Ice Loves Coco (E!, Sundays at 10:30 p.m. ET) is a new reality show. It being that the program is above average both as a confectionary comedy about domestic life and as an artifact of our delirious pop culture, its title bears parsing.
"Ice" is an O.G. Known fully as Ice-T, he's the charismatic fellow born Tracy Marrow—a contemporary American artist working in a variety of media. As a veteran rapper, he's been a walking nightmare of a talking psychopath, a new jack hustler, and your pusher. As a rocker, he's most famous for playing a cop killer; as an actor, for playing a cop. As the author, with Douglas Century, of the recent Ice: A Memoir of Gangster Life and Redemption—From South Central to Hollywood, he dispenses aperçus in the tradition of Epictetus, La Rochefoucauld, and Sun Tzu's Art of War, such as when defining a crucial difference between two underworld types: "A thug will hurt you bad. A gangster will have you hurt bad."
"Coco" is the glamour model born Nicole Natalie Austin. Coco is a white chick with a large butt, which is nice work if you can get it, especially nowadays. The culture may or may not be forever lurching downward, but its eyes are certainly trained on the posterior. Have you been out of the house lately? Having gone out, did you notice any trends in ladies' trousers, leggings, and short-short-shorts? Have you wondered, however briefly, whether, exiting your door, you had somehow entered a wormhole to Brazil? The supply of tight nether garments has increased to meet the demand created by the relaxation of bourgeois standards of sexual display. I am trying to find a delicate way to say that there is a lot of ass out there in America, in the year of, good God, 2011.
Perhaps this is actually a global phenomenon, and in 2012, every network in the world with broadcasting rights to the London Olympics will assign one reporter-producer team to each of Pippa Middleton's glutei. Or perhaps this is our national destiny. We are a country rich in this most natural of resources. As Zadie Smith once observed during a stroll through Cambridge, Mass., "These American girls, man, they're built like brick shithouses."
It is the distinction of Coco, seated as she is on the broad line dividing the Aphrodite Kallipygos and the Hottentot Venus, to exist as a toddling caricature of some kind of powerful archetype. Her constituency would seem to include the readers of Bangin' magazine, the post-feminist audience of Jezebel.com, and the HuffPo faithful. It is the exact opposite of a career-ending mistake when Coco posts photographs of her bulges on Twitter.
It is easy enough to like Ice, to like Coco, but what is love? Satisfactory definitions are exceedingly rare, but in his memoir, Ice constructively ventures that "love isn't looking somebody in the eyes—it's two people looking in the same direction." The first episode of the show—centering on Ice and Coco as helpmates focused on harmony of spirit and careers in entertainment—renders that abstraction concrete, and only 10 minutes or so after taking Coco's measurements on-screen: 39½, 24, 40.
Ice pulls Coco aside during a bridal-wear photo shoot that isn't going terribly well. "Be yourself," he advises. "Probably the reason they hired you was to get a little more funky." Coco, theretofore prim and proper in her white gown, starts pushing her protuberances around, and the photographer thinks it's brilliant. What is love? That's what love is. Indeed, the sight of Coco in the wedding gown gives Ice the idea that they should renew their vows, which they did on the eve of this show's debut, in a savvy marketing move.
Ice Loves Coco is a classic odd-couple-at-home sitcom. He's a touch grouchy, and she is ceaselessly effervescent. (When Coco proposes that their bulldog, Spartacus, wear a tuxedo for their vow-renewal ceremony, Ice says, "I seen too many episodes of Bridezillas, I can't fuck with that.") But together, recalling their early courtship, they quote "Baby's Got Back" in unison, and that's what counts.
An implicit question of Ice Loves Coco is whether the two will procreate and, if so, whether we'll see it on-screen. Note the latent tension in the scene where Coco sits at her sparkly pink laptop and chats with her pregnant sister in Arizona, while a gently gruff Ice says, "I don't have nobody to Skype to." I, for one, sincerely hope that a little chip off the old Ice block—or an adorable little Coco puff—waits in their future.
In other programming news, Lifetime announced on Tuesday that it was canceling a special titled Marrying Hef, after a Playboy model named Crystal Harris had second, or perhaps first thoughts, about marrying a satyriasis-addled magazine publisher six decades her senior. Perhaps Ms. Harris realized that something's a little off about a man who has spent so much time actively avoiding an exclusive partnership. "Monogamy is the bomb," as Ice writes in his memoir. "I live by the code: One down bitch is worth ten funky hoes." Too true.