At LanguageHumanities, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.
The phrase jumping the shark has been in use ever since the Happy Days character Fonzie water-skied over a shark in an episode of the show. This term is used when a television goes past its sell-by date and loses its appeal for the audience. The latest jumping phrase to appear, thanks to megastar actor Tom Cruise, is jumping the couch.
Jumping the couch is taken from Cruise's appearance on Oprah Winfrey's chat show. When questioned by Winfrey over his relationship with actress Katie Holmes, Cruise jumped on Winfrey's couch, and to many, appeared to lose the plot completely. Proclaiming undying love for Holmes, Cruise bounced up and down repeatedly on Winfrey's couch in front of the watching world.
Cruise danced on the couch, crouched on one knee, and pounded the floor with his fist. Many watchers found the performance endearing, but many more watched with a kind of incredulous fascination. You could hear jaws dropping around the world. Some have said it was pure car crash television. Newspapers, magazines, and many talk shows discussed Cruise's jumping the couch moment.
The phrase started to become widespread after the Oprah show. Jumping the couch now has a place in the Internet Urban dictionary, which defines it as the moment when someone has gone completely off the deep end. Jumping the couch has been given a lease of life by media folk and was recently used in a column by New York Times writer Maureen Dowd.
Just as jumping the shark means the end is near for a television show, a similar consequence was to await Cruise after his jumping the couch moment. Sumner Redstone, the owner and chief executive officer of Viacom and Paramount Pictures, parted company with Cruise, claiming that the way in which Cruise conducts his personal life is career suicide. Redstone mentioned the jumping the couch moment in particular as a reason to part company with Cruise.
However, Cruise's jumping the couch moment should not cause him much concern. He is still ranked as one of world's highest paid actors. Last year, he managed to bring home 31 million US dollars (USD) - more than enough to buy Oprah a new couch.
Although many people found Cruise's jumping the couch moment sweet, many more find such public displays of affection, or insanity, irritating. The streets of Hollywood are littered with stars who have made huge public displays of everlasting love. Four months later, usually the length of a Hollywood marriage, many have moved onto someone else. Cruise is no doubt rich and talented enough to weather his jumping the couch moment, but any future arguments he has with Holmes over leaving the toilet seat up can easily be ended as she utters the words, "what happened to jumping the couch, Tom?"