August 12, 2005

The TV houses of your mind.

With the five-year series nearly over, someone at Television Without Pity came up with an idea for a new forum thread about "Six Feet Under." The subject: the house. Why is it so depressing? One topic being discussed is something that just began to puzzle me as I watched the newest episode: Are the kitchen and sunroom upstairs? Another puzzle: Why is Ruth's place so much shabbier than Nate and Brenda's and David and Keith's? Is the business supposed to be doing well or not? Or have they just decided to make the living quarters of the funeral home depressingly dowdy as an expression of Ruth's character?

It's interesting to try to understand the layout of the house of a familiar show and to question whether the house fits the economic situation of the characters. Do we really understand where those doors lead? Do the exterior shots match the interiors? Does the second floor really fit on the first floor?

I remember a book from a few years back that had diagrams for the houses of 60s sitcoms like "Bewitched" and "The Dick Van Dyke Show." Someone had really tried to figure out where all the closets and bathrooms and so on would need to be – a strange little obsession that produced a pretty cool book. I also remember reading an article about how the characters on various TV shows set in NYC did not have jobs that would pay them enough to afford living in the nice places they had. (Jerry Seinfeld was the exception.)

Then there's the whole subject of TV houses that have been important to you. I think there are a lot of people who deeply bonded with the house on "The Brady Bunch." I'm not one of them. That was never one of my shows. But wasn't there some house you really wanted to live in? Can't you still picture it and take a mental walk through those rooms today? Is there some particular thing in that house that appeals to you: Laura Petrie's kitchen island? The louvered shutters that opened Lucy Ricardo's kitchen to the living area? The spiral stairway in Mork and Mindy's apartment? Samantha Stephens' retro wallpaper?

How many details from old shows are still part of the furniture of your mind?

15 comments:

Robert said...

I don't suppose the bridge of the Enterprise qualifies as living quarters, but I was enough of a geek back in those days (no comments on now please) to dream of living there. After all, except for beaming down to the planet--always wearing yellow instead of red of course--it was the center of the universe!

Brendan said...

Some of my faves:

1)The Swamp (Mash)
2)Family room (Dallas)
3)Ray and Deb's kitchen (Raymond)
4)Ward's study/den (Beaver)
5)Mary's efficiency apt(MTM Show)
6)Bob Hartley's office (B. Newhart Show)

Ann Althouse said...

Brendan: #4 and #6 are excellent examples of the masculine intellectual environment.

Bob: I think the captain's chair is amazingly like the armchair (with remote control) that the view of the show occupied – causing intense identification.

Goesh said...

Who could ever forget Mr. Ed's stall?

Brendan said...

Ginger and Mary Ann's huts always looked pretty inviting.

DB said...

Who would not want to live in stately Wayne Manor?

chuck b. said...

The Six Feet Under house is one thing that drew me into that show before the repulsive characters pushed me away. Those sods don't deserve that house! I'm so glad you decided to blog about it. Definitely reason to hit the tip jar tonight!

I have a passion for big old Craftsmen, and that one has some great Victorian touches. Depressing?? No way! I think if someone hooked up my brain to electrodes and showed me exterior shots of that house, they'd observe clear reactions in the pleasure centers of my brain.

Just looking at it from the outside, you can start to imagine the snaking room layouts drawing you deeper and deeper inside. You can imagine the relief of cool, still air on a hot LA summer day, the soothing embrace of dark wood interiors--no doubt resplendent w/ hand-carved features common back then. I looove old houses--that was the one thing I actually enjoyed about looking for a house to buy... touring through the funky old houses.

Someone told me that house is in West Adams, which has some of LA's best architecture--because it's so old (old for Los Angeles, that is). People say the house is supposed to be seedy or rundown...nonsense--it has a rare faded beauty that other houses would kill for.

Buffy (the Vampire Slayer) lived in a Craftsman too... (I'm not actually sure if the 6FU house is a Craftsman ...it calls to mind the style whether it is or not). Buffy's house has a different vibe. Much more traditional Craftsman, w/ big trees out front. No trees at 6FU--which always made me want to go inside--because there's no shade outside, and it's LA so it's always hot.

funkysmell said...
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Joan said...

I wanted Mary Tyler Moore's apartment, but I think Rhoda's was actually better now that I'm thinking of it.

I think all of the family's rooms in SFU are upstairs. In "All Alone", Ruth walks out of the kitchen and then down the stairs when she hears a knock on the door.

ITA that the Fisher house is gorgeous. I grew up in an old Victorian in Boston, and to me houses like that will always evoke memories of home.

SippicanCottage said...
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Ron said...

As a child, I went through an enormous number of those repro books of 'Peanuts' comic strips, in an attempt to construct the interior of Snoopy's doghouse. He had a Van Gogh, a spiral staircase, a pool table...it was The Playboy Mansion of doghouses; and he chose to sleep on the top of the outside...very 'Brian Wilson' of him.

cathyf said...

Ok, so I'll post to what's probably a dead thread...

I've always been very disturbed by the house in The Cosby Show. From the exterior shots, it's a brownstone with the door at one side. From inside there is way too much house on the other side of the door -- that space belongs to the next door neighbor.

As for shows that generate architectural envy, I gotta go for Monk. I need a towel to collect drool...

cathy :-)

Ann Althouse said...

Cathy: This thread deserves to live! I loved the house on "Joan of Arcadia" – inside and out.

Ron said...

Ann: I agree! Live, thread, live! Say what would the Beverly Hillbillies house (with the "ceement pond") look like?

There must be plenty of diagrams of the Batcave...

SippicanCottage said...
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