August 25, 2009

Another article about the DVD of "thirtysomething" by someone who loved the show as a teenager and is now in her/his 30s.

There was this one in the NYT, by Porochista Khakpour, which we talked about here. And now Slate's got virtually the same thing, by Seth Stevenson.

As I said in the earlier post, I had no interest in watching the show when it originally aired, though I was myself in my 30s (and dealing with the problems of marriage, career, and raising young children that the show explored). I'm wondering if the show really was aimed at the younger generation, the kids who wanted to learn what adulthood was really like.

I suppose I could watch the show now — now that it wouldn't be a boring depiction of the ordinary — and see how I'd react to it. Would it feel like looking back on my own past? At the time, I thought that I and my family were very individualistic and not representative of my generation, but I've often thought, looking back, that for all of the individuality I thought I (and we) had, that I really did ride the curve of times quite closely — and that even that illusion of individuality was a conceit typical of Baby Boomers.

30 comments:

ironrailsironweights said...

I'd rather watch the washing machine.

Peter

traditionalguy said...

Clue: Watching narcissim in action is boring, unless of course you are a narciscist without knowing it.

Shanna said...

When I was a kid I thought this was by far the most boring show ever. Now I actually am (barely) in my 30's and I have zero interest.

knox said...

I adored My So-Called Life, produced by the same guys. Never saw 30-something.

Shanna said...

The same guys did My So Called Life? Had no idea.

Salamandyr said...

I remember that show, it had a magic power to actually repel me from the television.

Now that I'm in my 30's, the thought of it is no more appealing.

michael farris said...

"for all of the individuality I thought (and we) I had, that I really did ride the curve of times quite closely — and that even that illusion of individuality was a conceit typical of Baby Boomers."

That was one of the two Big Points of the show. The most mundane things seem unique when they happen to you.

The other was straight from "It's a wonderful life" - that a great life (however you want to define that) may not feel very great as it's happening.

I'll break the Althousian Cool Kids ranks and say that I really enjoyed the show when it was originally on but I have no idea if I still would.
I also remember a lot of people who claimed to hate and/or never watch it knew what was going on pretty well. Part of the audience was definitely into it in a love-to-hate-it kind of way.

vw: patian - a French piece of furniture designed for indoor/outdoor use.

Bissage said...

It is never wrong to think that one is special in one’s individuality and it is never right to forfeit that in the hope of receiving core validation in return.

Many years ago, there was this guy who worked for the same company as me. He was about twenty-five years older and he worked in a different department.

We were practically strangers but he must have seen something in me that reminded him of his younger self.

This is the only reason I can come up with to explain why he took me aside one day and gave me some advice I’ll never forget. He said, “These people are not your friends.”

That, right there, is all the reason anybody ever needs never to waste his or her time believing in a plastic TV show like “Thirtysomething,” the chief purpose of which is to promote a cloaked flattery to in turn sell advertising.

Perhaps some people might think the view expressed above is old-fashioned.

Good.

Lem said...

..the chief purpose of which is to promote a cloaked flattery.

I tuned in because the cool single women at work would bring it up at lunch. People used to leave the premises and have lunch together in those days.

It was really frustrating though. I was never on the “right side” if such a thing ever existed on the show it totally escaped me.

kathleen said...

I watched this 8 years ago when it ran on Bravo. It's amusing to watch all these narcissists swanning around in rankly unfashionable clothing. Mom jeans galore. Hope's ever-present earrings looked like tea kettles hangin from her lobes. The datedness undercut the show's whole enterprise (to demonstrate how deep they all were) most effectively.

Smilin' Jack said...

It was well-written and well-acted and was based on the then-novel concept that most of the interesting things that happen in life do not involve car chases or shooting people. It began the trend of sophisticated adult drama and comedy moving to television, while "cinema" devolved into live-action comic books for not-too-bright children.

The Crack Emcee said...

"dealing with the problems of marriage,..."

And now you're divorced and "remarried". You crack me up sometimes. Unintentionally, but still,...

The Crack Emcee said...

Oh - and then there's:

"...a conceit typical of Baby Boomers."

Please, oh please, oh please, tell me more. Maybe you (or we) can make a list. I'll gladly post it. What other assumptions did the group before mine thrust on the rest of us about themselves - without a challenge or a realistic basis - as they went about destroying all before them?

Maybe another list could be of how many turned out to be flat-out wrong.

And, just to stay on topic, I watched the show a few times and couldn't relate to such middle class whiners. They had no problems but themselves, which I think is typical of a lot of people, and explains it's popularity.

THEY could relate.

ironrailsironweights said...

I watched this 8 years ago when it ran on Bravo. It's amusing to watch all these narcissists swanning around in rankly unfashionable clothing. Mom jeans galore. Hope's ever-present earrings looked like tea kettles hangin from her lobes. The datedness undercut the show's whole enterprise (to demonstrate how deep they all were) most effectively.

While it was impossible to tell for sure because of course there was no nudity on the show, back then adult women still looked like adult women (in a grooming sense), rather than prepubescent little girls like they do today :(

Peter

dick said...

Reminds me of the gays and their free to dress as they like. They were all expressing their individuality and yet you get to the bar and it is clone city. Same with the Boomer crew. All expressing their individuality and they all ended up looking and dressing the same. And would never admit it.

traditionalguy said...

Crack...To best understand Baby Boomers, you need to watch the movie Anchorman. The boomers were like predators newly introduced into an ecosystem where they had no natural enemies. Life was far to easy for them. Now they face a life crisis like no one has ever seen before. So be merciful, Crack.

Alex said...

This was the show that killed television for me until the Sopranos came along.

Alex said...

Life was far to easy for them. Now they face a life crisis like no one has ever seen before. So be merciful, Crack.

No mercy!

Roux said...

I absolutely hated that show. What a bunch of self centered characters. Basically an unfunny Seinfeld.

I never forget the main female character worried about Radon gas in her home. I distinctly remember saying, "open the doors and windows you moron" and leaving the room. My wife looked at me like I was crazy and I never watched the show with her again.

John Stodder said...

This is the only reason I can come up with to explain why he took me aside one day and gave me some advice I’ll never forget. He said, “These people are not your friends.”

I'm confused by this post. Which people? Was he referring to the cast of "thirtysomething?" Was he afraid you were having trouble distinguishing reality from TV? Was he referring to your co-workers? Is the connection to "thirtysomething" the idea that friendship was a Madison-Avenue myth?

Maybe I'm just dense today.

wv: sublec Yngsoc for "the subject of this lecture."

Jeff said...

I don't know how I'd react to it today, but I liked it at the time (was in my late 20s). The home life stuff could be tiresome, but I always found the workplace-centered episodes to be quite entertaining. Michael's competitor, and then boss, Miles Drentell, was one of the great evil anti-heroes of the time.

michael farris said...

Three great things that thirtysomething did that hadn't been done on tv before (as far as I know)

1. Melissa's mother breaks her leg to sabotage her daughter's career*

2. Miles (made evil interesting again)

3. The cancer groupie (if you didn't see that episode nothing can describe it)

*I'd recorded the episode for a female friend and said matter of factly that her mother broke her leg on purpose to sabotage her daughter and then got lectured at at length for horrible attitudes about women. After the female friend saw the show I apparently had misrepresented it: "She totally did that (ie broke her leg) on purpose! you just don't understand female thinking!" (I didn't belabor the point).

vw: spint, 1. dialect variation of 'spun' 2. Dutch snack made of potatoes, herring and cheese.

Bissage said...

Maybe I'm just dense today.

Or maybe I just laid an egg.

To answer your question, John Stodder, he was referring to our fellow workers -- and a specific issue of office politics -- but I immediately took what he said to contain more wisdom than just that.

In my comment, I tried to broaden “these people” and to narrow “friends” hoping to have a rule to justify my point that there is a class of popular entertainment that seeks to perpetuate a culture that preys on the na├»ve by providing the illusion of social belonging and that there is something insidious about that.

It smells like teen spirit.

But what do I know?

There ain’t nobody here but us chickens.

Ha!

Methadras said...

Hated the show. Everyone was so fucking pretentious in it.

Jeremy said...

Pretentious? Why that's Ed Zwick's middle name. What else would you expect?

-The Other Jeremy

Theo Boehm said...

I was thirtysomething when the show was on, and was annoyed with it.

I was not flattered. My only Thirtysomething-inspired fantasy was to possess a time machine to send every one of the characters straight to 1933.

Looks now like we'll get there on our own.

wv: Kinguna-husband of Queen Furtiva Lagrima

Penny said...

Theo, I loved the show, but it warms my heart that you watched, at least once, and from Mars!

Theo Boehm said...

Glad you liked it, Maxine.

They let you stay up that late at the rehab center?

Lem said...

Penny is Max?

Penny is Max?

Penny is Maxine..

El Presidente said...
This comment has been removed by the author.