When they started promoting this new TV show "Hot in Cleveland" a few years ago, I was really looking forward to it. I'm a sucker for a good gal-pal comedy, and I like all the stars, especially Valerie Bertinelli, who made an indelible imprint on my psyche as the 16-year old daughter on that 70's show "One Day At A Time". So I was a little disappointed the first time I caught an episode to find that the writing was a little juvenile. But today I caught an episode that I thought was brilliant. It was the one where Wendy Malick's daughter comes back and Valerie and the British girl end up in a Bachelor-parody competition run by her ex's nine-year old son. I thought it was great...good on you, girls.
Anyhow, there are a couple of important sociological observations that need to be made in connection with this show, and now is as good a time as any to make them.
First there is the Betty White connection. Betty of course was part of the original cast of "The Golden Girls". The Golden Girls was a very different show. Those women were old, not hot. Well, Rue McLahan was pretty hot, but it was "old-lady hot", not Valerie Bertinelli hot. You couldn't write a plausible Golden Girl episode where any of them took up romantically with a forty-year old stud, while that would be totally believable for any of the Cleveland cast.
What is shocking is to realize that the cast of Hot in Cleveland is almost the same age as the cast of Golden Girls when it went on the air! There has been an enormous change in the way society perceives older women over the last thirty years, and I think it is just great. We used to consider a woman old at forty. Those days are thankfully gone. I remember being shocked when Joan Collins on Dynasty looked sexy at fifty. No one is shocked by that any more, and I say it's about time.
My second observation is not so positive. In checking out Valerie Bertinelli's background, I noticed something I had forgotten: she was married to heavy metal guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Why do the most beautiful girls fall for those idiot rockers? Pamela Anderson married the drummer from Motley Crue. A drummer! That's not even a musician. But nothing hurt more than seeing Heather Locklear....oh my god....I just had to look it up....I knew she married a drummer but I didn't know it was the same drummer as Pamela Anderson.
I can't take it any more. I'm going to have to stop here.
EDIT: I remembered one more thing I wanted to mention, on the subject of so-so sitcoms with one brilliant episode. I was flipping through channels one day a few years ago when I caught the tail end of a Drew Carey episode that appeared to be a full-blown musical parody of "How To Succede In Business (Without Really Trying)". I'd really like to see that whole episode.