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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 brewery.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.
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."
Chain Letter: An episode has Laverne enduring a spell of bad luck after throwing one of these away.
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.
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.
He Who Must Not Be Seen: The girls' boss at the brewery, Mr. Shotz, was never seen in person, always speaking to them and other employees from offstage, usually through a photo of himself or, if he had a more important part in the episode, something that obscured him, like a spotlight.
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.
Poorly Disguised Pilot: The final episode is actually one of these, following Carmine as he moves to New York to pursue a Broadway career and auditions for Hair. A very odd way to end the series, and what's more we never do learn whether he lands the role.
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).
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.
Unfolding Plan Montage: In one episode, Laverne outlines a plan to break into an office and steal back some important papers. As she explains it, we see the plan in action, which they pull off perfectly. Then it turns out it was just a visual depiction of the plan being described. Once they implement the plan it goes awry and Hilarity Ensues.