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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
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?
Finest ensemble drama series I have ever seen. It's 13 years since it
finished yet it's still keenly missed by it's many devotees. Ths is
made worse because it's not available on video or DVD, unlike other
series' made by it's creators.
It suffered from the label of being 'yuppie' & 'whiney', probably because the first series took a little time to settle into a rhythm. Yet it was anything but, being both serious and funny about the issues which affect everyone. Yet it never descended into a soap opera and the acting, writing and staging was of a consistently high standard. It's a pity that it ended so suddenly, without a real resolution.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Spoilers may be here, if you haven't seen the series all the way
I recall the criticisms of this show at the time of its original broadcast: It was called a wine and brie look at self-absorbed, privileged babyboomers that every self-respecting lumpenprol should be insulted to be expected by the network to care about. (This was the time that saw the launch of Rosanne and Married With Children, after all, as well as the escalation of trash TV/talk TV into a national phenomenon.) I never watched thirtysomething until it reran for years on a popular cable network. Then I stumbled on a single episode one day while scanning, and I was immediately hooked. It hit me hard: How could I have missed this gem the first time? Had I been turned off to it by the universal invocation of yuppie imagery used to condemn it in its time? Probably so.
I taped the entire series in its eventual reincarnation in a matter of weeks. I never missed an episode, and watched each development voraciously, as one imagines an earlier generation may have a serialized novel by Dickens. But ya know what? Aside from certain episodes I have shown to friends, to turn them on to the show, I have seldom re-watched any of these shows. The tapes wait in the hangar for a time when a desperate nostalgia drives me to check this series out again. I do mean that one line summary, the title of this note, in the best possible way. But there is something here, in this decade+ old series, that is totally lacking in most TV and film today. That something would be a sense of what I will call emotional verisimilitude. Whether it was nudging your funnybone or tugging your heartstrings or mordantly evoking the battle of the sexes, thirtysomething rang true for anybody who has ever been there. --And for anybody with a brain and empathy and imagination who hasn't been there.
I believe it is the truth, as in The Truth, that makes it painful to look at a lot of times. Far from coddling a bunch of self-absorbed adults who refused to grow up, it put a mirror up to a good part of the generational demographic, forcing us to relive scenes from our life that we'd rather forget, or reminding us that there are hard days ahead. The quintessential episode goes like this: Michael's father comes to visit the family at holiday wearing an obvious and somewhat ill-fitting hairpiece. After general whispering within the family (they think he's getting vain in his old age, too) and a bit of hard ribbing by Melissa, he makes a nearly inaudible statement. "It's the chemo." That's how the episode in which Michael loses his father begins. And it ends with Michael Steadman crouched on the floor of a dark room, crying. Strong stuff. Throughout the run of the show marriages failed; more people got cancer; a major character gets killed on the bike ride to and from work; people are mistreated with impunity at work and then fired; some of the characters' ambitions, their hope that they might be somehow talented or special, are trashed. Just like real life. If TV wasn't a low common denominator vehicle for commercials, I think we might be tempted to call thirtysomething high drama, or art, or something that really mattered. Despite the vehicle, I think it was all those things, anyway.
Ten Big Stars.
I miss watching this show. It was entertaining and thoughtful in some cases such as when Nancy had cancer. The cast handled divorce, the perils of daily life, issues with kids, love with each other, etc. I think the men seemed to be kind of immature compared to Hope and Nancy, but I loved all the characters regardless of how they acted. I looked forward to my weekly time with them. I was only in my early to late 20's when it was on, but I can say that some of the angst that they went through, I also went through, so in some of the episodes I could relate. I wish it were still on although at this point we would be calling it FiftySomething. LOL!!
The line above was how Lifetime plugged this show about yuppies when they
repeated the four series; Fascinating Aida chose to describe the likes of
Michael, Eliot et al as "Yawningly Uninteresting People Paid Irritatingly
Excessive Salaries." Many non-fans of "thirtysomething" tended to agree, but
despite not turning thirtysomething myself until well after I'd seen Edward
Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz's compelling series, I begged and beg to
Focusing on Michael and Hope Seligman and their daughter Janey, Eliot and Nancy Weston and their children (Ethan and the other one), and their single friends - professor and Bjorn Borg-lookalike Gary, husky-voiced businesswoman Ellyn and photographer Melissa - they exhibited an Alfie-like tendency to wonder "What's it all about?" but it was done with sensitivity and more humour than you would expect considering the misery they went through, from Michael and Eliot's advertising company closing down to Nancy's battle with cancer. They were prone to indulging in fantasies throughout (the episode "Whose Forest Is This?" was virtually all fantasy, revolving as it did around the children's book Nancy and Ethan wrote together), but unlike a certain Boston lawyer, no dancing babies were involved and the only singing was on the soundtrack (Carly Simon notwithstanding).
"thirtysomething" was essentially the soap for people who hated soaps, but better than that; the creative team proved that it wasn't a fluke when most of them came up with the marvellous "My So-Called Life." But I still think they shouldn't have killed off Gary.
Footnote: Miles Drentell, the slimy rival advertising man who Michael was compelled to work for, returned (again played by David Clennon) in Zwick and Herskovitz's later series "Once and Again," in one of those crossovers you almost never see in the hermetically sealed world of British television, which is one reason I always liked this show and was not happy when Sky One dropped it. (Another reason was Sela Ward, but that's another story...)
WOW Ken Olin was so handsome back during 30 something- tonight in 2013
seeing him heavy with a gray beard in an Episode of Criminal Minds its
so incredible to believe how much he has changed-Patty pretty much
looks the same.
I was wondering what happened to the rest of the cast the person that played Melissa I never saw after the show, I saw Hope in one LMN movie years ago as well as Timothy but the rest where have they gone?
The TV shows were much better back during the 30 something days now its all about one reality show after another- whether its singing, dancing, eating bugs surviving or bachelors and bachelorettes or cooking - no more really good family shows, Brothers and Sisters, Once and Again , Knots Landing- now those were the days my friends!
I look back with a degree of nostalgia to the 1980's when my own kids
were born and the work/life balance was a constant juggling act. Yes it
was a 'yuppie' show as some have said but it was true to life for many,
hitting a nerve for those of us struggling with young children and a
slightly off-beat boss.
The acting and script writing was first rate and each of the characters utterly believable. I guess an airing now many reveal a show that is a little dated but it was true to its era. For all of us who really were in their thirties when the show was on prime time TV, please will someone out there consider releasing it on DVD!
This serie was my favorite and I hope to see once again in German or Brazil TV. All actors of this film are great and this episode was the perfect example of real life. It was the perfect mix of poignant and realistic.Congratulations!!! My wish is to see a continuation of this serie. A sequency their`s life!
Ellyn's wedding episode was the best ever. This show was my favorite and this episode was the perfect example of why. It was the perfect mix of poignant and realistic. This episode has some of the funniest scenes from the series that morph into the most bittersweet. I think this show's effects are still being felt in programming today.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is one of those shows I miss and could have watched forever. I'd
also love to see the characters revisited in fortysomething or
fiftysomething, but the creators are having considerable success making
movies (most notably Glory) so I'm not holding my breath.
This show was ground-breaking in the depth and honesty of its portrayal of many aspects of modern life that had either never been dealt with on the big or small screen, or which had been treated superficially, including: * becoming a parent (e.g. there's an entire episode about the first time you leave your baby alone all night) * infidelity (one of the two central couples goes through a painful divorce, involving children, shared friends, etc.) * cancer (one of central characters has a long battle with cancer) * infertility * AIDS * unemployment * loneliness (at one point two of the characters get into a video-dating service together) * academic politics And probably a bunch of other things I haven't thought of.
Despite being about "ordinary lives" in a way that only sitcoms such as Seinfeld even approach, it managed to be compelling, funny, and memorable. I was actually hooked sometime in the second season when I was channel surfing and listened to a snippet of conversation where one character referred to someone's behavior as being controlled by their "reptile brain" and realizing it was actually a show pitched at an intelligent audience.
Almost uniquely among American television shows, there were no doctors, lawyers, or policemen. The two central characters (Michael and Elliot) run a small ad agency which goes under. The central idea of the show, according to the two creators in an interview with Playboy (1989, I think) was that it would be about two friends who go into business together and the business fails. This is, perhaps, one of the central experiences of middle class life in the United States, and I don't think it's ever been dealt with in a TV series before or since.
And finally, Miles Drentel (David Clennon) is plays one of the most magnetically evil (insofar as anyone in this show was evil) characters in TV history.
Correction to the data on display: Gary (played by Peter Horton) died towards the end of the final season. He may have appeared in some flashbacks but he was not in every episode. (For that matter, I think not every character appears in every episode... but this is a total quibble.)
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