A show about three friends in various stages of their romantic lives is not really an original idea, but I think most of us have the feeling that if done properly, a show like that could be interesting and fun. Of course, shows like that never are. We were already exposed to this once already this mid-season with Perfect Couples, a bad show that seems like it is trying too hard. After that, I thought I was ready for Traffic Light. Turns out, I wasn't. Traffic Light is not good by any means, but it isn't bad like Perfect Couples -- it's just boring and feels like it is not trying at all. With Traffic Light, we get all of the most unoriginal aspects of the three-stages set-up presented to us in the most mundane ways.
The show centers around three best friends from college, each one more boring than the last. Ethan (Kris Marshall) is the committed bachelor and ambulance driver, content to sex up a new lady every other week, but each new girlfriend is pressuring him into commitment in various crazy ways. The only way I can see he gets women is by having an English accent instead of a personality. Adam (Nelson Franklin) is the slightly uptight writer who has just moved in with his girlfriend, Callie (Aya Cash), an artist. Trying to adjust to what it means to no longer be single, Adam bumbles his way through saying the right thing. This usually just means that every fight they have ends in a heartfelt conversation that is so boring that the storyline never seems finished at the end of any episode. Mike (David Denman) is a lawyer and married to his college girlfriend Lisa (Liza Lapira). They have a kid, and while he "loves" his family, he constantly feels like he is trapped. His desire for freedom is confusing, considering his wife and kid are never presented in any way but loving and supportive.
Together, these three emotionally dependent guys cry to each other whenever any woman in their life tries to do similarly. In this way, both Cash and Lapira are wasted on this show. Even though they are trying to do their best to show their characters as loving and thoughtful people, they can't help but come off as nagging, controlling women who want nothing more than to break these dude's friendships and spirits. This doesn't even begin to describe Ethan's girlfriends, who seem to want nothing more than to force him into a relationship in the most manipulative ways possible. Women's wants and needs become MacGuffins for the male leads to stumble around. I get that the show isn't about these women, but the writers could at least try a little bit to make them likable.
The title, Traffic Light, is explained in the first episode as a way of living life via a metaphor of a road trip that avoids interstate highways, but that's the obvious explanation. The driving metaphor also signals that these guys spend most of their time in separate cars talking to each other on speakerphone. This may be true to life in the way that Adam and Callie resolve fights, but even with plenty of cutting between reaction shots of each guy driving, we are left with episodes that seem to mostly consist of dudes driving. The show is clearly going for a look here, but having actors react to disembodied voices is totally ineffective. This is why most TV shows have a bar or a living room or an office in which all of its characters can gather. Then again, the actors don't seem to have too much chemistry in any scene they actually have together, so maybe this way is better.
Watch the cast talk about love, romance and naked bodysuits
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