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Culture news, 14.09.2007 16:52

In the spotlight

kollage By Anna Malpas

Staff Writer

The advertising slogan for STS’s new drama series had an apocalyptic ring to it: “How can you live if you will soon be 30?” But the song playing over the opening scene of “30-Year-Olds” hinted at a resigned approach to the dying of the light. It was Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive.”

The new show is based on a Chilean series called “Los 30” – although you can’t help suspecting that it’s more fun being 30 in Santiago than in Moscow. At least you can top up your tan while having your midlife crisis. The show tells the story of a group of friends, four couples and one single woman, whose lives have been connected since high school and who are now all part-owners of a restaurant. Obviously, to make things more interesting, they also do a bit of bed-hopping. In the first episode, one husband had sex with three of the women. Although, fair play to him, one of them was his wife.

STS previously had hits with the sitcoms “My Fair Nanny” and “Don’t Be Born Beautiful,” which both told the Cinderella story of a downtrodden woman marrying her wealthy boss. But this show departs from that cozy fantasy and has its characters talking about the essential meaninglessness of their existence, hidden behind the shallow facade of prosperity. That’s between the scenes of sex in restaurant and office bathrooms, on the desk at the office and in the wife’s friend’s apartment, so it’s not all bad.

In strange interludes, each of the characters talks about him- or herself to a psychiatrist, who doesn’t say anything back. In these scenes, they are all dressed in white, and there’s an unearthly glow, so I’m gunning for a surprise ending in which we find out that their BMWs collided as they raced to the sales at Ikea and they’re all speaking from beyond the grave, in “Desperate Housewives” style.

So far, I’m still trying to remember who’s married to whom, and who’s sleeping with whom. But the basic storylines seem to be that the sexy dark-eyed one is sleeping with two of his wife’s friends behind her back, and now one of them is getting married to someone else and he’s not happy. Then the serious boring one’s wife is becoming an alcoholic because he doesn’t sleep with her (unfortunately the sexy dark-eyed one doesn’t, either). And the sexy blue-eyed one is trying to woo back his wife who has left to find herself in a rented khrushchyovka apartment. And the paunchy one is worrying about his debts, while his lawyer wife sleeps with the sexy dark-eyed one — the Casanova of Moscow’s insurance salesmen.

There are some nice lines – the sexy dark-eyed one calls his flings “zigzags of friendship,” and the lawyer wife tells the psychiatrist that “there don’t have to be two personalities in a marriage.” And the series does seem to be slightly more placed on planet reality, rather than planet sitcom, than most STS shows. At one point, the sexy blue-eyed one tells his wife that he can find out her new address from her telephone number by buying a database at a market. Which is, unfortunately, true.

Last week, Bolshoi Gorod magazine printed an interview with the executive producer of STS and the deputy director of trashier rival TNT in which they discussed their love for Western shows, from “Friends” to “The Office.” Revealingly, the TNT man, Alexander Dulerain, said that “everyone here watches ‘The Office,’ but no one even tries to broadcast it here, because it’s obvious that it won’t work.” Of course, by “everyone” he means his educated, well-traveled friends, while the pigs who actually watch TNT are thrown “Dom-2.” So well done to STS for at least making a show that the channel heads might watch.

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