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, Paul (Paul Reiser, who also co-created the series) and Jamie Buchman (Helen Hunt) 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 , but the series managed to wrap up with a truly heart-rending finale. However, the series received a 12-episode limited revival in 2019 as a Spectrum Original (Spectrum being the consumer name for Charter Communications' cable services, including the remnants of Time Warner Cable).
Their dog, Murray, became an Ensemble Dark Horse due to his phenomenal acting talent.
This show provides examples of:
- Accidental Nightmare Fuel: The attempt at a children's video backfires because kids find Paul dressed as the Sandman too scary. Including Mabel!
- Actor Allusion:
- Ursula (played by Lisa Kudrow) compliments Lisa on her name.
- Paul is once asked if he had ever seen the Alien movies. He replies "Just the first one", as Paul Reiser works in Aliens.
- Jamie is invited to play Twister.
- Ursula has a twin sister, Phoebe (see Crossover).
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Both Paul's parents, the Buchmans, and Jamie's, the Stemplers, are overbearing and have a tendency for ridiculous moments.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Zig-zagged; at times Murray was stupid, but in others he was borderline human. There was even a case of Timmy in a Well when Paul and Jamie were trapped in a bathroom.
- 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.
- One cold open had Jamie asking who sang the song that was playing, and a response of "it's Garth Brooks" came from the man himself.
- Regis Philbin, who once caused a rift between Paul and his father when Burt yelled "Hello, Regis!" from a theater balcony.
- Jamie works for James Carville.
- Bruce Willis, who was in the hospital escaping from Die Hard: Just Die Already! as Jamie was giving birth.
- Kevin Bacon shows up to congratulate Jamie and Paul on their pregnancy. Because everyone knows Kevin Bacon!
- Yoko Ono, who Paul asked for advice in making a documentary.
- Baby's First Words: Ira's attempt to get Mabel to say truck results in her first word being schmuck.
- Big Blackout: Caused by Jamie in "Pandora's Box" while attempting to bring cable into her bedroom. It extended to the other NBC sitcoms that night!
- 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.
- Brutal Honesty: The Buchmans are prone to it. No wonder they have weird arguments at times.
- The Bus Came Back: Mark, who leaves Fran and the show but eventually wins her back and his part as regular.
- Catapult Nightmare: Jamie has one of the hilarious kind during the Dream Sequence episode.
- For Paul listing things - "Ok first number 1 (first item) and then B (second item)."
- "Not so much."
- "This is what I'm saying!"
- "It's me, Burt! Burt Buchman—your father!"
- 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. 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.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Lisa, who is constantly spewing nonsense or downright in her own world (once she couldn't even bother to listen to Paul and Jamie warning about how the apartment was rigged to record their daily life... while, among other things, changing her shirt in full view of the cameras)
- 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.
- The Comically Serious: Steven Wright as Warren, Paul's first editor. Along with him being weird, his deadpan delivery makes him very funny.
- Contraception Deception: In the last episode, Jamie convinces Paul to have a vasectomy, then to have the vasectomy reversed, then to have the vasectomy *again*. He doesn't go through with it the last time, and Jamie ends up pregnant ( though she loses the baby in a miscarriage).
- 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 Catchphrase, Paul has a habit of counting to 1 and then B.
- Credit Card Destruction: Happened to Paul twice when he was mistakenly declared dead.
- Crosses the Line Twice: This became a 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.
- With Friends. 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 "Central Perk" coffee shop, see Phoebe and mistake her for Ursula. Phoebe, being a customer and not a waitress, doesn't take their order... which only further convinces them that she's Ursula. (Ursula herself appeared in eight episodes of Friends in addition to 23 episodes of Mad About You.)
- 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 Kramer's friends 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.
- Description Cut: While not immediate, when Paul brings Jamie to Yoko Ono's apartment, he reminds her to not ask anything about the Beatles. When Yoko enters the room, "I Want to Hold Your Hand" is playing full blast.
- Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: 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.
- 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.
- Friends retroactively does this to Ursula, demonstrating that she's actually a selfish, amoral, pathological liar and possibly an outright sociopath, meaning a lot of her ditzy and clueless behaviour might be an act and she's really just callous at best and malicious at worst.
- Disrupting the Theater: While on a double date at a theater, Jamie and Paul are irritated by a young man talking loudly to his girlfriend and shush him. He responds by throwing popcorn at Paul's head, and Jamie tells him to stand up to the guy. Paul does... only to back down when he sees the guy's in a wheelchair. Offended, the guy proceeds to punch him out.
- 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.
- Door Stopper: One episode had Jamie purchasing a huge dictionary from a street vendor. While carrying it to give as a gift later, there are frequent complaints about its weight.
- 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. Once she tried to put out a fire by fanning it!
- Elevator Going Down: Done on the Empire State Building lift, taking advantage of Paul with Viagra and Jamie with only a towel.
- 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.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: Lisa (a Cloudcuckoolander with an unstable love and professional life) and Jamie (a Happily Married, employed, and relatively normal woman), respectively.
- 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.
- Fully Automatic Clip Show: The clip show episodes employ this, specially stringing together moments such as Paul stammering.
- 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).
- Gender-Blender Name: Sometimes they call Jamie "James", and it's unclear whether it is her given name.
- Happily Married: No matter if they have some weird and at times heated arguments, Paul and Jamie are mad about each other.
- Home Porn Movie: One episode revolves around Jamie and Paul's old sex tape getting misplaced and their misadventures to get it back.
- 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.
- Large Ham: Jerry Lewis as a one-episode Eccentric Millionaire, and Mel Brooks as Uncle Phil.
- 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: Paul and Jamie 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: The Riff's restaurant. No matter if the waitress, Ursula, is fairly incompetent.
- Logo Joke: In the closing credits of the episode "It's A Wrap," Paul is arguing with his producer about what to show at the end of the credits. He tells him to "show the guy on the phone" (as we see Paul talking on the phone), "then you have the sound of the race track" (as the In Front Productions logo plays), "the thing with the hand" (the Nuance Productions logo), "and then the stupid horse with the wings" (the TriStar Television logo), concluding with "That'll work." Sadly, because reruns plaster the TriStar Television logo with the Sony Pictures Television logo, the last part of the joke is cut off, though the "That'll work" is kept in.
- 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.
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: The very first episode has Paul and Jamie's impromptu sex in the kitchen, while everyone else is in the living room for a dinner party. That season's finale has it happening again, though this time the guests notice and highlight it.
- 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".
- In a flashback to Paul and Jamie's introduction to each other, Jamie's Forceful Kiss is followed by this non sequitur:
- 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.
- Modesty Towel: Jamie once got trapped outside the gym in one.
- Movie-Making Mess: Paul at times gets in those. Most notably "The Making of The Making Of Titanic", which one of the crewmembers downright complains that could earn a making of itself.
- 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.
- Nice Kitty...: Done to what turns out not be a cat, in the indicatively named episode "There Is a Puma in the Kitchen".
- "No" Means "Yes": Jamie's mother apparently has a problem with being direct, usually saying something that is the opposite of the utterance. Her husband downright says he's been trying to decode her for 37 years.
- 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. To make matters worse, the respective mothers in law don't get along very well either.
- One-Hour Work Week: Presumably Jamie works full time, but Paul seems to be home an awful lot between projects.
- The Oner: "The Conversation" is twenty minutes in real time, in a single take. It gets a massive Lampshade Hanging during the credits, where Paul praises a movie they just watched for a one-shot scene, only for Jamie to not be impressed.
- 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.
- Parental Sexuality Squick: Paul's parents rekindled sex life makes him and Jamie very uncomfortable. Even more when the Buchmans arrive from a trip crazy to have sex, and Burt and Sylvia are already in bed.
- 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!
- Put on a Bus: Mark, but The Bus Came Back.
- Raging Stiffie: When Paul took Viagra. It caused many uncomfortable moments as he wandered the streets looking for Jamie, including being mistaken for a gun.
- Retcon: A few in the revival, given it supersedes the finale in a way. Paul's dad still died, though.
- Rewatch Bonus: If one watches Friends after this and then comes back, a lot of Ursula's ditzy behaviour might look more sinister as from that show you are aware of how amoral and duplicitous the character really is.
- Rummage Fail: Both subverted and exemplified in "Purseona," where Lisa and Jaime accidentally switch purses. The normally disorganized Lisa dips into Jaime's purse and finds exactly the right item at opportune times, while Jaime rummages through Lisa's purse only to find random strange things.
- 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!
- Nat calling Murray by the names of famous people, such as "F. Murray Abraham" or "Murray Magdalene".
- Seinfeldian Conversation: Very, very common, particularly when Paul and Jamie start taking detours from the initial subject.
- Sleepwalking: The season 4 opener had Jamie complimenting Paul on his best sexual performance ever... and Paul notes he can't remember what exactly he did given he was asleep already!
- An aggressive variant: Paul is feeling some unexplained pain. After the couple goes to a sleep doctor, they discover Jamie was punching Paul while both slept!
- Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: Next door neighbors Maggie, Hal (and the other Hal, and then back to the first Hal) Conway.
- 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 about five replacement turkeys (one of whom is thrown out the window) after Murray eats the first one.
- 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.
- The last season had them trying out a charade game to spice up things before dinner. And given Jamie is a Competition Freak, the meal is ruined given the last one (The Thieving Magpie) goes unsolved.
- 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.
- Un-Cancelled: The 2019 revival, though it takes some Broad Strokes with the Distant Finale that was the series closer. (for instance, Paul's father is still dead given the actor did so)
- Video Wills: Jamie's ex Alan leaves one for her, that even includes a pre-recorded argument regarding how they broke up.
- Villain of Another Story: Famously, Ursula was Phoebe's Evil Twin in Friends. Although Mad About You didn't touch on Ursula's evilness, but rather on her ditzyness.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Hank Azaria's Nat, the dog walker. His accent work is to die for!
- "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: A few, including the flashback to Paul and Jamie's wedding called... "Mad About You".
- You Are Already Checked In: A comedy variant: Jamie was going back to school, but Paul had forgotten to send in her registration forms. So he, Ira and Jamie's friend Fran stealth sign her up for all the classes she wanted on the last day of registration, getting signatures from the teachers of the classes in question, and all had to get photo IDs taken, claiming they were Jamie Buckman.