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Series / Hearts Afire

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Early 90s hybrid of Dom Com and Work Com, from the creator of Designing Women and starring John Ritter, Markie Post, and Billy Bob Thornton. The show centered around the work and family life of John Hartman and Georgie Ann Lahti.

The first season focused on the initial relationship between the two; Hartman, an aide for the conservative Senator Smithers, has just found out that his ex-wife is now living with another woman. Out of desperation, Georgie, a very liberal journalist, begins working at Smithers' office and moves in with Hartman because she needs a place to stay. Naturally, something sparks between the two and they begin a relationship. Supporting players include brainless secretary Dee Dee Starr, John's two children, his best friend Billy Bob and his wife Mavis, and Georgie's father. They all get into some wacky antics interspersed with brief fits of anviliciousness. John and Georgie marry close to the end of the season.

The two later seasons of the show moved the action from Washington to the Midwest. Billy Bob divorced Mavis and moved to a new town with John and Georgie so that they could start a newspaper together. Practically the entire supporting cast was retooled; though John's children and Billy Bob remained, the rest were shoved aside. In their place we have sassy therapist Madeline, effeminate heterosexual oddball Lonnie, and Billy's mother. Georgie gave birth to a new child in the third season premiere.

Not to be confused with "That's the Way of the World" by Earth, Wind & Fire, which was used as the show's theme song.

This show provides examples of:

  • Author Tract
  • Beta Couple: Billy Bob and Mavis, before their divorce.
  • Brainless Beauty: Dee Dee Starr
  • Catchphrase: Billy Bob's "It's just a rule I have."
  • Celebrity Star: Rush Limbaugh of all people! And surprisingly he comes off pretty well.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: The pilot features an older black woman who is, essentially, Georgie's mammy (though Georgie, being PC, refuses to see it that way). She disappears and is never heard from again; we later hear about how Georgie's father raised her by himself. A lesser example is the Hartman family dog, who appears in the first episode of Season 2 and promptly vanishes, save for an audio-only appearance in a Season 3 episode.
  • Dropped After the Pilot: Georgie's mammy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Series creator Linda Bloodworth-Thomason was always upfront about her liberal ideology and had always planned to make the Southern Democrat senator a Strawman Policial buffoon, but made it a point that the character would refuse money from PACs or lobbyists.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: John and Georgie have sex in their boss's office; he walks in on them, followed by C-Span cameramen. Next season, they make love in a changing room and get banned from the store.
  • MSNBC Conservative: Smither, John, and Billy are Republicans, but they're generally small "c" conservatives who don't have any real issues with "alternative" lifestyles.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: John Ritter as John speaks in his standard style while most of the staffers working for the Senator have Southern drawls. Even John's own children have rather extreme accents.
  • Quitting to Get Married: Played surprisingly straight considering the show came out in 1991. In the first episode John had taken his two sons with him on his date the night before because their regular babysitter had gotten married and stopped babysitting.
  • Real Song Theme Tune: "That's the Way of the World" by Earth, Wind, and Fire was the source of the title and was used as the closing theme for quite a few episodes.
  • Retool: In the second season, the show replaced most of its supporting cast, moved to a new setting, and became a lot less political. It also became more of an ensemble show with more screentime for the supporting players.
  • Sitcom Character Archetypes
    • The Goofball: Lonnie Gar and Strobe Smithers
    • The Square: John Hartman
    • The Precocious: Elliott Hartman
    • The Wisecracker: Madeline
  • Strawman Political: The Republican Senator Smithers is generally portrayed as an idiot, and John and Billy occasionally deteriorated into "Neanderthal Conservative" stereotypes so that they could be proven wrong by their smarter, more liberal wives. Again, this comes with Thomason territory.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Senator Strobe Smithers.
  • The Starscream: Senator Smithers' wife is openly gunning for his seat and his staff do whatever they can to keep her from derailing his position and their careers.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension and Will They or Won't They?: Mostly averted. It only takes a handful of episodes for John and Georgie to do the deed, and they're married by the end of the show's first season.
  • Work Com: Partly. Though the show largely centered on the main characters' home lives, considering several of them also worked together, there was a large focus on both aspects.