Over the past ten years, we’ve seen a lot of reboots and continuations such as The Conners, Will and Grace, Night Court, and Murphy Brown. Some have been successful (The Conners), others have crashed and burned (Murphy Brown), but one that seems to always be forgotten is Mad About You.
I believe the reason for this overlook is that Mad About You aired as one of the short-lived Spectrum Originals. So, for anyone who didn’t subscribe to Spectrum, it wasn’t easy to watch. Then, after it debuted and was quietly cancelled, all twelve episodes showed up on Amazon Prime, but with no real advertisement that it was a new season. In fact, they listed it as season one.
It’s a shame that the show didn’t get more press, because I really enjoyed it. It ignored the season seven finale, which had jumped twenty years into the future of The Buchmans and instead told its own story about Paul, Jamie, their daughter Mabel, and a cast of familiar friends and family members.
Mad About You was one of those NBC Must See TV shows that like Wings, ran for seven seasons, but isn’t looked back on as fondly as Friends, Fraiser, and Seinfeld. Maybe, in that company it was a lesser show, but compared to many sitcoms, Mad About You is pretty great. Helen (Jamie) Hunt and Paul (Paul) Reiser were believable as the young married couple trying to navigate their lives in New York City. The supporting cast included the likes of Richard Kind (Dr. Mark Devanow), Anne Ramsay (Lisa), Leila Kenzle (Fran Devanow) and John Pankow (Ira Buchman).
Season eight of Mad About You debuted on November 20th, 2019. It picks up right after the Buchmans drop off their daughter Mabel at college and they begin the empty-nest stage of their relationship. Paul has given up on his dream to make it as a filmmaker and now works in post-production, and Jamie is dealing with menopause and re-entering the work force.
It was inoffensive and kept a similar beat as the original series. It didn’t try to reinvent the wheel and I appreciated the similar feel to the original series.
As usual, the bump to 4K on modern sitcoms is quite jarring and it shows how cheap the sets actually are. I’m not sure why so many three camera sitcoms don’t try to add a filter to soften up the picture just a little to help hide those tiny details. I guess they’re afraid people will complain and well… they will. But when watching a continuation like season eight of Mad About You and comparing it to say season seven, season seven does indeed look better and that aired in 1999.
So why didn’t Mad About You work in 2019? Well, I think one of the main problems was it not being made more accessible, especially when its core demographic is not one who’d watch Spectrum Originals. Had it been on Netflix or Hulu, I think it would have been a bit more successful. But it also suffers from being very much a product of the 90’s and doesn’t have the young audience that say Roseanne or The Golden Girls does. A story about two well-to-do newlyweds in New York City just doesn’t have the same appeal as it did twenty-five years ago, and even less when it’s two empty-nesters in New York City. They failed to market and deliver the show to an audience who’d watch it, and as we saw just a couple of years later, Spectrum wasn’t in the streaming service long. They backed out of the Spectrum Originals and sold off their shows which just goes to show you how flaky they were to begin with.
I felt compelled to say a few words about Mad About You because it really didn’t get any press when it came out and it’s gotten even less since then. I found one review that Time Magazine did on the show, but that was about it. The series didn’t receive a DVD release and currently is only available to stream on Spectrum. It’s only a matter of time before this ends up being lost media or at least difficult to find media. As someone who owns the box set of the original series, I really wish a DVD release was offered.