mardi, octobre 18, 2011

Thirtysomething angst, twenty years on

True confessions -- I was a total "Thirtysomething" addict.

Oh yeah, I know. Yuppies. Self-involved, idealistic, sometimes selfish children of the late 1960's, anguishing in a sometimes very silly way about where they had misplaced their idealism.

I lapped up every minute of relational drama as Michael and Hope, Eliot and Nancy, Melissa, Ellyn, Gary (oh, Gary) and the gang struggled to act like adults -- and very often screwed it up.

For many of us, it didn't hurt at all that the show was set in Philadelphia (and perhaps could be partially credited with putting that wonderful city back on the national map).

Way back when, it was the show to which I turned to explore my own experiences and dilemmas as someone who shared a ballpark age and economic status with the cast -- I, like many of you, could project a little into a future that seemed like ours.

I didn't have a child to interrupt my attempts at marital intimacy , like Hope and Michael.

But my maternal clock was ticking, bigtime, so I enjoyed "spying" on their problems.

Melissa and her insecurities about guys? The writers, who really were fantastic (the show has been listed a few times as among the twenty best series ever on television) really seemed to understand how tough it was to be a single woman trying to navigate a married world.

And wasn't Miles Drentell the boss you loved to hate? Everyone has had superior like him -- smooth, hard, a little sleazy. Only Miles was more so.

For those of us who worship at the altar of paralysis by analysis, "Thirtysomething" was the sometimes soapy, often funny, frequently rueful show that fed our obsession.

And maybe that's partly why I miss it -- and why I so rarely watch television now.

It's a different era -- but a lot of the relational, moral and political issues we struggle with haven't changed all that much.

Change the hairstyles, the restaurants, and the actors, and a bunch of clever writers could easily find new ways to make their world seem very familiar to modern thirtysomethings.

And for those of us who like to time travel? I think we'd still recognize ourselves in these characters -- even if we do it with an apologetic smirk.

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