I was thinking about The Carrie Diaries, and a bizarre truth hit me: It’s a great idea for a show! Though Sex and the City ran six seasons, inspecting Carrie Bradshaw’s teenage history through whatever overly glamorized or cutesy lens is intriguing. All these years after the HBO hit left the air, Carrie is a beloved and somehow relevant protagonist that everyone has an opinion about. I salute The Carrie Diaries for exploring her deep past. Moreover, I hope it inspires TV networks to mine the potentially fertile backstories of these five other classic TV shows, which range from the broadly comic to the grimly serious.
Don’t you hate it when you have to explain to a novice why Bewitched is a better, cooler, and more subversive show than I Dream of Jeannie? Samantha Stephens’ quietly paranormal domesticity exhibited the type of control and autonomy that would later be heralded on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. She was not just witchy; she was fabulous. And yet — I want to know how Samantha became so wise. I’m aware that Sabrina the Teenage Witch was a series that ran for what seemed like three decades, but a Samantha prequel series would be far more mature than the Melissa Joan Hart vehicle. (Though I wouldn’t mind if Caroline Rhea played a younger, just as perturbed Endora.)
Also: I think this is a fine way to show an amazing relationship between young Samantha and a slightly younger Uncle Arthur. Samantha is cool enough that it’s easy to believe she was influenced in her young adulthood by her nefarious gay uncle and his pithy puns. In fact, I may even like Bewitched more with Darrin out of the picture.
One Day at a Time
I often find myself justifying the fact that I’ve seen every episode of One Day at a Time (mostly because it ran nine seasons, so that’s a lot of TV), but the truth is the Norman Lear series is unusual in that’s a not-so-cheery multicam family sitcom about women. Does that exist elsewhere? Its distinctiveness helps me forgive things like Bonnie Franklin’s unending exasperation as mother nn Romano (particularly in the early seasons) and the hackiness of Pat Harrington Jr’.s constant come-ons as leering superintendent Schneider. Still, I love the show, its soapy twists, the comic exploits of Mackenzie Phillips and Valerie Bertinelli, the late addition of weirdo teen Glenn Scarpelli, and the fierce sauciness of Shelley Fabares.
And yet, I want more from the show. In the first season, we’re thrown right into Ann Romano’s new divorced life with her daughters in Indianapolis. I’d love to see a show about a woman heading for divorce and deciding how to handle it with her kids in tow. Maybe that show would be something like Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore (or the show Alice), but there’s something about the connection between Ann, Julie, and Barbara that deserves an origin story. Was Julie always a terror? Why is she a terror now? Is Barbara’s innocence challenged by her parents’ drama? Were they all traumatized by a leering superintendent at some point, because why would else they constantly allow Schneider inside their apartment? Bring me the gritty prequel to the original Gilmore Girls, someone.
I miss 30 Rock. Yes I do. But for some reason I’m hopeful that Liz Lemon’s absence from the airwaves will trigger some producer to realize there has never been a show about the incestuous, clique-y, romantic, and often tense relationships between members of an improv troupe. Liz Lemon and her sociopath star Jenna Maroney began as collaborator’s in Chicago’s Second City comedy club, and I think it’d be pretty fabulous to see those two mingling with their inevitably cocky, inevitably all-male coworkers. Perhaps the show itself could be mostly improv, but the point is I really want to see a young Jenna try out new characters and fall on her face in front of stoic Midwestern crowds.