While channel surfing tonight, dh stumbled onto a rerun of "Mad About You," starring Paul Reiser & Helen Hunt. Talk about a bittersweet blast from the past.
"Mad About You" ran on NBC from 1992 to 1999. It was one of our very favourite TV shows -- in part because it so eerily reflected our own lives at the time in so many ways. The characters, Paul & Jamie, appeared to be about the same ages as we were (& in doing some Googling on the show to refresh my memory, I found a Wikipedia entry that actually gives their birthdates as 1962 & 1963 -- dh & I were born in 1957 & 1961). Their New York brownstone apartment reminded us of the midtown Toronto apartment building where we lived for the first five years of our marriage (although their apartment was a lot bigger & nicer than ours). There was so much about their relationship that reminded me of my own marriage. The characters reminded me a lot of my dh & myself (although I look like Helen Hunt only in my dreams...!).
According to this Wikipedia episode guide, Paul & Jamie began talking about having a baby in 1994, at the end of season 2 -- right around the same time dh & I were beginning to seriously think it was time to start a family. Their struggles to conceive (& the strain it placed on their marriage) formed the plotlines of several episodes during season 4 (1995-96), as dh & I were in the early stages of ttc -- with Jamie looking at a pregnancy test & smiling at the very end of the season finale. Baby daughter Mabel was born at the end of season 5 (1996-97), and was still an adorable baby for season 6, which ended in the spring of 1998 -- when I was finally pregnant myself.
For the longest time, the similarities and parallels between me & dh and our marriage, and our TV dopplegangers, seemed to just keep coming and coming. But in August 1998, during summer reruns, our Katie was stillborn. And when season 7 resumed that fall, I found it almost unbearably painful to watch.
Maybe it was for the best that this turned out to be the last season of the series. (Maybe even strangely appropriate.) Still, I did tune in for the series finale in May 1999, in which a grownup Mabel talks about what happened to her family. I didn't like it that Paul & Jamie split up (although they wound up sitting together at the premiere of Mabel's first film).
But there was another moment in the finale, another eerie echo of our own lives, that made me gasp and then sob. As I remember it, Jamie hadn't wanted another child, yet found herself pregnant again. In one scene, she is complaining to Paul that she didn't want to be pregnant again. Then we see Paul coming home (with a stroller, I think? -- some baby-related item) to an empty apartment, finding a note, & dashing out the door. Cut to a hospital bed, where he holds a gown-clad Jamie as she sobs, "I guess I really wanted this one after all."
The episode we were watching tonight was still an early one. I found myself once again laughing at the witty script, & marvelling at how familiar it all seemed. And feeling a little wistful. It seemed strangely removed from the present, the echo of a different place & time.
I'm glad it's back on TV again. It deserves to be found by a new audience that maybe didn't see it the first time around.
But I don't think I have the heart to watch Jamie go through ttc, infertility, & pregnancy & babyhood with Mabel again.