Love Is On the Air

(Reposted from 2/13/13 MediaPost article by Karen Herman with permission)

In time for Valentine’s Day, the Archive of American Television opens its vault to find out what our interviewees had to say about some of TV’s classic relationships:

Writer Sam Denoff on “That Girl” Here were these two people who were in love, which made the show work. People remember more about Donald and Ann Marie than all the things that she got into, which is the secret of all the great shows. “All in the Family,” “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Honeymooners,” “I Love Lucy” were all love stories….

I don’t think any episode mentioned, “Shall we do it?” It wasn’t if they did or didn’t — it wasn’t important.

There was a responsibility to each other that made for the comedy. “I want to do something, but will he or she be mad?” That’s why marriage works, because it’s a comedy.

Actress Jean Stapleton on “All in the Family”On the surface, Archie was that incredible, ignorant bigot — but Edith saw more than that.  Edith was in love with this man. We had some tender moments that were dramatized, perhaps more off-camera…The whole substance of their marriage is something that was probably very sweet.

Actress Tyne Daly on keeping it real with Mary Beth Lacey’s husband on “Cagney & Lacey”We weren’t beautiful, and we weren’t invested in being beautiful…. It was an idealized marriage, but it was a blue-collar marriage. They weren’t the folks on The Hill, they were the folks on the couch. And they conflicted nicely. They fought fair.

Producer Aaron Spelling on “Starsky and Hutch”We said many times, it was the first heterosexual [all-male] love affair on television. Paul Michael Glaser’s character loved hamburgers, all that jazz, and David Soul liked French food.  They disagreed about everything, but they were really terrific together. It was their relationship more than the cases.  It had lots of humor in it. It wasn’t just car chases.

Actress Isabel Sanford on the love between “The Jeffersons”Louise kept George in tow. That’s how it lasted that long. George really loved Louise. He was hotheaded, but he listened to her. Whether he thought he had the last word or not, she had the last word. That’s how that marriage lasted as long as it did.  Nobody would put up with George like Louise!

Actress Suzanne Pleshette on the mature love of “The Bob Newhart Show”– Bob and Emily Hartley were a unique couple, something that had never been on television. First, we were a married couple who loved each other. We did not denigrate each other. We were partners; we were equals. We were smart and both working.  There were no children to teach us lessons. Howard, our next-door neighbor, was our child, in effect.

We were obviously sexual. I’m very demonstrative, [and] Bob hates that [but] he was obliged to endure it, and that became something wonderful about our relationship.

Creator Phil Rosenthal on why “Everybody Loves Raymond,” including Debra — People say Debra’s so mean to him. But we always felt [that] she’s justified, she has every right to yell at him. She’s doing it all, and she doesn’t get a break.

When we analyze it, what does keep a couple together? I think what… keeps us with that other person more than anything, is not the physical; it’s the common sense of humor.  It’s that you laugh at what I say and I laugh at what you do and we both find the same things funny….

I feel like it’s never really mentioned, but Debra loves Ray because he’s fun…. Comedy’s conflict — but every once in a while, he makes her laugh. And you get it.

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