Then I remembered that "the gang" aren't around anymore, but are in TV heaven, their show having ended in 1991 after a great run starting in 1987. You know tv writers are good when their characters stay in your mind over ten years after the show has gone off the air. I remember how upset I was when both marriages were on the rocks, when Nancy got cancer, when it looked like Ellen and Melissa were never going to settle down, and the pain of Gary being killed in that horrible car accident toward the end of the series. And then the thrill I got when they all did, indeed move on, to repair their health and their marriages and their relationships, to save what could be saved, to find the true meaning of happiness in that little microcosm of life, Philadelphia, PA.
What was it about the show that made it so resonant? Perhaps it was that no other show then or now, really explores the character failings we have that come home to roost sooner or later in life. But I think the point of the show was to reveal that whatever our failings and disappointments, we move on anyway, cut our loses, find a way to rise above, because that's the human thing to do. The message, simply put: life is a mixed bag... it's how we deal with the mix that's interesting.
Sometimes I wish these characters were still around today in a show called "fortysomething." Maybe Hope and Michael's marriage wouldn't make it after all, and maybe Ellen and Melissa would realize they were happier being single. Maybe their kids grew up to be rebellious teenagers, and their careers never really did get off the ground. But I prefer to remember them the way they were, yuppie angst and all, frozen in the pre-millenium "me" ness of the late 80's.
I was just turning 30 the year the show ended, living in another place, knowing that a lot of changes were yet to come my way. Maybe that's what I miss the most. Sometimes.