ThirtySomething. I was 26 the first time I heard of the show, and I thought, “Yeah, whatever. It’s probably a show I will never be interested in because that age is still somewhat far away. It looks like there are married couples and babies in it; stuff I can’t relate to just yet, so I’ll pass.”
It was not until about a year later, after it became apparent that it was a favorite of my new husband Chuck’s, when I realized that this was a show I could really sink my teeth into. There were married people with babies, but there were single people, too. There was awesome writing, intriguing storylines, talented actors and even great music, especially in the early episodes. This was a show that made me cry, made me laugh, and above all, made me feel.
I was pursuing an acting career myself, back when I was obsessed with ThirtySomething, so I had an engrained appreciation for all that the show had to offer on a professional level. The personal side of me wanted to know these people (I had a slight crush on Gary), while the performance side of me wanted to work with the actors playing those people.
Hope, Michael, Nancy, Elliot, Ellyn, Melissa and Gary. At some point throughout the series I could somehow relate to each and every one of them (although I had a coworker who always compared me to Melissa). I loved how their characters were flawed, how their homes looked “lived in” how their religions and beliefs could cause strife, how some characters lost jobs or businesses, what kinds of relationships they each had with other family members, and just how they all related to one another.
The show only ran from 1987 – 1991. Right around the time I was laid off from my job of 5 ½ years, in June of 1991, ThirtySomething went into syndication on the Lifetime Channel, and in the advertisements the tagline was, “ThirtySomething. It’s like life, but with better writers.”
ThirtySomething was finally released in DVD form about 4 years ago, and it wasn’t long before I acquired box sets of all four seasons. (Yay, I could finally toss all the commercial-peppered episodes I had taped on VHS!)
A couple of Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes are part of my annual Must-Watch list, and there are times like today — when I am home sick — where I may even binge-watch a few episodes. Thanksgiving is next week, so I may as well make “We Gather Together” from Season One part of the binge. One of my favorite episodes of all, everything about it is lovely, especially the end, where they are all gathered on (sick) Hope and Michael’s bed, and Melissa sets the camera for a group shot and the beautiful music of Stewart Levin and W.G. Snuffy Walden completes the whole scenario. It never fails to warm my heart.
Over time I have had my own ThirtySomething, FortySomething and FiftySomething years, and although life itself has been much sloppier, unpredictable and sometimes mundane than the storylines of my beloved show that ended all too soon, I have had a very full life. There is no template; that’s what makes each and every one of our own lives so special and unique.
But there is still something comforting about getting lost in a favorite show — a show that remains a favorite even after almost 30 years, (with Sex and The City coming in at a close second) — on a Thursday afternoon when you would normally be at work; flannel PJs, an iced tea (because I am sick of hot tea), dogs lulling about.
It is life, and I am the writer.