thirtysomething: Housewarming

[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.]

Michael is looking for some old concert posters that he has in a box from his college days, and somehow that leads to a discussion about how they really need to get some work done on the house, and getting work done on the house leads to discussion of a housewarming party. Hope says “don’t say the H-word.” Really, Hope? Housewarming parties in the ’80s were so feared that they simply became the H-word? Anyway, if they’re going to have a housewarming party, they’re going to have to do something about all these holes in the walls!

It’s like they always say: show (the holes in the wall) don’t tell (the holes in the wall). At first, Michael wants to get a very elaborate renovation done, but then he gets the estimate and he’s like “45 cents, this is her Queen’s highway robbery!” Because everything cost 45 cents back in the ’80s. Also: laserdiscs! So he settles on a much more modest temporary solution so that the house will be presentable to his H-word guests. And Dave is just the teal shirt man for the job.

Seriously, though, everyone is very ’80s this week.

“Has anyone seen my Lord and Taylor gift certificate?”

In fact, everyTHING is very ’80s this week.

“Has anyone seen my Popple?”

Meanwhile, at work, Michael is stressing out because in order to run with the big dogs, his advertising agency, which he owns, needs to rent a soundstage that they can’t afford in order to produce better commercials for bigger clients. You know how it is, it’s a typical 30-year-old’s problem, where you own your own business and it’s just like “ahhh, life is almost unbearable!” You know. So Michael has anxiety dreams. And I have to admit, in the era of Sopranos dream-sequence episodes, and last week’s Mad Men, this shit is corny as hell.

Back at home, Hope’s friend Ellyn comes over and checks out Dave. Ellyn’s a total Samantha, they just didn’t have a word for it back then.

She tells Hope that Dave is cute. Hope hadn’t noticed. She says something about how you always get baby food in your eyes, or something? If this show had a moral it would be: never have babies. So as soon as Ellyn convinces Hope that Dave is cute, they start flirting. Perfect. You know how it is when you’re married and a kid, sometimes you forget what flirting is like until you let a strange man feed you a donut because your friend said he was cute.

Dave wipes the donut jelly out of Hope’s hair.

Which is what brings Hope back to her senses. Only her husband wipes the donut jelly from Hope’s hair. That’s what the vows mean.

Michael and Elliot go to inspect this sound stage again, and it reminds me of something.

Oh right. It reminds me of this:

Michael just doesn’t know what to do. He has another dream in which he has abandoned all his youthful ideals in order to make crass advertising money. Everyone in the dream is dressed like a hippie. Michael is a total sell-out! Or is he? Did you know that if you’re a sell-out in your dreams it means that dream interpretation is nonsense?

But then Michael has another dream about his grandfather, who tells him to stop his whining and be a man.

“Stop your whining and be a man.”

So the next day, Michael starts making MAN DECISIONS. He goes to work and agrees that they must rent the soundstage (oh phew, I was on the edge of my seat wondering whether or not they were going to rent the soundstage). And he is about to fire the terrible secretary who gets everything wrong. He really lets her have it and actually says some really unprofessional and needlessly rude stuff. You know, the way men should.

But at the last minute he can’t fire her, and he just tells her to do better.

Then he goes home and fires Dave. Not for shamelessly flirting with his wife and feeding her donuts as if it was they who were married, but because he realizes, as a man, that he hates the compromise renovation, and wants to make sure that he does things the right way or not at all. Dave takes it pretty hard.

Haha. Don’t take it TOO hard, Dave.

And finally, it is time for the big party! It is not that fun! People make snide remarks about the house! Michael meets his wife’s former lover, who is…also…a big time Philadelphia ad executive? But also he is a dweeb. And Dave boldly kisses Hope on the NECK as he says goodbye (actually, he says “have a nice life, you guys.” Gross, Dave) and Michael is like “uh…” and Hope is like “I may smell like baby vomit, but I have still got it!” Then they go back inside where the only people left are their real friends and there’s a nice moment of everyone being together on this great big ship called life sailing the oceans of time, or whatever.

Isn’t that the best? After you throw a party when it’s just down to the people you really care about. At what appears to be 5:30 in the afternoon? This appears to have been less of a housewarming party, and more of a housewarming brunch. Forget it, Jake, it’s the ’80s.