There have been many pop culture characters that have enthralled audiences, but only a select few can actually boast the staying power that The Odd Couple has proven it has. The Odd Couple has been the memorable comedic duo that has perfected the formula of putting to completely opposite characters in close proximity. In The Odd Couple’s case, they live together. It features Felix Ungar, a totally obsessive compulsive neat freak, and Oscar Madison, a divorced sports writer who basically is a slob. It is a very simple premise, but the concept has been entertaining viewers all over the world since it debuted in the 60s on a Broadway stage.
Jack Klugman and Tony Randall in "The Odd Couple" TV Series: September 24, 1970 — March 7, 1975
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Since then there have been a number of incarnations of the two, in film and television and theater, with the latest in a sitcom starring the very funny Matthew Perry as Oscar and the equally talented Thomas Lennon as Felix. Why does the concept work? What has made The Odd Couple stand the test of time and become such a fixture in culture? Here are a couple of theories.
It’s all about friendship
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With all the gags and jokes in a typical episode of The Odd Couple, the heart of the show always lies with the fact that at the end of the day, it’s a story about two friends making the most of what they have,, regardless of their differences. Felix and Oscar are old friends, and they end up living together because Felix got kicked out by his wife and Oscar, what with his divorce, has the space. They spend the majority of every episode arguing, but they never leave each other, because that is what true friends do. Everyone who has grown up with friendships that has spanned years can relate to this. We all have friends that we have nothing in common with, but over time, an unbreakable bond forms and while the differences are often right there, clear as day, they’re still far from enough to destroy that bond. Therein lies the simple beauty that is The Odd Couple.
Always a perfect pair
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The Odd Couple has worked for a while now because of whoever helms the respective incarnations of the show have always made it a point to cast the best possible duo to bring life to Felix and Oscar. As mentioned the current version has Matthew Perry, a guy who earned his comedy cred by stealing the show in the 90s sitcom Friends with his portrayal of quick witted Chandler Bing, delivering one zinger after another. Pairing up with him is Thomas Lennon of Reno 911 fame, playing the unpredictable Lt. Jim Dangle. Lennon also is a veteran of comedy and a skilled character actor. If you regularly watch movies in the past decade, chances are, you’ve seen a bunch of Lennon’s work. The Odd Couple’s first screen incarnation showed the legendary pairing of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemon, a pairing that was introduced in the late 60s and reunited in the late 90s. In its years, there have been animated versions, a female version, an African American version and others, all with superb casting.
With a clear thrust and impeccable casting, The Odd Couple is still delivering the laughs today as it did back in Neil Simon’s original rendition. With the way things are going, it seems that there is no stopping this odd couple.