[Ed. note: In the New York Times a couple
weeks months 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. 2009, you guys. Anything can happen. There is no spoon.]
It’s back! Finally! Didn’t it feel like forever since the last episode of thirtysomething? Get it? (This show was on 17,000 years ago.) Welcome back, old friends. Get it? (Everyone on this show is old.) ANYHOW, when we last left Whine Country, Elliott and Nancy were getting separated and/or divorced. Yikes! If anything this show is TOO realistic. (Because in the real world, every room is filled with mist, and the people who have real problems are small business owners and freelance photographers.) But thirtysomething knows when to hold them and when to fold them when it comes to GAMBLERING with audience’s patience over superbummer divorce plotlines, so this week we take a break with a slightly more upbeat Melissa/Ellyn story. Although don’t worry! It’s still a trademark thirtysomething insofar as EVERYTHING IS A CRISIS AND/OR DISASTER TO COMPLAIN ABOUT.
So, after a boring dinner party at Hope’s and Michael’s house where Hope falls asleep in the kitchen staring at the coffee maker and Michael falls asleep during a game of Pictionary, and then they kick everyone out because it’s 7:30 PM and some of us have children to resent, Shepard heads home to alphabetize his collection of Japanese Vending Machine Adolescent Panties, or whatever. Melissa asks Ellyn if she wants to get a drink, but Ellyn says that she has to go home and finish Terms of Endearment. Ew. There’s something wrong with Ellyn. But then they run into each other AT THE VIDEO STORE.
You guys, remember the Video Store? The best!
Women be rentin’ movies! So, half the episode takes place at the Video Store, because thirtysomething was a show all about THE WAY WE LIVE NOW (’87). Example:
At one point, this one dude asks Melissa and Ellyn if they’ve ever thought about how the video store is basically the mating ground of the ’80s. “Uh, no.” I wish that is what either Melissa or Ellyn had said. “No. I’ve never thought that.” Now that would be real life. Could you get the phone?! Anyway, Ellyn is totally BUSTED. So she and Melissa decide to watch the movie together. And now they are best friends. This show is basically Gossip Girl with its revolving door of alliances and high drama scenarios. “Hope killed someone and Elliott is buying a hotel.” Basically. Anyway, so now that Ellyn and Melissa are best friends, you know what that means: VIDEO STORE TIME! Although this is a Video Store in the ’80s, so it also means PUBLIC CAMEL TOE TIME!
At the video store/Public Camel Toe Display Center, the ladies run into this dude, who just happens to be renting the video that the ladies wanted, The Way We Were (sure, biggest hit of ’87 duh, no duh) but lets them have it. And now there is a love triangle. But Ellyn already has a boyfriend, Draco Malfoy. But she is turning sour on him because one time in a meeting he held up his finger and another time he came over with ski boots and free plane tickets because he wanted to take her on a trip.
WHATTAJERK. Melissa, meanwhile, doesn’t have a boyfriend, because Melissa is
ugly free-spirited. But she is interested in this guy despite the fact that he has a pre-teen daughter that he can’t shut up about, is recently divorced, and his only interests are romantic comedies and melodramas from the 1940s. The point is that it just makes sense that the three of them would go out on a TRIPLE DATE at the Mirror Hut because that is just the way things were back then. FREE TRIPLE LOVE.
Huh? What is this date? This never happened.
“You lie, thirtysomething!”
Melissa doesn’t know what to do because she likes this guy so much and she is scared of falling in love. Ugh. Grow up, Melissa. Is being scared of being in love a thing that happens anywhere other than treacly ham-fisted Paul Haggis dramedies? The only person on Earth who is actually scared of being in love is Mike Tyson, but that has more to do with his being a sociopath than anything else. (And I’m not even going to talk about the scene in which MELISSA IS HER OWN THERAPIST.) Besides, Melissa, you have bigger problems than whether or not to fall in love. For example, whether or not to STOP BORROWING CLOTHES FROM CANADIAN RAPPER SNOW.
That coat is the worst! Although to be fair, it goes great with her BOLO TIE. And here’s a fun fact: Russell Crowe wore that coat for a month to prepare himself to play John Nash in A Beautiful Mind.
But Ellyn is also flirting with Melissa’s crush, which is just one of the things that happens when you casually go on TRIPLE DATES like it’s nothing. She asks Hope for the name of a good gynecologist, but when she shows up, IT’S THE GUY.
Good faces everyone.
Ellyn, naturally, is really weirded out by the idea of her triple-boyfriend examining her, but he tries to reassure her that it’s his job and it’s not a big deal. WHAT?! I mean, I know the human body is a miracle and everybody poops, but if you walk into the gynecologist’s office and it turns out that the gynecologist happens to be one of the corners of your love triangle and he is persistent about examining you because of how medicine works, PULL OUT YOUR MACE. He is like “it’s the same as if I came down to City Hall where you work.” Yeah! And pulled out your dick! “My dick would like to know what day you do curb side trash removal in my neighborhood.” But it’s cool, they decide to get coffee instead of genital examinations. Now Melissa is mad. But not as mad as she is going to be when she shows up at his door unannounced and finds him and Ellyn watching Philadelphia Story together. PHILADELPHIA STORY! Ellyn gets real snippy about the whole thing but really it’s just because she feels guilty. She broke up with Draco Malfoy because he told her he loved her and also one time in a meeting, I’m not sure if Ellyn has mentioned this a million times yet, but he RAISED A FINGER AT HER. Ellyn is talking to Hope and she is like “how can you live your life like that? Without being a controlling shrew to everyone you know and eschewing meaningful relationships in order to hold onto an adolescent’s concept of control?” And Hope is like “Ellyn, that is what love is.” Sort of. I mean, that’s also just called ACTING YOUR AGE and NOT BEING A NIGHTMARE.
Eventually, Ellyn apologizes to Melissa for trying to steal her man. And also for ruining their two-day-old best friendship. And she apologizes to HERSELF for breaking up with Draco Malfoy, because it’s like they always say, you can’t truly apologize to someone until you apologize to yourself (no one says that). Melissa is like “it’s OK, he kissed me and then we fucked.” Seriously, she says that. I mean, she does it ’80s groundbreaking drama style, and says “he kissed me and we even…you know.” But the thing is, I DO KNOW. Then she makes a gross joke about his training as a gynecologist as it relates to his sex skills. Gross, Melissa. So now they are friends again. But Ellyn still needs to win Draco Malfoy back. Which shouldn’t be that hard. I mean, have you seen him?
Dude got his OWL in Being Single Spells (no nerdo). So Ellyn wins him back by wearing her ski boots to a business meeting, which seems dangerously unprofessional and wholly unnecessary.
I’m sure she could have won him back by saying “we’re back together.” He would be like, “OK.” And then, hopefully, she would be like, “haircut.”