Cheers Chats #7: Thanksgiving Orphans

It’s Thanksgiving in July! We’re back for more Cheers and we’re chatting turkey and food fights and possibly the show’s best episode ever.

Episode 5.9: Thanksgiving Orphans

Originally aired: November 27th, 1986

Netflix synopsis: Diane is among a select few graduate students one of her professors has asked to spend Thanksgiving with his family, in the pilgrim tradition.

Previously, on Cheers

T: We’ve skipped an entire season and it happens to be Coach’s last season. Nicholas Colasanto passed away in real life from a heart attack, but in the show, they didn’t really explain how he died. Woody Harrelson comes in to replace him and he not only replaces Coach as another bartender, but as the one to tell all the stupid jokes now. For some reason I can tolerate it way more than Coach?  

Case in point, the first joke in the cold open:

“Boy, it seems like Christmas comes earlier every year, doesn’t it?” Sam

“I think if you check, Sam, it always comes on the 25th of December.” Woody

M: “This is my first Thanksgiving away from home. I mean, unless you count last year” – my boo, Woody.

I kind of feel bad that I said before that Coach was the character they kept around in case they needed something bad to happen to somebody but also … accurate?

T: Sam and Diane aren’t back together but still mackin’ on each other. At the end of season 4, when Sam is dating Kate Mulgrew, the finale ends with a cliffhanger in which he calls someone and asks the person on the other end to marry him. However, it wasn’t until the S5 premiere that we find out it’s Diane. She makes him propose again in a more romantic way, but then she says no because she feels like she’s his rebound from Kate Mulgrew, making Diane even more annoying. Ever since, they’ve been on and off and it’s like fahkin get it together people.

M: Carla, I think, had another baby, right? And I now have a theory that Cheers is to blame for show runners thinking audiences love “will they/won’t they” romances.

T: Oh and Frasier stuck around. Probs because he has a spin-off to look forward to.

So What Had Happened Was…

(Basic recap of the episode’s main plot)

T: Diane’s professor invites select guests to a Thanksgiving dinner much like Professor Slughorn’s Slug Club Christmas party. But she ends up at Carla’s with the rest of the gang after she showed up at the Slug Club only to find out she had only been invited to serve as a waitress.

M: I got so excited when I saw we were writing about a Thanksgiving episode – usually some of my favorite sitcom eps!

Did we even know that Diane was still in school? I thought she was like 30. By the way, Diane is an 80s Muggle Hermione Granger what with all her sucking up to the professor. Except, you know, not written by JK Rowling.

T: Carla holds Thanksgiving at her new place (right next to the airport), but everyone’s got their own problems. Norm, who brought a frozen turkey to Thanksgiving, has a big fight with Vera, Sam’s date doesn’t show up, while Fraiser is annoyed with the guys constantly moving the TV.

M: It’s neither here nor there, but Carla’s apartment set is where the change in aspect ratio for Netflix really stood out. There were just like 3 feet of plain white wall above her wallpaper and paneling.

T: The tension in the room is so palpable but it’s finally broken with a food fight, resulting in the best scene to date.

T: Plus they cheered for Coach, which was almost enough for me to cry.

M: So far, this is the first of our Cheers Chats episodes that I would recommend to someone who had never seen the show so they’d understand how great it is.

T: Sidenote: I love Woody’s friendship with Diane it’s so tender.

Carla’s My Boo

T: Woody says he’s thankful he can do  a weird thing with his tongue, and everyone’s response is to do weird shit too. Sam licks his plate for some reason and Carla has her leg wrapped around her head which explains why she has 8 children.

Shut Up, Diane

T: Perfect example of Diane needing to shut up is when she makes everyone go around and say what they’re thankful for. She gets up and says:

“…But on this very special occasion, my mind goes back over the years to the people who have influenced me. And I would like to name some of them for you. Teilhard Chardin, George Sand, Caravaggio. Oh, Emily Dickinson, the Buddha, Frank Lloyd Wright [time jump cut] Jean d’Arc, Shari Lewis and Lamb Chop.”

M: I was picturing Lisa Simpson’s Thanksgiving centerpiece the whole time:

It featured Georgia O’Keefe and Susan B Anthony.

 

M: I do feel a little sorry for Diane in her Pilgrim outfit grumbling that serving as waitstaff for her professor might be okay when you’re a “wide-eyed 19 year old, but not when you’re… not.” Which I guess answered my question about whether she’s a mature student.

T: Diane has to be a party pooper and attempt to end the food night and she gets all Red Ross like when Ross’ angry side comes out when he plays rugby on Friends. 

Little Ditty About Sam & Diane

T: Diane gets jealous and whines about Sam having a date for Thanksgiving.

“Besides, I know that we’ll have many holidays together when you and I are one.” Diane

“You already are one, Diane.” Sam

M: “I’m thankful that I have a super car and a cool stereo and I’m not wearing a pilgrim outfit” – SAMUEL. Just make out with her.

T: Diane is all cutesy with Sam after his date ends up spending TGives with her sister instead of going to TGives at Carla’s

No, I’m serious. I had a date and it fell through. Sam

Oh, you don’t have to convince me, Sam. I believe you. Diane

I’m telling you the truth. Sam

And I love you for it. Diane

T: Sam is the first to throw beets? And at Diane, no less.

LLOL

(Literal Laugh Loud Loud moments from the episode)

There’s a scene where the guys are sitting around the TV watching a WWF match featuring Hulk Hogan. The actual scene wasn’t necessarily funny but LOL at Hulk Hogan

Just sort of generally everything Woody said was great. Not the words, but the delivery.

“The little pop thing has a name, can we all say thermometer” – Frasier. Then everyone says “thermometer,” but angrily.

“Please, please! We are not here to be thankful for strange things we can do with our bodies.” Diane

Diane tries to get back at Sam and she attempts to throw a pie at him, but lands right on the face of Vera, who decides to come after all. WE ALMOST SAW VERA’S FACE. Is she like Mr. Kim or Wilson from Home Improvement. And apparently this is the only time we “see” Vera in the whole series.

M: When the food fight starts in earnest, Diane tries to break it up with a guttural yell like she’s Leslie Knope v. Eagleton.

Say It Again, Sam

(Memorable lines from the episode. Not exclusively from Sam Malone.)

 “This time of year is filled with arguments, suicides, murders. Yeah, I guess it’s the seasonal happiness of others tends to throw a glaring light on the flaws in our own interpersonal relationships. But see, of course, that’s no problem for me. I’m alone.” Fraiser

“Are you kiddin’? I did my part this year. I was in “Hands Across America,” remember?” Cliff refusing to volunteer at the soup kitchen for TGives with his mom

“Oh, who the hell do we think we’re kidding? We’re all a bunch of pathetic dropouts. Scorned by our loved ones, as if anybody ever loved us at all.” Fraiser

Cheers Queries

T: What ever happened to Woody’s hometown girlfriend? I don’t think they ever explained that.

T: Why is Norm the only one in charge of the turkey? Why don’t they try to help?

M: Couldn’t they have at least started with the sides when they were warm?

Barfly Fashion

Diane’s Thanksgiving Outfit

She describes this as “An absolutely authentic example of feminine colonial headwear.”

Carla’s leopard print shirt

Carla’s got a new stylist and it’s called the effects of the ’80s.

Sam’s plaid jacket

It’s Thanksgiving, not Easter, Sam. But also it might not be clear in this pic, but he is V tan.

Woody’s red sweater

More specifically the napkin. It’s to do with the napkin.

Final Thoughts

Next Up: We are basing our watch list off of AV Club’s 10 Episodes That Show How Cheers Stayed Great For 11 Seasons. We’re going chronologically, so stop by next month when we’ll discuss season six, episode 23, Bar Wars.

 

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O Come Let Us Adore… Holiday-Themed Sitcom Episodes

ATTENTION: IT IS DECEMBER. IT IS THE LAST MONTH OF 2014. WHAT HOW HUH.

Ok now that I’ve made you feel like you’ve done nothing this year, it’s time to introduce you to our special holiday playlists of the month, because we like spreading joy here at Cookies + Sangria.

If you are a frequent reader of our blog, you know that we usually have a Playlist of the Month featuring our favorite songs based on the given theme. For December, we decided to give our gifts to you early (yay!) and have THREE ‘playlists’ that are all holiday themed. Today we’re kicking it off with some of our favorite holiday sitcom episodes. If you’re like us, you enjoy watching stuff like this to get into the spirit, so break out the egg nog (or just like, wine or something) and kick back with some of the best Christmasukkah crap TV has to offer!

Molly’s Picks

Parks and Recreation – Citizen Knope
{Season 4, Episode 1}

Guaranteed to bring on my annual Yuletide happy-cry, in this episode Leslie learns that as much love and dedication as she has for her friends and community, they have for her. Leslie always gives almost obsessively perfect presents, but after her rough suspension she receives the best gifts a gal could ask for: the love of her friends, a gingerbread facsimile of her workplace, and a campaign staff.

Seinfeld – The Strike
{Season 9, Episode 10}

Yes, my family has celebrated Festivus. The Feats of Strength were a real bummer because my brothers are both 6’5, but I think the Airing Of Grievances hurt more. If you don’t know what those things mean, you need to watch this episode.

The Office – Christmas Party
{Season 2, Episode 10}

Remember those sweet, early ‘will they/won’t they’ days of Jim and Pam’s relationship? When a Christmas gift exchange turns into a forced Yankee Swap, Jim’s gift to Pam is in jeopardy. She ultimately gets the teapot he bought her, but not before Jim removes the note he wrote her … then gives it to her like 7 years later.

Guys. I really miss this show sometimes.

Friends – The One With The Routine
{Season 6, Episode 10}

Do you guys remember Millennium Fever? Survivalists were freaking out about Y2K and everyone else was under heavy pressure to have the best New Year’s ever. When Monica and Ross land a spot on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve, they decide to bust out their childhood dance routine.

Surest sign you were a tweenaged Friends fanatic in the late 90s: you watched the episode (taped on VHS, naturally) over and over until you had that routine down. Guilty.

30 Rock – Ludachristmas
{Season 2, Episode 9}

This one had me at the title. What can I say, I love a good portmanteau. But the episode itself seriously delivered. Jack’s mom (Elaine Stritch) is in town, as is Liz’s family (including her brother, whose brain injury makes him believe that it is perpetually 1985). The TGS Christmas party is ruined when Kenneth takes it upon himself to teach everyone the Real Meaning Of Christmas, and saved when Tracy decides to ignore his alcohol monitoring bracelet.

The Simpsons – The Simpsons Roasting On An Open Fire
{Season 1, Episode 1}

I was a big Simpsons fan as a little kid, and this is probably my favorite of their Christmas episodes. Homer gets a job as a mall Santa, but still comes up short on Christmas Eve. He and Bart hit the racetrack, and come home with the best present of all – Santa’s Little Helper, the losing greyhound they bet on.

Traci’s Picks

The Office – A Benihana Christmas
{Season 3, Episode 11}

This isn’t just one of my favorite Christmas episodes, it’s one of my favorite episodes of The Office – ever. There is so much going on in this episode that I don’t even know which storyline is my favorite. So let’s break it down. First we have Michael, whose realtor girlfriend, Carol (and Steve’s IRL wife) breaks up with him, leading him into a spiral of depression. To help him with the pain, he goes out to lunch at Japanese restaurant Benihana with some of the guys in the office. Michael and Andy pick up two of the waitresses (Kulap!) and bring them back to the office for the annual Christmas party. Except Michael can’t remember which Asian waitress was the one he was hoping to hook up with, and after a heart to heart with Jim, Michael realizes he really likes someone else and invites them to go to Jamaica with him (spoiler alert, it’s Jan). Speaking of the party, there are actually two dueling parties between Angela’s Party Planning Committee and Pam and Karen’s margarita-karaoke party. This is important because it’s the first time Pam and Karen are actually getting along despite the fact there’s the whole Jim love triangle. Eventually the two parties merge, and all is fine. Oh and as a Christmas present to Jim, Pam has been playing an elaborate trick on Dwight which involves the CIA. This episode is The Office at its finest. It has the perfect mix of humor, heart, and plot progression that will fit in a special hour-long episode. Ugh, I miss this show.

Friends – The One With The Holiday Armadillo
{Season 7, Episode 10}

This is obviously one of the more iconic moments of Friends – even though it’s from one of the much-debated later seasons. Ross wants to teach Ben about Haunukkah, since he’s half Jewish, but all Ben wants to do is talk about that Santa dude. Ross gives in, but it’s too late into the season that all the Christmas-related costumes are sold out, so he settles for an armadillo – the Holiday Armadillo to be exact (who is Santa’s representative for all the southern states. Annnnnd Mexico!) But because Ben has uncles who love him a lot and want to help out, Joey and Chandler dress up too, and the result looks like the Easter Bunny’s funeral.

Full House – Our Very First Christmas Show
{Season 2, Episode 9}

When I was a kid, I always thought Corduroy and his story was just the coolest. The fact that this bear came to life and gets to wander around a department store at night when it was closed just seemed so intriguing to me. Basically, any plot that involves people (or inanimate objects coming to life, I guess) being stuck in a place where they’re not usually supposed to be is great to me. In the first Christmas episode from Full House, the fam is on its way to Colorado for the holidays, but a blizzard forces the plane to land in a rando small airport and they have to spend the Christmas Eve in the baggage claim waiting room. Jesse’s dad tries to get Jesse to kiss Becky under the mistletoe, Deej is mad that their gifts have gone missing, Steph is upset because she doesn’t think Santa will find her in the stupid airport, and Joey doesn’t get a real storyline because this is Full House. Eventually some guy Steph was afraid of on the plane turns out to be the real Santa, and they all get their presents. It’s full of cheese, but what else do you expect from this show?

Parks and Recreation – Ron and Diane
{Season 5, Episode 9}

Because Leslie Knope is the greatest, she dresses up in this elf/santa’s workshop worker costume to tell Ron he is nominated for an award from the Indiana Fine Woodworking Association for a chair he recently built. Ron invites Diane to the ceremony and Leslie invites herself, and therefore meets Diane for the first time (cameo appearance from Tammy 2). Meanwhile, the rest of the gang are planning their annual Jerry Dinner – every time Jerry does something stupid, they put a dollar in the box, and at the end of the year, they use the money to treat themselves to a dinner. But on their way to spend the $500, Tom, Donna, April and Andy pass by Jerry’s house only to find out that the Gengriches, including Christie Brinkley, are having a big Christmas party without them. Ann, who is a guest at the party, won’t let them in, but they finally apologize and end up giving the Jerry Dinner money to Jerry to help pay for his hospital bills after his fart attack.

How I Met Your Mother – How Lily Stole Christmas
{Season 2, Episode 11}

Lily finds an old message on their answering machine that Ted left for Marshall after Lily left him to go off to San Francisco. He called her a grinch (bitch) and urged Marshall to get over her. Ted tells her that in all fairness she was being a huge grinch during that time, and refuses to apologize, which makes Lily furious. She takes away “Lily’s Winter Wonderland”, in which she decorates the entire apartment full of snow and Christmas items, and it’s Marshall’s favorite part about the holidays, especially this year since he’s busy studying for the bar exam. There are a lot of episodes in HIMYM focusing on Marshall/Lily and Ted/Marshall/Barney, but there are a few which get to focus on Lily/Ted, and this is one of them. Throughout college, it was Mashall, Lily, and Ted as a trio, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that with the Marshall/Lily ship, so seeing them fight and ultimately reconcile in this episode is certainly a Christmas miracle.

Saved By The Bell – A Home For Christmas
{Season 3, Episode 24}

Boy, do I love/hate a teen show which tries to incorporate adult subject matter. We briefly talked about how this show handled drunk driving and drugs during our SBTB Week a few months ago,  and this is no different. Most of the gang has jobs at the mall, and Zack lit’rally runs into this blonde girl and hits on her but he turns around for one second and she’s gone. Separately, Zack and Screech run into a man in the bathroom who they realize is homeless. Turns out, the blonde, Laura, not only works with Kelly at a department store, but is the homeless man’s daughter, and they’ve been living in their car after he lost his job. Zack’s mom offers to let them stay at their house until they find a place to stay. At the same time, the crew is putting up A Christmas Carol, which IRONICALLY mirrors a similar story between Laura and Kelly and their mean scroogey boss Mr. Moody. The episode ends with everyone singing Silent Night around a piano, and S2G, if I watched this episode as an adult I would hate it, but because I watched it so many times as a kid, the corny factor doesn’t even bother me. God bless us every one (esp Zack Morris).

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TV Characters I Need Back In My Life

There are two reasons to be excited about fall premieres. One is finding out which new shows you will absolutely love (only to find them cancelled three episodes in – seriously, whatever new shows I start watching, DO NOT WATCH THEM. Me watching a new TV show is like seeing a wailing ghost woman on the British moors – it means death is imminent.). The other is returning to your favorite characters again after a long hiatus. It’s like the first day of school, seeing all of those familiar faces after 3 months. These TV characters are what Back To TV week is all about:

Drunk Mellie from Scandal

(Spoilers if you haven’t watched S3 yet!)

Oh, Mellie, Mellie, Mellie. If you are taking our advice to catch up on Scandal before the premiere airs, let’s just say that Mellie hasn’t had the easiest go of it for the past, oh, 15 or so years – but why feel those feelings when you can drink them instead? Drunk Mellie is the absolute last person that I would want “not mad, just disappointed” in me, and she does quiet, seething anger at Fitz so well. She also does loud, explosive anger — and sloppy sadness, and giggly goofiness, and calculating creepiness. Last year found Mellie drawing on the White House’s reserves of hooch and her mental and emotional reserves of bad-ass-ishness. Somebody please give Bellamy Young every award ever – or at least a stiff drink. She’s earned both.

Drunk Uncle from Saturday Night Live

And now for an entirely different kind of drunk – drunk uncle! Everyone has a drunk uncle. If you do not have a drunk uncle, check yourself, because you might be the drunk uncle. The thing is, you get to the end of his rants and you go “hmm… am I crazy, or did that almost make sense?” Like real-life drunk uncles everywhere, Drunk Uncle is confused by and angry with twitter, smart phones, YouTube, tumblr, and pressing 2 for English… everything you love, Drunk Uncle drinks to escape from. Bonus: sometimes he brings along his pals, Meth Nephew and Peter Drunklage. Drunk Uncle is just one of many reasons Bobby Moynihan is an utter delight and a true gem in the current SNL cast.

Tamra from The Mindy Project

Tamra is that coworker who drops random bits of information about herself that you’re shocked hadn’t come up immediately upon meeting her:

She’s a perfect foil to Mindy because, like Dr. Lahiri, she also has supreme self-confidence, and she isn’t afraid to call Dr. L. out when she has to:

 

On one hand, you’re pretty sure a lot of the time she’s just joking around and everyone else misses the point and thinks she’s serious:

But on the other hand, she doesn’t have time to pay attention to every tiny little detail at the office:

As written, this character could be aggravating, but Xosha Roquemore has brilliant timing and delivery and it all just works.

Nick Miller from New Girl

Are you a twenty- or thirty- something who could already be described as “crotchety?” Then Nick Miller’s your guy. Do you have absolutely no patience for people’s ineptitude or ridiculousness, yet somehow end up dealing with it anyway because your friends are (occasionally) inept and ridiculous? Yep. Nick, too. The more Nick hates everything, the more I love him.

 

Like Tamra, this is a character that could be insufferable, but Jake Johnson brings out the lovable in “lovable curmudgeon.”

Gina from Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Years ago, after I jaywalked across an intersection, an elderly lawyer turned to me and said “wow, you must be pretty important.” I smiled and said thank you, head in the air and ego boosted by the old guy in tweed who realized that yes, I am important. An hour or so later realized that that was not a compliment. Gina Linetti would have lived her whole life without realizing that wasn’t a compliment, and that is why I love her.

Chelsea Peretti has been on the comedy scene for quite a while now, and I’m so glad this role is giving her the exposure she deserves.

 

The Bravermans on Parenthood

I love these guys. Sure, some of them can only fairly be described as “the worst, ever” (Sydney, a child), but overall it’s such a realistic picture of life in a certain type of mid-sized American family. The dinner scenes with everyone talking at once and the illogistics of getting everyone into one photo are realistic as hell.

Leslie Knope from Parks And Recreation

I could have had a separate entry on this list for almost every character on Parks. From April, who I think secretly loves the whole world, to Worst People In The World, John-Ralphio and Mona Lisa, to avuncular Ron Swanson, to Andy Dwyer Dream Man, there’s not just one reason I’m already getting emotional about the end of this show already – there are about 15 of them. But Leslie Knope ties the whole show together, and I’m just so happy that she exists on T.V. Leslie is driven, kind, cooperative, enthusiastic, and the best friend in the world — all qualities that she displays to a fault. It’s true that we’d love anything that Amy Poehler did, but mark my words, Leslie Knope will be known as one of the best sitcom protagonists of all time. We’re going to miss her when she’s gone but for now, we’re just glad she’s back on our TV screen sometime this fall…ish.

 

 

How YOU Doin’: The Lexicon Of Friends

Let me be entirely clear. People who constantly quote lines from TV shows and movies are horrible. Still, there are those TV and movie lines that seem to crop up in everyday conversation like weeds in a sidewalk. You may try to refrain from saying them out loudbut Friends quotes are the worst TV conversation-weeds. Somehow, the following lines have found their way into my day-to-day thoughts, if not speech:

Friends Context: Joey’s revenge for Chandler hiding his underwear
Real-life context: Basically any time I’m wearing a ton of clothing.

Friends context: The answer to a trivia question about who Chandler’s TV Guide is addressed to.

Real-life context: When you see your name horribly misspelled. Also, every time my high school alumni association sent me letters addressed to Mr. Molly Lastname.

Friends context: The gang has discovered that Monica and Chandler are an item and … well, you can figure out the rest.

Real-life context: Is it just me, or do various levels of people knowing that you know something occur more often than you’d think?

Friends context: See video

Real-life context: This involuntarily pops into my head when someone mentions wanting something. Which is a lot.

Friends context: … guys. This is like the whole crux of the Ross & Rachel saga.

Real-life context: If people mention “being on a break,” you better believe I’ll be thinking this.

(Primarily the “FRONT AND BACK” part of it)

Friends context: Ross fell asleep when reading Rachel’s note.

Real-life context: When you are reading something that has gone on for far too long.

Friends context: Rachel’s first job!

Real-life context: Ever take a really good look at your paycheck?

I’m gonna have to go into the map.

Friends context: Joey is trying to negotiate a pop-up map in London.

Real life context: Folding/unfolding maps, trying to read maps, anytime I’m near a map, figuring out where you are in a strange city, etc.

.

Friends context: Rachel is trying to figure out how to move forward with Tag.

Real-life context: I hear the phrase “moot point,” I think of this. Every time. And yeah, it DOES kind of make sense.

Friends context: Phoebe’s brother’s triplet was just born. Next line – Chandler: Hold on, kindergarten flashback.

Real-life context: A few times I have heard of baby girls being named Chandler. No joke.

Friends context: Rachel described a man-bag as unisex. To Joey. Next line – Joey: Well, I ain’t gonna say no to that.

Real-life context: It’s okay to read the word unisex as “u-n-i- sex” thanks to this, right?

Monica: I’m just excited about being an aunt!

Joey: OR an uncle!

Friends context: Ross doesn’t want to find out the sex of his baby. Joey’s an idiot.

Real-life context: I think of this whenever I find out I’m having a new niece or nephew. Number 7 was born this week and another is due in a few months, so that’s pretty frequently, actually.

Friends context: See video

Real-life context: When something upsetting happens in a book, just think “you want to put the book in the freezer?” and you’ll feel a bit better.

Friends context: Revisiting Monica’s prom video

Real-life context: When someone says “the camera adds ten pounds;” when I see a less-than-flattering photo of myself.

Friends context: Joey is trying to fill out a form about Ross. Joey is an idiot.

Real-life context: This whole exchange (May…tember? Ross-topher?) springs to mind when I don’t know basic information about somebody that I should really know.

Friends context: Chandler has no game. In the presence of model Jill Goodacre.

Real-life context: It occasionally springs to mind when someone asks if I want gum. Also, I cannot read the name Jill Goodacre (granted, she doesn’t come up often) without hearing it in that clench-mouthed whisper: “Zhll Gducre.”

Friends context: Ross and Rachel are discussing names for Emma.

Real-life context: When a person is named Rain – or some other crunchy, kiln-y name.Friends context: A Ross and Rachel fight.

Real-life context: … whatever.

Phoebe: We ordered the Joey Special!

Joey: TWO PIZZAS?

Friends context: Phoebe is talking to Joey, who is in London.

Real-life context: Two pizzas is, and always will be, the Joey Special as far as I’m concerned.

 

Live Blog: The Friends Finale, 10 Years Later

Today is the tenth anniversary of the Friends finale. For us, this was the end of a decade that shaped the way we watched TV. Friends was the first “grown-up” sitcom I watched, the first time I really experienced ships and running gags and over-investment in TV characters. When we watched the finale on May 6, 2004 we knew that something special was coming to an end. Now that a decade has passed, and Friends has been off the air as long as it was on, we thought this was the perfect time to live blog The Last One – the final episode of Friends.

 


T: For the record, this finale gives me a lot A LOT of feels, so I tend to avoid it like the plague. I’ve only seen it maybe five times (?) in the past 10 years, as opposed to all the other eps which I’ve basically seen too many times to count.

M: Twice here, I think. Maybe three times. Same reason. By the way, the end of Friends roughly marked the end of that thing where you knew everyone was watching the same show at the same time as you. There were several years between this finale and DVR and internet TV taking off, but Friends was really one of the last big shows of the primetime era. Cultural shifts in our lifetime, y’all.

T: (opening scene) I’ve never taken Joey for someone who prides himself in style, but this brown button up dress shirt with random blue print is … definitely from 2004. Must be the free Ralph Lauren from Rachel.

T: :54 #ClapClapClapClap

M: Remember when there was a CD of the Friends soundtrack? It was in the early years, like 1995ish. I think it had the theme song by like 5 different bands. Probably like… the Lemonheads. Lisa Loeb. Presidents Of The United States Of America. That sort of thing.

T: 2:22 Remember when Anna Faris was just ‘Erica the surrogate mom from Friends?’ Now she’s ‘Chris Pratt’s wife’ or like… something else to do with her career.

M: I had 1000% forgotten that this was Anna Faris. By the way, I was just in a maternity ward this week (not my baby) and those rooms look completely the same as they did in 2004. And even in 2004, the decor was sort of 1983-ish.

Peach wallcoverings with Laura Ashley curtains. And sunset paintings in bulky gold frames.

T: Also FTR, I have always and WILL always be a Ross/Rachel shipper. I don’t care how cliche that is. Which makes this finale even more perfect.

T: 4:00 Monica to Chandler: “What kind of social situation ARE you comfortable with?” THE ACCURACY.

M: You know how girls have celebrity spirit animals? Like Audrey Hepburn or Beyonce? Mine is Chandler Bing.

T: I forget, how old is Erica supposed to be? Like in her 20s? Why is she going to “Church Camp” as an adult??

M: “Do you ever wonder what is worse, going through labor or getting kicked in the nuts? […] Maybe there’s even something more painful than both those things. Like this.” WHY did it take Monica like 6 seasons to scoop up this gem of a man.

T: 5:20 WHERE ARE CHICK JR. AND DUCK JR. NOW??? HUH???

M: Dead. With 8 generations of descendants. Because this was a decade ago. Really depressing to think about animals in beloved TV shows of the past, isn’t it?

M: 4:40 (Oh hey my episode’s on a slightly different timeline than Traci’s by the way): Ross: You were sure Ben was going to be a girl. Phoebe: Have you seen him throw a ball?

And on that note, I give you Ben, 2014:

T: 6:28 Ross: “Hey, I’m not one to kiss and tell. But I’m also not one to have sex and shut up – we totally did it!” This line makes me LOL unreasonably.

M: Most 2004 thing in this scene: the giant CD tower.
Second-most 2004 thing: Phoebe’s tattoo choker necklace.

T: 7:15 Okay, Phoebe’s running joke about everything being a musical is so underrated, I feel.

M: YES! Actually, I think Phoebe as a character is underrated. Phoebe and Chandler.

M: No, really, am I just old or has fashion barely changed in the past decade? I know we wrote about mid-2000s trends but the fact is that Ross’s shirt and sweater combo and Rachel’s straightened highlighted hair totally still works.

Mostly acceptable outfits.

T: 9:25 These baby cries seem awfully fake (I know they are, but)

M: “That is one disgusting miracle” – consider this a preview of my post about lines from Friends that I still have in my everyday lexicon.

T: 10:35 I remember YELLING at the TV when the doctor said ‘the other baby is coming in a minute’. It was like I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant but, like I Didn’t Know I Was Having Two Kids And Not One instead. Also, can you imagine getting all the stuff you need for one baby and then you come home with two?? Like can you put another baby in a crib? You would need to buy alll the diapers. Stressful.

M: I can’t even handle surprise parties. For other people, even. Surprise babies? NOPE. I remember being really angry as well, because it seemed like such a cheap sitcom-y situation. I know it’s a sitcom. But still.

M: When Erica says the line about both heartbeats being really strong “and that’s good because I’m having a baby” I realize that I basically have this entire episode memorized. And thus I must have seen it way more than two times. I’m starting to think I watched it multiple times right after it aired (on VHS, natch) then haven’t seen it again since like … maybe 2005.

T: 12:32 Eight is Enough : a reference I definitely had to look up at the age of 18.

M: Joey to Ross: “Is that what a dinosaur would do?” I love the recurring joke where nobody’s at all clear on what Ross does (see also: “one sad polontologist”).

M:13:11 (iTunes episode timeline): 2004 throwback: Atkins reference. Oh God I hated Atkins. Just because how annoying people were on it. Around 2004, I remember a lady at the movie theatre where I worked grilling me on whether popcorn had carbs. I think I answered “yeah, probably a lot.” Employee of the decade here.

T: 14:49 Ross ‘waiting’ and leaning against the couch while Gunther professes his love for Rachel is the greatest. Ross is my favorite friend. Tied with Chandler. I just think Ross is so underrated.

M: Yeah, I’ll buy that, too. When I was a kid he seemed like the most “boring grownup” type of the bunch, but he plays sad-sack goofy nerd so well!

T: 17:35 Phoebe: “Sure he’s (Gunther) is more sexy in an obvious way.” Phoebe has the weirdest taste in guys. James Brolin, Jack Geller, Jacques Cousteau… I will say she scored with Paul Rudd though.

M: Thing I never thought about raising kids in New York City: having to secure a car seat into a cab. Excuse me, two car seats. EVERY TIME. Do you know how long those suckers take to get into the car? And you’re supposed to have firefighters check to make sure it’s in right. Do they have special firefighters checking every cab? Doubtful.

T: 18:45 Phoebe’s friend Ethel’s baby came home with a TEENY TINY BEARD.

T: 20:50 I LEGIT AM ALREADY TEARING UP WITH RACHEL SAYING GOODBYE TO ROSS.

M: Is it wrong that I really like Rachel’s 2004 outfit? There are knee socks. And a pullover vest. I think I just answered my own question.

T: Man, I would die if I was in the audience for this finale. Can you even imagine?

T: 23:00 I love when Phoebe’s angry/street side comes out. Never forget where you come from, y’all. Also, Not like I pass by toll booths all the time, but I think about Pheebs throwing the change at the window every time I drive through one.


M: Me too! I use EZPass (I love New York) and every time I’m at an out-of-state toll booth I have an instant Phoebe reaction.

T: I appreciate that the writers also decided to bring another OTP back together for the finale: Chandler and Joey. The whole trying to find Chick & Duck Jr. together was great, particularly with the foosball table metaphor and Monica eventually being the one to break it because the boys can’t do it.

M: There was a really good physical comedy moment when the ball drops into the foosball table and the camera closes in on their faces as they wait to hear what happens with it.

T: 29:23 Ross: “Okay if you could all walk slower, that would be great.” Me, anytime I walk anywhere with tourists or slow people.

M: I always angrily walk around them because I CANNOT DEAL WITH THAT. I’m a pretty chill driver, but I think I might have whatever the walking version of road rage is. Sidewalk rage, I guess.

T: 30:20 ross running through the line, pheebs running past it

M: I think this is one of the first airport chase scenes of the post-9/11 era. It was all so much easier before.

T: 31:25 Thinking of turning Ross’ ‘MONICA. MONICA. MONICA. MONICA… THAT IS PRECIOUS” into my ringtone.

T: 32:00 Ross realizing he’s at the wrong airport:

M: There’s no .gif of Joey saying “good game” to all of the foosball guys. Just, y’know, in case you were wondering. Also Monica and Chandler are neglecting their babies kind of a lot, right?

T: 35:37 Enter Dean Pelton.

M: The running gag with the phalange was probably my favorite part of the episode when it first aired. “THERE IS NO PHALANGE!”

T: 36:43 The guy who says ‘WHAT’S GOING ON??’ on the plane << overacting, much??

T: 39:00 Awkward hug or lame cool guy handshake was a thing my friends and I did the last night I lived on campus before going off to study abroad.

T: 40:00 Phoebe Buffay: Ultimate Ross and Rachel shipper

T: 41:28 annnnddd cue the crying yet again. Damnnit Schwimmer. I really thought she would stay too.. except there’s still 10 minutes left sooo

M: I think I cried when Rachel got on the plane when this first aired. Now I’m mostly dead inside so it’s cool, but I do remember the feeling. Of, you know, having feelings.

T: 42:43 Remember those old answering machines? Remember how it took me forever to come up with that term? It’s been 10 years and virtually no one uses those anymore, which is odd, because nothing in this episode looks like 2004 to me.

T: 44:20 cue crying number three

M: Nope. My eyes are as dry as Nevada in August, here. I love when “live studio audiences” used to do that “wooooo!” thing when people kissed.

T: 44:57 I remember telling someone before the finale aired that the ‘we were on a break line’ was going to be in the finale, if not the last line. kudos for me being insane.

M: I mean it was probably me. We had a legitimate long-standing bet about the parentage of Rachel’s baby before it was revealed. So yeah, we’ve always been a bit over-invested in TV.

T: 46:00 Joey: ‘Has it always been purple?’ What fans were thinking at that exact same moment

T: 46:22 I didn’t know what rent control was so I legit only know what it is today because I looked it up after this finale.

T: 46:37 I couldn’t believe we also spent 10 years without knowing Ross had a background in dance.

M: Well, there was “the routine.” In my imagination it during the era when he was really into making those songs on the Casio keyboard.

T: 47:00 Love this key scene – even though they never locked the door (except for the time where Underdog Got Away). After the finale I found some desktop wallpaper that some fan had made that was a picture of the six keys in a circle on the counter that said ‘Leave the keys, take the memories’

T: 47:45 REAL FREAKING TEARS FROM EVERYONE RN INCLUDING ME AND ALSO I HAVE THE CHILLS

M: Okay I think I just felt something. Empty apartment. Ugh. I think every sitcom writers room should be required to watch certain really good finales before they can start writing theirs. Friends is on the list.

Final Thoughts: This series finale puts a perfect bow on top of the present which we call Friends (lame, whatevs). But really. This finale is proof that this show is one of the most revered sitcoms in TV history. In the original pitch for the show from creators Marta Kaufman and David Crane, the show (first titled Insomnia Cafe), they made it clear that this was going to be a series about friends and growing up in your 20s.

An excerpt from the original pitch:

It’s about sex, love, relationship, careers… a time in your life when everything is possible, which is really exciting and really scary. It’s about searching for love and commitment and security… and a fear of love and commitment and security. And it’s about friendship, because when you’re young and single in the city, your friends are your family.
http://goodinaroom.com/blog/original-pitch-tv-show-friends/attachment/giar-blog-friends-pitch/

They stayed true to the original premise for all 10 years – even if you thought the later seasons were not funny. The finale was a culmination of what they’ve learned over the past decade; them growing up together, showing that they were able to get over the fear of love and commitment and security – because a decade later, they had it. It was the perfect time for them to start a new chapter of their lives with their own families and to finally say goodbye. Finales should be all about not only satisfying the characters in their own (fictional) lives, but maybe more importantly satisfying for the fans. And that’s exactly what the Friends finale did.

TV Finales As Written By The How I Met Your Mother Writers

What a finale! During the last episode of How I Met Your Mother, we learned that Ted met The Mother at the train station after the wedding and stayed in New York, that Robin and Barney got divorced, that The Mother died of a nameless, convenient disease, that if you’re a career-focused lady your marriage will probably end but maybe in a decade your friend’s wife will die and he’ll hit you up, and that the writers must have liked Lily and Marshall the best. We also learned that the past nine years have been — in many Twitter users’ opinions anyway —  either a waste of time or a lie. Neither of us 100% hated the finale, but we sure didn’t love it, either.

The plus is, we now have a sitcom finale format that we can use to ruin the ending of any TV show that you ever came to love! Take a look:

Full House

Wait, we already knew the mother was dead the whole time, right?  It seemed like Danny would never find love – until Jesse and Rebecca get divorced. Then Danny gets with Becky, which is convenient because he was already keeping her and her children in his attic.

The purpose of the whole series was for Bob Saget to explain to his daughters why their cousins were becoming their step-siblings.

All of this is able to happen because Danny’s real love (Uncle Joey, natch) dies. Danny can finally go for Becky once that puppeteering, Popeye-impersonating cock-block is out of the way thanks to … I don’t know, cancer or something? Consumption? Some sort of vague, beautiful illness. It doesn’t matter.

I Love Lucy

Fred and Ethel get divorced. Ricky dies. Lucy confesses that she loved Fred all along. And the whole series was just a traumatizing story-session in which Lucy fishes for dating advice from Little Ricky.

Also Ricky Ricardo was really from Milwaukee. Because everything you thought was true was a lie.

Friends

The thing we were waiting for for years finally happened – Ross and Rachel got back together and tied the knot! Then, quicker than you can say “four divorces,” the marriage ended. Rachel didn’t hang out much anymore. Then Monica died. And Chandler married Rachel, which makes Emma and the twins some sort of cousin-siblings. And the whole series was just a way to explain to the twins why daddy’s trying to get with Auntie Rachel.

Joey gives his last “how YOU doin’.” To an accident-baby.

M.A.S.H.

How could you possibly improve on arguably the best TV finale of all time? Easy, using the HIMYM Series-Ruining Format. The good news is that the events that viewers spent years waiting for finally happened.  Klinger and Soon-Lee get married. And divorced. But it’s cool, she hooks up with Father Mulcahy. The war ends! Hawkeye boards a helicopter, and looks fondly down at  the goodbye message that B.J. wrote in the camp.

Then the helicopter crashes. Onto Sophie the Horse.  Because if you wait seasons and seasons for something to happen, the writers just might give it to you – but true to the HIMYM Series-Ruining Format, you can be sure that they’ll take it away by the end of the episode.

Seinfeld

Make the Seinfeld finale worse? Sure! The HIMYM writers are up to the challenge. When the gang’s plane makes a crash-landing, they see a man getting carjacked and fail to help him. Under the jurisdiction’s Good Samaritan Law, they are put on trial, and all of their old acquaintances come back as character references. Elaine gets reluctant about hanging out with her friends – maybe because she’s in a separate facility, maybe because bitches be crazy and have too many feelings to maintain friendships –  which makes things real weird between everyone. Then, she and Jerry get together and get married by a justice of the peace in the local jail! But they get divorced real quick. They are all found guilty.

And sentenced to death.

Roseanne

Everyone remembers the real Roseanne finale, right? We learned that Dan actually died of a heart attack at Darlene’s wedding. His survival – and everything that happened afterward, including winning the lottery – was a story created in Roseanne’s imagination to cope with the immeasurable sorrow that filled her days.

Actually, this one can stay just how it is.

St. Elsewhere

NEVER SHAKE A DOCTOR. NEVER.

The audience learns that the whole show took place in the imagination of a little boy who has autism, who gazes at a snow-globe containing the titular hospital. The boy drops the snow-globe as he – the kid you hadn’t even met until this episode but who was the key to the entire show – dies. You see the main characters, in miniature, all fall out of the tiny snow-globe hospital. Maybe some of them die too. Were any of them married? Cool. They divorce.

The Office

Remember the wedding between Dwight and Angela? Well, they hadn’t finished paying it off before they got divorced. Jim dies. Pam marries Dwight. I guess Kelly and Ryan can be the Lily and Marshall of this operation, and nothing bad really happens to them. Toby fathers some sort of baby.

Newhart

Dick and Joanna split up. Joanna takes up with George Utley.

THEN, Dick wakes up and we find out that the whole thing was a dream. His name is Bob, he does NOT live in Vermont, and he did NOT divorce Joanna. Really dodged a bullet there! We meet the woman that he actually married. She is wonderful.

She dies.

In the last frame, Bob has taken a train to Vermont in order to track down the woman of his (literal) dreams – Prudence Goddard.

 

Lost

The whole time, you thought you might have been in purgatory.

Actually, you were in hell.

Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: Moone Boy

As we’ve mentioned, summer is the perfect time to start up a new tv series, since you have plenty of time to catch up on episodes before the new season starts. I just wrapped up Orphan Black (watch it!) and Hulu was promo-ing the heck out of Moone Boy, so I figured why not?

If you’re not already, you should be watching this show. It’s the perfect light summer tv fare – like the sitcom version of strawberry shortcake, but made with more of a biscuit base so it’s not TOO sweet. Let’s review:

This show is about Martin (David Rawle), a 12-year-old boy growing up in Ireland with his parents, older sisters, and imaginary friend. Yes, an imaginary friend, who actually appears on screen and is an adult man. This sounds horribly twee, but it really isn’t. The reason? Kids having imaginary friends isn’t cute to begin with. It’s weird and kind of creepy. One of my nephews has a whole gaggle of imaginary friends. He can tell you their birth dates, the age they were at any given year, their eerily realistic-sounding life stories (Sara got married when she was 17, but got divorced in 1979). None of the details ever waver.

Guys, I think my nephew sees ghosts.

At any rate, the imaginary friend thing isn’t too cutesy, which was my main concern.

Imaginary man aside, this show is refreshingly realistic, and that’s what I like about it. If you watch a lot of shows from Ireland or the UK, you already know that the actors are a lot more … plausible-looking than they are in US television. The kid looks like a regular awkward kid and his sisters look like regular, awkward teens:

The family interactions are lifelike, too – thanks to a great cast and solid writing. Like, Martin’s dad Liam confronts the school bullies’ dad. In most shows, he’d this big hulking dude who would intimidate Liam. Instead, this man instantly agrees that his kids are the worst, and the dads commiserate about how they can’t stand their own children sometimes. When the local women campaign for Mary Robinson’s presidential race, they have feminist motives but also just really like her haircut.

If the Mary Robinson reference didn’t tip you off, Moone Boy is an early ’90s period piece. It’s odd that my childhood is now distant yesteryear in TV-land, but it’s pretty fun to see the fashions and home furnishings of the day. Granted, I’m American, so my main point of reference for the Ireland of 1990 is this kid Paul who used to stay with my cousins every summer. It was some kind of American family/ child of NRA prisoner exchange program. Nice kid.

The really embarrassing thing is it took until the second episode for me to realize that the show was set 23 years ago. With God as my witness, I just thought that maybe people abroad were still really into Dynasty. Sorry, Ireland — it’s not that I think that you’re permanently stuck in 1990. It’s that I am.

Maybe you still aren’t sold, so I’ll pull out the last big draw. The imaginary friend, Sean Murphy? He’s played by the wonderful Chris O’Dowd, who you’ll know from Bridesmaids, Friends With Kids, and Girls. Also apparently Monsters vs Aliens, but we don’t need to dwell on that.

But we CAN dwell on Chris O’Dowd, who is kind of oddly appealing.

If you’re looking for a funny but not too fluffy show to add to your summer schedule, this is it. New episodes are posted on hulu.com every Wednesday, and the first two are up now, unless you have Hulu plus – you lucky folks can watch the whole series. However, like imaginary friends, Hulu Plus users may not actually exist, because I’ve never met one yet.

10 Catchiest Wordless TV Theme Songs

For years, instrumental TV theme songs were de rigour. Then, sometime in the mid-to-late 60s, somebody realized that you could sum up the entire premise of the show in a one-minute, three-verse song. Writers didn’t have to add in any exposition! Keep in mind, this was before the age of a two-minute “previously, on ____” preceding every 42-minute program. Viewers needed some way to know what they were getting into.

As time wore on, more generic theme songs took hold, usually about themes like friendship (Golden Girls) or family (Full House, Family Matters). By the mid-90s, tv themes had become chart toppers in their own right, and I still get a little giddy when the Friends theme pipes onto the radio.

Commercial breaks expanded, and run times contracted. Networks had to cut something from their shows, and theme songs were the first to go. By season 9, the Friends theme was about 12 words long. Other themes were reduced to a single line, followed by a nonsense word (Friendship is family forever…. toodles!). Don’t believe me? The Mike And Molly song is 17 seconds long. 10 words.

In tv theme songs – as in fashion and politics – the pendulum always swings back eventually. Instrumental theme songs are it again. I’ll be damned if they aren’t darn catchy, too.

Mad Men

A great title sequence calls for a great theme song. There’s a bit of a tense, Hitchcock-y buildup, so you know there’s going to be drama. But then the cymbals kick in, so you’re pretty sure there will be fun times and laughs, too. Who needs three verses explaining Don Draper’s back story when you have that? (I would actually benefit from three verses explaining Don Draper’s back story).

The Simpsons

I started watching The Simpsons almost as soon as it aired, even though I was barely a toddler. My mom didn’t approve of Bart’s attitude, but that didn’t mean we weren’t allowed to watch it. It just meant that my brothers and I had to go upstairs to do it. This really typifies my parents’ child-rearing philosophy. Like, my room could be messy for a while, but my door had to be closed. Hi, I’m half Irish Catholic, if you couldn’t tell.

Anyway, the most exciting part of the show when I was 4 or 5 was “the couch” – the sight gag at the end of the credits when the family piled onto the sofa. To get to it, you had to sit through a rollicking tour of Springfield. Danny Freakin’ Elfman, you guys. Genius.

30 Rock

Totally jazzy and New York-y. Oddly, more of an early-60s feel than the Mad Men theme. Jeff Richmond is without a doubt one of the great tv composers of our day. His wife’s pretty cool too I guess.

Parks and Recreation

Upbeat and spirited, this is like a theme song for optimism itself. Will Leslie Knope prevail? Of course she will. You don’t write a theme like this for someone who’s anything less than triumphant.

Boy Meets World

I have so much trouble finding people who remember the original Boy Meets World theme. We all remember the generic 90s tune of the later seasons (when this boy meets world — boy meets wor-or-orld – travelin down this road that we call ly-eeef –). But, do you remember the synth-y yet magestic tune of the first season? Extra bonus, the entire title sequence looks like it was created on Microsoft Paint, pre-Windows ‘95.

Because we all still  love the Boy Meets World cast, enjoy this behind-the-scenes info from the filming of the later title sequence:

Law And Order

I don’t know if it’s the solid bass backbeat, the twangy guitar, or the — is that a clarinet?? — but if you blindfolded a person who had never seen Law and Order, played this sequence, and asked them what this show was about, they’d be like “police procedural set in a big city? Early 90s?” I like the moment about 50 seconds in when you think that it’s over, then the music kicks back up, like “just kidding!” Am I overthinking it if I think that’s supposed to evoke the moment ⅘ of the way through the show when you think they got the bad guy but it was a different bad guy? Yeah, I thought so.

Batman

This doesn’t all-the-way qualify, because they say Batman a crazy number of times. By the end of it, it’s like when you repeat a word multiple times and it stops sounding like a word. I also notice that the way kids sing “na na na na na na na na na na BATMAN!” doesn’t sound much like this. See, I find that children are terrible at most things because they haven’t been alive very long.

What’s amazing is that even though this is a superhero cartoon, it kind of sounds like 1960s beach music, too. Except for the part where they won’t stop saying Batman.

Doug

I think in this context, “do” isn’t a word.

Babar

Oh, Babar. The show I always saw 20 minutes of because it was on HBO right before I had to leave for church in the morning. Babar was a gentle, sweet show (about colonialism), so this lovely little melody fits perfectly. Unless, that is, crazy, terrible shit always started to go down in the final 10 minutes.

Leave it To Beaver

    When you listen to this peppy, spirited little tune, you just know that for the next half-hour you are going to be in a world where the biggest problem is an 8-year-old with a slingshot. If only that darn announcer would just shut up.

Honorable mention: Clarissa Explains it all

Just a cheerful, energetic number featuring a 14-year-old girl dressed like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I had to DQ it from the list proper because there were a few too many words in there.

Honorable mention: Andy Griffith Show

This theme song is iconic and completely evocative of the show. I’m not denying that. Here’s the thing, though. When I was in elementary school, our music director decided to debut a sung version of this song at the spring concert. It wasn’t even my grade doing it, but all I can think of when I hear this song is 40 eight-year-olds with recorders trying to squeak out the melody, then putting them down to sing about a fishin’ hole.  It was actually way more cute when Andy Griffith sang it than when two classes of third graders did it, who would have thought?

Also, I know this makes me sound like a dour and joyless person, but I can’t stand when people whistle, and this song just encourages it.

Shows You Should Be Watching If You Aren’t Already: The New Normal

I was mighty incredulous about The New Normal. It seemed too much like it was riding the coattails of Modern Family – like network TV had just realized that people had weird family arrangements or, you know, that gay people actually had families, and they were really gunning for it. I definitely gave this a bit of a side-eye when NBC gave it a promo spot during the Olympics. I felt like if they had to try that hard, it wasn’t going to be very good. I also felt like this was the two weeks every four YEARS that I watch sports, so they should just show me the goddamn swimmers already.  Happy to say, I was mistaken – it is actually worth watching. Here’s why:

Bebe Wood as Shania
I know child actors are frequently the worst part of the show, but Bebe is oddly hilarious. The reason this quirky kid character is so funny is that the writers actually abide by the “show, don’t tell” rule. Instead of having the adults comment on how “offbeat” the kid is, they have her doing these amazing impressions of Little Edie Beale and the Dowager Countess. Her glasses aren’t prescription. She writes Charlie Rose fan-fiction. And best of all, while Shania isn’t a perfect kid, she doesn’t fall into the bratty sitcom child trap. Thank goodness.

The Rocky-Jane Adversarial Friendship

I like to imagine that they’re IRL besties, too.


Things got off to a rough start between TV producer Rocky (NeNe Leakes) and uber conservative/former Ohioan/World’s Youngest Great-Grandmother Jane (Ellen Barkin). See, e.g.: “The last time I checked this diamond speckled watch my gay boss bought me, without his consent, it was 2012. Now, why don’t you take your Callista Gingrich hairdo and your racist mind back to the past, or the south, where they belong?” Of course, the producers didn’t leave us hanging too long, and by the second half of the season we got to see these two (sort of) join forces, largely because of a shared dislike of the same things and people.

The Adorable Goldie/Bryan/David Friendship
Goldie (Georgia King, who is Scottish?!) is a gestational surrogate with a heart of gold. She is also younger than me, I just realized, which is BANANAS, but probably doesn’t matter to you. She’s a former teen mom who is acting as a surrogate to raise enough money to go to law school. And to think all I did was take out a few LSAT books from my college library. She, Bryan (Andrew Rannells), and David (Justin Bartha) become one of my favorite friend-families on T.V. right now. You get the feeling that even if she didn’t need the money, she’d still help the guys start their family, and that even if she wasn’t carrying their baby, Bryan and David would still do what they could to help her start her career and take care of Shania. I can’t wait to see how this family develops after the baby is born.

The Wacky but not too wacky plot lines
With its fairly involved premise, this show doesn’t really need to go to extreme on the plot lines. Almost everything is plausible, and some lean toward the classic sitcom setups — but if you want a mindless half-hour of tv that doesn’t change the face of sitcom television, this is it. A few favorites: the group goes gadget-free, causing Shania to get a little too into Pilgrim character; Tofurkey causes Thanksgiving dissent; a babyproofer apparently hates fun and Christmas.