• PrintMag

Sixtyish is the Old thirtysomething

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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