thirtysomething: Separation

[Ed. note: In the New York Times a couple weeks 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.]

Oh boy. So this week is all about the popular 80’s pasttime of DIVORCE. Rad, dude! Obviously, Elliott and Nancy have been having problems this entire season. The pilot included Elliott admitting that he had been having an affair, for heaven’s sake! The pilot episode! And of course there was the “very special episode” about couple’s therapy. Neat! But this week, things start getting very real.

So, after a meeting with a teacher who informs Elliott and Nancy that their son is having behavioral difficulties in school, Elliott decides that he can’t do it anymore and he needs his space. Fair enough. Marriage is a compromise, until it’s not a compromise anymore, you know? He acknowledges that his leaving makes him the bad guy, even though he argues throughout the show that it’s more complicated than that. While I agree that Elliott looks kind of bad, I also agree that it is more complicated than him just being the bad guy. For one thing, listen to Nancy tell this joke:

Yikes. Divorce her! No court in the world would convict Elliott of not being totally justified in divorcing her. That was a mess! As Elliott packs his suitcase, he asks Nancy if she’s done reading a book, and she says she’s not done but he can have it, and he says she can have it, and she says he can have it, so he TEARS THE BOOK IN HALF! Just like the baby in the bible. Elliott is not the real mother of that book.

Elliott asks Michael if he can stay at his house for awhile. Michael says yes (which I have a feeling is not going to create any problems with Hope later whatsoever), and then asks him some question about the kids, and it is THEN that Elliott first remembers that he has kids and that separation/divorce is hard on kids. He actually says “Oh my God, the kids.” Well, although this is a difficult step, it is good to see that Elliott has really thought this whole thing through.

“If I knew what a mousepad was, I’d probably have one that said ‘World’s Best Dad’ on it.”

So, the boys kind of split off and have Team Boys, and the girls kind of split off and have Team Girls. The boys go out for beers, because BOYS WILL BE BEERS.

Apparently the bar is located in the elementary school.

Thus explaining all of the mist. At the bar, Elliott gets mad at Michael, because Michael has the audacity to suggest that there are braver and more respectable things to do in life than abandon your wife and children. Whoops. Michael learns firsthand what happens when you blow the whistle on Big Elliott: a lot of self-important whining.

You know, maybe one of the reasons that Elliott is having trouble in his marriage is from too much chocolate milk.

Seriously. Like, when Hope and Mellissa go over to console Nancy with some ice cream, Hope discovers that this chocolate milk thing is a serious problem.

Elliott is an adult! Supposedly!

Hope and Nancy have what looks like a really fun conversation between friends.

Aww, Hope is the best! She always know show to cheer you up. Everyone is being torn apart by this rift. Well, mostly just Elliott and Nancy are getting torn apart, I guess. And their kids. Like this kid:

It should be pointed out that that is exactly how I was dressed in 1987. And that would still be how I dressed if I had a job that required GETTING dressed. Speaking of getting dressed, check this guy out:

Now that Elliott is divorced, he needs a new look, and a cool new nickname to score with the ladies. How about:

Elliott tells Hope that the reason he left Nancy is because she did not fill his chocolate milk needs broke the contract with him by becoming a different person. Hmmm. Sure. You’re not selfish and impetuous at all! CASE CLOSED.

Nancy shows up and basically lays it out for him. She tells him what days he can see the kids, and recommends a real estate broker for an apartment and they can sell the house if they need to, and she gives him the name of a divorce lawyer, and he is like “Nancy, divorce? What are we talking about here?” And Nancy is like “Seriously, Elliott, what did you think was going to happen?” but with more screaming and adenoids.

But that’s just it, Nancy! Elliott doesn’t think!

Fast forward 20 years:

So I guess it works out.