Tube Twins: Shows that Mirror Each Other
A Friendly Reminder
I don't know about you, but alot of things remind me of something else. A song will remind me of a song from years before. Someone in class makes me reminisce on the joys of childhood. Or in a lot of cases, a current show will remind me of a show from yesteryear. Not in the sense of a a copycat but more in the way of how the characters interact with each other.
So in this hub I'd like to discuss my favorite tube twins from years past and present.
30 Rock and Mary Tyler Moore
30 Rock is known for giving great insight into television life behind the scenes. With the cray-cray antics of Tracy Jordan, Jenna Maroney, Jack Donaghy, and the infamous Liz Lemon there's enough banter to go around for hours. But the other day as I was watching I was thinking of the core characters and how they so much remind me of the principal cast of the Mary Tyler Moore Show. Not only the characters, but the setup. Both shows deal with behind the scenes life at a television show.
30 Rock provides insight into sketch comedy while Mary Tyler Moore looks at life behind the local news cameras. The protagonists are the heroes. Both are educated, single, and very confident in their abilities but are constantly questioned by their respective bosses. Mary is tightly wound as is Liz but Liz is always focused on her life not being perfect. Mary has the same ambition to live independently of the judgments of others, but both have this need to make everyone happy.
And everyone would include their bosses Jack Donaghy and Lou Grant. Jack is an outright womanizing narcissist who is as cantankerous as he is random about life. Lou is the classic curmudgeon who is adjusting to the changing times. Both have no problem giving their employees a piece of their minds, but they also feel obligated to rescue the mischievous members of the crew.
Who else could that be than the ones who are too dumb and self absorbed to see real life? Ted Baxter and Tracy Jordan are inevitably brothers from another mother. They have issues but refuse to see them because they can't. Their lack of emotional and intellectual capacity and super inflated egos have led them to this point.
Two other characters who could be television mother and daughter are Sue Anne Nevins and Jenna Maloney. Both are neurotic, man-eating temptresses but boy do they make great television.
Now where these shows differ is in the context. Since 30 Rock directly deals with NBC and MTM centers on a local station, the conflicts differ. Another thing is that the time in which they are set. The 70s and the 00s are opposite in many ways. Finally, another key difference is the struggles of the main protagonist. Mary struggled for career acceptance and equality with her male co-workers. Liz struggles with her need to balance her personal and professional lives.
If you love either or both shows, you are in to learn alot as well as laugh a lot. Too bad we can't somehow put Ted Baxter and Tracy Jordan in their own special...
Cagney & Lacey and Rizzoli & Isles
Two females in law enforcement is nothing new in today's landscape but back in the 1980s when Cagney & Lacey debuted, it was a novelty. Nowadays thanks to Rizzoli & Isles, we have a new way to experience women fighting crime.
Cagney & Lacey are two cops from the opposite sides of the tracks. Cagney is the daughter of a cop and a society woman who is forced to compromise her father's gritty roots to her mother's world of pomp and circumstance. Lacey is a tough lady with a real passion for doing good work on the force.
Rizzoli & Isles has alot of the same dynamics as Cagney & Lacey. Rizzoli is the daughter of a plumbing contractor and homemaker who as the only girl is forced to reconcile her parents' disapproval with a high-powered career in the police department. Isles is a medical examiner who was adopted by high-society family and raised in the lap of luxury.
Both shows deal with the friendship and working relationship of the women in question. Whereas Cagney and Lacey are partners, Rizzoli and Isles work as partners because one's insight helps breaks the other's case. Of course tensions arise as lifestyle choices come into play. Lacey is a working mother struggling to make ends meet while Cagney is a single career woman living it up. Rizzoli lives simply in an apartment while Isles has a lavish estate. While both shows don't always take note of the differences in the characters, it is implied in such a way to lead the viewer to read the underlying tensions.
Cagney and Lacey and Rizzoli and Isles also had to deal with the criticisms from male characters. While the police force has been integrated, the main players are still male and alot of the episodes focus on the struggle between being regarded as a great worker and an actual woman. There are episodes dealing with the tensions of life in the force with male and female relationships that sometimes hit close to the real-life struggles of women infiltrating historically male-dominated professions.
But the key to both series is the relationships between the title characters. Cagney and Lacey work as partners, so the trust between them grows to a point it becomes instinctual. Rizzoli and Isles, rely on each other in a way that is a result of an established relationship. Other factors affect their working and personal relationships but in the end they do their best work together.
Key differences in the series again lie in the professional differences, namely that Cagney and Lacey are cops while Rizzoli is on the force and Isles is an M.E. Another thing is the inclusion of outside characters, Rizzoli & Isles prominently features Rizzoli's family and occasional appearances from Isles biological and adoptive families. Cagney and Lacey does the same at times, but the main focus is on the job at hand.
However, what both shows offer is a real life glimpse into the struggles of reconciling your gender identity to your career identity and how they intersect and sometimes collide in everyday life.
2 Broke Girls and Laverne & Shirley
Women banning together in times of struggle is common but nothing seems to prove more hilarious than women living together and working together to achieve common goals. Laverne & Shirley was the ultimate in juxtaposing too very different women as best friends and more than thirty years later 2 Broke Girls has managed to be successful in doing the same thing.
Laverne & Shirley are similar to Caroline and Max in that they both think their circumstances are temporary. However Caroline and Max have in mind the goal of owning and operating their own cupcake restaurant. It's never clear if Laverne and Shirley want to move beyond working at Shotz Brewery.
Laverne & Shirley are opposites but agree on how to live together. Caroline & Max manage to not live together until Max discovers Caroline sleeping on the subway. They both somehow meet in the middle, but their quirks seem to wear on each other.
Laverne always picks the wrong kinds of guys as does Max but their friends only try to help them see that their relationships aren't always positive. Shirley and Caroline are similar in that their prejudices against others sometimes negatively affect their judgement but once again are tempered by their friends.
Another common thread is the use of physical comedy that anchors the show's heart. Laverne & Shirley were almost always are in some ridiculous situation that ends up with someone being pelted with food or sprayed with some sort of beverage. The 2 Broke Girls also have this knack for attracting mischief which keeps the show going.
The key differences in these shows are again in terms of the setting and time. 2 Broke Girls is set in modern day New York City while Laverne and Shirley are in Milwaukee mid-20th century. Supporting cast members are also other factors in telling the shows apart. Lenny and Squiggy are the male apartment mates of Laverne and Shirley, who constantly desire to be more than just friends. Max and Caroline's cast members include various diverse co-workers and a horse.
Both shows are a good time and a good way to end a long day.
Thanks for Reading
As always, thank you for reading! I look forward to comments and suggestions for future hubs!