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Ria, a happily married suburban housewife, reaches the age where she feels as if life is passing her by. Being taken for granted by her butterfly collecting dentist husband doesn't help. So, when the opportunity for an affair comes up she tries to decide whether she loves her husband enough to be faithful to him. Written by
Dave Smith <email@example.com>
This series could very well be the best Britcom ever, and that is saying a great deal, considering the competitors (Fawlty Towers, Good Neighbours, to name just two).
What made Butterflies so superior, even to the best of the best, is that it did not just exemplify great, classic, classy and intelligent comedy, but it also expanded horizons, reflecting - flawlessly, gently, and at every detail - the great social change that was occurring in Britain at the time.
I remember watching this show as a teenager and being in awe of everything about it. The lifestyle depicted was remarkable in itself. This was the first time I saw real people using cordless phones. And the wardrobe of all the characters was far removed from the goofy seventies attire still seen in North America at the time. Then there were the decors, shop fronts, cars. These people - even the layabout sons, with their philosophical approach to life and epigrammatic humor
were sophisticated. They were examples of the "New Europeans" that
would come to have an impact on life and style throughout the world in the coming decade (1980s).
Of course, the premise was strange and fantastic. The idea that someone who was living the suburban dream could be so discontent and restless was revolutionary, particularly to North Americans for whom happiness was always defined as money and things (sure the situation was depicted in American movies and TV, but not with the intensity of Butterflies or the movie Montenegro). And, if the premise was not surprising enough, the means by which it was expressed took it to the extreme. A potential affair that was not really about sex, or even romance? Butterflies dazzled many, but it must have left some people smacking their foreheads in disbelief... at the time anyway.
Butterflies turned out to be - in so many ways - prophetic. It documented, ahead of its time - post-modern ennui, all-pervasive lifestyle, the notion of emotional infidelity, and generational disconnect and male discontent (portrayed perfectly by the strained father-son relationships). It is too bad this series has not been rediscovered in a big way, and all those involved given credit for creating a meaningful snapshot of a certain time and place, and foreseeing all the slickness and angst that was to come.
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