EXCLUSIVE: Marshall Herskovitz and Ed Zwick’s beloved 1987 drama series thirtysomething is making a comeback. I have learned that the duo is pitching a new incarnation of the show, which is garnering interest from multiple networks, including ABC, which aired the original series.
Written by thirtysomething creators Herskovitz and Zwick and to be directed by Zwick, I hear the followup series revolves around the children of the characters in the original show, which are now 30-something themselves. I hear the intention is for original cast members to reprise their roles but no one is set yet and there have been no formal talks.
The project hails from MGM TV, the studio behind the original series, which ran on ABC for four seasons.
Thirtysomething was a seminal series that captured the angst of the baby boomer generation and its struggles with real-life issues such as career, relationships, marriage, having kids and parenting. It centered around Michael Steadman (Ken Olin), his stay-at-home wife Hope Murdoch (Mel Harris) and their baby Janie. Melanie Mayron, Timothy Busfield, Patricia Wettig, Peter Horton and Polly Draper also starred in the series, which won 13 Primetime Emmy Awards, out of 41 nominations, and two Golden Globe Awards over the course of its four-season run.
In addition to Janie, the kids on the original show also included Janie’s younger brother Leo, and Nancy (Wettig) and Elliot’s (Busfield) children Ethan and Brittany. There was also the mystery surrounding the prediction that Melissa (Mayron) would have a child that was never resolved on the 1980s series.
During a thirtysomething reunion at the 2018 ATX TV festival, Herskovitz and Zwick recalled how, in a TV era dominated by medical, cop and legal franchises, they created a simple show about the relationships between baby boomers in Philadelphia.
“It wasn’t written like a TV show,” Draper said at the event. “It was different from what I had seen before. This bridged the gap [between film and TV] and changed the whole course of TV history.”
The series pushed boundaries with episodes that were a “meditation upon a theme” and tackled struggles of everyday people — financial woes, losing businesses, terminal illness, deaths of friends — and how it affected their relationships. The show was also groundbreaking in that it was one of the first primetime series to show two gay men in bed together, further paving the way for representation on the small screen.
Because of thirtysomething‘s history on ABC, it is not surprising that the network is pursuing the followup series, which is still being pitched to other outlets and is expected to secure a big commitment. ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke has listed thirtysomething among her favorite series and, when talking about her development goals, she has said that she would like to put on the air a show in the vein of thirtysomething.
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