Series: Rules of Engagement
Rules of Engagement
is a Dom Com
that debuted on CBS
on February 5, 2007 and ended on May 20, 2013. It premiered as a midseason replacement, immediately following Two and a Half Men
, in the time slot that was occupied by The New Adventures of Old Christine
(9:30-10 p.m.). The series is produced by Adam Sandler
's Happy Madison Productions and is distributed by Sony Pictures Television.
Two couples and their single friend deal with the complications of dating, commitment and marriage. It looks at different relationships in various stages, starring Oliver Hudson (Adam Rhodes) and Bianca Kajlich (Jennifer Morgan) as newly engaged sweethearts, Patrick Warburton
(Jeff Bingham) and Megyn Price (Audrey Bingham) as a long-married couple and David Spade
(Russell Dunbar) as their still-single friend. A sixth character, Timmy, who is Russell's assistant at work, was introduced in Season 3, played by Adhir Kalyan.
The show featured writers from the Emmy Award-winning Everybody Loves Raymond
. Not to be confused with a 2000 film of the same name.
This show contains examples of:
- Aborted Arc: In "The Set Up", Timmy's sister is set up as a romantic interest for Russell. However, she is never seen again after that episode.
- Absurdly Youthful Mother: Adam's mother looks young enough to be his older sister. And, being a hippie, she likes to walk around naked. When asked by Audrey how Adam's mom looks naked, Jennifer reluctantly admits that her body is "smoking."
- Accidental Innuendo: Russell dated a girl who spoke in nothing but these.
- The Alcoholic: Jeff is often jokingly accused of being this, due to his love of beer.
- Ambiguously Brown: Jen, at least to Jeff. In one episode he mistakenly believes her to be a Latina (in reality, actress Bianca Kajlich is of Italian and Eastern European descent).
- Ambiguously Gay: One episode had a friend of Jeff appear, and both women concluded he was gay, whilst both guys did not.
- The husband of Jeff's gay friend appears in other episodes, and he's very much Camp Gay.
- Artifact Title: It made sense back when Adam and Jennifer were the main characters...back in the first season.
- Bad Boss: Russell is this to Timmy, although it becomes less severe in the later seasons.
- Beta Couple: Adam and Jennifer.
- Originally Jeff and Audrey had this role, but then the show's focus shifted.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Audrey's sister, who strings Russell along like a puppy and doesn't even care.
- Bi the Way: Jen is alluded to be this in one episode.
- Brainless Beauty: Adam. In one episode, he scruffies himself up to try and prove that people like him for his personality, instead of just his looks. It doesn't work.
- Breakout Character: Originally the show focused mainly on Adam and Jennifer, with Jeff and Audrey as supporting characters. However, Jeff and Audrey were so popular with fans of the show that by the third season the roles had been revered: Jeff and Audrey became the focus of the show, with Adam and Jennifer as supporting characters.
- British Stuffiness: Timmy. Granted, he's from South Africa, but his professionalism starkly contrasts to Russell's antics.
- Broke Episode: Russell's mom cuts off his trust fund, which only affects him in a couple episodes in that he temporarily moves in with Timmy and has trouble getting women to sleep with him. But his financial problems only last for about two episodes.
- Butch Lesbian: Brenda, Jeff and Audrey's surrogate.
- She's not a "stereotypical" butch, either. She still dresses in a fairly feminine manner, she just happens to have much more in common with Jeff than Audrey.
- Buxom Is Better: In one episode, a 10 year old boy tries to blackmail Audrey into showing him her boobs. He passes on blackmailing Jennifer, however, stating that she's "kind of flat."
- In another episode we learn that Audrey once considered getting breast reduction surgery, but Jeff objected.
- In the episode "A Big Bust", Audrey's poor grasp of Spanish results in her paying for her maid to get a boob job (she thought she was paying for knee surgery). Naturally, Audrey is embarrassed, but Jeff and the other guys end up eating lunch in Jeff and Audrey's apartment instead of the diner so they can ogle the housekeeper's huge new boobs.
- Brilliant but Lazy: Well, more like "Brilliant, But Horny"; in one episode we learn that when Russell doesn't spend all his time and energy trying to get laid he is a gifted violinist, sculptor, painter, and architect.
- Butt Monkey: Russell is treated like this by the rest of the cast, although most of the time, it's because of his single status. Russell considers it complimentary most of the time.
- Timmy is Russell's personal Butt Monkey, though he doesn't get it as badly in newer episodes.
- Calvin Ball: Mannequin Head Ball.
- Camp Gay: Brad's husband, Jack.
- Camp Straight: Adam sometimes behaves in an effeminate or flamboyant manner, causing Russell and Jeff to crack jokes at his expense. It's even revealed in season 5 that Adam was a cheerleader when he was in high school.
- The Casanova: Russell is a lecherous example.
- Timmy provides a more suave example, when things actually go right for him.
- Catch Phrase: Russell saying "Nurtz!"
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Jennifer refers to Adam as "Spanky" and he thinks this is because she walked in on him one time. He launches into a spirited defense of his actions in front of his friends, only to discover she was making a reference to The Little Rascals.
- Character Blog: Timmy had a vlog site, although the videos are still available online.
- Character Development: Russell has been the subject of multiple episodes where he gains development and backstory, such as enjoying theatre/musicals because as a child, his nanny would sneak him out and it was one of the only places that he felt alive in.
- Citizenship Marriage: Russell does this with Timmy because Russell forgot to renew Timmy's work visa after Timmy quitnote .
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Jennifer gets this when Adam's ex-girlfriend comes to stay due to a hotel mix-up.
- Cool Car: In one episode, Jeff buys a 1969 Chevy Camaro on impulse.
- Crazy Cat Lady: Audrey's friend Liz.
- Dance Party Ending: Ends in a Bollywood-style dance number in "Catering."
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of the main characters, but Russell in particular (what did you expect? He is played by David Spade after all).
- Directionless Driver: Conversed when Audrey makes a joke about men not asking for directions, and the couple she's talking to has never heard of this trope as the husband always asks for directions.
- Dirty Old Man: Russell is more of a dirty middle-aged man, but his age is a frequent source of humor (especially when he's trying to score with a woman who is much younger than himself).
- Distaff Counterpart: When Timmy goes away on vacation, Russell gets a girlfriend/assistant who is basically a female Timmy.
- The Ditz: Adam, especially in the later seasons. He is so naive and trusting that Jennifer can easily manipulate him into doing anything she wants (although she often feels guilty about it afterward).
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Russell designed a children's hospital that looked like a naked woman.
- The mural Jen painted on the wall of Jeff and Audrey's nursery was filled with phallic imagery. Jen herself seemed totally unaware of it.
- Drop-In Character: Russell's apartment was unseen until season 2.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Although Russell is pretty amoral and selfish most of the time, he refuses to make a move on the woman Timmy was arranged to be married to until after Timmy calls off the wedding, despite the fact that Russell fell in love with her the moment he saw her.
- Fake Pregnancy: In one episode Audrey is Mistaken for Pregnant following a poorly phrased remark at work. Finding she enjoys the attention, she then fakes being pregnant while she attempts to become pregnant for real.
- Foe Cooties: Jeff and Audrey reject Pam as a potential surrogate because she had sex with Russell.
- Forbidden Fruit: When Adam is told not to order extremely spicy Indian food, it only makes him want to order it even more.
- Flanderization: Adam has become increasingly stupid as the seasons progressed. This has been noted by the actor himself, who doesn't seem to mind it much.
- Jeff and Audrey become more and more dysfunctional as a couple as the show goes on. In the early seasons they come across as pretty Happily Married, but in the later seasons they're very critical of each other and always seeking ways to undermine each other.
- Freudian Excuse: Most of Russell's behavior is implied to be due to his Hilariously Abusive Childhood. His father appealed the results of the paternity test, his mother wanted to know if there'd been a mix-up moments after giving birth to him, they replaced him in the Christmas Family Photo as a child with Jodie Foster, and his parents basically told him he was the sole reason why they got divorced.
- "Friends" Rent Control: Averted for Jeff and Audrey, who have one huge living space/lounge room area, a small kitchen, a bedroom, a guest bedroom and a medium size bathroom. They also own it, and Jeff is a highly paid financial consultant. The apartment Adam and Jennifer live in was lived in by just one of them before the other moved in, and is somewhat smaller, but Adam is a high placed executive at Russell's father's firm. Russell's place is amazing and huge, but he's a trust fund baby, as well as having a high paying job at his father's property development firm.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Russell.
- Also, Liz. Jeff can't stand her, and even Audrey only hangs out with her out of loyalty because Liz once helped her get a job.
- By the end, Adam. Jeff tries to avoid him as much as possible, Russell just keeps him around to make fun of him, Timmy often snarks him when he isn't snarking Russell, and even Audrey doesn't stop Jeff's attempts to avoid Adam. The poor guy doesn't deserve it either
- The Friends Who Never Hang: Russell and Jen
- Adam and Audrey as well rarely have plots, as do Timmy and either of the girls.
- Girl of the Week: Russell is very fond of these.
- Grandparental Obliviousness: Jeff's father doesn't realize his 50's style behavior is pissing off Audrey. He ends up being called out for it, and apologizes, only to promptly sue Jeff and Audrey for injuring him.
- Granola Girl: Adam's mother.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Adam was raised by hippies.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: Russell. According to his psychological evaluation (done by sending Timmy to impersonate him with a list of details), he has classic tell-tale signs of narcissistic personality disorder, minor sociopathic tendencies and really should never be left unsupervised at any time.
- Hidden Depths: Russell has a few of these, one being his love of theatre/musicals. And his singing brings Timmy to tears.
- Hipster: Timmy's intern. Russell tries to be like him and hangs out with him, but gives up because of how exhausting it was to keep track of what he was supposed to like and what he was supposed to like "ironically."
- Home Porn Movie: Adam and Jennifer make one of these in one episode, but it turns out that the camera does not flatter them and they're grossed out by how they look when they're having sex. In another episode, it's implied that one of Jennifer's old college boyfriends uploaded a tape of them having sex to the internet.
- Informed Ability: An in-universe example. Audrey frequently claims that she's a "people person", but nobody seems to believe her. And when she attempts to prove that she's a people person it usually ends badly.
- Insane Proprietor: Jeff only buys electronics from stores owned by them, because crazy store owners offer the best deals.
- Insult Backfire: Russell when the others call him names, specifically when they relate him to a celebrity on a mocking way. He says: "[the same celebrity in a complimentary context]? I'll profess that."
- It happens frequently with Russell, not just when people call him names. For example, in one episode Audrey tells Russell that the woman he's on a date with is young enough to be his daughter. Russell replies by saying that even though she meant it as an insult, he takes it as a compliment.
- Intoxication Ensues: Jeff accidentally eats one of Adam and Jennifer's pot brownies. There's not much difference between stoned Jeff and sober Jeff except stoned Jeff eats more.
- Improbable Food Budget: They eat at the diner a lot. It doesn't appear to be an especially expensive diner though, and they are all professionals, they can probably afford to eat lunch and breakfast there.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jeff. He tends to be cold and indifferent to just about everything Audrey talks about, but he loves her and always come through for her and his friends. He also does whatever he can to make a situation right once he realizes he's made a mistake.
occasionally usually acts like a jerk, but is generally a good guy.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Jeff's father, Roy.
- Lesbian Jock: Brenda.
- Like an Old Married Couple: Audrey and Jeff. Unsurprisingly, because they are an old married couple. Adam and Jennifer point out this trope to each other during a fight.
- Local Hangout: The diner. It also averts the usual "they have one spot, and one spot only", by having them use more than just the central booth in the middle of the set (i.e., the Seinfeld table). Although nowhere near as often as they use that single central booth.
- Love at First Sight: Seems to have happened between Adam and Jen. They met in a bar and, according to the story, were madly attracted to each other from the moment they met.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Jeff gets smashed and ends up crashing a wedding because after realizing he was being stupid by not going to it like Audrey wanted him to.
- Lysistrata Gambit: Jennifer threatens to withhold sex from Adam to get a pet dog instead of a bird. Turns out neither has the willpower to do that, so they end up getting a dog and bird.
- Mafia Princess: Russell dates one of these in an episode.
- Man Child: Adam has devolved to this, especially in non-work related scenes, thanks to Flanderization.
- Manly Gay: Brad.
- Manipulative Bastard: Jeff and Audrey, with each other.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: This trope describes Jen and Adam to a T, especially in the later seasons. Jen is a tomboy who likes dogs, classic muscle cars, and has an aggressive sex drive. Meanwhile, Adam is a Camp Straight guy who used to be a cheerleader in high school, loves Broadway musicals, and is so well-groomed that Jeff and Russell constantly crack jokes about him being gay.
- Men Are Uncultured: Jeff.
- Mistaken for Pregnant: Happens to Audrey as the result of a poorly phrased remark about a pregnant co-worker. Finding she enjoys the special consideration being pregnant brings her at work, she tries desperately to actually become pregnant. When she eventually comes clean and tells her co-workers that she is not pregnant, they mistakenly interpret this to mean that she has had a miscarriage.
- Mistaken Nationality: Russell continually thinks Timmy is English. He is actually South African.
- Russell also thinks Timmy is the Native American kind of Indian.
- In one episode, Jeff repeatedly refers to Jen by Spanish surnames, as he thought she was Latina.
- Mistaken for Gay: Happens to Adam when Jennifer buys him a messenger bag that looks like a purse, much to Russell's amusement.
- In another episode, Adam is mistaken for gay because he goes to a sports bar to watch a game and orders a girly cocktail instead of a more manly drink. This causes an actual gay man to start hitting on him.
- Also happens to Russell and Timmy at one point. In one episode, Timmy falls for a woman who is attracted to musicians, so Russell teaches him a song on guitar so Timmy can serenade her (in reality, Russell is setting Timmy up to humiliate himself). When Timmy starts performing the song and doing horrible, Russell feels bad and joins him on stage to try and salvage the performance. This gesture does not win over the woman Timmy likes; it just causes her to think that Timmy and Russell are a gay couple.
- Mistaken for Pedophile: Adam gets arrested after posting the following on Missed Connections for a drum circle he saw in the subway station:
30 year old man seeking young ethnic boys: We hooked up yesterday for some sweet banging and jamming. Let me know if you want do it again.
- Moebius Neighborhood: Well, moebius apartment building.
- Mrs. Robinson: Russell's first sexual experience was with an older woman.
- Timmy has a one-night stand with one because he was set up with her as part of a double date.
- My Biological Clock Is Ticking: In one episode, Audrey sets up a date between one of her friends and one of Adam's friends. However, when Adam's friend finds out that his date is 38 years old (she lied and told him she was 32) and is desperate to start having children because her biological clock is ticking down, the man quickly ends the date.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Audrey believes herself to have a fair grasp of the Spanish language. She doesn't; in the episode "A Big Bust" she ends up soliciting donations for what she thinks is surgery to fix the bad knee of her Hispanic housekeeper. In reality it's breast augmentation surgery that results in the housekeeper having very large boobs (much to Jeff's delight).
- My Friends... and Zoidberg. "I'd like to share it with all my friends. And Russell."
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: In "The Set Up" Timmy is horrified when he finds Russell flirting with his sister via webcam chat.
- Our Surrogate Is Off Limits: Jeff's horror at realizing that Russell is hitting on Pam, who they've just hired to be their surrogate.
Jeff: [in a voicemail] The woman you're with, Audrey and I just hired to be our surrogate. Do not touch her. Stay away. GET OFF HER!
- Neat Freak: Russell is this when it comes to his apartment. The only people he normally allows into his apartment are women he intends to have sex with and the pizza delivery guy. All other guests must wear paper booties over their feet and Russell insists that they not touch anything.
- Noodle Incident: Not so much an incident as a proposal from Russell to Allison, who Timmy has a crush on ... but it involves watching her 'do this' with a 'jar of that'.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Whenever Timmy chooses to be nice to Russell, it ends badly for Timmy. Like when Timmy saved Russell from choking to death, and Russell accused Timmy of sexual harassment.
- No Pregger Sex: Jeff tries to impose this on Brenda, despite the fact that she's a lesbian, and the concerns regarding penetration would be mostly out of the question.
- Not Wearing Pants: Jeff has a "Jeff was right" dance which involves him taking off his pants.
- Odd Friendship: Jeff and Jen eventually bond over their love of Camaros, eating junk food the same way and their reluctance to express their emotions in front of other people.
- Office Sports: Jeff and Adam invent a sport called Mannequin Head Ball when they have to clean out an old clothing store Audrey wants to use to start a business.
- One-Hour Work Week: Russell has an almost literal One-Hour Work Week, due to being the son of the owner of the company. Adam works there as well. Audrey's work is only mentioned in most episodes (but one episode had her running a photoshoot for the magazine she works for), Jennifer is a freelance/work from home graphic designer. Jeff is a financial planner/economist of some sort.
- Out of Focus: The first season focused mostly on Adam and Jennifer. From season two forward the primary couple became Jeff and Audrey and now Adam and Jennifer are lucky to get a B-story.
- Out of Order: The network switched around the order of a small ongoing Story Arc involving Timmy, his arranged marriage fiancée, and Russell. This ended up having the fiancé being taken around NYC by Russell (and having him fall for her), the episode before she actually arrives at the airport.
- Only Sane Man: Audrey and Jennifer are generally this for their husband/fiancée.
- Panty Shot: Happens when Audrey's dress gets caught in the elevator at her office. As she frantically struggles to remove it, she flashes her panties to the entire office (including a disgruntled employee who had filed a sexual harassment claim against her).
- Parental Abandonment: Russell's parents were emotionally distant. Russell's less bothered that his father tried to contest paternity, than the fact that he tried to appeal the results afterwards.
- Parental Substitute: Russell views Adam's mom as a substitute for his own, due to the fact that his real mom is cold and distant while Adam's mom is kind and accepting toward him. However, after Russell sees Adam's mom naked when she disrobes as part of an art exhibit, he stops viewing her as a mother figure and instead starts looking at her as Stacy's Mom.
- Pink Boy, Blue Girl: Adam is sensitive and concerned about his looks, and Jen is a tomboy with a healthy sexual apatite.
- The Pornomancer: Russell.
- Pun-Based Title.
- Pretty in Mink: Russell's rich mother wears a short chinchilla cape at the end of the episode she appears.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: Timmy.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Russell has a few of these. One ended up working at their diner, and had everyone spit in his food.
- Really Gets Around: Russell.
- Reality Ensues: After Russell admits to the woman he's smitten by, that he's been riding the elevator all week in the hopes of meeting her again... he's promptly maced as the woman thinks he's stalking her.
- Real Men Eat Meat: Jeff.
- Running Gag: Russell's shortness, Adam's stupidity, Jeff being built like a tank. Russell believing Timmy to be a Native American, Audrey crashing and burning whenever she tries to prove she's a "people person", Russell's love of prostitutes, Adam being Mistaken for Gay, etc.
- The Scrooge: Jeff is a more heroic example, but it's repeatedly shown that he's extremely stingy about spending money. It's even revealed at one point that Audrey doesn't worry about Jeff going to strip clubs because she knows that he's too cheap to buy private dances.
- Self-Induced Allergic Reaction: Jeff eats a strawberry to get out of an interminable dinner date with an annoying co-worker of his wife Audrey.
- Sensei for Scoundrels: Russell acts as one to an Amish boy on his Rumspringa in the episode "Twice".
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Adam (sensitive) and Jeff (manly).
- Servile Snarker: Timmy.
- Severed Head Sports: Jeff and Adam play hockey with a mannequin head.
- Shaggy Dog Story: After ruining Jennifer's mom's wedding dress (that Jennifer planned on wearing), Adam goes out of his way to hide it and gets Audrey to use her fashion designer connections to get a replica made at a huge cost. He then makes it look like it just came in so Jennifer won't be the wiser. But it turns out that Jennifer's mom sent the wrong dress, so Jennifer didn't want it.
- Sore Loser: Jeff consistently beats Audrey at the board game Monopoly, and Audrey never handles losing well.
- Special Guest: Joan Collins as Russell's mother.
- The Stoic:
Jeff: Do I look angry?!
Russell: I don't know, your face doesn't move that much.
- “Stop Having Fun” Guys: In-universe. Adam and Timmy become this playing table tennis to the point they alienate everyone else in the office.
- Straight Man: Audrey. Adam takes this role in work scenes.
- Studio Audience / Laugh Track: Constantly. There's a few specific laughs that anyone who watches more than a couple episodes in a row will come to recognize in every episode.
- Subways Suck: Russell, Jeff, and Adam get stuck on a broken down subway car on the way to Adam's bachelor party. They have to simulate the party on the train.
- Sudden Musical Ending: One episode ends with a Bollywood-inspired song and dance number.
- Take That: Russell's former assistant created a bestselling video game, where the sole objective is to fight an irritating gnome, who happens to look and sound exactly like Russell.
Timmy: You're the Gnome!
- Take This Job And Shove It: In one of the final episodes, Timmy quits after he finds out that Russell had a GPS tracking chip injected into him.
- That Came Out Wrong
- Those Two Guys: Russell and Adam at their work.
- ¡Three Amigos!: Russell, Jeff and Adam.
- Training from Hell: When Timmy complains about his constant poor treatment from Russell, Russell says that it's part of his "tough love" approach to mentoring, and points out that his previous assistants have gone on to have very successful careers.
- Trickster Mentor: Jeff often serves as one to Adam.
- Russell thinks he's this to Timmy, but most of his lessons end with Timmy getting severely screwed over.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Played for laughs in the episode where Audrey and Jeff go to Nebraska for Audrey's high school reunion. It's revealed that Audrey's short, chubby ex-boyfriend (whom she dumped because she thought she could do better) is rich and married to a stunningly beautiful woman.
- The Unfair Sex: In the episode "Atlantic City", Adam turns down the chance to go on a trip to Atlantic City with Jeff, Russell, and Timmy because it falls on him and Jennifer's movie night and he doesn't want to disappoint her. But when Audrey invites Jennifer to go to a spa weekend on the same day, Jennifer ditches Adam in a heartbeat and feels no guilt over it.
- Upper-Class Twit: Russell.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: Jeff and Russell, they snark at each other like crazy but they hang out a lot and get along pretty well.
- Jeff and Audrey, though more Vitriolic Married Couple then anything else. They snark and constantly take shots at one another but in the end, they love one another and have been together for over 10 years.
- Jeff and Brenda, the woman who is being a surrogate mother for his and Audrey's children. They get along pretty well once they bond, but they snark at each other's expense all the time.
- Timmy and Russell, as well as employee and employer. They still help each other out all the time despite their constant snarking at one another's expense.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Russell was recently revealed to be one, doubles as a Freudian Excuse for his womanizing.
- When You Coming Home Mom: Russell's mother. The show zig zags with this.
- Wildlife Commentary Spoof: Jen and Audrey watching a security cam live feed of Adam and Jeff.
- With Friends Like These...: Adam thinks Jeff and Russell are his best friends. At best, they tolerate him and at worst, constantly make fun of him. He's too stupid to realize it though.
- Women Are Wiser Played straight with Adam and Jennifer. With Jeff and Audrey, however, it's not as clear cut. Although Jeff is less cultured and refined than Audrey (due to him being uninterested in things like theater and art), he's no dummy and it's been shown from time to time that he's pretty evenly-matched with Audrey when it comes to being clever and manipulative. This is probably best seen in the episode "Atlantic City" where Jeff and Audrey spend the entire episode trying to expose each others' lies. In the end, it comes to a draw.
- Zany Scheme: Adam and Jennifer host a engagement party just for people in their building and work friends (whilst still planning for one for their real friends and family), because they need new toasters and other domestic equipment. Jeff finds out, and blackmails them into taking about half the items. It backfires because they realize they are now obligated to attend and purchase presents for multiple parties of the people they invited.
- Adam proposing to Jennifer in restaurants so they can get free food despite having been engaged for a while. Even when Jennifer gets tired of doing it and storms out, it still works because the waiter feels sorry for Adam.