|Unhappily Ever After|
Unhappily Ever After opening sequence
|Also known as||Unhappily...|
|Created by||Ron Leavitt|
|Opening theme||"Hit the Road Jack"|
Performed by Ray Charles
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||5|
|No. of episodes||100 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Ron Leavitt|
|Producer(s)||J. Stewart Burns|
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Touchstone Television|
|Distributor||Buena Vista Television|
|Original network||The WB|
|Original release||January 11, 1995 –|
May 23, 1999
Unhappily Ever After is an American sitcom that aired for 100 episodes on The WB from January 11, 1995, to May 23, 1999, for a total of five seasons. The series was produced by Touchstone Television.
The series was initially supposed to be a starring vehicle for Stephanie Hodge, whose character Jennie was the focus of the first few episodes. The series concept was soon re-worked: Jack (Geoff Pierson), who had been kicked out of the house and was living in an apartment, was brought back home and moved into the basement. Soon Jack, a family man with schizophrenia whose only friend is a talking toy rabbit, became the central character, along with the rabbit, Mr. Floppy. In the first 2 seasons, storylines featured Jennie's mother Maureen Slattery (Joyce Van Patten); when Van Patten left the show, her character was killed off.
By the show's third season, Tiffany (Nikki Cox) became a breakout character and Cox became the de facto co-star of the show along with Pierson. Stories focused on Tiffany and Ryan's high-school, then community-college escapades, and the producers tried to kill off Jennie's increasingly unnecessary character and return her as a ghost; negative audience reaction made them quickly reverse this action. The character was brought back to life in a deliberately bizarre sequence in which a network executive wandered onto the set and announced that she was no longer dead. Nevertheless, Hodge decided to leave the show, and several episodes after Jennie's bizarre reappearance, she abandoned her family for a lesbian lover and was never seen again.
Cox was already signed to star in a new series for the WB when Unhappily... ended, and the final season focused more on Tiffany. A new character joined the cast, Tiffany's rival Barbara Caufield (Wendy Benson). The series wrapped up with a final episode in which Jack finally made enough money to send Tiffany to Harvard University. Once Jack started making money, he no longer needed Floppy and his schizophrenia was cured and Floppy returned to being just a stuffed animal. Jack soon went insane from drinking again and brought Floppy "back from the dead."
- Jack Malloy (Geoff Pierson): An alcoholic, schizophrenic, cynical, depressed man who hates his unhappy marriage and wholly unsatisfying used-car-salesman job. His family gives him little respect, thinking him insane or senile. He converses with a stuffed bunny (Mr. Floppy) that only he can hear. His daughter Tiffany is the only real hope in his otherwise depressing life, though he is unaware of how Tiffany often uses him to her own advantage. He and his wife tend to bicker over trivial things and she seems to dominate him. He doesn't really care about his family (except for Tiffany), as they are the cause of most of his woes. He is the family's sole income source, paying for food, expenses, allowances, and gifts for Tiffany. In season 1 Jack and Jenny separated, but Jack move back home and they both still hate each other. Jack and Jenny officially divorced in season 5. He is similar to Married...With Children's Al Bundy.
- Jennifer "Jennie" Malloy (née Slattery) (Stephanie Hodge): Jack's irritable, promiscuous wife, who gets along with nobody and is prone to jealousy. She is sarcastic, embittered, and judgmental; she verbally abuses Jack and shows her children little compassion. She particularly resents Tiffany, who is everything she never was. She also despises Ryan, because his impending birth compelled her to marry Jack. Jennie is self-centered, mean, and ill-tempered, and she often cuckolds Jack, but hypocritically objects when Jack becomes involved with other women. She "dies" during season 4 and haunts the series as a "ghost" until returning briefly, then leaving permanently, in season 5. She is similar to Peg Bundy.
- Ryan Malloy (Kevin Connolly): Jennie and Jack's firstborn and elder son maintains a happy-go-lucky attitude despite being stupid and disliked by nearly everyone he knows, including his own parents. He occasionally acknowledges how miserable his existence is and comes across as sympathetic; in one episode, his chemistry teacher, Ms. O'Hara, blows herself up after Ryan passes her class; because of a bet about it, she was facing following through with attending a school dance with him. Ryan was visibly distraught at both her death and what it said about how he's perceived. His inability to attract girls and his parents' overt derision of him are recurring themes throughout the series. He manages to have girlfriends, though the relationships are inevitably ill-fated. He has Bud Bundy's personality and Kelly Bundy's low IQ.
- Tiffany Malloy (Nikki Cox): Jack's "favorite," Tiffany is the middle child and only girl and seemingly "perfect": smart, ambitious, popular, attractive, and still a virgin—although she's far from virtuous; she tends to be self-indulgent and manipulative and often takes advantage of Jack's special treatment. Whenever she gets into trouble, she will use Ryan or Ross as a scapegoat. She's also a practicing gold digger. Tiffany's figure has been repeatedly alluded to as a result of her suffering from some kind of an eating disorder. She is an overachiever: she covets success and frequently achieves it. She's extremely opinionated and can be very sarcastic, speaking with deadpan humor. She's similar to Kelly Bundy in terms of personality and attractiveness to the opposite sex, but has Bud's high intelligence.
- Ross Malloy (Justin Berfield): The "forgotten child". The youngest and arguably the most normal family member, Ross is often the voice of reason, common sense, and enlightenment in an otherwise-dysfunctional family. However, certain episodes show that Ross has his own issues. As a result of indifferent parenting, he craves attention, though his attempts usually fail; in one episode he even attempts arson. Despite Jack's lack of concern for him, Ross adores his father, even letting him have his stuffed rabbit Mr. Floppy to keep him company after the divorce. Ross also gets the least airtime, which is the joke of some episodes. Ross dislikes his siblings: Tiffany for being a cruel, selfish attention-seeker, and Ryan for being stupid and annoying. The Halloween episode of the final season mentions that Ross once had a twin, Roz, but in a flashback to a decade earlier, they and Tiffany were left in Ryan's "care" for a weekend, and his carelessness caused something unfortunate to happen to Roz.
- Mr. Floppy (voice of Bobcat Goldthwait, puppeteer Allan Trautman): A smoking, drinking, perverted, gray stuffed bunny who lives in the Malloy basement, often discussing his life in "the toy bin" or his success stories with women, or ranting about cynical topics. Much of the show has Jack consulting Mr. Floppy for advice with Mr. Floppy speaking as a stand-up comic. Only Jack can hear him. While Jack and Mr. Floppy often have differing views, they have similar mindsets, so Mr. Floppy is best seen as Jack's alter-ego. He has a crush on Drew Barrymore.
- Maureen Slattery (Joyce Van Patten) (seasons 1–2): Jennie's alcoholic, overbearing, somewhat-delusional mother who despises Jack (the feeling is more than mutual), but she has even more contempt for her own daughter. She is addicted to prescription drugs. She only appeared in the series' first two seasons. In the episode "The Old West," Jack says she's dead and they buried her in the back yard after looting her corpse.
- Barbara Caulfield (Wendy Benson) (recurring Season 4, starring in Season 5): Tiffany's chief rival and one of Ryan's love interests. She attends Northridge Junior College along with Tiffany and Ryan. She first appears in the fourth season.
- Barry Wallenstein (Ant) (seasons 1–5): Tiffany's openly gay friend at Priddy High.
- Amber Moss (Dana Daurey) (seasons 1–3): Tiffany's vacuous best friend at Priddy High. She is an underachiever and is very promiscuous.
- Patty McGurk (Elisabeth Harnois) (season 2): Tiffany's rival who dresses just as scantily, but is not as bright as Tiffany.
- Muffy (Deborah Kellner) (season 5): Tiffany's best friend at Northridge Junior College.
- Sable O'Brien (Kristanna Loken) (season 3): A strikingly beautiful, extremely popular girl at Priddy High, Sable is Tiffany Malloy's nemesis. Though the two girls are usually antagonistic toward each other, they occasionally cooperate when it's to their mutual advantage. They have several common enemies, including Tiffany's brother Ryan (who "dates" Sable at one point).
- Mr. Dunn (Allan Trautman) (seasons 1–3): The principal of Priddy High.
- Joe Slattery: Jennie's father, Maureen's ex-husband. He owns Joe's Used Car Lot, where Jack is employed. He's often referred to but never seen.
- Emily, Jasper and Annie: The family's pet dogs, seen in the early seasons. Jasper, the bloodhound, makes the most appearances.
- Mr. Monteleone (Oliver Muirhead) (seasons 3–4): Tiffany and Ryan's rude, arrogant English teacher who makes frequent appearances in the later episodes. He hates Tiffany and loves to watch her fail.
- Chelsea (Shonda Whipple) (season 1): Tiffany's nemesis in Season 1.
- Beau/Johnny (Benjamin Shelfer) (season 1-4): Tiffany's love interest. A running gag is he will run into the school cafeteria to make an announcement to his peers.
- Eddie the Neuter Boy (Tal Kapelner) (season 4): A pathetic nerd who is often the victim of physical harm.
- Stoney (Jamie Kennedy) (season 1): a stoner at Priddy High.
|Season||Episodes||First aired||Last aired|
|1||13||January 11, 1995||May 17, 1995|
|2||22||September 6, 1995||May 22, 1996|
|3||22||September 8, 1996||May 18, 1997|
|4||21||September 7, 1997||May 10, 1998|
|5||22||September 13, 1998||May 23, 1999|
The series was created by Ron Leavitt and Arthur Silver, who also worked on Married... with Children. Unhappily was often compared to Married... with Children as both series had similar themes.
Unhappily Ever After was one of the four sitcoms that aired as part of the original Wednesday night two-hour lineup that helped launch The WB network (along with The Wayans Bros., The Parent 'Hood and the short-lived Muscle).
Theme song and opening sequence
When the show first began its run, the original opening started with the "wedding photo" (even though they are moving in it) of the Malloys, with their smiles fading, and showed clips of the father leaving and walking through the slum to his new place. While walking, a man runs by him holding a TV, chased by another man who stops, takes a shooting stance, and fires a gun at the thief. The next clip shows the father as he walks past the first man lying face down, TV near his hands, as he enters his apartment. The theme song played over the opening was Bobcat Goldthwait (and possibly others) singing "We married young, because of cupid. And had three kids, but we were stupid. She kicked me out, she's not my honey. But she still wants me, when she needs money. Now I'm alone, come rain or sunny. But who needs love? I've got my bunny." In the final scene of the final episode, this is the song Jack sings with Mr. Floppy, but with slightly modified lyrics. "I married young, because of cupid. And had three kids, but you were stupid. I could've been rich, instead I'm a loser. But at least we're happy, 'cause you're a boozer. Now I'm alone, come rain or sunny. But who needs love? I've got my bunny."
Beginning with the second season, the series' theme song was "Hit the Road Jack" by Ray Charles; the song is a reference to Jennie kicking Jack out of the house. The opening is a sequence of bizarre events from the first season and the male vocals are lip-synced by Floppy while the female vocals are lip-synced by Jennie, Tiffany and Maureen for Seasons 1 & 2, Jennie and Tiffany for Seasons 3 & 4, and Tiffany, Jack, Ryan and Ross for Season 5. In reruns and syndication, the Season 1 opening was replaced with the "Hit The Road Jack" opening with clips from the show.
Syndication and international airings
The show was sold into syndication for the 1999–2000 and the 2000–01 seasons, but was not re-offered the following fall due to lackluster clearance rates and low ratings. It has been off the air in America ever since.
In the United Kingdom, it was shown on ABC1 between 2004 and 2005.
In Canada, it was seen on Omni Television during the 2006/2007 season.
As of October 2007, it airs on the TV3 network in Estonia as Armastuseta sinu (Yours Without Love).
In Germany, the show first aired on RTL Television in November 1997, was since rerun on RTL II and currently (as of June 2007) airs on Comedy Central on a daily basis. It is titled Auf schlimmer und ewig ("For worse and ever"), a pun on the phrase "Auf immer und ewig" ("Forever and ever").
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