We were pleased to encounter some well-earned commendations for Bosom Buddies this week, from two relatively varied sources. First, in the AV Club‘s truly excellent Primer on 1980s sitcoms, they list Buddies as one of the cult hits from the decade that played with traditional sitcom conventions. Article scribe Todd VanDerWerff continues:
Bosom Buddies, which debuted on ABC in the fall of 1980, has a reputation as one of the worst shows of all time in some circles, but it’s actually a surreal work of near-genius and the only good show to ever emerge from the Miller-Boyett factory. Miller-Boyett assigned a young writer named Chris Thompson to work on a TV spin on Some Like It Hot, and he cast Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in the lead roles…Thompson, who would go on to work on The Larry Sanders Show, filled the series with strange sight gags and mostly abandoned his central premise as soon as he possibly could. The show allowed Hanks and Scolari to improvise freely, often leaving the script for far funnier, stranger tangents.
Some might question the rank of “near-genius,” but we’re here to defend it. We recently used Blizzpocalypse as an excuse to revisit the series, and it’s impressive how well it holds up. And, as a bonus, there are jokes that I didn’t get upon first viewing that, with the benefit of age and wisdom, I now understand (although, there are still others I didn’t get then and don’t get now). However, we’re not exactly sure that we’d qualify the program as “surreal;” certainly, the premise that Hanks and Scolari, in the roles Kip and Henry, were required to dress in drag in order to maintain residence at a “hotel for women” was somewhat off-beat for the time, but, as the writer mentions, since the show was loosely based on Some Like It Hot it’s not exactly a novel premise. But VanDerWerff is right on when he notes that they wisely jettisoned the drag plotlines, in favor of letting the talented cast (including Holland Taylor, Wendie Jo Sperber, Donna Dixon and Telma Hopkins) utilize their immense chemistry and crack timing in more successful, less gimmicky storylines.
(we urge you to go over to the AV Club and read the comprehensive essay as soon as you finish this post. You’ll need to set aside a good 20 minutes, more if you want to watch the accompanying videos (primary source materials), but it’ll be worth it. And be certain to also study their 1970s sitcom Primer, either before or after (however, we do take umbrage with the 80s Primer’s criticism of the shows that comprised TGIF. Certainly, those sitcoms don’t represent the best the decade had to offer, but they have their redeeming qualities. However, that’s a defense for a later post.))
After discovering that lovely praise for Bosom Buddies yesterday, we’re were delighted to check our Twitter today and find this Tweet from the lovely Mindy Kaling:
We have to assume that at least a fair portion of Kaling’s 1,266,036 Twitter followers have either never seen or never heard of Bosom Buddies, so we appreciate her getting the word out, letting people know that the show a) exists and b) was really, really good. Once again, we do have to stress that it was the superb ensemble cast (and often terrific writing) that elevated the show beyond its tenuous premise. However, that being said, it’s clear that Hanks was a star in the making, and watching him in his acting infancy on Buddies is a true joy.
And what would this post be without one of our favorite Bosom Buddies clips?
(and, yes, we know that after extolling the virtues of the whole cast we went ahead and offered a clip that only features Hanks and Scolari, not to mention that we embedded this clip a few weeks back, but, unfortunately, it’s pretty slim pickins for Bosom Buddies videos on the web. And these scenes definitely showcase some of Hanks and Scolari’s finest work on the series)