Quite simply, a Dom Com
airing on NBC
from 1992-99, about a married couple with a Seinfeld
-esque interest in meaningless conversations and minor fiddling events over big important ones. Rather unusual in that the couple is composed of two intelligent, attractive, well-adjusted and financially well-off people who are deeply in love and rarely argue. Except over whether the floor is slanted
The well of inspiration ran dry
in the final season (Viagra overdoses
and breast implant jokes abound), but the series managed to wrap up with a truly heart-rending finale
Their dog, Murray, became an Ensemble Dark Horse
due to his phenomenal acting talent.
This show provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion:
- Ursula (played by Lisa Kudrow) compliments Lisa on her name.
- Paul is once asked if he had ever seen the Alien movies. "Just the first one".
- Jamie is invited to play Twister.
- Ursula has a twin sister, Phoebe (see Cross Over).
- Art Shift: The whole comic book portion during "My Boyfriend's Back". Jamie's ex-boyfriend Alan draws her as the evil Queen Talon in a comic book, causing her a world of trouble as everyone now recognizes her as such. The episode ends with a full comic version of everyone.
- As Himself:
- Mark McGwire, post-Home Run record.
- Jamie works for James Carville.
- Bruce Willis.
- Kevin Bacon shows up to congratulate Jamie and Paul on their pregnancy. Because everyone knows Kevin Bacon!
- Birthday Hater: Paul always has terrible birthdays.
Jamie: What happened?
Paul: No, no, no, I'm just practicing.
Jamie: Fine. You're gonna fall in a well. Are you happy now?
Paul: You know, I fell in a well.
Jamie: You did not.
Paul: Birthday, 15. Amish country.
Jamie: You fell in a well?
Paul: While making a wish.
Jamie: Okay? My God.
Paul: No, no, no, this is the beauty—this is the beauty of the thing. See, I know it's gonna suck. I know there's some disaster coming and still I continue to have birthdays.
Jamie: Maybe this one will be better.
Paul: Oh, no, no, it will suck. It's just that I just don't know what form the disaster will take and therein lies the fascination.
- Bottle Episode
- Brother Chuck: Selby.
- Brutal Honesty
- The Bus Came Back: Mark.
- Catapult Nightmare: The hilarious kind during the Dream Sequence episode.
- Catch Phrase:
- For Paul listing things - "Ok first number 1 (first item) and then B (second item)."
- "Not so much."
- "This is what I'm saying!"
- Cool Old Guy:
- Mel Brooks guest-stars as Uncle Phil (no relation) in a few episodes.
- Sid, Paul's editor, too.
- Cross Over / Shared Universe:
- With Friends, sort of. Early on, Lisa Kudrow played Ursula, a scatterbrained waitress at Riff's. After Kudrow landed the role of Phoebe on Friends, Ursula was revealed to be Phoebe's twin sister. Jamie and Fran have a cameo in one episode of the latter show, where they go to the coffee shop where they see Phoebe and mistake her for Ursula. The fact that Phoebe, being a customer and not a waitress, doesn't take their order only further convinces them that she's Ursula.
- It also turns out that Paul used to live in the apartment now inhabited by Seinfeld's Cosmo Kramer, which creates a weird Celebrity Paradox when a later season finds that program's George and Susan in bed watching a Mad About You episode!
- Likewise, in one episode, Paul runs into real-life Jerry Seinfeld, and tells him that Jaime "loves your show."
- NBC also liked to do cross over stunt nights when all the sitcoms in that night's line up would be self contained stories related to a larger arc (Generally to boost ratings during sweep periods). In one such instance Mad About You's Jamie tries to steal cable TV reception and manages to black out New York City. The characters of Friends and Madman Of The People then dealt with the blackout in their own shows. Somewhat typically, Seinfeld didn't participate in the gimmick, and just ran a regular episode.
- Also with the classic Dick Van Dyke Show, when Carl Reiner guest stars as his DVDS character Alan Brady.
- The Danza: Paul Reiser as Paul Buchman
- Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Paul and Jamie were once harassed by a man in a wheelchair who used this. After punching Paul in the gut and subsequently receiving a black eye, he exaggerated the amount of pain he was in while others chastised Paul.
- Ditzy Genius: Murray is indeed a little weird and appears to be a bit thick sometimes, but it's also suggested several times that he is far more intelligent than anyone gives him credit for, sometimes even outsmarting his owners.
- Doppelgänger: In one episode, Lisa accidently comes home with a well trained twin of Murray.
Jamie: Lisa, this is not Murray! It looks like Murray, but it isn't Murray. Murray has a white spot and vacant eyes. This dog KNOWS THINGS!
- Dream Sequence: A whole episode of it after they eat Ostrich.
- Edited for Syndication: Sometimes the tag to the third from last episode "Paved With Good Intentions", in which we see Ira stealing props from the apartment and telling a shocked Nat that "Mad About You will be airing its last episode a week from next Monday", is replaced with a generic New York skyline shot credit crawl.
- Embarrassing First Name: Uncle Phil's real name is Deuteronomy. Naturally, he waits to mention this until after guilt-tripping Paul into naming the baby after him.
- Famous Last Words:
- Paul's uncle dying on-camera. "Hoooooooooooooo...Mooooooooooooooooooos!"
- In a spoof of Citizen Kane, everybody spends the episode running around to find out what it means. It's the serial number on the camera. (Hoo-Moo5).
- Fun with Acronyms:
- After a full episode of back-and-forth debate over the baby's name, Paul and Jamie are hit with inspiration when they hear this adage: Mothers Always Bring Extra Love. Bingo.
- In the finale, a rebelling Mabel tells her parents she's changing her name to Sonya - Some Other Name You Ass-(Paul and Jamie cover the last last bit with their gasps).
- Godwin's Law: Paul uses this in "The Glue People" as a reason to vote for a different mayor than Jamie.
- Happily Married
- Hank Azaria: Nat, the Dog Walker. His accent work is to die for!
- Head-Tiltingly Kinky: Jamie and Paul's old sex tape.
- Kavorka Man: Ira. Lampshaded when he accidentally catches himself in a mirror while having intercourse, scarring him so deeply that he loses interest in sex (for about a week).
- Lampshade Hanging: Usually in The Tag, which either breaks or leans on the fourth wall.
- Last Minute Baby Naming: Paul and Jamie name the baby Mabel, after a remark by Jamie's mom: "Mothers always bring extra love."
- Local Hangout: Riff's restaurant
- Make Up or Break Up: The series finale shows Paul and Jamie separating for a while. They reconcile at the screening of Mabel's Dada-esque indie film.
- Meaningful Echo:
- In a flashback to Paul and Jamie's introduction to each other, Jamie's Forceful Kiss is followed by this non sequitur:
Paul: Did you just kiss me?
Jamie: (beat) No.
Paul: I didn't think so.
- In the series finale, Paul and Jamie (now middle-aged and separated) have the exact same exchange. As Mabel's voiceover states, Paul then escorted Jamie back home, bought a pie, "and never left".
- Meddling Parents
- Mel Brooks: Played Paul's Uncle Phil. You can tell that most of his scenes are just him improvising most of his lines, the credit stingers actually have different takes with the cast cracking up.
- Model Couple: Not quite models, but they're both good-looking enough to be an aversion of the Ugly Guy, Hot Wife trope that's so standard of many sitcoms.
- My Own Private "I Do": Though the series starts with them already married, it's revealed that Jamie and Paul did this - the Plan First, Elope Later type. It happens in the middle of the night, on the sidewalk, performed by a ConEd worker, while Jamie has toothpaste on her face. And it's adorable.
- One-Hour Work Week : Presumably Jamie works full time, but Paul seems to be home an awful lot between projects.
- One We Prepared Earlier: The Thanksgiving Episode!
- The Other Darrin:
- Their next door neighbor Maggie (Judy Geeson) was married to a man named Hal (Paxton Whitehead). Early on, they switched the actor playing Hal (to Jim Piddock) in an implicit "Other Darrin" situation. Much later, they switched back, and retconned that they were two different Hals (Paxton-Hal was her first and third husband), thus un-Othering the Darrin.
- Further, Jamie's parents were played by three different sets of actors, culminating in Carol Burnett and Carroll O'Connor.
- Even more Kent Brockman, Jamie's Boss was played by Alan Ruck (of Spin City and Ferris Bueller's Day Off) but inexplicably changes between seasons 4 and 5.
- Paranormal Episode: The series had an incident like this where the place where the couple met had burned down. As the episode goes on, the pair start to forget about each other for an unexplained reason.
- The Perry Mason Method: Uncle Phil is brought up on charges for illegally collecting old newspapers from the neighbors in his building, then amassing a fortune's worth of coupons. Phil calls the prosecutor to the stand, then proceeds to absolutely decimate his case by guilt-tripping the attorney about his parents, clipping coupons to pay for his law courses.
Phil: Judge, lemmie hear those magic words!
Judge: Case dismissed!
- Precision F-Strike
- Put on a Bus: Mark, but The Bus Came Back.
- Runaway Bride: Paul and Jamie discover (in Season 7 and post-illegitimate baby) that their wedding wasn't legally valid. Naturally, Jamie starts fretting that their marriage's success rests on them not being...uh, married.
- Running Gag:
- The kitchen floor bump.
- "Murray, go get the mouse!"
- Secretly the mouse does exist!
- Seinfeldian Conversation
- Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Next door neighbors Maggie, Hal (and the other Hal) Conway.
- Something Completely Different
- Special Edition Title: "Speed Baby".
- Thanksgiving Episode:
- One memorable Thanksgiving, Paul and Jamie go through seven or eight replacement turkeys after Murray eats the first one.
- Mad About You had quite a few Thanksgiving Episodes. The first season showed Paul and Jamie (and Lisa and Selby) heading to Jamie's family home for Thanksgiving (with Fran and Mark on the same train to their family's home), and then on the way home after their respective Thanksgiving experiences. A later T-Day episode dealt with how Paul and Jamie tried (with hilarious failure) to control the dissemination of their pregnancy to their relatives.
- Theme Tune Cameo: Paul walks past an A Cappella group singing the theme song, which he'd co-written. To further mess with the wall, he mentions its familiarity. At the end of the episode, Paul and Jamie listen to the same group singing the theme again as the end-credits play. This time, Paul recognizes the tune and grins with satisfaction, but does not identify the tune out loud.
- Time Skip: The series finale jumps around a lot. These scenes range from funny (teenage Mabel and Jamie having a door-slamming competition), to...not so funny, such as the funeral for Paul's father, Paul and Jamie's miscarriage, and subsequent breakup. Janeane Garofalo guest-stars as Adult Mabel.
- Timmy in a Well: Murray's very good at this. After he communicates that the toilet is overflowing, Paul quotes the trope. Murray acts this out during the final credits of a Valentine's Day show as he gets Mark and Fran to rescue Paul and Jamie who have spent the entire episode trapped in the locked bathroom.
- Truth-Telling Session
- Video Wills
- "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: Ursula is now the Governor of New York.
- Whole Episode Flashback
- You Look Familiar
- Zettai Ryouki: The school girl Paul sees on Ovulation Day.