Mad About You is an American sitcom that aired on NBC from September 23, 1992, to May 24, 1999. The show starred Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as a newly married couple in New York City. Reiser played Paul Buchman, a documentary film maker. Hunt played Jamie Stemple Buchman, a public relations specialist. Near the end of the show's run, the couple had a baby daughter, whom they named Mabel.
The series focused mainly on the newlyweds while they dealt with everything from humorous daily minutiae to major struggles. The show's willingness to find comedy in realistic situations and observational dialogue garnered it comparisons to Seinfeld, another NBC comedy about thirty-somethings in New York City.
Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser were paid $1 million per show for the last season, but ratings fell sharply that year. The series was shuffled away from its Tuesday slot to prop up a fledgling Monday night line-up of comedies on NBC.
The show's theme song, "Final Frontier", was composed by Reiser and Don Was. The theme was originally performed by Andrew Gold, but a version performed by Anita Baker made its debut midway through the 1997 season. Baker's version was used for the rest of the show's run and appears on the show's soundtrack album. Gold's version is available on the collection Thank You For Being A Friend: The Best Of Andrew Gold.
Buchman (born April 19
) was conceived on the table on which his mother served "mushed" potatoes. After attending the New York University
Film School, he struggled for recognition before finally succeeding in filmmaking in New York City
. His wife, dog and daughter reside with him in Greenwich Village
Jamie Buchman (born February 12
) was the younger daughter of Gus and Theresa Stemple. Her full maiden name is Jamie Eunice Stemple. After seven boyfriends at Yale University
, she met Paul Buchman at a New York newsstand by stealing his copy of The New York Times
with an implausible excuse. Her difficult relationship with her mother-in-law is an ongoing source of jokes on the show.
Murray is the Buchmans' dog and a fan favorite because the dog the show settled on late in the first season followed instructions very well. He was a puppy when Paul found him, and met Jamie while walking him. He sometimes chases an invisible mouse, and ends up banging his head against something. In a later episode, Jamie does discover the "real" mouse that Murray has been chasing. In the two-part series finale, The Final Frontier
, adult Mabel says that Murray died when she was six, but she was not told until she was twelve. Murray is generally portrayed as loyal and affectionate, albeit thick-skulled.
Jamie's best friend, Fran Devanow was the Regional Vice President at Farrer-Gantz Public Relations who hired Jamie as her assistant. Near 1989 Fran quit Farrer-Gantz to spend time with her five-year-old son and husband, Mark. Jamie was then promoted to Fran's position. Fran and Mark's relationship lasted 10 years, and their separation shocked Jamie and Paul. The Devanows eventually reconciled.
Three years older than her sister Jamie, Lisa has unfathomable psychological issues. Jamie is referred to as "Stella" in a book written by Lisa's therapist: "It was Stella's overprotectiveness that suffocated her ability to relate to others, and tethered her to a lifetime of insecurity and neurosis." After an envious rage, she blamed Jamie for all of her problems in an interview with her shrink that became a chapter of a book called "Manics." With no place else to go, she does her laundry at Paul and Jamie's apartment while scavenging through her sister's clothes and food. Every visit from her parents triggers her eating disorder.
A "ubiquitous" individual, Paul's cousin Ira first appeared in Mad About You in "The Wedding Affair" episode. Ira is from the Sheepshead Bay section of Brooklyn. He worked for Paul's father, Burt, at Buchman's Sporting Goods. Paul and Ira have a close friendship, but their hidden rivalry came out when Ira obtained the store when Burt retired. However he frequently appears as loving and supportive towards Paul and Jamie.
Paul's mother, Sylvia almost always gives Jamie a hard time, but occasionally does show kindness towards her daughter-in-law.
Burt ran a sporting goods store until he passed it onto Ira upon retirement. His signature line in the show occurs whenever he visits Paul and Jamie's apartment exclaiming at the door, "It's me Burt! Burt Buchman! Your father, Burt Buchman!"
The arrival of Paul and Jamie's daughter was a turning point in the show. She was finally named when Jamie's overbearing mother proclaimed that "M
ove." The twins Carter and Madison Gayle played the role of Mabel.
In the series finale, an adult Mabel was played by Janeane Garofalo
It is being released on DVD
for reruns on Oxygen Network
in the U.S. and on other stations across the globe. It currently airs on TV Land
- Two episode names are names of The Beatles songs ("Get Back" and "When I'm Sixty-Four"). Another shares the title with John Lennon's "Instant Karma!". A fourth episode is entitled "Yoko Said".
- When the 1992 NBC fall schedule was announced, the show had working titles of "Loved By You" and "The Paul Reiser Show."
- Cosmo Kramer played by Michael Richards in Seinfeld was revealed to be renting Paul's bachelor pad in a first-season episode. Seinfeld himself appeared in the seventh-season premiere in the fall of 1998 after Seinfeld had concluded. It wasn't explained if it was the real "famous" Jerry Seinfeld or the character from the series who would have still been in prison since the series finale.
- Helen Hunt was the second person (after Cloris Leachman) to win an Oscar while still doing a weekly TV show.
- On September 12 1999, Helen Hunt won her fourth consecutive Emmy Award for her performance on the show.
- Bonnie Hunt was the first choice for the part of Jamie, but she turned it down. Teri Hatcher lost the part at the last minute to Helen Hunt.
- Helen Hunt's father, Gordon Hunt, won a Director's Guild Award for directing the third-season episode The Alan Brady Show. TV Guide named it one of the greatest episodes in TV history.
- Lisa Kudrow played Ursula, the forgetful waitress at Riff's. She also played Phoebe in Friends, who was Ursula's twin sister. Ursula, played by Kudrow, appeared as a recurring minor character in Friends (see "Crossovers" below). She also once played a woman called Karen who was on a date with Paul Buchman in a flashback episode at a time before he met Jamie.
- Mad About You was produced in association with TriStar Television Inc. under Sony. Hunt currently owns her own production company called Hunt/Tavel Productions, also under Sony.
- Lifetime Television paid USD$58 million for the rights to broadcast Mad About You.
- Hunt's favorite episodes of Mad About You are: "Our Fifteen Minutes" in season three and in season six "Moody Blues" (she won her third Emmy Award for the latter).
- Helen Hunt directed five episodes, including the series finale.
- John Pankow (Ira Buchman) is the brother of James Pankow of the band Chicago.
- Reiser and Hunt hosted an hour special called "Mad About VH1."
- In an episode of The Simpsons, there is an advertisement on the side of a bus that is illegible unless played in slow motion. The sign reads: "Right Now you are missing Mad About You on NBC Must See Thursday." At the time, Mad About You aired opposite of The Simpsons on Fox. According to the commentaries for that episode of The Simpsons, the sign was intended as a dig, with Executive Producer Josh Weinstein questioning how anyone could be watching Mad About You when a new Simpsons was showing. However, Paul Reiser was honored and responded by putting a Bart Simpson doll on the set of Mad About You.
- In the original episode, Jamie and Paul were living together and not married. Because of the attention to morality that was brought about by Murphy Brown's unplanned pregnancy, this was quickly changed and the couple were married.
- The original title of the series was The Final Frontier. That title was kept for the theme song.
- Ira always referred to Jamie as James. Other main characters can also be heard referring to Jamie as James in several episodes.
- Years after Tommy Hinkley had left the series without mention, Paul and Jamie made a comment about Selby. Jamie: "Whatever did happen to Selby?" Paul: "Oh don't go there."
- Mad About You was remade in the United Kingdom as Loved By You, starring John Gordon Sinclair as Michael (Paul) and Trevyn McDowell as Kate (Jamie). The series was made by Carlton Television and ran for two seasons, from 1997-1998.
- In an early episode of Mad About You during the first season, Paul reveals that his two sisters used to playfully dress him up; as the sitcom progressed, the character Paul was written as having only one sister - Debbie Buchman.
- Paul Reiser, who created the series, was emcee of the 1987/88 MTV New Years Eve show. A performance from that show by former Go-Go's lead singer Belinda Carlisle was given with her singing her single "Mad About You". Years later Paul Reiser created a show with the same title.
- In season 6, episode #9 entitled "The Conversation" (directed by Gordon Hunt, Helen's father), Paul and Jamie do a rare ' single take', 'no edits' episode while trying to get their baby daughter (Mabel) to stop crying and fall asleep.
Mad About You
won a Golden Globe Award
, a Peabody Award
, a Genesis Award
, five Emmy Award
nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series, and was chosen Best Quality Comedy by the Viewers For Quality Television
. Helen Hunt
won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress - Comedy Series
four years in a row (1996–1999).
In 1997, Atlantic/Wea released a Mad About You
soundtrack. The soundtrack from and inspired by the sitcom, is composed of fun and sentimental songs and clips from the show. The tracks are organized chronologically marking the milestones of the couple's relationship. The album is bookended by the two versions of Paul Reiser's song "Final Frontier"--the first track is the classic version used in the show's opening, and the last track is Anita Baker's jazzy, full-length rendition, with Reiser on keyboard. The 21 tracks are as follows:
- "Final Frontier (TV Theme)" - Andrew Gold
- "Who I Am" - Faith Hill
- "No Pressure" - Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt
- "I've Been Lonely Too Long" - The Young Rascals
- "At Last!" - Etta James
- "That's Marriage?" - Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt
- "Ice Cream" - Sarah McLachlan
- "I Love The Way You Love Me" - Eric Martin
- "Nobody Knows Me" - Lyle Lovett
- "Sneaky Feelings" - Elvis Costello
- "A Talk In The Park" - Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt
- "Love And Forgiveness" - Julia Fordham
- "A Magic Moment" - Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt
- "The Things We've Handed Down" - Marc Cohn
- "Lullaby For You" - BeBe Winans
- "She Crawls Away" - Hootie & the Blowfish
- "My First Child" - Nil Lara
- "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" - John Lennon
- "Baby Girl" - The Tony Rich Project
- "Unconditional Love" - Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt
- "Mad About You - The Final Frontier" - Anita Baker
See List of Mad About You episodes
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
is releasing the series on DVD in Region 1
. As of 2007
, the first three seasons have been released. It is not known whether the remaining 4 seasons will be released at some point. The Complete First and Second Seasons were released 7 months apart, and due to poor sales Sony Entertainment decided to not release any more of the remaining sets and Mad About You was put on the Sony "canceled DVDs" list. However, in late 2006 it was decided that season 3 would be released. There was nearly a 4 year difference between the season 2 and season 3 releases.
Best Of Releases
||Additional Information |
|Mad About You Collection
|| February 8 2005
|| Blooper Reel: The Seven Warning Signs of Madness, Audio commentaries: Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt on "The Final Frontier" and "The Pilot," Featurette: Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt Are Mad About the Theme, Featurette: Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt Are Mad About the Guest Stars, TV spots, Paul and Helen Introduce and Discuss each episode. |
Mad About You
has had numerous connections to other NBC sitcoms set in New York City, as well as various other programs.
Friends: Lisa Kudrow played the recurring role of Ursula, a flaky waitress at Riff's, a local restaurant that Paul and Jamie frequented. Kudrow went on to star in the NBC sitcom Friends, playing the also somewhat flaky character of Phoebe Buffay, and for a time both series shared the same Thursday night line-up. While not originally intended, the characters of Ursula and Phoebe were later found to be identical twin sisters. In a Friends episode ("The One With The Two Parts", 1st Season), as part of a night of NBC sitcom crossovers, Jamie and Fran walk into Central Perk and mistake Phoebe for Ursula. Possibly for legal reasons (Mad About You was produced by Columbia/Tristar, Friends by Warner Brothers), Hunt and Kenzle were not identified on screen as Jamie and Fran. In the 3rd season episode, "Pandora's Box," Jamie causes a city-wide power blackout in New York City, and the effects of the blackout are seen in the Friends episode, "The One with the Blackout," and also in the episode "Birthday in the Big House" of the short-lived NBC sitcom "Madman of the People." All 3 episodes originally aired during the evening of November 3, 1994, alongside a Seinfeld episode which did not incorporate the blackout premise.
Seinfeld: In one episode ("The Apartment", 1st Season), Paul, pressured by Jamie, decides to sign over the lease of his old "bachelor pad" to the current tenant who is subleasing. This tenant is revealed to be Cosmo Kramer of Seinfeld. Seinfeld, however, twice contradicted this connection, one even featuring a running joke about George's distaste for his fiancee's Susan fondness for watching Mad About You. In another episode, Paul, under the effects of Viagra, ran into Jerry Seinfeld in the street, who tells Paul to go away.
The Dick Van Dyke Show: Carl Reiner reprised the role of Alan Brady from the 1960s sitcom (a series acknowledged as an inspiration for Mad About You). The episode made several references to the older show, such as Jamie at one point crying and whining "Oh, Paul!!!" - a signature move by Mary Tyler Moore's character Laura Petrie. However, they contradicted this connection ten episodes earlier when Paul almost trips over a box and says "Get me, I'm Dick Van Dyke."
Aliens: Paul is asked whether or not he's seen Aliens and he responds "only the first one." Paul Reiser had played the role of Burke in the sequel to Alien.