Television

Coming Up: Coupons. Now: Coupons. Previously: Coupons.

I want to talk about my unabashed love for the television show Extreme Couponing (actually, I sort of don’t because I’m horribly embarrassed about it) but first I need to talk about my unrestrained hatred for the annoying habit some TV shows have of constantly showing you what is coming up next before they go to the commercial break, then showing you the thing they’ve told you is coming up, and then recapping that same exact thing again after the next commercial break.

This practice means you see certain moments of the show three times. With commercials, a half-hour show is only 22 minutes long, so if you’re repeating half the scenes three times, you might want to consider that you don’t have quite enough content for a show. Or, maybe it’s that the producers don’t think we can manage to pay attention through a two minute commercial break. Thanks for the vote of confidence.

For example:

NARRATOR

Coming up on Hats For Dogs, we’ll meet Gustav, a man who really loves putting hats on his dogs.

Upcoming clip is shown:

GUSTAV

I love putting hats on my dogs!

commercial break

NARRATOR

Today on Hats For Dogs, here’s Gustav, who has dogs, and puts hats on them, and loves it.

GUSTAV

I love putting hats on my dogs!

commercial break

NARRATOR

We’ve been following Gustav, who loves dogs, and loves hats, and loves one being on the other one.

Previous clip shown:

GUSTAV

I love putting hats on my dogs!

Extreme Couponing, which airs on The Learning Channel, does this, and it’s irritating as hell but I forgive it because I LOVE THIS SHOW SO MUCH. There was a pilot episode of this a couple months ago, showing people collecting coupons, planning shopping trips, buying hundreds of dollars of groceries, and paying just a couple dollars for them.

Seriously, they showed one woman who bought some $600 worth of groceries, and with all her coupons it came to around six dollars. Another guy spent almost a thousand bucks and after his discount, he only paid around $25.

And I was like, wow, these people are geniuses. Why the hell aren’t I doing this? It became clear pretty quickly why I’m not doing this, because these people collect coupons like it’s their full-time job. Five or six hours to prepare for a single trip, collecting coupons from papers and the internet, matching the coupons with the best deals to get the biggest discount, creating elaborate spreadsheets to track everything, gaming the system by organizing separate check-outs, all to save every penny possible. That’s just way too much work.

Then something else started to dawn on me: these people are genuinely insane. They have real mental disorders. Saving 95% on your grocery purchases is great if you went on a huge shopping spree, like, every couple months. But most of these people go shopping four or five times a week. They have entire two-car garages full of food and goods. One woman has hundreds of rolls of paper towels stuffed under her childrens’ beds. One dude on the pilot bought a couple hundred sticks of deodorant. Why? I have to buy deodorant maybe twice a year. My armpits would have to outlive me by a century to need all that.

A woman on the show last night bought something like 70 jars of mustard. She paid almost nothing for them, but my wife went and checked the expiration date on our mustard, and that stuff is only good for maybe nine months or a year. Even on an all-mustard diet, which few doctors recommend, you could never get through it all.

So, what seems at first like some really smart shopping and saving quickly becomes a documentary about some seriously insane people buying acres of stuff they don’t need and will never use. Okay, you save a thousand dollars on a shopping trip, but you’re losing money by not having a job because you’re too busy organizing coupons, and you’re also paying rent on rooms stuffed with things that will expire before you get a chance to use them. These people are hoarders, albeit incredibly organized ones.

There were a couple of couponers who seemed like they were genuinely coming out ahead: a woman with a bunch of kids who probably tear through all that food in a month or so, and a woman who only shops once in a while. The rest of them: tragic, obsessive nuts. It’s fascinating and horrible and I can’t look away. Though, if I did look away, I wouldn’t miss anything because they recap the show every three minutes.

My wife and I discussed creating our own show, based on our personal habits with coupons, called Half-Assed Couponing. It would feature us never really clipping coupons, because we don’t, and on the rare occasions we do clip coupons, we tend to forget to ever bring them to the store. Here’s a sample scene:

NARRATOR

Coming up on Half-Assed Couponing, we meet the Livingstons, who hardly ever clip coupons. But what will happen on today’s shopping trip? Will everything go as planned?

Upcoming clip is shown:

ME

Ah, shit. I forgot to bring the coupon.

commercial break

NARRATOR

The Livingstons are half-assed about their couponing. Now, they’re at the grocery store, ready to shop.

ME

Ah, shit. I forgot to bring the coupon.

commercial break

NARRATOR

We’ve been following the Livingstons, who forgot to bring their coupon, as we already showed you. Twice. Do you remember that, stupid? In case you didn’t, here it is again.

Previous clip shown:

ME

Ah, shit. I forgot to bring the coupon.

See, that’s 22 minutes of entertainment right there.

Comments

  1. Jacquilynne says:

    My version of couponing consists of sometimes noticing that my grocery store has a coupon for an item I’m buying immediately in front of the item I’m buying. I optimistically estimate that 9 times out of 10, I manage to get that coupon all the way to the checkout. I don’t know where it goes the other 10% of the time, but I’m generally too lazy to go back and get another one if the first one disappears.

    I find it exceptionally irritating that Costco now requires you to actually bring your Costco coupons to Costco to use them. They used to keep a set of coupons at the counter and just scan them as necessary, and that was much more in line with my ability to coupon. What’s next? Requiring that I remove the coupon from the little sheet of paper for them and present them *only* the coupons I’m actually using?

  2. Could you imagine getting in line behind a lady with $600 worth of coupons? There should be a lane specifically for people like that. And check-writers.

  3. I once remembered a coupon for something I don’t usually buy. But, I figured, why not try it out since I have a coupon for it? While I was picking up the item that the coupon was for, I put the coupon down to rearrange the other items in the basket so I would have room for the coupon item. I went to the checkout line. Paid for groceries, left the store, and then remembered I had never picked up the coupon from the aisle where I picked up the item and did not save any money on an item that I normally don’t use. Good times.

  4. Yesterday I dove into the trash can next to the mailbox area in our complex and extracted three pages of Carl’s Jr. coupons that I knew other people had thrown it. It’s the first time I’ve done this and I feel pretty good about it. 2 for 1 turkey burgers for a month! I actually walked away from the bin, feeling slightly embarrassed at the possibility of someone spotting me, only to shuffle back to the can a couple times. Did I get that right, “Carl’s Jr.?” What does that mean…like, Carl is in possession of a Jr.? Shouldn’t it be like Carl Jr.’s or…I don’t know.

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