While television fans can look forward to the return of Twin Peaks and Curb Your Enthusiasm in 2017, they can also look back at one of the pop culture icons from 1987. thirtysomething, a show about 7 friends in their thirties, turns thirty on September 29th, 2017.
When we were introduced to Michael and Hope they had just had their first child and were deeply in love. Conversely, we also meet Elliot and Nancy who are ten years into a marriage and falling out of love. Over the next four years these characters, along with Melissa, Ellyn and Gary, go through so many changes that a network executive would panic today. These 7 characters became so real to us that fans had trouble separating the actor from the character.
Fans related so closely with each story that they connected it directly to their own lives. The show became a poster child for the baby boomer generation. Cancer, business failings, death, parenting and being single were just a few of the topics covered. The writers took all the normal plots from night time television and threw them aside. The main story in the pilot is about finding a baby sitter . . . and that is it. The series moved slowly and with purpose. The characters’ lives as well as their homes were messy. Anyone who has raised a toddler knows that the floor of your house is always covered with toys and laundry. The creators, Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick, brought this reality to television for the first time. For years, I kept going back to the series because I missed these characters and always wondered, why couldn’t another show do “real life” this well?
Parenthood tried, Brothers & Sisters tried, This is Us is trying right now on NBC. While those shows were good and This is Us even has Ken Olin, Michael Steadman, as the executive producer, none match the simplicity of thirtysomething.
On June 7th my book, thirtysomething at thirty, will finally be published. I was able to interview the entire main cast, Michael, Hope, Elliott, Nancy, Gary, Melissa and Ellyn. I spoke with every writer who wrote more than 2 episodes of the series. I spoke with the creators Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick. I then assembled all those interviews into a round table reunion of the people who crafted thirtysomething.
There are over 150 photos in the book, the final script that was never filmed and essays from Peter Horton (Gary), Ann Lewis Hamilton (wrote “Second Look”), Joseph Dougherty (wrote all the great Miles episodes) and even an essay by the Mad Magazine editor, Nick Meglin, who paid the thirtysomething set a visit.
There is a special section all about the directing of the series where all the directors talk about the rules of directing on the series and what they learned from Marshall and Ed about staging a scene. Most of the cast would eventually direct an episode of the series. They tell tales of what it was like to watch dailies with the rest of the cast at lunch every day.
thirtysomething may not be streaming anywhere (really, Netflix?) but it is engrained in the memory of the fans that adored it. 2017 serves as the year that the show finally reached its own age. thirtysomething at thirty set out to tell the story of the series and honor the amazing work that these artists did over a 4 year period that we are still talking about thirty years later.
SCOTT RYAN IS THE AUTHOR OF THIRTYSOMETHING AT THIRTY:AN ORAL HISTORY and THE MANAGING EDITOR OF THE BLUE ROSE MAGAZINE. FOR MORE INFORMATION CLICK HERE.