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When Allie Lowell divorces her husband and gets custody of their two children, she moves to New York City and moves in with her best friend, Kate McArdle, also divorced and raising a daughter. They form a unique kind of family unit in this comedy from the 1980s. Written by
"Kate & Allie" wasn't just a typical sitcom. It has a certain level of importance in the History of Women on Television. Show creator Sherry Coben clearly wanted to tell the story of independent females making it in the city. And the program's producer/director Bill Persky was partially responsible for another iconic independent TV woman: Marlo Thomas' Ann Marie from "That Girl." You might say this scenario was one possible evolution of that character.
Kate McArdle (Susan Saint James) and Allie Lowell (Jane Curtin) were two divorced women with kids, who were friends from school. Kate was a struggling travel agent with her daughter Emma (Ari Meyers) and a ne'er do well actor as her former husband. Allie was a Connecticut Doctor's ex with two: Jennie (Allison Smith) and Chip (Freddie Koehler) and presumably a decent alimony settlement. In order to help each other out, they all lived together in a sprawling street level duplex apartment in Greenwich Village. Kate had a bedroom, Allie had a bedroom, Chip, the lone bit of male representation, had his room and the two girls shared a room. What was the rent on this place in the 1980s? There was a slight "Odd Couple" element to the story lines, as Kate tended to be free-spirited and fun, and Allie typically was conservative and more realistic/pessimistic. Their ex husbands would occasionally appear but the focus was always on the two women, the issues they dealt with and the problems they faced trying to have careers and raise their kids well and even sometimes have a social life in New York City.
The charm of the show was in the chemistry of the players. There was a real sense of family coming from the five regular performers and that helped to create a believability that came through on camera. Somehow though, when Ari Meyers left the program, the spell seemed to have been broken. In the episodes where Ari was no longer a part of the cast, the program seemed to lack something. Perhaps the writing suffered, and the story lines fell into more typical sitcom style areas. The setting also changed as the women moved from their homey/funky Village digs into some sterile skyscraper, and the show only lasted one season after Ari's departure.
This was one of only two prime time series that were shot in New York during this era of television. The other was "The Cosby Show." "Kate & Allie" filmed at the iconic "Ed Sullivan Theater," which has been home to "Late Show With David Letterman" since 1993.
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