Unhappily Ever After
was an American Sitcom
that aired for 100 episodes on The WB
and one of the few network launch shows to survive the first year. The series was initially intended to be a starring vehicle for Stephanie Hodge; however, Geoff Pierson's weary, mentally unbalanced but straight-talking character of Jack became the central character of the show and, by the show's third season, it became apparent that Tiffany (Nikki Cox
) was becoming a Breakout Character
and the de facto co-star of the show along with Pierson.
The show was created by Arthur Silver and Ron Leavitt; the latter also co-created Married... with Children
. This leads to Unhappily
being considered a blatant rip-off
by many, as much of the humor was similar, though Unhappily
was generally more surreal and cartoonish than even MWC
got. The show ended in May 1999 with its 100th episode.
This show provides examples of:
- Absentee Actor: Jennie is absent from a good chunk of episodes from the season before she left the show.
- Alpha Bitch: Tiffany has at least two rivals who play this role.
- The B Grade: "B-Minus Blues" (for Tiffany, of course)
- Back from the Dead: In one of the later seasons, they kill off Jennie, only for her to return as a ghost. The Fourth Wall gets busted when an executive explained that the concept isn't working and Jennie returns alive.
- The Beard: In "A Line in the Sand," Ryan states that he does this for the lesbian clique at school to trick their fathers. In return, they protect him from bullies.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: The WB and its programming decisions were frequent targets.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: All the time. More apparent in later seasons as the characters acknowledge that they are on a TV show.
- In one episode, during a dinner scene, Ross openly asks why his back has to be the audience.
- In another episode, when Tiffany tries to talk to another player on the bench, she looks sadly down while a subtitle states that they are an extra and aren't allowed to talk.
- Butt Monkey: Ryan. And in the last season, Ross, who basically turned into this show's version of Meg Griffin.
- Buxom Is Better: Tiffany certainly plays this trope. Despite having an above-average intellect, Tiffany uses her sex appeal more than her brains. The fact that she plans to marry a rich, dying old man to get money shows clearly that she has no plans to use her intellect to get by.
- What's not smart about that?
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: In a canine version, the Malloy's have three dogs when the series starts. Their number soon dwindle...
- Cross Over: As part of The WB's promotional night of inter-series character crossovers. Jackee Harry (then of Sister Sister) popped in during a moment of wall-smashing.
- Denser and Wackier: Originally Mr. Floppy was the only surreal element in an otherwise pretty standard sitcom, but it eventually turned into a live-action cartoon.
- The Ditz: Ryan. His intellect seems to dimish more and more as the series progressed.
- Driving Test: One episode has Jack preparing his teenagers for this.
- Drop-In Character: Early episodes feature Jennie's mother Maureen. While she actually lived in the house she fulfilled this function as she would usually come out of her room for one scene to insult Jack and then go back there.
- Dumbass Teenage Son: Ryan, and how.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: Season one had the Malloys divorced, a theme song sung by Jack and Mr. Floppy about said divorce, and a good amount of focus upon Mr. Floppy/Jack. By season two the show picked up a regular theme song (which was attached to the reruns of season one) and Mr. Floppy was phased out to appearing usually once per episode to deliver a monologue.
- First Father Wins
- Gold Digger: Tiffany's main ambition in life is to marry a rich old man so that she can inherit his money when he dies.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Ross (Justin Berfield) would later star in another dysfunctional family sitcom, only instead of being the sane, yet ignored child, he's become a dim-witted bully (Reese) who picks on his genius brothers (Malcolm and Dewey). The irony is delicious.
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Bobcat Goldthwait as Mr. Floppy.
- Ho Yay: Quite a bit between Jack and Mr. Floppy in the earlier seasons.
- Jaded Washout: Jack is certainly this, though a mentally unstable one.
- Jerk Ass: Pretty much every character in the show.
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: The show has yet to be released on Home Video in any form, despite Ross, Tiffany and Ryan all going to to more famous TV roles. This could be because of the show's enormous hatedom. To this day, Unhappily is never even bought up.
- Killed Off for Real: Jennie's mother vanishes in-between seasons; seems like a case of Chuck Cunningham Syndrome until a later episode has an off-hand remark about her funeral.
- Memetic Sex God: In-Universe, Mr. Floppy.
- Mistaken for Junkie: Jennie and Jack mistake a white clump in the car for drugs Ryan obtained after tasting it made them feel randy for each other. Turns out it was deodorant.
- Ms. Fanservice: Tiffany. Just look at the picture. And that's what she pretty much always wore.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Tiffany, even though her beauty (and occasional malevolence) belies the fact she's incredibly intelligent.
- Only Sane Man: Ross.
- Out of Focus: Jennie when the plots started to revolve around Tiffany instead of the parents. Jack's role on the show remained large since he still had one or two scenes with Mr. Floppy in every episode, but Jennie was reduced to a supporting player. No wonder Stephanie Hodge decided to leave the series eventually.
- Parasol of Prettiness: Jennie tries this once, when trying to hold a picnic.
- Perpetual Poverty
- Pet Homosexual: Barry.
- Put on a Bus: Jennie ran off with a woman in the final season, never to be seen again.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Ray Charles' "Hit the Road, Jack," the theme from the second season onward.
- Romance on the Set: Nikki Cox (Tiffany) was reportedly involved with Kevin Connolly (Ryan) at one point, and Bobcat Goldthwait (Mr. Floppy) at another.
- Sadist Teacher: Mr. Monteleone, who hates Tiffany.
- Spiritual Successor: To Married... with Children.
- Split Personality: Jack and his alter ego, Mr. Floppy.
- The Unfavorite: Ryan. Tiffany is by far Jack's favorite and Ross at least gets some kind of acknowledgement - until the last season, which introduced a running gag out of nowhere that everyone utterly hates Ross.
- Walk On The Wild Side Episode: "Tiffany on the Wild Side".
- Waxing Lyrical: When Jennie & Tiffany try to pitch the family's lives as a Sitcom they quote the original theme song as they're being tossed out.
- World of Ham: Pretty much every major character was prone to long rants (except Ryan, who just wasn't wordy enough to deliver them).