When the TV show thirtysomething debuted, I was barely twentysomething. In fact, I had just turned 21. I was preparing to graduate from college, and had that optimistic sense that everything was possible, that I still had my whole life ahead of me.
I remember watching it with interest at the time, but sporadically, and with a general sense that the issues these characters were dealing with were so far in my future. I anticipated being some version of Hope and finding my Michael. I didn’t realize (and in fact, would have been horrified by said realization) that the true blueprint for my life would be the story lines for Melissa and Ellyn, the quintessential thirtysomething single women.
Well, sort of. I did emulate Melissa’s funky haircut back in the day, and have sported some variation of it ever since. Without the cool red color.
Now I’m fortysomething. When thirtysomething debuted on DVD last year, I immediately added it to my Netflix queue. What I most remembered before I started watching it again was the self-conscious, verbal processing of experience that was so characteristic of this show, and so unlike the TV that came before it. I remembered parodies of its navel-gazing tendencies. I was a little nervous about what I would think of it in retrospect.
But I’m now about a third of the way through the third season, and I’m loving it, for a variety of reasons, not least of which is the surreal sense of nostalgia and recognition I experience while watching it.
I vaguely remember some of the story lines, but it all seems refreshingly new. I now recognize myself in some of these characters, both because I have experienced or am now experiencing their struggles. And because I once wore clothes that somewhat resembled theirs. (Gotta love late ’80s fashion. Pleats! Suspenders! Shoulder pads! Jean jackets! Baggy sweaters! Peg-legged jeans! And did I mention Melissa’s hair?)
Then there are the technological disparities. Nary a cell phone or laptop or iPod in sight. In fact, LPs and cassette tapes are all the rage in the lives of these people, even though I know compact discs were just coming on the scene around that time.
And Hope writes her magazine articles on an electric typewriter, eschewing the word processor. I love it.
There are particular episodes which have especially struck a chord with me, and I hope to devote space here to those issues in the future. Soon.
I suspect I will probably break down and actually purchase these DVDs, as much as I’ve been trying to avoid such temptations. I think thirtysomething will join the Gilmore Girls and Felicity on my shelves sooner than later.
Does anyone else have the affection I have for this show?