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Series / Any Day Now

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Any Day Now is a 1998 television series from Lifetime starring Annie Potts, Lorraine Toussaint, Shari Dyon Perry, Mae Middleton and Chris Mulkey.

The series focuses on the longtime friendship of Mary Elizabeth "M.E." O'Brien (Potts as an adult, Middleton as a child) and Rene Jackson (Toussaint as an adult, Perry as a child), who met and grew up together in the slowly desegregating 1960s South amid the strife going on during that time. In addition to the ups and downs of the marriage of Mary Elizabeth and her childhood sweetheart Collier Sims (Mulkey as an adult, Dan Byrd as a child), they also have to contend with M.E.'s parents' and older sister's ignorant views on race (though they get better), her card-carrying racist klansman Uncle Jimmy (who doesn't) and her big brother Johnny serving in The Vietnam War.

The series was seen as a complimentary show of fellow Lifetime original Series The Division and Strong Medicine. It ran for four seasons from August 18, 1998 to March 10, 2002.


  • '60s Hair: All over the place in the flashbacks. Mrs. O'Brien and Mrs. Jacksons both have bouffant flips that resemble helmets, the boys start off with crew cuts and end up growing their bangs and sideburns out, Teresa wears her hair in a perky flip, later Rene grows her hair out into Bombshell bouffant hair and even experiments with a afro.
  • Abusive Parents: M.E.'s paternal grandfather was physically abusive to both of his sons, which their mother wasn't able to stop because she was working. Jimmy got the worst of it, which led to him desperately seeking an alternative father figure, which he found in a local klansman.
  • Adoption Is Not an Option: When Collier suggests this regarding Kelly's baby, everyone looks at him in horror as if he's suggested literally throwing the child away, even as he points out that Kelly and Ajoni can meet with the adoptive parents and keep in touch with them.
  • The Alcoholic: M.E. spends the entire series struggling to quit smoking and begins stress-eating after losing her house in a tornado and constantly worrying about Kelly and Ajoni's financial situation, resulting in her gaining weight.
    • One of Rene's partners in her law firm is a recovered one, but he falls Off the Wagon at one point and begins using cocaine.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: In the flashbacks, M.E. suffers this, mostly from within her family, for being a Tomboy and, more gratingly as far as the O'Briens are concerned, for having Rene as a BFF. Rene herself gets in the present day when her mother is hospitalized and her brother comes to visit despite their long-standing estrangement. One of their relatives snidely comments "Well, Rene, it looks like you're the only one left. Even Elston's got a baby and a partner.", referring to the fact that she's only one in her family still unmarried and childless.
  • And There Was Much Rejoicing: When M.E. learns that her hated uncle Jimmy died, she immediately starts singing "Ding-Dong, the Wizard's Dead."
  • Berserk Button: Do not direct racial slurs or insults at Rene when M.E. is within earshot. It's a button for both of them, but M.E. will get physical about it.
  • Big Brother Worship: M.E. adored her older brother Johnny, as evidenced in the flashbacks, while Rene felt the same way about hers.
  • Big Sister Bully: Teresa O'Brien was this in the past, who mocked her sister and her best friend's relationship and always threatened to tell her parents on them (though she never did).
  • Birth-Death Juxtaposition: M.E. and Colliar's son Bobby drowned at their anniversary party.
    Colliar: "The best day of our life right up against the worst."
  • Blackface: In season 1 episode "I Wish You Could Understand", M.E. and Rene's childhood bully Tully offends Rene after taking part in a bigoted prank and donning blackface during a parade. It's because of this that the episode got a viewer discretion warning twice.
  • Bowdlerise: In a season 1 Very Special Episode about sexual misconduct titled "I'm Not Emotional", the exotic dancers in the strip club that M.E. and Renee are protesting against are blurred out on TV.
  • But Not Too Black:
    • When Rene's cousin Danny returns home after many years, M.E. is stunned at how light-skinned he is, even outright saying that he's white. The flashbacks in the episode establishes the tension between Rene's mother Sara and her light-skinned sister Kiki, to the point of each referring to the other as an "Aunt Jane" (the Distaff Counterpart to "Uncle Tom", itself a term for a black person who has "sold out" to white people). Rene and Sara are later stunned to learn that he's been passing for white for years.
    • When she runs for District Attorney, Rene gets in trouble with her campaign manager by assuming that she was stuck-up due to having a lighter skin tone than her own. She calls her out on her poor, hypocritical attitude and storms out, although Rene apologizes to her by the episode's end.
    • The women that she introduces her to in the hopes of getting their endorsement actually do have this attitude through and through, even refusing to grant her membership to their organization because of her darker skin tone.
  • Black Gal on White Guy Drama: In several episodes and one of the flashbacks, Rene contemplates dating a white man, but nixes things before they can get started, fearing the negative reaction from others.
    • Her Aunt Kiki is married to a white man, though from all appearances, it's a happy union.
    • In a childhood flashback, Rene incurs the wrath of her beloved Grandma Cookie when M.E. reveals that Rene has a crush on a white boy.
  • Bookends: The pilot has the young girls watching the Miss America pageant and M.E. being Innocently Insensitive in telling Rene that "You can't be Miss America. You're colored and there's never been a colored Miss America". In the finale, M.E. is preparing to go to Atlantic City to protest the contest, while Rene is striving to be the first black contestant in the local Miss Camellia competition.
  • Broken Pedestal: Young M.E. hits it off with a friend of Teresa's, a classic Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak who teaches her to play basketball and paints her nails, wants to enter a beauty contest to get a scholarship to medical school,etc. Her admiration ends when she overhears her using racial slurs.
    • In another episode, M.E.'s racist Uncle Jimmy begins dating one of the girls' teachers, making Rene fear that he'll make her the same way. When M.E. threatens to tell the woman he's a Klan member, he coolly asks her "Where do you think we met?", note  this revealing that she already is. By the episode's end, she's gone from a supposedly Cool Teacher who treated Rene as an equal to the white students to ignoring her.
  • Career Versus Man: Rene chose to be a lawyer/politician in lieu of having a husband or children, but she eventually falls in love with and marries Judge Terhune.
  • Class Reunion: One episode has neither woman looking forward to this, Rene because of the racism she dealt with, and M.E., because she knows she'll run into her Alpha Bitch rival who once slept with Colliar. Indeed, the woman in question spends the night taunting both of them until they finally lose it and a fight breaks out.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Both girls would act like this if/when the other made another friend.
  • Content Warnings: The more racially-charged episodes had these. Specifically, the earlier episodes were far more extreme than the later episodes.
    • The reruns on Start TV apply this to every episode.
  • Convenient Miscarriage: M.E. isn't thrilled about her fourth pregnancy, but never considers an abortion, due to her Catholic faith. The pregnancy turns out to be ectopic, necessitating a therapeutic termination.
    • Averted with Kelly, despite her circumstances seeming ripe for this typical TV cliché.
  • Cool Big Bro:
    • Mary Elizabeth's older brother, Johnny, who was also a nice guy to Rene.
    • Davis is an inversion of this trope: he's younger than Kelly, but is a sweet little brother.
  • Cool Old Lady: Mary Elizabeth's grandmother, who encouraged her relationship with Rene. She's also seen trolling Jimmy by claiming that his father was a black man, then giving him a good talking-to upon finding out that he's in the Klan. It doesn't take, but points go to her for trying to set him straight.
  • Daddy's Girl: Kelly to Collier. Needless to say, he is vastly disappointed when she gets pregnant.
    • Rene to her father (though she loves both of her parents), even becoming a lawyer like he was. In the Alternate Universe episode, she shares an office with him.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Teresa confesses to having been molested by her piano teacher when she was younger when she sees that the same man is now teaching Kelly.
  • Death of a Child: M.E. and Collier's oldest son Bobby drowned when he was a toddler.
  • Deep South: The series takes place in Montgomery, Alabama and as such, in the past and in the present day, racism is very prevalent and very blatant.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: The flashbacks are in black and white, with the occasional Splash of Color in people's outfits.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The flashbacks make it clear how life was back in the '60's for blacks. And for women—in one episode, Rene and several other girls are groped at a party. Rene's parents blame her for it because of how she was dressed and M.E.'s mother's sole concern is how this will tarnish her reputation.
  • Disappointing Older Sibling: Averted: when Davis learns that Kelly is pregnant, he immediately stands by her and even tells his parents to both pray about their anger at the situation and to forgive her. In Rene's case, while she doesn't shun her older brother Elston after he reveals that he's gay, her parents do.
  • Domestic Abuse: The flashbacks establish that Colliar and his mother suffered this from his father, to the point of having to run away to escape.
    • In the episode "Tick tick tick" in the present day Rene tries to convince one of her clients to leave her abusive husband.
  • Door Slam of Rage: In an early season 1 episode, M.E. spends most of it clashing with her uber-Cranky Neighbor. At the conclusion, she goes to the woman and sincerely tries to offer her an olive branch. The woman snaps "You're an idiot" and slams the door in her face.
  • Draft Dodging: Rene's older brother, Elston, avoided the draft by going to Canada.
  • Driven to Suicide: Mary Elizabeth's grandmother in season 1, when she commits suicide due to her illness.
  • Due to the Dead: Inverted in a darkly humorous manner; when her Klan member uncle Jimmy dies, M.E. makes a point of going to the funeral home just so she can steal a Klan medallion he wanted buried with him off of his body.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Rene's parents are played by completely different actors in the pilot.
  • Estranged Soap Family: Rene's older brother is estranged from the family because he's gay, though Rene does her best to maintain a relationship with him.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Despite his own displeasure at Kelly and Ajoni's situation, Colliar goes absolutely ballistic when Ajoni's father bluntly suggests that Ajoni isn't the father of Kelly's child and later when Rene warns him that his racist uncle-in-law Jimmy has insinuated that he's going to disrupt the wedding.
  • Everything Is Racist: How Rene views the world, and unfortunately for her, she is more or less right. The police, both her and Mary Elizabeth's family, clients and even Collier himself have some pretty racist views with varying opinions of it. Rene even believes this about fellow black people, noting the snobbish treatment she gets from those who are of a lighter skin tone.
  • Evil Uncle: Mary Elizabeth's Uncle Jimmy, a proud klansman who remains completely hostile to Rene and everyone else of color or who support/associate with people of color.
  • Faux Yay: in the episode "It's Not About The Butter (Part 1)" M.E and Rene share a kiss just to piss off a possible racist (and homophobic) man in the present day.
  • Faint in Shock: Mrs. O'Brien faints upon being told that Johnny was killed in action in Vietnam.
  • Feeling the Baby Kick: One Christmas Episode has Kelly, pregnant with her and Ajoni's first child, excitedly revealing that she could feel her baby kick. As M.E. shares in her excitement, her parents walk in the front door and accidentally learn of their granddaughter's teenage pregnancy.
  • Female Misogynist: After one of Rene's associates is among several women assaulted at a party, she blames them for their revealing clothes. M.E. and Rene point out that she was groped as well, despite being dressed more conservatively.
  • Fiery Redhead: Mary Elizabeth, very much so. A given since she's played by Annie Potts. She is very outspoken, not afraid to tell someone off or argue her piece, not even with her husband and mother.
    • Some brief flashbacks in the episode where Kelly reveals she is pregnant (done in color for once) that reveal Mrs. O'Brien to have hair as fiery scarlet as her youngest daughter's. She is also a woman who is prone to hysterical fits whenever M.E. does something improper and was shrieking and crying at M.E. after telling her of her pregnancy.
  • Flashback: Plenty throughout each episode, paralleling the current day storyline.
  • Foreshadowing: When the girls start high school, M.E. joins the pep squad after Rene decides not to because of the hazing she's dealt with, instead opting to join the black students union. The final scene of the episode is of them walking away from each other, the first hint of the ebbing of their childhood friendship that ultimately led to Rene deciding to leave town to pursue her law degree.
    • In season 3, after breaking up with her boyfriend Ajoni, Kelly is always sleepy and her mother Mary Elizabeth comments that Kelly is "glowing".
    • In the episode where Uncle Jimmy dates Rene and M.E.'s teacher, he corrects himself everytime he uses a swear word. . .but not whenever he uses a racial slur. Note that she also has no reaction when he does. Towards the episode's end, he coldly informs M.E. that they met at a Klan gathering.
  • Generation Xerox:
    • Kelly ends up pregnant as a teenager just like Mary Elizabeth was years earlier.
    • Both Mary Elizabeth and her mother end up losing their oldest son, though at different ages and under different circumstances.
  • Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Despite their disappointment about Kelly's pregnancy, M.E. and Collier are vehemently opposed to her having an abortion, due to their Catholic faith (and in Alabama, she'd need their permission anyway. It's a moot debate as she declares that she wants to have the baby). M.E. also refused to consider one when she became pregnant with Bobby at only 19 and with her fourth pregnancy, despite the family's dire financial situation. Averted with Rene, who confides in M.E. that she had one during her second year of law school.
  • Grand Finale: Rene's wedding, Colliar and M.E. moving into their new home, M.E. finally embarking on her writing career, Davis entering the seminary, and Kelly and Ajoni reconciling and preparing to move to Atlanta for him to attend Morehouse.
  • Half-Breed Discrimination: Rene is quite rude to her biracial campaign manager when she runs for District Attorney, taking every suggestion the woman makes as an example of light-skinned privilege. Not until the woman finally blasts her for her nasty attitude and declares that she will not apologize for being proud of her multicultural heritage does Rene realize how badly she's been acting.
    • Part of the reason that Rene's cousin Danny has been estranged from the family is because he was teased about how light-skinned he is.
  • Happily Married: In spite of the normal arguments throughout the marriages, every union between the primary and secondary couples are such: M.E. and Collier, M.E.'s parents, Rene's parents before her father's passing and eventually Rene herself, and it's implied that Kelly and Ajoni will follow suit.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: M.E. and Rene, from childhood to adulthood.
  • Hollywood Heart Attack: Averted. Rene experiences nausea and exhaustion for several days before finally collapsing. Truth in Television—as her doctor tells her, women often present atypically, hence why doctors don't realize what's happened and why they often die.
  • Hospital Paradiso: The pilot finds Rene as a tremendously successful Washington, DC lawyer. Although not unhappy, she still decides to leave it and an unsatisfying relationship to return home and open a small practice.
  • Identical Grandson: Lorraine Touissant plays Rene's grandmother in one of the flashbacks.
  • Intoxication Ensues: In the episode "Nope", young M.E. and Rene experiment with alcohol; disaster ensues.
  • Innocently Insensitive: M.E.'s father Matt veers into this late in the series when he enters the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease: he had always held fairly racist views given his upbringing, but was cognizant enough to stop voicing them in public as it became less acceptable to do so. Once his dementia begins to advance, however, his mental filter starts failing, leading to several tragi-comic instances of this. Most notably, when the families arrive at the hospital after Kelly has her baby, he can only mutter that "the baby's awfully dark", because he's forgotten Ajoni was the father.
  • Irony: In the pilot, young M.E. declares her intent to leave Birmingham to be a writer, while Rene plans to stay, get married, and have children. As we see, it played out the opposite way, though it's later referred to in a Fantasy Sequence episode.
    • The very conservative and racist Mr. and Mrs. O'Brien end the series finding they have a half-Vietnamese grandson (from Johnny), a Vietnamese son-in-law (via marriage to Teresa), and a half-Black great-grandson (from Kelly).
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Collier acts horribly to Kelly after she gets pregnant, to the point that he gets Mistaken for Racist, but as stated in the "Reality" post, there are a ton of incredibly difficult things involved in child-rearing that she's nowhere near mature enough to handle, and he's proven right on several occasions.
    Colliar "Am I the only one here who thinks it's crazy for two teenagers to be having a baby?"
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: Kelly and Ajoni's relationship and eventual marriage is hated by Jimmy, Catherine, and Collier. Collier gets better, especially after he realizes how awfully he had been treating his only daughter and his first grandchild. Catherine does too after Baby Emmett is born, doting on him as any great-grandparent would.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Ajoni's father bluntly suggests that Ajoni isn't the father of Kelly's baby, prompting everyone else, including his own wife, to flip out.
  • Mama Bear: Do not threaten M.E.'s children, or she will go off on you. When her Klan member uncle Jimmy gets wind of Kelly's interracial pregnancy and burns a cross in their front yard, she goes right to his house to confront him.
    M.E.: You sonofabitch, you may have scared me when I was a little girl, but you do not scare me now!
  • Massage of Love: One episode has a childhood flashback of M.E., on the advice of her big brother Johnny, giving Collier a foot massage to show-off what a "good wife" she is. After learning that it was a humorous hoax concocted by the two of them, however, she then pinches one of his toes in response.
  • Mistaken for Racist: Collier's intense dislike toward Kelly and Ajoni sleeping together and the resulting pregnancy is pretty much any father's reaction to his only daughter getting knocked up in her teens when she hasn't even graduated high school. However, both M.E. and Kelly call him out for hating Ajoni because he's black and a few of Collier's angry comments in later arguments don't do him any favors. Ironically, it's Rene of all people who points out the above detail.
  • Monochrome Past: The flashbacks are done this way, although with frequent use of Splash of Color for outfits, objects, etc.
  • Mushroom Samba: In the episode"Tick tick tick" in the 1960's childhood flashbacks, M.E. smokes Theresa's marijuana, mistaking it for a cigarette.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: After Kelly and Ajoni's son is born, Collier admits to M.E. that he'd initially prayed for her to have a miscarriage before realizing what he was doing, and had been tormented by guilt for wanting, however briefly, something so horrible to happen to his child ever since. Shortly afterward when Jimmy dies, M.E., thoroughly tired of Collier's near-racist attitude toward Kelly and Ajoni's pregnancy, pointedly makes him go to Jimmy's house to get rid of all his Klan paraphenalia. Seeing what the older man became forces Collier to fully confront his own prejudices, and he ends up breaking down in tears after returning home.
  • No Periods, Period: Averted. In season 1, a childhood flashback shows 10-year-old Renee getting her period during a simple game of "cops and robbers" and it frightens the both of them. Later, both M.E and Renee's mothers and M.E's sister explain what periods are to them.
  • Not Helping Your Case: Collier wasn't wrong about Kelly and Ajoni not being ready for parenthood, but he could have gotten his point across much more effectively if he had avoided phrases like, "the black kid doing her down the hall." Also played with at one point when M.E. and Collier are talking to Ajoni's parents; he calls Ajoni "your boy" and Ajoni's father reacts to this as you'd expect him to ("Boy" being a standard derogatory term for an African-American man in the South). Collier is quick to protest.
    Reggie: Our boy?
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Mary Elizabeth and Collier's oldest son, Bobby, drowned at the age of five and her brother was killed in Vietnam, thus applying this to her parents.
  • Papa Wolf: Collier is, to put it mildly, not happy to find out that Kelly is pregnant by her black boyfriend Ajoni (Collier grew up in a very racist household, and is shown to struggle against his ingrained beliefs on multiple occasions), but when M.E.'s uncle Jimmy gets wind of this and burns a cross in their front yard, he races across town to Jimmy's house, barges inside, and slams the near-elderly Jimmy against the wall (a confrontation made all the more realistic by Collier's actor having at least six inches and probably 40 pounds on Jimmy's)
    Collier: You ever come near my family again, I WILL KILL YOU, do you hear me, old man?!
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: M.E. walks into Kelly's bedroom, finds her and Ajoni in bed together, and flies into a rage. Colliar is surprisingly much calmer and out of all four parents, is the only one to believe that they were literally only sleeping together (Ajoni needed somewhere to stay after a fight with his parents).
  • Pet the Dog: Despite her uber-bitchiness, Teresa actually had a handful of moments where she stood up for M.E. Particularly in the season 4 episode where she and Rene are groped by several boys, when she tells her that she's sorry that it happened to them, and reveals that she's had to deal with this problem too and even gives them several tips on preventing it.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Uncle Jimmy.
  • Post-Robbery Trauma: M.E. after being mugged at her job—as a security guard, ironically. Especially since the guy stole her keys as well and she's freaked out about her children being home alone. Then after she returns home, she sits up with a gun, genuinely afraid that the guy will break in.
  • Puppy Love: Colliar and M.E. in the flashbacks. Unusually, it matures into the real thing.
    Colliar (to Rene): "Mary Elizabeth and I got married when we were ten!"
  • Quirky Curls: M.E. has very curly red hair that she maintains into adulthood and makes her stand out from the other women, especially in the flashbacks where all the other women and girls wear higher maintenance hairdos of the era.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Rene and M.E. in the Alternate Universe episode. The former dresses like a typical middle-class suburban mother, while the latter looks like a glamorous executive.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Rene's mother fixes her up with the son of one of her friends. The guy becomes obsessed with her after ONE (incredibly dull) date and proceeds to overwhelm her with gifts, roses, and constant phone calls. By the episode's conclusion as she's listening to yet another message from him, it's obvious that she finds his behavior frightening.
  • Straight Gay: Elston Jackson, Rene's older brother, was disowned by his parents for coming out as gay (he reconciles with his mother after his child is born). In both the flashbacks and the present day, he presents as no less conventionally masculine than the other men in the series.
  • The Talk: Kelly resists M.E.'s attempts at giving her this after she finds her and Ajoni in bed together, promising that the two are not sexually active. M.E. is furious when Kelly reveals her pregnancy, essentially admitting that she was lying.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Mary Elizabeth gets pregnant with Bobby at the age of 18. Over thirty years later, her only daughter Kelly gets pregnant with a little boy herself.
  • Their First Time: M.E. is very upset to learn that Colliar slept with someone else—her Alpha Bitch rival, no less—during a time when they were broken up, meaning that they're not each other's first and only lovers, as she'd long believed.
  • This Is Reality: Discussed by Collier when Kelly tried to make amends with him after she got pregnant. Her stance of trying to do better in her life is met by disgust from him, explaining that she has no idea what's in store for her in becoming a mother and that she hasn't taken into account child care, financial support or even what would happen if the child was born sick. Indeed, she and Ajoni struggle considerably once the baby is born.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: The entire O'Brien family save for Uncle Jimmy.
  • Uptown Girl: Rene's detective boyfriend breaks up with her when he can't deal with the fact that she makes more money than him, to the point of not even needing a mortgage to buy a huge, beautiful house.
  • What If?: One episode is a complete Fantasy Sequence exploring this in which the two women essentially switch lives—M.E. is the one who left town only to return years later as a successful writer/newspaper owner who never married Colliar and Renee stayed in town to become a Happily Married mother of two (but still a lawyer, sharing an office with her father).
  • Wham Line: In the season 3 episode where Kelly is trying on prom dressed for homecoming queen, Kelly drops one to her mother Mary Elizabeth:
    Kelly Mom, I have to tell you something.
    Mary Elizabeth: You look great!
    Kelly: Mom, please listen to me!
    Mary Elizabeth: Sweetie, you're glowing!
    (stunned slience between the both of them)