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thirtysomething: Nancy’s First Date

[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.]

WELCOME TO DATE TOWN, POPULATION NANCY AND MELISSA! This week, everyone is going on dates. It’s the ’80s! Free love! I can’t wait for the inevitable thirtysomething episode about the AIDS crisis. That’s going to be great. Obviously, Melissa has it, and tries to talk to Hope about it, but Hope is too busy worrying that one day her baby is going to grow up and get AIDS and never get into a good school! But for now, everyone has a clean bill of health, a strong T-cell count, and a date to get ready for!

A fellow parent at Nancy and Elliott’s child’s school, who we are informed has a very hot car, because make no mistake, this show’s characters for all of their Princeton sweatshirts and cappuccino (see below), they are all a bunch of vapid assholes, has asked her on a date! And “the worst part is” she said yes! Oh man, now what? Oh, I know what:

Most of the episode is taken up with Nancy’s attempt to find the perfect outfit, which is pretty hilarious. I mean, I know that when we look back on photos of us now, we will all look so stupid and old fashioned, or whatever, but the ’80s as to admit that cocaine messed with its eyes, because COME ON:

Obviously, when Elliott finds out, he is not happy about it, because he imagines that Nancy going on a date means that Nancy is going to be in a soft porn funded by White Snake.

This is realistic enough, though. In real life, when assholes get itchy and start crushing hearts and lives, it’s not like they recognize their selfishness and keep everything in perspective. It is very normal for the jerk in the situation to keep being a jerk by not realizing that the thing that he is now upset/jealous about is a specific result of his selfishness, and also that everyone needs to move on with their lives, not just the jerk. But the important thing is that he gets so upset that he comes over to the house while Nancy is getting ready for her date under the auspices of Ethan wanting his Legos, and this is very frustrating to Nancy, obviously, because it’s intrusive and manipulative and disrespec—Whoops, now they are having sex.

Classic sex faces.

Nancy doesn’t know wha’ happened, but she knows that it will never happened again. She misses Elliott, or whatever, but she knows that she can’t live with this constant back and forth and emotional confusion. When she goes to pick up the kids, she is determined to draw the boundaries with him very clearly, but between his luxurious bachelor apartment that any lady would die to live in:

and his very cool jeans:

it is hard for her to maintain her resolve. Elliott says that he hasn’t slept with anyone since he left, and that life is messy? I don’t know. I was too busy staring at Elliott’s jeans and just imagining what an exciting and fabulous life you could lead in that studio. Does it have a kitchenette? Oh my God, who is this guy? Donald Trump?!

MEANWHILE, Melissa is going on dates with that gynecologist. It is going pretty good, if you like awkward, illegal threesomes.


I am just kidding, you guys. That is not a penis erupting in climax all over everyone. (Yuck.) It is a cappuccino machine! Remember how crazy cappuccinos used to be? “I feel like I am in Spain!” That is what we all used to say when confronted with the very prospect of a cappuccino. Jean Luc! Anyway, Melissa gets along just fine with the gynecologist’s daughter, but now she has got BABY FEVER. She wants a precocious child actor of her own! The problem is, the gynecologist doesn’t want any more kids. One precocious child actor whose dialog was clearly written by a 40-year-old is enough for him.

Cool keffiyeh, Melissa! What boutique on Driggs did you buy it in?

Melissa thinks that maybe she can change him, and at the very least agrees to table the Baby Panic for the time being, because of how they get along so well and have such a good thing going. In the meantime, she starts teaching the doctor’s daughter how to do photography, and yells at her A BUNCH.

Eventually the daughter is like “turns out, I hate being yelled at, weird,” and Melissa is like “oh, don’t you see, I’m not actually mad at you, I just want your daddy to put a baby in me,” because that is just an INCREDIBLY APPROPRIATE THING TO SHARE WITH A CHILD. Very good. Very parent.

Melissa does eventually realize that you can’t change a man (NO WAY, LADIES!) and that what she wants is a HUMAN BABY, so she should just break off the relationship now. The doctor is like “you do remember that I just got divorced five months ago and that I have a pre-pubescent daughter to raise, so maybe my idea of a good time does not include fighting about a future baby every five minutes,” and Melissa is like “peace,” and Gabe is like “no one’s apartment has ever been lit this way, not even in 1987.”

So, Melissa is single, AGAIN. With not even ONE BABY in her guts. And Nancy is so CONFUSED, because DIVORCE IS HARD. And you know what that means: LADY WHITE WINE PARTY!

Oh, ladies. You are so thirtysomething.