Videogum

thirtysomething: Undone

[Ed. note: In the New York Times a couple weeksmonths ago, there was an article about the much-anticipated DVD release of thirtysomething, a “groundbreaking” (not my word) television drama from the late ’80s. By most measures, the show was not a huge success (according to that article, its highest ratings were during the first 15 minutes of a premiere), but it was a critical darling, and “thirtysomething” is now a word in the dictionary. But most importantly: when it came out, as far as I was concerned, it was a stupid-boring show for old people. Except that now I am one of those old people. And so, out of some misguided sense of curiosity, over the next few weeks, I will be recapping the first season of thirtysomething here. 20092010, you guys. Anything can happen. There is no spoon.]

It is baby Janie’s first birthday! Can you believe it! Where did the time go! (Incidentally, baby Janie would now be 13 years old. Don’t do drugs, baby Janie!) She’s having her first birthday party, which is something I can relate to because last week I went to the first birthday party for a baby. WHOA! ART IMITATING LIFE! Nancy is invited, but Elliott is not invited. AWKWARD! Elliott is like, “no, I understand, it’s better for all the children, because Nancy will bring the kids,” and it’s like, “no, you are just kind of annoying.”

But also, Michael’s old friend from college who he hasn’t seen in a hundred years is coming? To the birthday party? And then staying at his house? But they used to be kind of romantically involved sort of it was weird? But Hope is the one who invited her? And everyone is trying to be cool with it? But as soon as Michael leaves for the airport to pick her up it is clear that maybe people are not so cool with it? And thus begins an episode entirely based around Michael’s sexual history. NEAT!

See, Michael didn’t sleep with her back when they were friends, but there was definitely something there (and maybe there is still something th–zzzzzzzzzzz) and so the question on everyone’s mind is: why DIDN’T he sleep with her?! What an interesting question. If only this show was 3 hours long so that we could just spend more time on this fascinating, wonderful question. Anyway, everyone eventually asks the question. Elliott asks the question.

Hope asks the question.

Melissa asks the question.

Even the friend asks the question.

Meanwhile, Elliott takes her out on a date to make Michael mad. GOTCHA. Actually, what should make Michael mad is not the fact that Elliott took his ex-friend (? or whatever?) out to dinner, but that Elliott, presumably his best friend, actually says to him: “You met her before you met Hope?” And Michael says yes. And then Elliott says “But you still married Hope. Huh!” And Michael is just like “gentle glare.” Really? Because if I was married and someone who was both my business partner and my friendship partner derided my wife and my marriage in that way, it would be GOODNIGHT NURSE.

And then she goes out with Shepard to make Michael mad. Everyone wants to make Michael so mad. And it works! Look at him drinking milk out of the carton in the easy chair in the middle of the night just like Jack Nicholson in Anger Management:

Michael is like “you can’t stay here anymore, you have to go to a hotel,” and she is like, “fine,” and Hope is like, “you should have fucked her when you had the chance but now you are chained to me for life,” and Michael is like “I should have fucked her when I had the chance.” And don’t even get me started on the green spiral-bound notebook that they used to mail back and forth to each other as they cowrote a love sonnet (what was it called? “Leaves of Barf”?) Michael confronts Shepard and Shepard admits that he fucked her when he had the chance, and Michael is mad because he told Shepard that he loved her, and Shepard is like “yeah, but my 19 year old dick told me something else,” and so you know. Gym time!

Eventually, Michael goes to the friend’s hotel room. Good move! This can only end well! They reminisce about the past and about how they should have fucked each other when they had the chance, and she is basically like “also we should just fuck each other now.” Because that is just a very attractive quality in a woman: someone who refuses to move forward in their lives and selfishly does not care how many families she destroys in order to regain a momentary flicker of youthful passion that could not possibly have any hope for a sustainable future. Hot stuff! But Michael is like “this can’t happen,” which is nice, and good, although I kind of wish it did happen, because this show losing its moral center and going completely off the rails into Melrose Place would at least be NOT SO BORING. Then Michael goes back to Hope and they are like “married.”

Only two episodes left in season one (also known as The Only Season As Far As I Am Concerned). Hopefully the season finale will just be flashback episode reminding us of all the great nervous breakdowns everyone had over petty nonsense.