Sixtyish is the Old thirtysomething

 
 

http://www.tvshowsondvd.net/graphics/news3/thirtysomething_S1.jpg
 
This past weekend, The New York Times ran not one but three stories about the TV show thirtysomething (which first aired in 1987) on the occasion of the release of the first season on DVD.
 
“In the 18 years since the last episode of thirtysomething no network series has so defined a generation of adults, or–with the possible exception of ‘Ally McBeal’–sparked such rage among the chattering class. ‘Indulgent!’ ‘Self-obsessed!’ ‘Whiny!’ ‘Trivial!’ were just a few complaints against the series, which followed a group of baby boomers’ struggles to balance career and family,” writes Ari Karpel. That the Times dedicated two Arts and one Op-Ed piece to this boomer narrative suggests an importance that the show created by Marshall Herskovitz and Edward Zwick may or may not truly deserve.

Nonetheless, I was an avid viewer. I loved that the smarmy advertising agency boss was named Miles Drenttel (after Bill Drenttel of Design Observer, who is nothing like Miles), and truly enjoyed the moderately self-obsessed, whinny and, yes, indulgent lead characters. Thirtysomething was Boomer heaven and boomer hell rolled into one.
 
But as important, though least celebrated in this deluge of tribute, is a simple breakthrough. It was the first time a title of a network television show was set in all lowercase without space between the words “thirty” and “something.” Now that’s something!
 
By the way, do you remember that far back? Were you a fan of the show?
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About Steven Heller

Steven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Designer /Designer as Author + Entrepreneur program, writes frequently for Wired and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 170 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.

3 thoughts on “Sixtyish is the Old thirtysomething

  1. soberholtzer

    I was such a fan of this show! They were essentially covering my life as it happened at the time– young art director forging a career, married, having children, re-habbing our house… It was my life in a televisionized version. There is one episode that is burned in my memory where Elliot had to create/produce a commercial and his job and reputation were essentially on the line. It showed the pressure and anxiety of having to produce something good, fast, that was SO familiar. I cringe just thinking of it now.

  2. soberholtzer

    I was such a fan of this show! They were essentially covering my life as it happened at the time– young art director forging a career, married, having children, re-habbing our house… It was my life in a televisionized version. There is one episode that is burned in my memory where Elliot had to create/produce a commercial and his job and reputation were essentially on the line. It showed the pressure and anxiety of having to produce something good, fast, that was SO familiar. I cringe just thinking of it now.

  3. soberholtzer

    I was such a fan of this show! They were essentially covering my life as it happened at the time– young art director forging a career, married, having children, re-habbing our house… It was my life in a televisionized version. There is one episode that is burned in my memory where Elliot had to create/produce a commercial and his job and reputation were essentially on the line. It showed the pressure and anxiety of having to produce something good, fast, that was SO familiar. I cringe just thinking of it now.

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