Once and Again was a drama series created by Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz, who also were the driving force behind thirtysomething and My So-Called Life, and it starred Sela Ward, Billy Campbell, and Evan Rachel Wood, among others.
Rick Sammler, a divorced architect, and Lily Manning, a soon-to-be-divorced salesperson, Meet Cute when Lily takes her daughter Grace to see the school doctor during a soccer game while Rick is waiting with his son Eli to see the principal. They soon become romantically involved, but their relationship is complicated not only by their children (they each have two; Rick's son Eli and daughter Jessie, while Lily has two daughters, Grace and Zoe), but also their respective exes (Jake and Karen).
The show ran for three seasons (from 1999-2002) on ABC, and while it didn't earn the acclaim of their previous show My So-Called Life, it was praised for its handling of the teen characters, and was probably the show that first brought Mischa Barton and Evan Rachel Wood to people's attention. The show was also known for having the characters speak their innermost thoughts in black-and-white segments scattered throughout each episode.
This show provides examples of:
- Almost Kiss: Eli and Grace have one of these before Jessie interrupts them.
- BrotherSister Incest: Downplayed on Eli's part, but while Grace's feelings for him fluctuate throughout the series, there's still a pretty strong Incest Subtext there.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Tiffany.
- Cool Big Sis: Zoe thinks Jessie is this...at first.
- Grace and (briefly) Jessie see Judy as this as well.
- Crossover: Miles Dentrell from thirtysomething appears as a recurring character here. Until he kicks it.
- Darker and Edgier: While Season 1 had its heavy storylines (Eli having trouble with reading and concentrating in school), it balanced it with lighter moments. Season 2, on the other hand...
- The Glorious War of Sisterly Rivalry: Lily and Judy have this throughout the series. Grace and Jessie have this to a lesser extent in Season 3 - or at least, Grace feels this way.
- Grey and Gray Morality: Just as in My So-Called Life, everyone is portrayed as having their faults and their virtues. The worst on the show is Miles Dentrell, and even he gets to show a human side.
- Heroic BSoD: Jessie has one when she finds out Karen was hit by a car.
- Hostage Situation: In the Season 2 episode "The Other End of the Telescope", a busboy at Jake's restaurant (played by Brian Krakow) takes the restaurant hostage after Jake fires him.
- I Have This Friend...: Subverted in the Season 2 episode "Best of Enemies"; when Grace brings up anorexia, Judy thinks Grace is having problems with it, but Grace is actually talking about Jessie.
- It's All About Me: Lily, big time.
- Literary Allusion Title: Various episodes are named after either songs (Season 2 episodes "Wake Up,Little Susie", "The Other End of the Telescope") or movies (Season 1 episode "My Brilliant Career", Season 2 episode "Thieves Like Us"), and even plays ("Love's Laborer's Lost") or poems ("Ozymandius 2.0").
- Loads and Loads of Characters: In addition to Rick, Lily, their children and their exes, there's also Lily's sister Judy, Rick's co-worker David (at least until he was Put on a Bus) and several others with recurring roles.
- MayDecember Romance: Karen and Leo are a Gender Flipped version of this trope, until Leo gets Put on a Bus.
- Karen seemed to be getting involved in another one of these in Season 3 with Henry.
- My Beloved Smother: Both Eli and Jessie see Karen as this.
- No Periods, Period: Averted with Jessie; when she gets her first period (in the first season episode "There Be Dragons"), there's no attempt to make this a Very Special Episode, as both Rick and Karen have an appropriate response, and when Jessie gets angry at her father later that episode, there's no connection.
- Also, there's an episode where Lily thinks she might be pregnant, but it turns out to be a false alarm. She finds out she's pregnant in the season finale, though.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: In one of the black-and-white segments, Grace gushes about how cool Judy's life has been, and mentions Judy was once involved with a Doobie Brother - "whatever that is."
- Put on a Bus: David, as well as the ex-boyfriends of Karen (Lloyd Lloyd and Leo) and Judy (Sam Blue and Will Gluck), Eli's ex-girlfriends Jennifer and Carla, and Jake's ex-girlfriend Tiffany.
- The Bus Came Back: Sam and Tiffany.
- Schoolgirl Lesbians: Jessie and Katie.
- Shout-Out: In "Best of Enemies", Judy gives Jessie a copy of the book The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, which she said helped her get through high school.
- Teacher/Student Romance: Ultimately averted, but Grace does develop strong feelings for Mr. Dimitri throughout Season 3.
- There Are No Therapists: Subverted with Jessie - as she's sent to see Dr. Rosenfeld in Season 2 - but played straight with the other characters, particularly Grace.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Eli in Season 3. He got better, though.
- Unfortunate Names: Karen's boyfriend for part of Season 1 was Lloyd Lloyd. Lampshaded by Eli, Jessie and Rick in Season 1, and by Judy in Season 2.
- Wild Teen Party: In a season 1 episode, both Eli and Grace (without Lily knowing) end up attending a teen party, during which a classmate of theirs accidentally overdoses. Judy agrees to keep it a secret, but Rick ends up telling Lily about what happened anyway.
- Your Cheating Heart: The reason why Lily divorces Jake in the first place.