Follow TV Tropes


Series / Mad About You

Go To
Tell me why I love you like I do,
Tell me who can stop my heart as much as you,
Let's take each other's hand as we jump in to the Final Frontier!
I'm mad about you baby...

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:
  • 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!
  • Big Blackout: Caused by Paul in "Pandora's Box".
  • Advertisement:
  • Birthday Hater: Paul always has terrible birthdays.
    Paul: Ouch.
    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: Plenty of episodes never left Paul and Jamie's apartment, and since most of the series was about everyday married life it was wholly appropriate. One episode however ("The Conversation") never left a single camera angle.
  • Brother Chuck: Selby.
    • Lampshaded in an episode in one of the later seasons when they pause to wonder whatever happened to him, then the episode goes back to whatever it had been about.
  • 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!"
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Not quite a romance, but "Natural History" has a flashback that reveals Paul and Jamie once met at the Natural History Museum (during a blackout) when they were little kids.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Selby, Paul's best friend in the first season, disappears without explanation afterwards.
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: They abstain from sex to wait for the perfect time for conception. During this period, basically everything they see or hear reminds them of the deed.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Mel Brooks guest-stars as Uncle Phil (no relation) in a few episodes.
    • Sid, Paul's editor, too.
  • Counting to Potato: As mentioned under Catch-Phrase, Paul has a habit of counting to 1 and then B.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: This became a invoked Discussed Trope in "On the Road" when Paul tried to justify his joke of calling Marvin a sissy after Marvin shared a personal secret. Paul claimed it was this trope (not literally referencing this trope by name but giving a pretty close description), when everyone else seems to think it's just crossing the line once.
  • Crossover:
    • 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 Jamie "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 Dick Van Dyke Show, when Carl Reiner guest stars as his DVDS character Alan Brady.
  • 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 accidentally 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. Before it's over, they're semi-lucidly dreaming that their living room has been taken over by a party sketch from Laugh In.
  • Dumb Blonde: Ursula, the waitress who even struggles to take the Buchmans' orders.
  • 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 dies on-camera screaming "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).
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Lisa and Jamie, respectively, and how.
  • Foreshadowing: Paul and Jamie both dream about him getting it on with his gorgeous boss Allison. By the season's end, he nearly sleeps with another woman (ironically, not Allison).
  • Forgotten First Meeting: In "Natural History," a flashback shows Paul and Jamie once met at the Natural History Museum (during a blackout) when they were little kids. They aren't quite sure they had both been at the same museum at the same time until the very end of the episode.
  • 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.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Ira attempts to bribe a college professor into letting Jamie into his class. When Ira asks what he teaches, the professor coolly replies, "Ethics." In their very next scene, the professor is taking Ira's money and approving Jamie's entry into his class.
  • Kavorka Man: Ira. Lampshaded when he accidentally catches sight of 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."
  • Last Resort Takeout: * In one Thanksgiving Episode, Jamie tries to make a turkey but the dog eats it, so she buys a precooked turkey from the local deli. She then has to buy several more because they keep getting destroyed, including one that gets thrown out of the window when her in-laws almost catch her bringing it in.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: They struggle to conceive for an entire season despite nothing being wrong with either of them. They conceive when making love to reconcile after their estrangement.
    • The finale has them conceiving again after deciding not to have any more children and Paul's subsequent vasectomy (which it turns out he didn't get). Although initially not pleased, they're devastated when she miscarries.
    "It turns out. . .I wanted it."
    "Me too."
  • 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
  • Millennium Bug: One episode had Paul dreaming of meeting Albert Einstein and being given a mathematical problem, which he is convinced that will solve the Y2K problem.
  • 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.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Paul's mother constantly takes subtle and not-so-subtle potshots at Jamie. Especially bad as Paul's father adores her, and Jamie's parents (despite their own smothering and manipulative ways) like Paul.
  • 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!
  • Paranormal Episode: The series had an incident like this where the place where the couple met had burned down. Then they wind up in a world where they never met, and the pair soon forget about each other for an unexplained reason.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Paul's mother excels at this when dealing with Jamie. Case in point, she gushes to Jamie about how wonderful her sister Lisa is, then declares, "You two are so different!"
  • 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, and then back to the first Hal) Conway.
  • Something Completely Different
  • Special Edition Title: "Speed Baby".
  • Successful Sibling Syndrome: Jamie's sister Lisa is much less successful than Jamie is and is insecure over it — all the more so because Jamie is the younger sister.
  • 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.
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted. They see one after marital problems and despite having ostensibly reconciled, they realize there are still unresolved issues. Lisa also mentions seeing one.
  • 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.
    • The Conways were discovered to be spies and deported back to England. No-one there likes them, either.
  • Whole Episode Flashback
  • Your Cheating Heart: Very closely subverted. Jamie kisses her co-worker. When she confesses to Paul, he admits that he came very close to going home with a woman he met at an event. The mutual near-infidelities force them to admit that they're having serious problems and they nearly break up. Paul is even goaded by his friends into performing the Trope Namer song at a karaoke bar in that episode.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: The school girl Paul sees on Ovulation Day.