It's that time of the year again! This retrospective is part of the Summer of MeTV Classic TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association. Click here to check out the blogathon's complete schedule, and you should visit MeTV's awesome schedule too! And watch the shows! Enjoy!
Laverne DaFazio and Shirley Fenney were originally introduced on the wildly popular sitcom Happy Days in the season three episode A Date with Fonzie (O.A.D. 11/11/1975). As Cindy Williams said, the characters looked like they “dated the fleet,” and Fonzie even politely refers to the duo as “more boisterous than I usually like.” Richie thought they were edgy because Laverne drove without insurance (and beat up Shirley!). They easily stole the show with their hip swinging, easy action ways and soon got a chance to carry a series in 1976 when they were given their own spinoff.
Williams and her costar Penny Marshall had been writing partners in the years leading up working together as actors, and their chemistry was off the charts. While they lost a bit of the trampy innuendo from that Happy Days episode (well Shirley did, Laverne remained a bit aggressive, but in a more innocent way), they played off each other perfectly as best buds in working class 1950s Milwaukee. Focusing on broad physical comedy and wild, cartoonish adventures, Laverne and Shirley became an iconic series that traversed the cultural landscape known as ABC Tuesdays back in the 1970s (where they stayed for the first three seasons, and then returned in 1980 after a few months of ratings woes). ABC's late 70s Tuesday night line up was seminal. During this comedy heyday, the schedule looked a lot like this (with some variations depending on the season, mostly in the 9:30 slot):
Fall 1978:8pm: Happy Days
8:30 pm: Laverne and Shirley
9pm: Three’s Company
Promo for ABC's 1978 Tuesday Night lineup:
And, it was not unusual to see Laverne and Shirley hanging out around the top of the Nielsens, often scoring higher ratings than Happy Days (furthermore, on January 10th, 1978, the girls scored the “largest audience for any TV sitcom ever” with The Mortician, boasting a rating of 37.6, which means they were seen in approximately 27.4 million homes, with an audience of over 60 million viewers! Holy guacamole!). It was hijinks galore and as the show expanded its physical humor shenanigans, it grew not just in popularity but the series also nurtured a devoted fanbase (i.e. me). To its credit (and frankly to the credit of all of ABC’s Tuesday night lineup during the late 1970s), the humor remains wildly relatable and laugh out loud funny.
|These types of Nielsens numbers were not unusual for the dynamic duo!|
|A seemingly improvised moment from the Season 2 episode Steppin' Out|
|I think Laverne's expression speaks to how I feel about Mr. von Mauer's sentiments.|
|Hang in there, baby! We've got your back!|
|The original Angora Debs, minus Rosie Greenbaum.|
|Keepin' it real|
|Life in Hollywood was downright strange!|
Sidenote #2: My choices are also a little boy-centric as well because I’m basically just as boy crazy as Laverne!
And away we go...
|The bed that eats!|
|Lenny and Squiggy let you know when you've hurt their feelings!|
|Cigarette or cracker? Shirley doesn't care!|
|Who wouldn't want to vodeo-do under the table with this guy?!?|
|All washed up? Never!|
Did I say swoon?
|No caption needed.|
Ha! I'm here all week.
Tune into Laverne and Shirley every Wednesday night this summer on MeTV!