True Friendships in a Comedy Series Part One
These comedies were not only funny they had heart too
SEINFELD the friendships of Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer were unlike any friendships ever seen on television before. Jerry’s apartment or the corner restaurant was the meeting places for Jerry and his friends. Each character was very likeable despite sometimes having no morals or empathy for their fellow man. Jerry always found a reason to stop dating a certain girl. He was very funny taking life’s simple moments and finding humor in them. Elaine always spoke her mind to anyone she encountered which led to unfortunate consequences. George was always unemployed, loud, like his parents, and a bit envious of Jerry’s success. Kramer was mysterious, how did he live without ever seeming to work? He always burst into Jerry’s apartment without knocking, and he was full of ideas that worked at first and then didn’t. Separately they didn’t stand a chance, but their friendship made life’s trials easier to handle. They all knew they could count on each other in times of trouble. When they are jailed at the series end, for witnessing a robbery and even videotaping it without helping out, they didn’t seem to mind because they were together and could commiserate on any topic that came to mind. They will be friends till the end.
I LOVE LUCY produced the greatest friendship in television history. Lucy and Ricky Ricardo rented an apartment from Fred and Ethel Mertz, and they instantly became the best of friends. Lucy and Ricky were younger than Fred and Ethel, but that didn’t matter. They shared a love of the entertainment industry. Ricky worked at The Tropicana as a nightclub singer and the Mertzs’ were in vaudeville. Lucy managed to entertain too from time to time. Their humor helped to bond the friendships. No matter what zany antic Lucy came up with Ethel was right there by her side trying to help out. No matter how many times the couples had disagreements they still shared a deep bond. When the Ricardo’s decided to move to Connecticut Fred and Ethel weren’t far behind and ended up moving next door to them. The Ricardos' and the Mertzs' were great role models for enduring friendship.
THE HONEYMOONERS Ralph Kramden his wife Alice, and their friends Ed Norton and his wife Trixie were the greatest of friends. Alice and Trixie got together to talk about their husbands and to gossip about people in the neighborhood. The best friends of this series were Ralph and Ed. Ralph always had a get rich quick scheme and Ed was always there believing in his friend. They loved to bowl, shoot pool, and go to the Raccoon Lodge. Ralph sometimes lost his temper at Norton for taking too long to shoot a shot at pool, for taking too long to get to a point, or when he told Ralph what he really thought at times about him. Norton knew that behind all that yelling was a kind hearted man who cared about his friends and loved his wife dearly. A real friendship is when you can see the faults of your friends and still want to be right there with them.
THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW this series gave us the first comedy where you saw where the main character worked. Rob Petrie and his wife Laura were best friends with their next door neighbors Jerry Helper and his wife Millie. They often played cards together or threw parties at each others houses. It was a friendship that was solid even when Rob and Laura accidentally eavesdropped on Jerry and Millie. Rob and Laura’s son Ritchie had a toy device that allowed him to talk to the Helper’s son at his house. Rob and Laura overheard Millie and Jerry saying things about them and at first were angry. Then they realized that they too had said things about them from time to time and all was forgiven. Rob also has friends at the office Sally Rogers a writer/typist; she was very funny and just one of the boys. Another friend that worked with them was Buddy Sorrell he was a human joke machine. Sometimes great friendships are created at the office because of the amount of time one had to spend there. Whether at the home or the office Rob had many friends because of his love for them and his great sense of humor.
THE MARY TYLER MOOR SHOW Mary Richards and her friend Rhoda Morgenstern seemed at first glance to be unlikely friends. Mary was gentle, polished, and considerate, while Rhoda was louder, and somewhat sarcastic. Sometimes opposites attract and this made for a great friendship. Mary was there to smooth out Rhoda’s rough edges, and Rhoda was there to give Mary a little more backbone. Their friendship could have occurred because they each admired the qualities of the other. Rhoda moved back to New York, but a real friendship can survive through any distance and I am sure their friendship is still going strong.
THE KING OF QUEENS Doug Heffernan, Deacon Palmer, and Spence Olchin these were friends who bonded through many zany adventures during the season’s run. There were additional friends who tagged along Ritchie and then Doug’s cousin Danny, but the trio of Doug, Deacon, and Spence remained throughout the series. These buddies loved to hang out together. They watched television, played games, or went to games, it was a bud fest. Things were pretty light on this show, but when Deacon almost got divorced from his wife Kelly, Doug was there for him. Spence was the nerd on the show reading fantasy books, going to comic book conventions, so being with a former high school football star and hanging with Deacon, a cool dude, Spence felt like he finally belonged. When Spence’s former girlfriend was set to marry in another town it was Doug who convinced Spence he should go there and tell her he loved her. All the gang rallied behind him and they had a wild adventure in the process. These guys may have acted immaturely at times, but they would do anything for each other.
FRIENDS we cannot mentions sitcoms about true friendship without bringing up the show Friends. This sitcom hit a chord with America and everyone wanted to be friends with this group. The group included Rachel who was friends, and moved in, with Monica her best friend from high school. They in turn are friends with Ross, who is Monica’s brother, Phoebe an eccentric personality, Joey who is an actor. Joey lived with Chandler for a while. Chandler he later became involved with Monica and they eventually got married. The show had serious issues as well as great comedy. You truly cared about these people. This tight knit group loved, laughed, and supported each other through many trials and always came out confident that having friends made life a lot easier to handle.
30 ROCK this series is built on a work friendship and there have never been friends like Liz Lemon and Jack Donaghy. She is a professed geek. She is great at her job as a skilled head writer for the television series, but she lacks social graces. Liz goes to Jack for advice. He is the head of NBC and a graduate of Princeton. Their relationship began slowly but through the years their friendship has gotten closer. They have helped each other from making mistakes in their dating relationships as well as given each other career advice. They are an odd pair, and although they might not admit it they truly care for each other.
Great sitcoms with friends remind us of great friendships in real life. There is a chemistry that can’t be explained and can’t be forced. It is always a wonderful surprise and always a comfort to know there is someone who cares and someone you can count on. May these shows go on forever.