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Susan Saint James,
Hope and Michael are a married couple in their thirties, living in Philadelphia, and struggling with everyday adult angst. Michael runs an ad agency with his friend Elliot, whose marriage to Nancy is beginning to show the cracks of age, as is the friendship between Hope and her best friend Ellyn. Michael's best friend, Gary, on the other hand, is trying to get on with his womanising life, and get over the mutually-destructive affair he had with Michael's cousin, Melissa. It all sounds like just another soap, but is given a unique atmosphere by the production team (the Bedford Falls company, also responsible for 'My So Called Life') whose intelligent scripts, believable characters and frequent dips into the slightly surreal world of the character's minds places the series as one of the highlights of the late 1980s. Written by
Spiral Lobster <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I just read a comment by a guy who said he couldn't feel sorry for characters who had great cars and houses etc as if these characters were rich. I'm not sure what show he watched but 30something was one of the few shows on television where its characters lived in homes that actually reflected their middle class incomes. Hope & Michael lived in an old (albeit big) fixer-upper and Nancy & Elliot's house was a typical suburban tract ranch house while the single characters, Melissa, Gary & Ellen all had apartments that reflected their varying income levels. Michael drove an old faded car that maybe 15 years earlier had been a higher priced foreign sports job. This same person's comments go on to say that no real guy ever watched the show except for one wimp that he knew. I think we can all read between the lines of what this reviewer is all about and we don't need my adding any personal reaction to those comments. On to more, grown-up, shall we say, observations about 30something.....
30something deserves its repuation as one of the best written dramatic shows that aired in the 80s. Storylines were original whether addressing traditional issues of career and homelife or veering off into sidelines as when the character Hope finds an old trunk in her attic and the show revolves around letters she finds in the attic. The show blended humor and drama and allowed it's characters flaws and strengths and showed relationships struggling, falling apart and enduring.
There were many favorite shows and storylines for me. The entire sequence of shows where Michael & Elliot plot to takeover their advertising firm from the evil boss, Miles. The aforementioned WWII memory show. Who could forget the couple of shows that dealt with Gary's unexpected death in a car crash? And what about the shows detailing Gary's finally finding a woman to marry, Susannah and how everyone disliked her! Seeing Melissa find happiness in the arms of a younger man, Lee. And one of my favorite episodes, the marriage show between forever neurotic Ellen and her cartoonist boyfriend Billy?
The show was great and my wife & I still talk about the characters. I always jokingly said that "Hope was perfect" because of all the characters she was probably the most disciplined and level headed of the group. Even the character of Nancy, who in less competenant actor's hands could have come off as whiny was brought to the screen as a woman who had her hands full with an emotionally immature husband but was just trying to improve her marriage and her lot.
Another thing that is important to note about this show is that the drama had lots of humor running through it. Not over the top, comedy show humor, but humor nonetheless. For me, it will always be the perfect hour long dramatic show, because it was a show where I REALLY felt I could know these people. It wasn't some turgid, life threatening hospital show or some backstabbing cold blooded lawyer show or some cops and robbers show that my life will never be about. It was about, people like me, who had some creative impulses and who were married with kids, or before they were married struggling to establish a real adult life and get over the fact that college was long gone, etc. Time to grow up and deal maturely with your own self and those around you. Time to do it with discipline and humor and caring for others.
This was a great show with perfect casting. Now when will some cable channel start broadcasting these shows again so I can watch em all over again?
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