed new actors into old Friends characters and situations and done away with the studio audience.
Distinguishing feature: a fourth couple features a Bro-mance.
Sounds like: Better With You, another rom-com that just started last fall and stars Canadian actress Jennifer Finnigan.
• Mad Love (premieres Monday, Feb. 7 on CBS and CTV)
Premise: A comedy about two New Yorkers who fall madly in love and their mutual best friends who despise each other (for now). Hilarity ensues.
Stars: Jason Biggs (the American Pie movies), Sarah Chalke (Scrubs), Tyler Labine (Reaper) and Judy Greer (already a rom-com regular).
Distinguishing feature: has the most Canadians in the cast (Chalke and Labine).
From: brother and sister Matt and Jamie Tarses; Matt was a producer on Scrubs, Jamie is a former network executive who helped champion Friends (and is also among the producers of Happy Endings, below).
Sounds like: How I Met Your Mother, right down to the bar backgrounds and voiceover narration, with shaggy-haired Labine stepping into Neil Patrick Harris’s babe-hound role.
• Traffic Light (premieres Tuesday Feb. 8 on Fox)
Premise: According to the producers, “it’s a comedy about three friends and their relationships, but it’s good.” The couples are all in their thirties, at very different stages and often text and call each other in their cars (hence, sort of, the title). Hilarity ensues.
Stars: David Denman (The Office), Kris Marshall (Love Actually), Nelson Franklin (I Love You Man).
From: Bob Fisher, screenwriter of Wedding Crashers; based on an Israeli sitcom.
Distinguishing feature: Has a very tall cast; Franklin is six-foot-five, other male leads all six-foot-two or taller. Says Fisher: “One of the ways in which we may distinguish ourselves from the other relationship shows is that we can probably win at basketball.”
Used to be called: Mixed Signals.
Sounds like: Rules of Engagement on wheels.
• Happy Endings (coming in April on ABC)
Premise: According to the trailer, “a classic story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl to guy on roller blades, boy becomes biggest YouTube sensation since kitten stuck in tuba.” A woman ditches a groom at the altar but both remain tight among their posse of six friends. Hilarity ensues.
Stars: Canadian Elisha Cuthbert (24) and Zachary Knighton (FlashForward), Casey Wilson (Saturday Night Live) and Damon Wayans Jr. (son of Damon Wayans, who will guest star).
From: Tarses and newcomer David Caspe.
Distinguishing feature: The only one of these rom-coms with a person of colour in the cast.
Sounds like: Friends, but has a one camera, film feel to it.
Greatest advantage: unlike the other three, guaranteed to still be around in April.
Bill Brioux is a freelance TV columnist based in Brampton, Ont.