August 23, 2009

"It is true, it is real, it is me, it is not me, it is horrible, and I love it."

The DVD set of "thirtysomething" has finally arrived. Do you dare relive the horror of your long-ago attachment to it?

And I do mean you, not we. I was one of the many people who rejected the show — and I was thirtysomething at the time. That show was certainly not me, though I suppose it actually was, and perhaps that what put off. I was married, then teetering on divorce. I had little children, a new career, and angst about unmet aspirations from the previous decade.

The author of the linked piece, Porochista Khakpour, was in grade school at the time, and she used the show to get a grip on what it meant to be an adult. (She had rejected her parents, Iranian immigrants — "fallen aristocrats" — as role models.) Now, of course, she actually is thirtysomething:
... I find myself torn between the decadent counterculture of my 20s and a desire for things “properly” adult. And this is the very no-man’s-land paralysis that “Thirtysomething” was obsessed with, that cold-sweat-panic moment when youthful rebellion runs headlong into the responsibilities, pains and joys of full-blown adulthood.

In this second-chance viewing as a thirtysomething, I am amazed and inspired by all the everything-in-between, all the nothing-happening, all the ambivalence and the stagnation.

***

Link to buy the DVD.

50 comments:

Joan said...

Never watched it. Don't think I'll start now.

vw: muntst -- emphatic discouragement: no, you muntst! I won't.

Paul Zrimsek said...

The author was clearly born to watch that show, albeit a little late: the word "I" appears in the article 51 times.

John said...

That show was a collection of whiney late boomers. Oh, it was awful. The only thing it had going for it was the fact that Mel Harris was a seriously underrated beauty back in the day.

ricpic said...

The women on that show were always multi-tasking. They were never really "into" the thing they were doing. That maddened me and it was only years later that I I fully realized why it bothered me so much... which I will not reveal to you, ha ha.

Okay, I will reveal why. It was a way of showing they were above whatever it was they had to do, they were always elsewhere. Well, fuck them!..which I also longed to do.

Michael Hasenstab said...

I'm waiting for the boomer-centric sequel - sixtysomething.

Then I can say "It is true, it is me, it is not me, it is horrible, and I love it."

Although I'm skeptical about the I love it part.

Bissage said...

Hmmm, . . . Thirtysomething . . . wasn't that the one with Heather Locklear and Shannen Doherty?

I think one of those two might have been kind of good looking but I really can’t be sure right this instant.

Bissage said...

Three out of the six comments so far go straight for the looks-thing.

Ha!

class-factotum said...

I loved that show! I was in grad school when it was on the air and on Tuesday (?) nights, I made sure my homework was done before the show started and I answered the phone for nobody.

It was a yuppie soap opera with fun references for intellectual snobs like me -- remember the episode where two of them go to a Halloween party as Will and Ariel Durant?

I will not buy the DVDs.

I will, however, get them from the library.

EDH said...

I was one of the many people who rejected the show — and I was thirtysomething at the time.

We followed the story line only to mock it and the self-absorbtion of the characters. While thirty was just around the corner for us, the baggage of "Thirtysomething" still seemed a long way off, or at least I hoped it was.

And this is the very no-man’s-land paralysis that “Thirtysomething” was obsessed with, that cold-sweat-panic moment when youthful rebellion runs headlong into the responsibilities, pains and joys of full-blown adulthood.

Here's some sage advice from Kunu, twenty years later, about dealing with that adult angst.

Now fortysomething, I'm still clinging to my Peter Pan existence.

former law student said...

I never could get into that show. Currently on DVD we are watching Perry Mason and Monk.

The last episode of Mason we saw included an actor who has also appeared on Monk, by the way.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Never watched it. Don't think I'll start now.


Ditto

Ralph L said...

Three out of the six comments so far go straight for the looks-thing
Before I got to the comments, I was going to say, Who would have watched it if the actors hadn't been good-looking?, but now you've made me self-conscious.

The blonde woman still shows up on other shows--her face is boney and sharp now.

putpre -- the way of all flesh, or those boring minutes waiting for a golfer to hit the damn ball.

John Lynch said...

I remember thinking it was the most boring, most self-indulgent show I'd ever seen. Why should I care about these people? Blech.

William said...

If you were thirtysomething back then, you did not watch television. Wv: retriant: legal term for repeat miscreant.

peter hoh said...

In a few years, the cast reunion will be one of the gag-inducing specials that PBS rolls out during fundraising week.

reader_iam said...

Ironically, one of Michael's sources of angst was not pursuing "real" writing--you know, the sort of the stuff you aspire to do at a place like Yaddo, where Khakpour says she's viewing those DVDs.

rcocean said...

Did anyone get through that Op-ed?
Damn that's bad writing.

Reads like one of those self-absorbed NPR pieces. As for 30 something - didn't watch it then, won't watch it now.

reader_iam said...

At the time, I sort of got a kick out of seeing Melanie Mayron, who'd previously starred as a photographer in Claudie Weill's "Girlfriends," and Timothy Busfield, who'd played one of the most "mistfittiest" characters in "Revenge of the Nerds," together in something like "thirtysomething."

reader_iam said...

The blonde woman still shows up on other shows--her face is boney and sharp now.

Patricia Wettig's done a whole lot of work since then, it's true, as has her husband (the guy who played Michael), though he's more behind the scenes.

***

Peter Hoh: Bravo already did something like a reunion show, back in 2001, "inside thirtysomething."

And yes, yes, it sorta was as you projected such a thing would be ... .

vh: metasi

Ralph L said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph L said...

the gag-inducing specials that PBS rolls out

They'll need something after they wheel out Peter, Paul, and Mary, who can only belt out one song between naps.

Dana said...

I was too busy raising three children back then but one night I caught an episode and I remember clearly two distinct reactions: it was very unrealistic and the running theme seemed to be a congenital self-centeredness.

The adults were more whiny than my children - no wonder they were so screwed up. The priceless unrealistic quality showed up when Mel Harris's character and her hub were apparently suffering a lot of financial hardships and were stressing about their lack of money. As she is whining about it, she is scarfing down ice cream straight out of the carton - a carton of Breyer's - not generic, not the cheap store brand you buy if you're really counting pennies, but instead there she was unrealistically indulging in the high-end Breyer's. Meh.

Jane44 said...

If the CHARACTERS (not the actors) on this show were self-absorbed basket cases before, what must they be like today at fiftysomething? See what Hope, Michael,Elliot, Melissa, Gary, Ellyn & Nancy would be doing in 2009. Behold the thirtysomething gang today. Funny article.
http://tvtango.com/news/detail?id=81

dick said...

The one good thing about that show is that you can point at it to show why Boomers act as they do now. What a bunch of self-centered nothings they were. Run, don't walk, away if people like this move into your neighborhood.

Just watched the Weather Underground on YouTube and while the WU did do a lot more, the attitudes toward self were very much the same. Yet another reason I can't stomach Obama.

kentuckyliz said...

Wettig and the guy are both on Brothers and Sisters. He's not on all the time but she is.

B&S = disgustingly selfish Californians.

WV houtfi
French for hi-fi

former law student said...

Yet another reason I can't stomach Obama.

Somewhere there is a liberal who despises the space program because it was dominated by Nazis we brought over under Operation Paperclip.

Let it go Dick, let it go.

blake said...

I was a long way from 30, much less 30-something--and I couldn't relate at all to the whole thing at the time, much less when I actually assumed adult responsibilities at a much younger age--but I enjoyed the pretty colors and flashing lights.

Zwick and Herskowitz still work together, "My So-Called Life", "Quarterlife", "Once and Again", etc.

Zwick does movies: Defiance, Blood Diamond, The Seige, etc.

CarmelaMotto said...

Paul Zrimsek - that is funny.

Funny, I just read a link to that show the other day when looking up "Main Line Philadelphia." Apparently the former counter culture yuppies lived in a tony neighborhood.

I watched that show in my late teens/early 20s for the same reason the columnist did - is this what being an adult is like?

The thing that laways bugged me about the show - and still does because I have to work with someone like this who imagines she's a "writer" - that work was supposed to "mean" something and now they work for the "man." They are constantly rebelling, but they are usually bigger narrow minded a-holes than "the man" ever is. Critical of others being judgemental while making assumptions about others all the time.

Anthony said...

We used to call it 'thirtysuffering', but I never watched it. I was in my early 20s then and that was when I decided Boomers were just pathetic.

Namazu said...

Waiting patiently for "Too Old to Further Screw Up the Country-Something," or "Too Old to Drive the Beemer to Woodstock for a little Reminiscing and Some Hand-crafted Muffins-Something." Or something like that.

newscaper said...

"Somewhere there is a liberal who despises the space program because it was dominated by Nazis we brought over under Operation Paperclip."

A while back I realized that [U.S.] liberals pretty uniformly preferred the French Revolution to the American one.

Back in college in the mid 80s (at an engineering school in the NE)one of my friends pointed out that you could tell the liberal from the more conservative profs by their cars: the former drove Saabs and the latter drove BMWs. he was surprisingly correct.

Fat Man said...

I hated that show. We called it whinning white people. Fifteen minutes of it and I wanted to slap them.

Robert Black said...

I was uber poor at that time and sharing a house with three people, including a couple. I still have horrible memories of scrapping up some money for six pack and coming home to watch a Stanley Cup game, only to find the loving couple- roomates outvoting me so they could watch Thirtysomething on house's our only TV

Albert said...

I watched thirtysomething back in the day. It was excellently hideous. I really only watched it for the Miles Drentell character, who was brilliant.

thirtysomething blazed the trail for such white suburban inanities as "Once and Again" (basically a rewrite of thirtysomething, but much worse), the second (pathetic) season of "Sports Night", movies like Juno (bleccch), and of course the worst offender for liberal melodramatic navel gazing in the history of television, The West Wing.

Can't wait to Netflix the DVDs.

John Stodder said...

I hated that show with a passion before I actually watched it. But when I finally watched it, I found it intelligent and surprising -- a humorous soap opera.

Some pundit at the time accused all the characters of "whining," and that characterization has stuck. There was actually very little whining, and most of it was done by Hope and Michael's kid.

wv = charinha. Portuguese for "clarinet."

RebeccaH said...

Never saw it. I had already hit my forties, I was too busy trying to make a living, get an education, and keep up with my family, and frankly, I find the "yuppie" generation a complete turnoff.

MathMom said...

I lived overseas during the run of Thirtysomething, only saw it when I was back in the States now and then. Gotta say, I didn't understand it. The thing that bothered me most about it is I never saw a belly laugh by any of the characters. In my home, we have some yelling, some quiet conversation, and a whole lot of belly laughs, because we joke a lot. And it's not that we're a family of comedians, although I think my husband's observations are funny and I've always loved his sense of humor. It's just that we don't take every single moment of life that seriously. And I'm speaking as a person whose husband has had a heart transplant. It's not that we're low on actual, real-life drama in our family.

These people were so Serious About Life! I always wondered if anyone ever belched, or did the "talking armpit" (having a Boy Scout helps the novice understand this). It would have improved the show a lot.

Eric said...

I remember that they whined a lot and that they were from my neighborhood- Philly's Main Line.

That's about it-

Laika's Last Woof said...

Thirtysomething wasn't the first time I ever saw a MILF ... but it was the first time I understood. I understood so well that, years later when I heard the term used for the first time, I thought back to Thirtysomething: "Ahh, I understand!"

So sue me. I was a teenager.

Penny said...

I loved this show back in the day. They talked! And talked! And talked! Always about their feelings. Perhaps if there had been more of that in marriages, there would have been fewer divorces for that age group.

I saw it as "The Big Chill", ten years after.

former law student said...

Back in college in the mid 80s (at an engineering school in the NE)...
the [liberals] drove Saabs and the [conservatives] drove BMWs

When I was in college both were enthusiasts' cars -- Saabs were owned by people who could calculate how much oil to pour into the gas tank, while BMW's were owned by people who didn't mind the rolling phone booth look. (Alternatives were Datsun 240Zs, Opel Mantas, Triumphs, Alfas, etc.)

Conservatives preferred the creature comforts of American cars -- especially the family men who drove 9 passenger wagons.

Jeremy said...

The people on this show whined almost as much as the regulars here.

Almost.

Will Cate said...

Touché, Jeremy...

MadisonMan said...

I'd rather watch Knots Landing.

Ralph L said...

Who could forget Joan Collins and Linda Evans fighting it out on Dynasty?

With Heather Locklear looking much as she does now.

max's skunk works said...

Thirtysomething isn't actually as whiney as many people here seem remember. It's very talky and the characters are expressively self-reflective in a manner that's unrealistic, but they're more plaintive than whining.

I'm not a big fan of these sorts of character dramas, but this series was actually more sophisticated and interesting than many of the commenters here are crediting.

If you watch a few of the episodes, and can forgive their excesses, you'll recognize that the serie's approach to dialog and character development set a precedent for modern character dramas.

Freeman Hunt said...

I was seven years old. I remember seeing ads for it, and thinking, "Oooo, a show about what adults are secretly like." But my parents didn't watch it, and they didn't let me watch it, so I never saw it. It was a thing of mystery to me.

zefal said...

Ralph L:

My niece just saw them at Merriweather Post Pavillion. Mary's out with cancer and the bass player was on an oxygen tank.

John Stodder said...

Jeremy said...

The people on this show whined almost as much as the regulars here.

Almost.
8/23/09 8:54 PM


Is it possible to measure how lame Jeremy is? Do we have instruments that can handle that weight?

Nobody whines here. However, it is true that one of the liberal memes of 2009 was that conservatives were "whining" because they lost the election.

But that meme died in June, or to be most charitable, July.

Jeremy, read the papers. Who is whining now? Do you think anyone is afraid of Obama's magical powers of persuasion anymore? Not conservatives. Not Blue Dogs. Not even other liberals. He's a weak president who doesn't have a Plan B to save his life.

So lame. Jeremy is probably the one guy who reads all those e-mails from Organizing for America.

wv: Pridoc. A new medication that treats excessive humility.

Kevin Walsh said...

Michael was sort of the Don Draper of the 80s. Instead of whisky in his office, he had nerf basketball.

www.forgotten-ny.com