thirtysomething: Pilot Episode

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.

So, since this is the pilot episode, and since this is a show about what we talk about when we talk about babies crying, we need to get to the part where we even have babies. You can’t just start with people having babies, it’s not believable. This is a show for adults, and adults know that babies don’t just come out of nowhere! The first couple of minutes are a quick montage of how the main couple, Michael and Hope met and fell in love and got married and had a baby. How long do you think a story like that should take? You probably said a minute and a half, because you always have to be right. There’s the scene in which Hope talks to her best friend over a glass of white wine (adults!) about whether or not the sex with this new guy is good and also he wears polyester shirts! That’s a dealbreaker, ladies! But it’s not a dealbreaker, ladies, because next is a scene where Michael’s best friend has cold feet and HE’S NOT EVEN THE ONE GETTING MARRIED, LOL. Commitment was hard in the ’80s. Anyway, now they are married and now they have a baby, so we can finally get to life, and jumping into life.

Michael is having a hard day at work. He’s sick and tired of having to make compromises at the advertising agency he co-owns with his friend Eliot. It’s supposed to be about the work, not the money! They were going to be the first advertising agency in Philadelphia (uh, in the world?) built on integrity and creativity. But when Michael loses their biggest client, there are some serious economic realities that need facing! It can’t be all decontextualized Beowulf posters.

Make no mistake, these guys are smart. You think dummies can just buy a Princeton sweatshirt?

Nice try. Anyway, being an adult is HARD. Michael is struggling with the harsh realities of owning your own company and making enough money to own your own house and have a wife who doesn’t have to work but also sometimes having to do something you don’t want to do because you’re an artist (of advertising), which are basically some of the HARSHEST realities, but also his best friend and sister want them to go camping (they keep saying “backpacking,” but I don’t know what that means, because I’m not a college junior anymore) and they can’t find a babysitter! They better find a babysitter soon or the Backpack Train is going to leave without them.

But even though she doesn’t work, Hope is also at the end of her rope. She goes to meet Ellen for a white wine lunch (adults!) but the baby starts crying and everyone stares at her until she has to leave. Ellen is like “dirty look, dirty look, I secretly hate your baby.” And Hope can’t find a decent babysitter, but she’s not even sure if she wants a babysitter. How can she leave her magical baby that is specialer than all the other babies with some woman? Who’s probably a murderer? No, they have to cancel the backpack trip. I guess that will give them more time to attend Baby Feeding Classes. They’re terrible at it:

When they announce that they are not going backpacking, their friends are like “you used to be fun but now you’re just old.” Basically. Later, Hope starts crying when Michael goes outside to yell at some teenagers for having a party too loud. She is crying because I guess when you yell at teenagers for being too loud you are basically about to die of being the oldest. She should relax. But I guess that’s what happens. You get a baby and stop having sex and your friends all hate you and no one ever gets to go backpacking. (That last part is a joke, seriously, who wants to go backpacking? This show has not aged well in terms of what people think are fun activities.) This show is kind of a nightmare! Enjoy your white wine lunches while you can, children.

Speaking of lunches, Michael and Eliot have a serious conversation about extra-marital affairs on their lunch break, but first they make sure to pick out the perfect outfits.

Looking good, guys. The best part is that those are just classic pieces you can wear for years and years. Anyway, Eliot had an affair. Clearly, Michael is getting sexually restless as well. You can tell because he exaggeratedly looks at every girl that passes them so that later in the episode he will be able to tel lhis wife “I am attracted to other women now, and it makes me sad about our marriage,” or whatever. But Eliot doesn’t think having affairs is that great.

“I am going to slap you in the fucking face.” — Don Draper

They do not make dramatic swells of hilarious music like they used to!

Michael has to return the sleeping bags he bought for their two day backpacking trip. So he gets into his time machine and travels to Williamsburg, Brooklyn, 2008, and the guy at the store is like “all I need is your receipt and your retinal scan” (because the future), and “are you going to the Major Lazer show tonight?”

Michael goes home and tells Hope that he misses his old life before they had that stupid baby. It’s too bad he broke his time machine on his way back from the camping store. Now we will never be able to KILL HITLER, and REVERT TO OUR BABY-LESS LIVES. Hope totally understands because we are all adults here, and the only way this marriage is going to survive is if we are open and honest with each other about hating our children.

Next week: more talking over babies crying, probably.