YMMV / Rules of Engagement

The TV Series

  • Acceptable Lifestyle Targets: Women under 30 are portrayed as Russell-fodder and not much else.
    • Husbands who love sports are portrayed as hopeless at anything even remotely unisex.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Jennifer the Only Sane Man being pushed to her breaking point from dealing with an idiot boyfriend, apathetic neighbors and a lecherous acquaintance, or does she hang out with these people to indulge her superiority complex?
    • Did Russell greencard-marry Timmy out of kindness, or to indulge his homoerotic sense of dependency on him?
      • Jeff admits that this is his interpretation of Russell.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Timmy and Russell, due to the fandom being split between which one it considers The Scrappy and Ensemble Darkhorse, whether it's both of them, or is it neither?
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Timmy.
    • Jeff and Audrey, due to having taken over the primary couple stuff from Adam and Jennifer.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Russell and Audrey's sister, due to the fact that she was one of the few women he really cared about and wasn't just using for sex.
  • Fridge Horror: Adam's stupidity might be the result of minor brain-damage, due to the possibility that his Hippie mother continued to take mind-expanding drugs during pregnancy! Considering what we see of her, there is nothing that rules this possibility out!
    • Evidence of Jennifer's porn-career surfaces at the end of an episode.
    • Adam and Jennifer are portrayed as being very much in love, but there's plenty of evidence that they secretly hate each other and their relationship is purely superficial. How long will their marriage last when their looks fade away?
  • Growing the Beard: Many fans agree that the show became more entertaining after it started focusing primarily on Jeff and Audrey.
  • Hollywood Homely/Pudgy Liz is treated as being hideously ugly and extremely overweight when she is neither. Later seasons focus more on her unpleasant personality, and criticisms of her body are limited to what cannot be seen on screen (such as having one breast longer than the other)
    • Also applies slightly when Adam and Jennifer film themselves having sex and are disgusted when they watch it. While a lot of their disgust revolves around the awkwardness of their sex, they take the time to remark how awful they look. Adam remarks that he needs to hit the gym and Jennifer shouts, "We are not tan!,"... even though they clearly are.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Adam and Jeff or Adam and other:
      • Adam is fascinated by Jeff's half-naked looks on an old photo, and wants Jeff to find him good-looking on the similar photo he had made of himself. He also asked Jeff to do like he was Audrey.
      • Jeff introduced Adam to the idea of getting special birthday sex from his lady. Adam decided to take it as a challenge and that he could get a better deal. Wording it poorly, he said "every year I'm doing it, I'll be thinking of you." The next day they're openly discussing birthday deals and Adam announces that he has two, loudly asking Jeff "Is my two a little hard for you to swallow?" which turns a few heads.
      • Russell steals the homemade love coupons Adam made for Jennifer, placing them into coworker's stockings, and no one will give them back to Adam unless he agrees to fulfill the coupon's contents like an obligational contract. He ends up giving one guy a massage, doing a slow dance with a gay coworker, and it's implied that will do something very raunchy with the same guy do get back the coupon he wanted to give Jennifer the most.
      • Adam is embarrassing Jen at a full cafe by showing off his cheerleading skills. His last cheer is "We're pirate, not sailors, but pirates, but pirates. There's no need to remind us" ::shakes his ass:: "That the football team's behind us." which amuses Russell and Timmy greatly.
    • Timmy and Russell are the worst of friends with a Schadenfreude relationship and frequently sabotage each other's dates. However, Russell accidentally hitting on Timmy is a running gag throughout the series that starts almost immediately after Timmy is introduced in season 3 and culminates spectacularly in the finale episode.
      • Russell attends a party he made Timmy beg to get an invite for and thanks the host by hitting on the guest of honor's girlfriend. When confronted, Russell says he couldn't have hit on her because he's Timmy's boyfriend. When Timmy loudly dumps him, the guest of honor hooks Russell up with his gay friend Matt.
      • When Timmy is dating Allison and gets cut off from the psychical aspect of the relationship, Russell points out that Timmy is sexually frustrated and offers to "help relieve the pressure," and Timmy said he didn't care how soft and ladylike his hands were, no.
      • In season 3, when Timmy gets tired of Russell wasting his time on setting up dates and working on cancelled projects, he decided to work for Audrey, who's growing increasingly irritated with her secretary. It's played off and worded intentionally to sound as if Timmy was cheating on Russell and Audrey is cheating on Tanya. Russell is swayed back in Russell's favor when their "2 month anniversary" is brought up, and Audrey says "You're never going to leave him, are you?"
      • In one episode, Timmy and Russell have their hands on each other's knees under the table mistaking each other for their dates and hold hands, even after their dates leave. Timmy tells Jeff and Adam about it, much to Russell's dismay. By the end of the episode, Jeff, Adam, Audrey, and Jennifer watch Timmy and Russell get stuck in an extremely suggestive position on a rolling chair after tripping while playing Mannequin Head Hockey in a cookie shop.
      • Russell gets a girlfriend who is Timmy's Distaff Counterpart. At one point, Russell tells Timmy that Indians with British-accents are his "type," backed up by the time he chased after Timmy's arranged fiance, and encourages his girlfriend to look more and more like Timmy. Later, he accidentally hits on Timmy.
      • Russell asks Timmy to marry him in the last episode, to keep him from begin deported. When the pastor asks if they want to seal it with a kiss, Russell puckers up and closes in, but Timmy's not having it. Jeff makes it known that he always suspected Russell was gay for Timmy, that now it's legal and not just in his head.
      • Looking at Jeff and Audrey's baby in the finale, Russell asked Timmy if they should adopt one. Timmy said he wasn't ready to be a father. Russell joked that Timmy would be the mom.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Russell becomes this when Audrey tells him that her sister doesn't feel the same way about him as he does towards her. Although Russell tries to play it cool, it's obvious that he's completely heartbroken by the news.
    • Although some people consider it to be a case of Laser-Guided Karma due to Russell's poor treatment of women. This is even lampshaded by Audrey herself.
  • Kick the Dog: Audrey has a kick the dog moment in the episode "Reunion" where she and Jeff travel to Nebraska to attend her high school reunion. Audrey intends on rubbing it in her classmates' faces that she lives in New York City and has a great life, but when it turns out that most of her high school classmates have gone on to have rich, fulfilling lives she becomes depressed that she's unable to gloat like she wanted to. Audrey definitely comes across as rather shallow and mean-spirited in that episode.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Jeff in several episodes. He has shown himself to be quite capable of deception and tricking others into doing his bidding.
  • So Okay, It's Average: This seems to be the general opinion of television critics regarding the show. When the show was canceled in May of 2013, many journalists noted their surprise that the show managed to last for seven seasons due to the fact that it never had high ratings and it had narrowly avoided being canceled several times before. Other people have remarked that while many people like the show, virtually nobody considers it to be their favorite show.
    • As the show ended, the response was still the same, describing it as a solid show that never really set the world on fire, but did have a steady, dependable run that gave them a deep enough episode count to, again, have a steady, dependable (and therefore highly profitable) run in syndication.
      • The ongoing & post-cancellation popularity of the show is similar to Mad About You, a 90's NBC Sitcom that also focused around a childless couple in New York. It was also overshadowed in pop culture by larger shows like Seinfeld & Friends but occupied a niche that gave the cast & crew about 7 seasons of work.
  • The Scrappy: Timmy.
    • On the other hand, some fans actually consider Russell this due to how much of a selfish Jerkass he is (although his recent character development has begun to lessen this), with Timmy's passive-aggressive snarking at how utterly inept Russell to be both deeply refreshing and making him something of an Ensemble Darkhorse.
    • Timmy is more of an Ascended Extra, having started out as a one time role that was too popular to let go of, and he was asked to become a regular.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: Russell and Audrey's sister.
  • The Woobie: Adam becomes this in the later seasons. He's so naive and good-natured that he honestly believes that Russell and Jeff are his friends, when in reality they just like to make fun of him.

The Choices: Stories You Play Visual Novel

  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Audrey. She's either a great friend and a Manic Pixie Dream Girl for Nicole, an adorable Love Interest for her, or an annoying sidekick shoehorned in Nicole's Character Development.
    • Myra is either a good antagonist to Jess, or a needed foil figure in her subplot. Her being Promoted to Love Interest is either seen as a good addition or another attempt of Pixelberry to have an obligagtory Gay Option.
    • In Newlyweds, fans had this opinion of Elena. She had all the reasons to be mad at Alex for not telling her that he was briefly married long before they got together, or that she was overreacting, ruining the whole weekend for Katie and the rest of Alex's family with her bad mood.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Aunt Mallory crossed it many times during the three books, from trying to sabotage her own daughter and her nephew and nieces on getting their inheritance, but two moments are worth mentioning.
    • After finding out Violet was pregnant and about to be a single mother without a job, she arranged for her baby to be given away to a foster family without even telling Violet. Violet understandably got mad and disowned her.
    • Even if she didn't intend for this to go incredibly wrong, putting a hole in Katie's boat so she can't get to her own wedding definetely qualifies as the most despicable thing she has ever done in the books (which is something considering that she gave real weapons to children just to get Jess fired, or how she treats Violet, her own daughter, in general). Violet rightfully calls her out by saying "What did you expect? That the boat was going to grow wings and float her to safety?!"
  • The Scrappy:
  • Seasonal Rot: Book 3 is regarded as the most stretched from the three books, making Katie's wedding planning unnecesarily long. What takes the cake on this regard is the Epilogue "Newlyweds", which doesn't give a good story to Katie, Jess and Nicole, Alex's entire subplot is resolved in one brief scene, after Elena spent three episodes being bitchy about it, and consists on five chapters of pure filler. Many fans of the books even regard this epilogue as needless.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic:
    • Nana became this for some of the readers. While itís later revealed that she tried to trigger some character development on her grandchildren, she ends up coming off as controlling even after her passing, like forcing Alex and Katie marry their partners (granted, she didnít know Trent was cheating on Katie and Elena was never Alexís girlfriend), resulting in Katie marrying her eventual husband after only knowing him for less than three months (and luckily this turned into a Happily Married, which is a very rare outcome given the circumstances). Later it's revealed that she treated Mallory as The Unfavorite, and at one point battled her on the custody of Katie, Alex and the twins.
    • Katie only having cold feet, but not because of the Reality Ensues of only knowing her new fiancé for less than two months, but only because she discovered that her parents' marriage wasnít perfect. What added more to her detractors is the premium flashback from Trent's perspective, where it's revealed that, in addition of his growing insecurities, Katie did very little effort to keep their relationship alive.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Many fans consider Katie to be this, since she has no traits and her only purpose in the story is to be an Author Avatar and get married with any of the hot Love Interests. One of the most shared opinions of the story is that the subplots with the siblings and Violet are more interesting than following Katie and the Choices Formula.
  • What an Idiot!: The cliffhanger of Book 1 has Katie signing a contract in Greek that she didn't even read, handed out by her douche ex-boyfriend Trent, with the excuse that it's an issue with her passport. What could possibly go wrong?
    You'd Expect: That Katie took her time to ask what she's about to sign and check it first, since Dinesh and Alex, both lawyers, are on board.
    Instead: She takes Trent's word and signs it without reading because she's in a hurry to go on her date.
    Result: What Katie signed turns out to be a marriage certificate in Greek, 100% legal. She has to get a lot of help from Dinesh finding a loophole in the inheritance, Leo calling a favor from his Royal parents, William getting her a divorce lawyer, and Dean getting information from Trent, to clear up her own fuck up.