Unhappily Ever After

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Unhappily Ever After
Unhappily.jpg
Unhappily Ever After opening sequence
Also known as Unhappily...
Genre Sitcom
Created by Ron Leavitt
Arthur Silver
Starring Geoff Pierson
Stephanie Hodge
Kevin Connolly
Nikki Cox
Bob Goldthwait
Justin Berfield
Opening theme "Hit the Road Jack"
Performed by Ray Charles
Composer(s) Paul Buckley
Jonathan Wolff
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 100 (List of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s) Ron Leavitt
Arthur Silver
Sandy Sprung
Marcy Vosburgh
Producer(s) Stewart J. Burns
Brian LaPan
Christina Lynch
Harriette Regan
Running time 22–24 minutes
Production company(s) Touchstone Television
Distributor Disney-ABC Domestic Television
Broadcast
Original channel The WB
Original run January 11, 1995 (1995-01-11) – May 23, 1999 (1999-05-23)

Unhappily Ever After (often shortened to Unhappily... in promotional advertisements) is an American sitcom that aired for 100 episodes on The WB network from January 11, 1995, to May 23, 1999, for a total of five seasons. The series was produced by Touchstone Television.

Synopsis[edit]

The series was initially intended to be a starring vehicle for Stephanie Hodge, whose character of Jennie was the focus of the first few episodes. However, the series concept was soon re-worked. The character of Jack (who had been kicked out of the house and was living in an apartment) was brought back home, and began living in the basement. Soon, Geoff Pierson's character, Jack — a schizophrenic family man whose only friend is a talking toy rabbit — became the central character of the show, along with the rabbit, Mr. Floppy (a reference to the movie Harvey). Also in seasons one and two, Joyce Van Patten played Jennie's mother, Maureen Slattery. When she left the show, she was killed off and buried (off-screen) in the backyard. The family remarks that they looted the corpse.

By the show's third season, it became apparent that Tiffany (Nikki Cox) was becoming a breakout character and the de facto co-star of the show along with Pierson. Stories began focusing on Tiffany and Ryan's high school (and later community college) escapades, and the producers attempted to kill off the increasingly unnecessary character of Jennie, who returned as a ghost. After doing so, however, they quickly reversed their decision because of negative audience reaction. On the show, the character was brought back to life in a deliberately bizarre sequence in which a network executive wandered on to the set and announced Jennie's character was no longer dead. Nevertheless, Jennie was soon gone again, as several episodes later, the character abandoned her family for a lesbian lover (Stephanie Hodge left the show) and was never seen again.

Nikki Cox was already signed to star in a new series for the WB when Unhappily... ended, and the final season focused more on the character of Tiffany. Wendy Benson was added to the cast, playing Tiffany's rival Barbara Caufield. The series wrapped up with a final episode in which Jack finally made enough money to send Tiffany to Harvard University. Once Jack started making money, he no longer needed Floppy and his schizophrenia was cured; Floppy returned to being just a stuffed animal, literally dying. Jack soon went insane again, however, bringing Floppy "back from the dead."

Main characters[edit]

  • Jack Malloy (Geoff Pierson): A schizophrenic, alcoholic, cynical and depressed man who hates his wholly unsatisfying job as a used-car salesman and his unhappy marriage. He gets little respect from his family, who think that he is insane or senile. He converses with a stuffed bunny (Mr. Floppy) that only he can hear. His daughter Tiffany is his only real hope in his otherwise depressing life, though he is unaware of how Tiffany often uses him to her own advantage. He and his wife tend to bicker over trivial things and she appears to dominate him. He doesn't really care about his family (except for Tiffany), despite the fact they are the cause of most of his woes. He is the sole source of income for the family and often tries to manage the money he makes, though it never gets to him as he has to pay for bills, food, expenses, allowances, and presents for Tiffany.
  • Jennifer "Jennie" Malloy (née Slattery) (Stephanie Hodge): Jack's irritable and promiscuous wife, who gets along with no one in particular and is prone to jealousy. She is sarcastic, embittered and judgmental, verbally abusing Jack, and showing little compassion for her children. She particularly resents Tiffany, who is everything Jennie never was. Jennie comes across as self-centered, mean, and ill-tempered, and she is also shown to make a cuckold out of Jack. Hypocritically, Jennie is still shown to be displeased when Jack becomes involved with other women. She "dies" during season four, existing in the series as a "ghost", before coming back briefly and then leaving permanently in season 5. We hear that she divorced Jack, leaving him for another woman.
  • Ryan Malloy (Kevin Connolly): The eldest son of Jack and Jennie, Ryan maintains a positive, happy-go-lucky attitude despite being stupid and disliked by virtually everyone he knows, including his parents. He occasionally acknowledges how miserable his existence is and comes across as sympathetic; in one episode, his chemistry teacher, Ms. O'Hara, blows herself up after Ryan passes her class and wins a bet where she said she'd go to a school dance with him if he did so, and Ryan is visibly distraught at both her death and what it says about how he's perceived. His inability to attract girls and his parents' overt derision of him are recurring themes throughout the show. Throughout the series Ryan manages to have a limited number of girlfriends, though the relationships are inevitably ill-fated.
  • Tiffany Malloy (Nikki Cox): The "favorite" child of Jack, Tiffany is the middle child, who is seemingly perfect: smart, ambitious, popular, attractive, and still a virgin. However, Tiffany is less than virtuous; she tends to be self-indulgent, self-serving, and manipulative, often taking advantage of Jack's special treatment. Typically she will use Ryan or Ross as a scapegoat whenever she gets in trouble. She is also shown to be a practicing gold digger. Tiffany's figure has been repeatedly alluded to as a result of her suffering from some kind of an eating disorder. Tiffany is an overachiever, coveting success and frequently achieving it. She's extremely opinionated and can be very sarcastic, speaking with deadpan humor.
  • Ross Malloy (Justin Berfield): The "forgotten child". The youngest and arguably the most normal member of the family, Ross is often the voice of reason, common sense, and enlightenment in an otherwise dysfunctional family. However, it becomes clear from certain episodes that Ross has issues of his own. As a result of indifferent parenting, Ross craves attention, though his attempts usually fail. In one episode, he even attempts arson. Ross is shown to adore his father despite Jack's lack of concern for him, Ross was the one who gave Jack the stuffed rabbit Mr. Floppy. He also gets the least airtime, which is the joke of some episodes. Ross dislikes his siblings Tiffany and Ryan, Tiffany for being cruel and selfish and an attention-craver and Ryan for being stupid and annoying.

Additional characters[edit]

  • Mr. Floppy (voice of Bobcat Goldthwait, puppeteer Allan Trautman): A smoking, drinking, and perverted gray stuffed bunny who lives in the Malloy basement, often discussing his life in "the toy bin", his success stories with women, or ranting about cynical topics. A large part of the show revolves around Jack consulting Mr. Floppy for advice (and Mr. Floppy speaks as a stand-up comic), as only Jack can hear him. While both Jack and Mr. Floppy often have differing views on things, they have similar mindsets and thus Mr. Floppy is best seen as a sort of alter-ego of Jack. He has a crush on Drew Barrymore.
  • Maureen Slattery (Joyce Van Patten) (Season 1-2): Jennie's alcoholic, overbearing, and somewhat delusional mother who despises Jack, a feeling that is more than mutual. She has an addiction to prescription drugs. She only appeared in the first two seasons of the series. It was stated by Jack in the episode "The Old West" that she was dead and they buried her in the backyard (after looting the corpse).
  • Barbara Caulfield (Wendy Benson) (recurring Season 4, starring in Season 5): Tiffany's chief rival and one of Ryan's love interests. She attends Northridge Junior College along with Tiffany and Ryan. She first appears in the fourth season.

Recurring characters[edit]

  • Barry Wallenstein (Ant) (Season 1-5): Tiffany's openly gay friend at Priddy High.
  • Amber Moss (Dana Daurey) (Season 1-3): Tiffany's vacuous best friend at Priddy High. She is an underachiever and is very promiscuous.
  • Patty Le Gurst (Elisabeth Harnois) (Season 2): Tiffany's rival who dresses scantily, but is stupider than Tiffany.
  • Muffy (Deborah Kellner) (season 5): Tiffany's best friend at Northridge Junior College.
  • Sable O'Brien (Kristanna Loken) (Season 3): A strikingly beautiful and extremely popular girl at Priddy High, Sable is the arch-nemesis of Tiffany Malloy. Though Tiffany and Sable are usually antagonistic toward each other, occasionally they cooperate if it's to their mutual advantage. Both share a number of common enemies, including Tiffany's own brother Ryan (who at one point "dates" Sable).
  • Mr. Dunn (Allan Trautman) (season 1-3): The principal of Priddy High.
  • Joe Slattery: Jennie's father and Maureen's ex-husband. He owns Joe's Used Car Lot, the place where Jack is employed. He is never seen but is often referred to.
  • Emily, Jasper and Annie: The family's pet dogs that are seen in the early seasons. Jasper is a bloodhound who makes the most appearances.
  • Mr. Monteleone (Oliver Muirhead) (Seasons 3-4): Tiffany and Ryan's rude, arrogant English teacher who makes frequent appearances in the later episodes. He hates Tiffany and loves to watch her fail.
  • Chelsea (Shonda Whipple) (season 1): Tiffany's nemesis in season 1.
  • Beau (Benjamin Shelfer) (season 1): Tiffany's love interest.
  • Eddie the Neuter Boy (Tal Kapelner) (season 4): A pathetic nerd boy who is often the victim of physical harm.
  • Stoney (Jamie Kennedy) (season 1): a stoner at Priddy High.

Episodes[edit]

Production notes[edit]

The series was created by Ron Leavitt and Arthur Silver, who also worked on Married... with Children. Unhappily was often compared to Married... with Children as both series had similar themes.[1][2][3]

Unhappily Ever After was one of the four sitcoms that aired as part of the original Wednesday night two-hour lineup that helped launch The WB network (along with The Wayans Bros., The Parent 'Hood and the short-lived Muscle).

Theme song and opening sequence[edit]

When the show first began its run, the original opening started with the "wedding photo"(even though they are moving in it) of the Malloys, with their smiles fading, and showed clips of the father leaving and walking through the slum to his new place. While walking, a man runs by him holding a TV, chased by another man who stops, takes a shooting stance, and fires a gun at the thief. The next clip shows the father as he walks past the first man lying face down, TV near his hands, as he enters his apartment. The theme song played over the opening was Bobcat Goldthwait (and possibly others) singing "We married young, because of cupid. And had three kids, but we were stupid. She kicked me out, she's not my honey. But she still wants me, when she needs money. Now I'm alone, come rain or sunny. But who needs love? I've got my bunny." (In the final scene of the final episode, this is the song Jack sings with Mr. Floppy, but with slightly modified lyrics. "I married young, because of cupid. And had three kids, but you were stupid. I could've been rich, instead I'm a loser. But at least we're happy, 'cause you're a boozer. Now I'm alone, come rain or sunny. But who needs love? I've got my bunny.")

Beginning with the second season, the series' theme song was "Hit the Road Jack" by Ray Charles; the song is a reference to Jennie kicking Jack out of the house. The opening is a sequence of bizarre events from the first season and the male vocals are lip-synched by Floppy while the female vocals are lip-synched by Jennie, Tiffany and Maureen for Seasons 1 & 2, Jennie and Tiffany for Seasons 3 & 4, and Tiffany, Jack, Ryan and Ross for Season 5. In reruns and syndication, the Season 1 opening was replaced with the "Hit The Road Jack" opening with clips from the show.

Syndication and international airings[edit]

The show was sold into syndication for the 1999-2000 and the 2000-01 seasons, but was not re-offered the following fall due to lackluster clearance rates and low ratings. It has been off the air in America ever since.

In the United Kingdom, it was shown on ABC1 between 2004 and 2005.

In Canada, it was seen on Omni Television during the 2006/2007 season.

As of October 2007, it airs on the TV3 network in Estonia as Armastuseta sinu (Yours Without Love).

In Germany, the show first aired on RTL Television in November 1997, was since rerun on RTL II and presently (as of June 2007) airs on Comedy Central on a daily basis. It is titled Auf schlimmer und ewig ("For worse and ever"), a pun on the phrase "Auf immer und ewig" ("For always and ever").

References[edit]

  1. ^ Brooks, Tim; Marsh, Earle F. (2007-10-17). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, 1946-Present (9 ed.). Ballantine Books. p. 1455. ISBN 0-345-49773-2. 
  2. ^ Childs, T. Mike (2004). The Rocklopedia Fakebandica. Macmillan. p. 111. ISBN 0-312-32944-X. 
  3. ^ Leonard, John (1995-01-30). "The Next Next Generation". New York Magazine (in English) (New York Media, LLC) 28 (5): 83. ISSN 0028-7369. 

External links[edit]