Series: Laverne and Shirley
Laverne and Shirley
is a sitcom
spun off from Happy Days
, centering on two acquaintances of the Fonz who, as the series began, worked at a Milwaukee
Co-created by Garry Marshall, the show starred his sister Penny Marshall as Laverne De Fazio and Cindy Williams as her roommate Shirley Feeney. The most popular supporting characters were Wacky Guys
Lenny and Squiggy, played by the underrated Michael McKean and David Lander; other supporting characters included Laverne's dad Frank (Phil Foster) and Shirley's sometime boyfriend Carmine "The Big Ragu" Ragusa (Eddie Mekka). The series ran on ABC
from 1976 to 1983.
This series contains examples of:
- Animated Adaptation: Laverne and Shirley Join the Army, although on-screen it simply read Laverne & Shirley.
- Annoying Laugh: Laverne.
- Artifact Title: Shirley left the cast in the final season. Conversely on the cartoon, Cindy Williams did not return to voice Shirley in season two, replaced by Lynn Marie Stewart.
- Bathroom Stall Graffiti: An early episode has the girls discovering their names and numbers have been written on a men's room wall at a local pool hall. Leading them to disguise themselves as guys to try removing it.
- Berserk Button: Never call Laverne a bimbo.
- Real Life Example: Referencing this show when referring to the real Milwaukee has been known to push quite a few of these in Southeast Wisconsin. Milwaukee's Mayor Tom Barrett even quipped upon being elected that one of his main objectives was to let the rest of the world know that "Laverne & Shirley don't live here anymore." Now Mister Plinkett does.
- The Cast Showoff: Eddie Mekka (Carmine) got numerous opportunities to show off his singing and dancing skills, sometimes in episodes where he had nothing else to do.
- The show had annual talent-show episodes that would give everyone a chance to sing, especially Michael McKean and David Lander, who wrote and performed their own comedy songs as "Lenny and the Squigtones."
- Characterization Marches On: When the two first appeared on Happy Days there was very little difference between Laverne and Shirley. For this series, though, Laverne was made more of a tomboy and Shirley a girly girl.
- Christmas Episode
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The girls' Milwaukee Landlady Edna, later Laverne's stepmother, just kind of vanished sometime after their move out to California.
- Commuting on a Bus: Michael McKean didn't appear in many episodes of the final season, as he was busy preparing This Is Spinal Tap. With Squiggy appearing alone in many episodes and Shirley gone from the show entirely, some joked that it should have been re-titled "Laverne and Squiggy."
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: Laverne liked drinking a mix of Pepsi and milk together in the same glass.
- Cross Over: With its parent program Happy Days.
- Dawson Casting: At the beginning of the series, Laverne and Shirley were portrayed as being only a few years out of high school (one first-season episode showed their three-year high school reunion). But at the time, Penny Marshall was 32 and Cindy Williams was 28.
- Death Row: Laverne somehow winds up there in a season 8 episode. She's eventually exonerated.
- Diagonal Billing: Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams in the opening titles.
- Drop-In Character: Lenny and Squiggy.
- The Fifties / The Sixties: With The Seventies and Eighties often bleeding through.
- Five-Temperament Ensemble: Lenny (melancholic/phlegmatic), Shirley (phlegmatic/sanguine), Laverne (choleric), Frank (melancholic), Edna (phlegmatic), Squiggy (sanguine), and Carmine (leukine).
- Girls Love Stuffed Animals: Shirley's beloved "Boo Boo Kitty".
- Grievous Bottley Harm: Subverted in a scene involving many prop bottles and one real glass bottle.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: A rare female example.
- Hypno Fool: In one episode, the duo find themselves acting like chickens every time a bell rings.
- Inadvertent Entrance Cue: Lenny and Squiggy were the undisputed champions of this.
- Incoming Ham: Squiggy must think that "Haalloooooooow!" is some sort of mating call.
- Irrevocable Message: A two-part episode ("The Bardwell's Caper") involved the duo trying to retrieve a nasty letter they had written to their boss.
- It's a Wonderful Plot: "Laverne's Broken Leg"
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lenny and Squiggy. More "jerk" in Squiggy, more "heart of gold" in Lenny.
- Knife-Throwing Act
- Local Hangout: The Pizza Bowl (when the show was set in Milwaukee) and Cowboy Bill's (during the Los Angeles years). Laverne's dad ran both establishments.
- Ms. Fanservice: Rhonda (Leslie Easterbrook), a sexy blonde added as a ratings-boosting gimmick when the show moved to L.A.
- To some extent Laverne herself became this in the final season.
- New Year Has Come: A season 3 episode has the girls welcoming in 1960.
- Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Nearly the entire cast. One would think Milwaukee was located just outside of Brooklyn.
- Justified with Laverne and her father: they grew up in New York.
- Panty Shot: Shirley in the cartoon, which had her and Laverne as cheerleaders in a football game in an episode. She drops to the ground doing a split and her skirt goes up.
- Planning With Props: In "The Bardwell's Caper", Laverne and Shirley planning to get a nasty letter out of their boss' office.
- Politically Correct History: Inverted. The real Milwaukee of the 1950s was in the midst of a mass-migration of African-Americans who came (and often were recruited) specifically to work at the city's breweries. Yet despite the titular characters working at a brewery (and the show's creation at a time when interracial casts were en vogue), the show featured no African-American characters.
- The final episode (in syndication order) is a PDP that has Carmine going off to New York to become a Broadway star.
- Present Day Past
- Put on a Bus: The last season had Shirley marrying an Army medic and going overseas with him.
- Real-Life Relative: Penny Marshall is the sister of series creator Garry Marshall.
- Required Spinoff Crossover: With Happy Days.
- Re Tool: When the duo moved from Milwaukee to Los Angeles.
- Reunion Show: Two of them, in 1995 and 2002. The second one included an in-character skit.
- Ruptured Appendix: "Shirley's Operation."
- Screwed by the Network: In the series' third and fourth seasons, Laverne & Shirley was #1 in the Nielsens, even surpassing Happy Days. ABC moved it from Tuesdays at 8:30 to Thursdays at 8:00, and it became #38 in the Nielsens, and never really recovered, even after being moved back (the highest it was afterward was #20).
- Shout-Out: The opening credits were spoofed by Wayne and Garth in Wayne's World.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: To levels that only Lucille Ball matched.
- Syndication Title: Laverne and Shirley and Friends, Laverne and Shirley and Company.
- Thematic Theme Tune: "Making Our Dreams Come True". The song, performed by Cyndi Grecco, was issued as a single and reached the Billboard Top 30.
- Third-Person Person: Rhonda
- Those Two Guys: Lenny and Squiggy.
- Thriller on the Express: "Murder on the Moosejaw Express."
- Throw It In: The cursive "L" in the upper corner of Laverne's shirts/sweaters and her fondness for milk and Pepsi were both added to the character by Penny Marshall (milk and Pepsi being a Your Favorite of Marshall's in Real Life).
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Laverne is a tough-talking girl who prefers her men the same way, while on the other hand, Shirley is about as girly as a girl can get.
- Wacky Guy: Two of them, Lenny and Squiggy.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: From the opening credits:
One, two, three, four,
Five, six, seven, eight, Schlemiel
- Not too far fetched, quite a few Jews live in the Milwaukee area.
- Your Favorite: For Laverne - Milk and Pepsi. Together.