That's Life (2000 TV series)

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That's Life
Created byDiane Ruggiero
StarringHeather Paige Kent
Kristin Bauer
Peter Firth
Kevin Dillon
Danielle Harris
Debi Mazar
Paul Sorvino
Ellen Burstyn
Composer(s)Jay Gruska
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of series2
No. of episodes36 (4 unaired)
Executive producer(s)Anita W. Addison
Maddy Horne
Lynn Marie Latham
Frank Renzulli
Producer(s)Peter Dunne
W. Mark McNair
Peter Woronov
Running time42 minutes
Production company(s)Film Noir Productions
(season 1)
Paramount Network Television
Original networkCBS
Picture format1080i (HDTV)
Original releaseOctober 1, 2000 (2000-10-01) –
January 26, 2002 (2002-01-26)

That's Life is an American comedy-drama television series created by Diane Ruggiero, that was broadcast on CBS from October 1, 2000 to January 26, 2002.


The hour-long series follows the life of a young Italian-American woman (Lydia DeLucca, played by Heather Paige Kent), loosely based on Ms. Ruggiero's life, and her family in suburban New Jersey. The show was set in fictional Bellefield, ostensibly a play on the combination of Belleville and Bloomfield, two adjacent older working class suburbs on the north side of Newark, New Jersey. The show premièred a year after The Sopranos, also about an Italian-American family set in the New Jersey suburbs. Whereas The Sopranos depicted an organized crime family, however, That's Life was a light-hearted depiction of a law-abiding family (headed by veteran motion picture actors Ellen Burstyn and Paul Sorvino).

In the first season, Frank DeLucca works as a toll collector on the New Jersey Turnpike, while Dolly is a housewife. In the second season, Frank retires after suffering a heart attack on the job, and he and Dolly open a restaurant. Kevin Dillon played Paulie, Lydia's younger brother who was a young officer on the Bellefield Police Department who still lived at home. Debi Mazar played Jackie, Lydia's wise-cracking friend who owned a hair salon. The show mixed family situations with situations focusing on Lydia's life as a young single woman looking for both love and stable career, and for more out of life than simply raising children.

The first season revolved around the fallout from Lydia's breaking off her engagement to Lou (Sonny Marinelli, who was written out after a few episodes), enrolling at a local university somewhat resembling nearby Montclair State University, and moving away from home for the first time. Most of the situations were light-hearted, but plots occasionally delved into darker subjects, including Paulie's struggle to resist the temptation to fall into corruption as a police officer. In the second season, Lydia finally selects a major to pursue a career in sports medicine. Her mother Dolly successfully ran for city council of Bellefield. Paulie started dating Plum (Danielle Harris), a classmate whom Lydia befriends in the first season, and marries her.

The show developed a small fan base and received generally positive critical response, but languished in the ratings, despite the presence of well-known names in its cast, in part because it aired during the Friday night death slot for much of its run. It was cancelled at the end of the second season with numerous unresolved plot lines, including the budding romance between Lydia and one of her professors.



Season 1 (2000–01)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
11"Pilot"Mick JacksonDiane RuggieroOctober 1, 2000 (2000-10-01)
22"The Screw-Up"Jim FrawleyDiane RuggieroOctober 7, 2000 (2000-10-07)
33"Whadda You Want from Life"TBATBAOctober 14, 2000 (2000-10-14)
44"He's Very Heavy, He's My Brother"Rob ThompsonTeleplay by: Bill Grundfest & Diane Ruggiero
Story by: Anne McGrail
October 21, 2000 (2000-10-21)
55"Bad Hair Week"Jack BenderAnne McGrailOctober 28, 2000 (2000-10-28)
66"The Tell-Tale Uterus"David SemelAnne McGrailNovember 4, 2000 (2000-11-04)
77"Lydia and the Professor"Christopher MongerBill GrundfestNovember 11, 2000 (2000-11-11)
88"The Tutor"TBATBANovember 18, 2000 (2000-11-18)
99"Saint Bernadette"TBATBANovember 25, 2000 (2000-11-25)
1010"When Good Ideas Go Bad"TBATBADecember 16, 2000 (2000-12-16)
1111"Photographs"Paul SorvinoDiane RuggieroJanuary 6, 2001 (2001-01-06)
1212"Nomads"TBATBAJanuary 13, 2001 (2001-01-13)
1313"Heart Problems"TBATBAJanuary 20, 2001 (2001-01-20)
1414"Touched by a Biker"TBATBAFebruary 3, 2001 (2001-02-03)
1515"Mr. Wrong"TBATBAFebruary 10, 2001 (2001-02-10)
1616"Or What's a Heaven For?"TBATBAFebruary 17, 2001 (2001-02-17)
1717"Banister Head"TBATBAFebruary 24, 2001 (2001-02-24)
1818"Miracle at the Cucina"TBATBAMarch 10, 2001 (2001-03-10)
1919"No Good Deed"TBATBAApril 7, 2001 (2001-04-07)

Season 2 (2001–02)[edit]

No. in
Title Directed by Written by Original air date
201"Larva"Michael SwitzerDiane RuggieroSeptember 28, 2001 (2001-09-28)
212"Something Battered, Something Blue"Joanna KernsJames StanleyOctober 5, 2001 (2001-10-05)
223"The Devil and Miss DeLucca"Michael SwitzerAnne McGrailOctober 12, 2001 (2001-10-12)
234"M.Y.O.B."TBATBAOctober 19, 2001 (2001-10-19)
245"Bad Chemistry"TBATBAOctober 26, 2001 (2001-10-26)
256"Boo!"TBATBANovember 2, 2001 (2001-11-02)
267"Plus One"TBATBANovember 9, 2001 (2001-11-09)
278"Idiots"TBATBANovember 16, 2001 (2001-11-16)
289"Oh, Baby"TBATBADecember 7, 2001 (2001-12-07)
2910"Sex in the Suburbs"TBATBADecember 21, 2001 (2001-12-21)
3011"All About Lydia"TBATBAJanuary 11, 2002 (2002-01-11)
3112"What's Family Got to Do With It?"TBATBAJanuary 12, 2002 (2002-01-12)
3213"Momento"TBATBAJanuary 26, 2002 (2002-01-26)
3314"Behind Closed Doors"TBATBAUNAIRED
3415"Love's Labor"TBATBAUNAIRED
3516"Baum's Thesis"TBATBAUNAIRED

TV ratings[edit]

  • Highest rated: 12.1 million/9.1 household rating [series debut against Summer Olympics Closing Ceremony]
  • 2000 to 2001:
  • 2001 to 2002: 6.9 million viewers[1]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2001 Artios Award Best Casting for TV, Dramatic Pilot Mary V. Buck and Susan Edelman Nominated
2002 Golden Reel Award Best Sound Editing in Television – Music, Episodic Live Action Lisa A. Arpino
(for episode "Touched by a Biker")


  1. ^ "How did your favorite show rate?". USA Today. May 28, 2002.

External links[edit]