Like many other Gen X-ers, I too remember when thirtysomething was the absolute best show on television. I was in college at the time and there were several of us, male and female, that gathered around our tv sets every Tuesday night at 10:00 p.m. without fail. We were for thirtysomething what women in the last decade have been for Sex and the City. 85 episodes and I missed not one. It was easy as a barely twentysomething to see my future self as some of the characters portrayed in the show. I watched each week as the lives of these baby boomer yuppies (wait, is that kind of the same thing?) played out and even though there was much whining, moaning and drama (duh, it was a many emmy award winning show) I definitely identified with them.
As I read through countless articles about the much anticipated DVD release (today 08/26/09), I wondered if watching the show now that I am, ahem, fortysomething, I would feel the same as Seth Stevenson, contributor to Slate in his article thirtysomething Turns Twentysomething. He writes, "the show's writing and direction were so superb, I guess I never stopped to realize I couldn't relate to the subject matter." While I understand what he means, I'm not sure that I agree. I identified with the thirtysomething yuppie baby boomers not because I understood them but more because I saw how I myself could become one of them. I saw myself as part of the perfect couple with the perfect baby and not so perfect house, Michael and Hope Steadman. I could see becoming part of the trying to keep it together with two kids and a seemingly marital rut Elliot and Nancy Weston. I was afraid of becoming a solely career oriented workaholic like Ellyn Warren but even more so scared of being the unrequited lovelorn Melissa Steadman. And while I prayed for the attentions of a Gary Shepherd, I was absolutely hoping not to become too attached. There was something in every character that I could see in my possible future. Isn't that one of the reasons you become invested in fictional characters to begin with? You see parts of yourself within them?
As the weekly storyline of their lives unfolded, I became part of what they went through, the day-to-day essence of life that they portrayed as it might someday happen to me. They may have been whining and moaning both in angst and self-indulgence but really, aren't we the living breathing whiners and moaners as we get through our own lives? Sure, it's easier and maybe more entertaining to watch shows about mobsters, police officers or even fashion shows, but sometimes it's necessary to watch the daily struggle personified, both in life and within a character's moral being. Perhaps it is through these television dramas that we glean some insight into our own worlds. I for one am very excited to revisit my thirtysomething "friends". And even though I am now older and past many of the life experiences that they are having on screen, I look forward to reminiscing what I once thought my life would be like.
photo courtesy of Internet Movie Database - thirtysomething
quote courtesy of Slate - thirtysomething Turns Twentysomething by Seth Stevenson