Why ‘Chicago Fire’ — and TV in general — needs more Plouch

SHARE Why ‘Chicago Fire’ — and TV in general — needs more Plouch
SHARE Why ‘Chicago Fire’ — and TV in general — needs more Plouch

Television has no shortage of hot young couples hooking up.

Just last week saw the debut of three new TV rom-coms revolving around the relationships of sexy singles.

But there’s another newly courting couple on TV: Sgt. Trudy Platt (“Chicago P.D.”) and firefighter Randy “Mouch” McHolland (“Chicago Fire”), better known to shippers like me as Plouch.

Plouch has something truly special. That’s because the small screen rarely pays attention to the romantic lives of card-carrying AARP members who — as Platt would put it — don’t necessarily have the bone structure of, say, Madeleine Stowe (“Revenge”) or “Mad Men’s” silver fox Roger Sterling.

“I’ve always had issues with that,” said Christian Stolte, the Skokie actor who plays sedentary Mouch on the NBC drama. He turns 52 next week. “I see some British series … where that’s just not the case — where you get interesting actors, interesting faces. They’re not the most glamorous. They’re not head-turners. But they look the way people look. I don’t know why we decided in this country that we can’t have that. Or, we can have it but we don’t want to see those people fall in love. We don’t want to see that part of their life.”

Stolte was quick to point out that he thinks Amy Morton, the actress who portrays his onscreen squeeze, is beautiful. The two go way back in Chicago’s theater scene. He was the understudy for the McMurphy role in Steppenwolf’s 2000 production of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” where Morton did a turn as Nurse Ratched.

He noted that the Oak Park-born thespian in her mid-50s doesn’t get dolled up to play the no-nonsense, sarcastic desk sergeant on “Chicago P.D.”

The end result is a couple who looks a lot like the mere mortals watching from their living rooms, right down to the dates on their birth certificates.

Over the past five years, the television viewer has aged 5 percent faster than the average American, according to a recent Moffett Nathanson Research report titled “This Really Is the Golden Age of TV.” Across the big four broadcast networks — ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox — the median age of television watchers has hit an all-time high at 54 years old.

Don’t these viewers deserve to see their love lives reflected back at them as much as the Dawsey and Lindseride cohorts?

“It’s a youth-centric country,” Morton said. “There’s rarely been a year in my whole life where I watched TV and there’s been more than two shows that deal with mature characters. I just feel real lucky to have a damn job … to have such a fleshed-out character and be able to have a relationship and be a real person. So often on TV they want you to be two-dimensional: You’re the Jerk. You’re the This. You’re the That. This is very different.”

As is often the case in real-life romances, the advent of Plouch as a couple has changed Platt and Mouch individually. There’s more kick in the step of the man whose nickname stems from the furniture he frequents at the firehouse. Love has made Platt a bit softer around the edges — and apparently pretty frisky after a few glasses of Barolo.

The seeds of their relationship were sown in “Fire’s” season finale, when they both migrated to the cake table at Chief Boden’s wedding. (While Boden is no spring chicken, let’s not forget that the impetus for said wedding was that his bride is pregnant; Platt’s eggs are past their sell-by date.) Their shared sweet tooth surfaced again in Tuesday’s episode, when Platt showed up at Firehouse 51 with a plate of homemade brownies for her injured lover.

“It just struck us: Let’s put them together and see what happens,” “Fire” co-creator Michael Brandt said about Plouch’s origin story. “It could be crazy lightning in a bottle — and it was.

“We just had this idea of them touching hands and being unable to speak because they were so enamored with each other,” Brandt added. “The fact that Platt thinks Mouch is the most handsome, sexy man she’s ever seen and he thinks she’s this tigress, it’s just comedy gold.”

As soon as Stolte got wind of the plan, he lobbied — make that begged — for it.

“It’s a great match,” Stolte said about Plouch, who had a date to see the tribute band Led Zepagain in the season premiere. “I want them to find more bizarre things for us to do together.

“I have a conversation in a [future] episode with Severide and I’m trying to provide him an analogy for something,” Stolte said. “I say, ‘Did you ever throw a pot on a pottery wheel? Trudy and I took a class — the whole ‘Ghost’ thing. It’s very sensual.’ I love that … they have this weird, rich life that we don’t know much about.”

Here’s hoping we get to find out more.

“We haven’t been able to explore it as much as we normally would,” Brandt said, “but I think it’s something we’ll keep together and see where it goes.”


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Follow @lorirackl


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