During the heady days of NBC’s blockbuster TV sitcom run, “Mad About You” highlighted the everyday trials of triumphs of newly married couple Paul Buchman (Paul Reiser) and Jaime Buchman (Helen Hunt). Running from 1992 to 1999, the show won several Emmys and a loyal fan base.
Now, the Buchmans are back, much older, and dealing with the challenge of saying goodbye to their grown daughter Mabel (Abby Quinn), who is off to college—though just down the street at NYU. And their usual cast, Paul’s cousin Ira (John Pankow) and friend Mark (Richard Kind) will be there to furnish the renewal as the Buchmans get used to life as empty nesters.
The highly anticipated rebooted version of “Mad About You,” which Reiser, as he told ET, prefers to call a “revisiting” or “continuation,” will be available through Spectrum Special.
When asked why they had chosen to bring the show back after years of speculation of a followup, Helen Hunt told ET that timing was everything. “We realized that our daughter [Mabel], who was born the last year of the original show, would be leaving home, and so suddenly, empty nest … seemed like we could write about that,” she said.
Reiser joked about the pair getting older. “Plus, if we waited any longer, we would be dead,” he added.
The other factor that helped inspire the duo to get back into it was the success of other sitcom reunions on Primetime TV. “We agreed for 20 solid years that it was a terrible idea and we must never do it, and then […] ‘Will & Grace’ was good,” Hunt said.
Once they agreed that they wouldn’t be betraying the old dynamic, but rather bringing it back with a new concept, they felt comfortable going ahead with the show. In the first episode, “The Kid Leaves,” Reiser himself wrote the teleplay, and Hunt directs, showing just how invested they are in the new series.
As Reiser told Ellen, who played a nanny for the Buchmans during the show’s original run, the enjoyment that he and Hunt have when they work together was also a motivating factor. “We kind of wanted to play together again,” he joked. “This seemed like the right show to do that.”
Hunt noted that the new show doesn’t just work because of the math for the Buchmans’ daughter growing up but also because it mirrors their own lives. “Paul just went through empty nest. I’m about to go through it. So we knew there would be 12 stories in there somehow,” Hunt said.
Reiser added that in both cases, what drew the actors and viewers in was the dynamic between the couple. “The kick off to [the original] show was, ‘You just got married,’ and now you realize there’s two knuckleheads, just you two in a room,” Reiser said. That loving and occasionally bickering dynamic that produced so many laughs remains with one difference. “We realized, once the kid leaves there, we’re back to [the same], except we’re older,” he added.
#TBT to Mad About You! I had some of the best times of my life on this set.
As for Abby Quinn, who will play the Buchmans’ daughter Mabel, she told Parade that the reboot is “a great opportunity for two different generations to watch this show once again. People who watched it originally will tune in, people my age and younger may not have heard of the show, but will want to watch it.”
Quinn, who will co-star in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women,” said that she had never seen “Mad About You” before auditioning for the show, even though it was her aunt’s favorite show. “[My] hope for it is that it brings two generations together and for families to watch it and find it funny and connect with it,” said Quinn.
She describes the family as still just as “tight-knit” as before but “struggling” with her character leaving home and going off to college, a feeling any parent can sympathize with. In preparing for the role, Quinn focused on the final season, which prominently features her character. “There is so much history there so it was really nice for me to have all of that as research for my character,” she said.
In a world that’s increasingly complex and unfamiliar, there are sure to be many who find comfort in a old favorite.
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Author: Robert Jay Watson