The Bizarre 90s Sitcom That Broke The Fourth Wall Has Been Erased From History

By Jonathan Klotz | Published

Back in 1995, a new broadcast television network was launched, The WB, and despite having the financial backing of Ted Turner, every single show looked like it had a budget roughly equivalent to a college production of Hamlet.

One of the highlights of the initial launch was Unhappily Ever After, a sitcom from Ron Leavitt, the same man behind Fox’s smash hit, Married…With Children. While the two shows were similar on the surface, Unhappily Ever After has become more famous for the backstage drama than anything that was put on screen.

The Spiritual Sequel To Married…With Children

Unhappily Ever After was about a highly dysfunctional family featuring the mom, Jennifer (Stephanie Hodge), as mean-spirited, judgmental, and hateful towards everyone for different reasons. The father, Jack (Geoff Pierson), is a schizophrenic alcoholic who frequently seeks life advice from Mr. Floppy, a stuffed bunny voiced by Bobcat Goldthwait. There are three kids: the not-bright Ryan (Kevin Connolly), the perfect Tiffany (Nikki Cox), and the forgotten, most normal child, Ross (Justin Berfield).

It sounds like a fairly standard sitcom setup, even if it’s a little mean-spirited. So how did this show go so far off the rails that, in-universe, a WB executive appeared on camera to reverse the death of one of the characters?

Bobcat Goldthwait Stole The Show

For starters, despite the low-budget appearance and often laughably bad acting, Unhappily Ever After was a success. The series ran for over 100 episodes and five seasons, hitting the magical number needed to run in syndication. Ron Leavitt’s production team was also in tune with viewers, making changes each season based on viewer feedback, such as having Jack move back into the house and developing more stories centered on Ryan and Tiffany.

Ghost Mom

The problem was that as the show went on, and the spotlight shifted from Jennifer and Jack to the kids, it became more about high school and college adventures than the dysfunctional family. As a result, in Unhappily Ever After Season 4, Jennifer is killed off-screen with the explanation that she fell asleep in a tanning booth and started haunting the family as a ghost. To say that the audience didn’t receive this well would be an understatement.

Breaking The Fourth Wall

The Unhappily Ever After writers knew this would happen, as they reversed course in the next episode by having a WB executive walk on set and announce that the storyline wasn’t working, so Jennifer returned alive (following a failed exorcism). Stephanie Hodge left the show after the season, with the excuse given that she ran away with her lesbian lover, but the damage was done. It remains the strangest moment on an already strange sitcom.

Impossible To Find Today

Audiences accepted a schizophrenic dad talking to a stuffed bunny, but a ghost mom was a bridge too far. Granted, part of that could be that Bobcat Goldthwait had all the best lines as Mr. Floppy, often acting as a crass version of Wilson from Home Improvement.

If you want to see Nikki Cox start her career as a brainy Honors student or enjoy the life advice of Mr. Floppy, you can’t. Not only has Unhappily Ever After never been on a streaming service, but it also never had a DVD release. For now, the sitcom will remain a strange fever dream that seems too weird to have ever existed.