Review – Extreme Couponing
Extreme Couponing – TLC – 9:00/8:00pm Wednesday – USA
As a network TLC have a knack for naming their guaranteed-to-be-crappy reality shows things that make you curious enough that you might actually tune in to something called I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, or Sister Wives, or 19 Kids And Counting. Needless to say the moment I heard the words Extreme Couponing it piqued my curiosity. The combination of the exciting word ‘extreme’ and the otherwise mundane word ‘couponing’ was more than enough justification for me to sit down and watch what was almost assuredly going to be a crappy television show.
I wasn’t the only one lured in by the absurd combination of couponing and the extremeness of that couponing as 2.6 million other people also tuned in for the premiere episode. To put that in perspective that’s three times as many people as tuned into the season finale of Terriers. Poor Terriers, if only you’d been titled Extreme Couponing you’d still be with us. For those that did tune in we were treated to one of the strangest shows to come along in a while.
Extreme Couponing played out like most reality shows, we meet a couple of people who coupon to the extreme, we follow them on a shopping trip and look at how much money they saved on their coupons. Unfortunately the show doesn’t really explain any of it and it left me in such a state of bewilderment I didn’t know where to turn. The first episode featured two separate women who each have houses packed full of stock they’ve bought under their coupon habit. It also showed them score some ridiculous savings on their shopping trips, but at no point did it explain how or why any of this was happening.
Putting aside the couponing itself for a moment, why are these women stockpiling so much food and other products? One family had 70 boxes of cereal in their home, but for what purpose? Are they addicted to collecting? Do they actually eat all that cereal? Is it for the coming apocalypse? Why do they buy so much stuff? When this woman goes to the supermarket she buys 60 bottles of mustard and her husband doesn’t even like mustard. Why does she need to do a shop like this four times a week? Extreme Couponing does not have anything that remotely sounds like an answer.
The narrator insists that Extreme Couponing will have some shopping trips that you’ll need to see to believe, and that’s true but even after seeing them I was dumbfounded as to how they could happen and then enraged that the show didn’t feel like clueing us in. One woman paid just $5.97 for over $500 worth of groceries. How? I don’t know, she used a membership card, she handed over some coupons and – tada! – instant savings. It would be good if the show explained how they can get such ridiculous savings. What combinations of coupons does somebody use to bring a $1,902.63 shopping bill down to $103.72?
The show does give brief examples of the sorts of savings these extreme couponers are garnering, but most of them don’t make any sense. The second family was actually earning a dollar for every box of cereal they bought. How is that even possible? Why don’t they just spend their life buying cereal?! They could make a fortune! What does doubling a coupon mean? What about tripling a coupon? Why don’t any of these stores have a ‘one coupon per item per person per day’ policy to save them from giving away thousands of dollars of stock at a 98% discount?
I was endlessly fascinated by this show, and I would love to have given it a higher rating but Extreme Couponing just hung me out to dry. This show left me with more questions than the Lost finale. It is truly amazing that these people dedicate this much time to save an incredible amount of money, but Extreme Couponing has to do some set up especially in the first episode. You can’t just show us people cutting out coupons from newspapers and then buying a lot of the same product and not tell us why. What process do they use to decide which coupons on to choose? Does using the same coupon a certain number of times have any added benefit? And seriously, what the hell are they going to do with so many damn cereal boxes?
Good, Alright, Bad Or Ugly?