We started watching “Mad About You” a few days ago. Season one, from the beginning, fall 1992. So the world before Jurassic Park after it decided Batman couldn’t be too dark. I watched the show pretty regular starting in season two or three, whenever the bathroom episode aired. So I haven’t seem much of the first season. I didn’t remember the annoying deadbeat WASP friend of Paul’s (played by Tommy Hinkley, who plays it like Richard Jordan slumming but without being Richard Jordan).
What’s most interesting so far—six episodes in—is how casually and seemingly unintentionally but still harshly misogynist it gets. Paul Reiser is a selfish, thoughtless dick. The show acknowledges he’s selfish and thoughtless, but rewards him for it (as Reiser created the show) while going so far as to position Helen Hunt as a dweeb for falling for him. And worse for not putting up with his whining shtick.
It’s very strange to see how even “good” sitcoms have some exceptionally lazy characterizations.
Other weird things? It takes forever to see Reiser’s studio, which also might be the first time he’s given a profession. He’s a documentary filmmaker who couldn’t possibly afford a studio and Helen Hunt’s a PR exec who’s probably paying his rent. Of course, the pilot didn’t even have the dog in it so clearly things were shuffling in these early days. It mentioned the dog, it just didn’t have the actual dog.
We don’t get to see Helen Hunt’s office or workspace. She’s mean to her underlings? Though Hunt’s able to sell the bad writing on it. She’s also way better at comedic timing than Reiser, sometimes having to wait for him to catch up with her, which is probably a metaphor for the show at this point.
It’s like a waiting game for Richard Kind to get better material—some of it’s been good—and for John Pankow to show up.
Though it’s nice to see Art Evans as Paul’s editor who name drops constantly. And Kerri Green is around for a second. Kerri Green from The Goonies, who seems very much like she’s doing a less annoying Jami Gertz in “Mad About You.”
But, six in, lots more cringing than I was expecting. Lots more. Husbands are thoughtless dicks, the show. Woop de doo.