At the genetic level, all human beings are about 99% identical — something like that. I can’t be bothered to look it up. The point is that we all eat the same foods, have the same body parts, use similar thought processes and like trashy dating shows. But not this one.

The 5th Wheel is an also ran, behind Shipmates and Blind Date. Partly because the premise is so contrived. Two guys and two girls date, then switch, then a “fifth wheel” is introduced, and everybody dates more, then everybody has to pick who they want, then they have to play a round robin Monopoly tournament for the right to continue dating that person. Or something.

What takes the show from being mediocre to something I’m taking the time to write about is prudishness. OK. Lamentably, if a girl pulls down her top in front of a camera, the footage can’t be shown on free TV in America. That is not the show’s fault. But I saw an episode in which two girls kissed three times. Unbelievably, they blocked out the image so we can’t see the kisses.

Now, I’m not so desperate that I need to see a couple of chicks smooching on the tube for titillation. [Ed Note: Yeah, sure you’re not.] It’s not that I feel particularly cheated or deprived for missing the kisses. It’s the fucking principle. This is 2002. The North won the Civil War, so why is programming throughout the country being modified according to the tastes of a few million bible-belt bumpkins? Whoever is producing The Fifth Wheel is totally gutless. And stupid. If you have to alienate one demographic, which should it be? Sophisticated, middle class 18-35 year olds in the big cities? Or Louisiana Wal-Mart employees who spend their weekends handling snakes and writing letters of protest about homosexuality on TV?