After being exploited by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant in the Sky1 comedy travel show An Idiot Abroad (on the Science Channel here in the States), Karl Pilkington has teamed up with Sky1 to create his own travel program, The Moaning of Life (again, picked up by the Science Channel). This program takes Pilkington around the world to study how other people deal with the big questions in life regarding marriage, kids, and death.
In episode one, Pilkington tackles marriage. He’s been with his girlfriend for 20 years and hasn’t thought much of marriage. He sets out to India to see why other people do. First, he goes to an agency that helps him pick out a single woman they think he would be compatible with. He meets with her parents to see if they’re interested in arranging a marriage. After Karl admits that he doesn’t have any education, his parents aren’t doctors, and he used to steal chocolate bars as a kid, they agree to let him marry their daughter. Pilkington has a (rare) laugh later when he realizes that his girlfriend has no idea what he’s been up to on this trip.
Next, Pilkington joins a private detective whose job it is to follow around prospective husbands to see if they are who they said they are. They catch a “non-smoker” smoking. Later, Pilkington becomes part of a wedding planning committee, and his job is to make sure that the groom’s hat stays on straight and that everyone at the reception has enough peanuts.
Pilkington travels to L.A. where he partakes in a pheromone party, which entails singles coupling up based on the scent of their dirty t-shirts. Pilkington likes the simple science of this. Then, it’s to Vegas, where he’s introduced to drive-thru weddings. Ten minutes, and you’re married. This is his favorite wedding yet.
Finally, one happy couple is lucky enough to have Karl Pilkington arrange their wedding. Inspired by the pheromone party, this wedding takes place in a laundromat. The couple walks down the aisle, lined with washing machines, holding their baskets of laundry. At the pulpit, they trade baskets and give the other’s a good whiff to make sure that this is what they want to spend the rest of their lives with. Then, they toss the dirty laundry into a machine, where two loads become one. The clothes washes, symbolizing a fresh new start. After the ceremony, the couple dances as bubbles float around the room.
The Moaning of Life is filled with classic Karl Pilkington observations, like how you can’t avoid your family pressuring you to get married by saying you’re gay, because even gay people get married now. He does at times get annoyed, but you never see him get properly angry. Is it because all this traveling has calmed him down? Is Karl Pilkington becoming adjusted to the craziness of life and the strangeness of other cultures? Or is it just that there’s no one at Sky1 brave enough to pull the rug out from under him like Ricky & Steve repeatedly did during Idiot? It’s fair. If he’s the TV presenter going to make you money, you don’t want to scare him off by making him angry (Pilkington tried to quit Idiot on multiple occasions), but it was those moments of anger in Idiot that got the best reactions out of him. It will be interesting to see how the rest of the series lives up to the footprints Ricky & Steve carved out.
Karl Pilkington plugging the show on Alan Carr’s Chatty Man: