It’s been twenty years since NBC’s “Mad About You” aired its final episode, and now this sitcom comes out of retirement with hopes of capturing some of its old magic. In the era of streaming services, reboots and reunions, it seems every successful show from the past is tap dancing around the chance to start again. After all, if viewers loved the show then, they should love it now.
In the fall of 1992, “Mad About You” premiered on NBC, introducing audiences to Paul and Jamie Buchman. Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt played New York newlyweds who trudged through the thrills and the mundane of coupledom. They bought furniture, went out to eat, watched movies and walked their dog. They dealt with meddling parents and grappled with whether or not to expand their family. Audiences were drawn to their bickering and their making up. Over the course of seven years, “Mad About You” took everyday forgettable moments and brought them to life.
It’s a rarity on television to get a glimpse of characters during different time periods in their lives. Spectrum is giving audiences the opportunity to reenter the lives of the now middle-aged Buchmans. Although not the obvious or sexiest choice, a “Mad About You” reboot makes a lot of sense. It was a show about a committed couple at the beginning of their marriage. Rejoining that same couple twenty years later allows for an entirely different set of jokes, while maintaining a sense of familiarity. When this series picks back up, the Buchmans are sending their daughter (Abby Quinn) off to college. And so, just as Paul and Jamie enter a new chapter in their lives, the audience is welcome back in to bare witness.
Reiser and Hunt are as glorious a pair as ever. Although older, their chemistry has not aged a bit. They play off each other like not a day has passed — or like they’ve never spent a day apart. Their ability to bicker and love within the same breath is a showcase to their talents. And while clever comedy is front and center, their relationship as husband and wife feels grounded in reality and true, weathered love.
Joining Reiser and Hunt are many familiar faces: John Pankow, Richard Kind, Anne Ramsey, Jerry Adler and among others, the legendary Carol Burnett. And new faces gracing the screen include not only Quinn, but also Antoinette LaVecchia, Kecia Lewis and the great Cloris Leachman. All are capable comedians and earn deserved laughs.
Creators Reiser and Danny Jacobson developed a series that was very successful for NBC in the 90s. The show pulled in millions of viewers every week. Writers were able to include cross-overs with the other NBC hits “Seinfeld” and “Friends.” The series was also an awards show darling. In 1994, they won the Golden Globe for Best Comedy Series and a Peabody for Excellence in Television. Stars Reiser and Hunt received many nominations for their comedic chops (Hunt won three Golden Globes, four Emmys and one SAG).
In this continuation, “Mad About You” has managed to find a sweet spot balancing the old and the new. The apartment the Buchmans occupy has been updated enough to feel fresh and modern. Paul is still a filmmaker, but now owns his own editing studio. Jamie is once again embattled in the overtly female predicament — trying to find a niche for herself that does not fall under the umbrella of mother or wife.
People may ask why reboot “Mad About You”? And after watching the first five episodes, I would say, “why not?” No matter how crowded our television landscape is today, there can never be enough quality shows. Does “Mad About You” break any new ground? No. But ultimately, who cares? The series is a multi-camera sitcom and folks the opportunity to catch up with old friends.
During the course of any long-running series, audiences develop a deep connection with the characters on screen. The opportunity to reconnect is exciting and desirous, especially when those connections are remembered with such fondness. The stories and players may be works of art, but the emotions they inspire are very real. So much so that audiences are often more than willing to find time in their viewing schedule to reopen their hearts. There is no doubt that there is room in our hearts for the Buchmans again.