There are plenty of bigwigs in Hollywood. But you don’t get much bigger or much more iconic than Bruce Willis. Now, according to Deadline, the TV show that gave Willis his start in the late 80s, Moonlighting, is now coming to Hulu — all 67 episodes of it.
In the ever-evolving world of television, certain shows leave an unforgettable mark on the industry, setting new standards and paving the way for future generations of television series. One such groundbreaking show was Moonlighting, a clever blend of comedy, drama, mystery, and romance that aired from 1985 to 1989. But if you were born in the 90s or later, it’s possible that you’ve never even heard of this Bruce Willis classic.
Moonlighting is coming to Hulu, giving fans a chance to see Bruce Willis’s breakout role before he became an action star.
Well, that’s about to change. It seems that even 34 years after Moonlighting went off the air, this classic series drew enough popular demand for Disney to figure out a way to get past all the copyright red tape and gain the rights to stream it online.
Starring Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as private detectives, this series not only redefined television genres but also played a pivotal role in shaping the careers of its lead actors.
Moonlighting centered around the cases investigated by the Blue Moon Detective Agency, led by the charming duo of Madolyn “Maddie” Hayes, portrayed by Cybill Shepherd, and David Addison Jr., brought to life by Bruce Willis. The show’s storyline was set into motion by Maddie’s financial downfall, as her accountant embezzled her wealth, leaving her with a collection of failing businesses, including the detective agency. With David’s persuasion, they form a partnership and rename the agency Blue Moon Investigations, capitalizing on Maddie’s fame as the Blue Moon Shampoo girl.
The show’s unique blend of mystery, witty dialogue, and the noticeable sexual tension between Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd immediately drew viewers in. The supporting cast also played a significant role in the show’s success. Allyce Beasley portrayed Agnes DiPesto, the agency’s quirky and rhyming receptionist, while Curtis Armstrong took on the role of Herbert Viola, a junior detective who added depth to the ensemble.
While Bruce Willis wanted to pursue a movie career, Moonlighting was already facing declining ratings, partly because of the end of the “will they or won’t they” tension.
Moonlighting enjoyed both critical acclaim and popularity with viewers — those who were the O.G. fans of Bruce Willis long before Die Hard ever hit the theaters. The series received a total of 16 Emmy nominations during its second season and consistently garnered attention from industry insiders. In its third season, the show reached its peak, ranking ninth in the Nielsen ratings.
However, the show’s ratings began to decline in subsequent seasons. While some attribute this decline to the consummation of the romantic tension between Maddie and David in Season 3’s “I Am Curious… Maddie,” that wasn’t the only thing causing viewers to change the channel. Both Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis began to have priority shifts as Shepherd started a family, and Willis decided to switch his attention to blockbuster movies.
Prior to Moonlighting, Bruce Willis was a relatively unknown actor. His portrayal of Addison in the series gave him the leverage he needed to catapult to stardom. He reached that goal during the last season of Moonlighting when Die Hard was released in 1988.
Bruce Willis’s desire to pursue a successful film career ultimately led to the decline of Moonlighting. As he became increasingly focused on movie projects, his commitment to the show waned.
Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd were breaking the fourth wall in Moonlighting, decades before The Office made it a sitcom standard.
Moonlighting concluded its run in May 1989. Neither of the principal stars, Cybill Shepherd nor Bruce Willis, was fully committed to the final season. Shepherd had recently given birth to twins and was ready to move on from the grueling production schedule, while Willis was eager to continue his flourishing film career.
Throughout the five seasons, Moonlighting gained a reputation for breaking the fourth wall, and the final episode was no different. In the episode titled “Lunar Eclipse,” Maddie and David return to find the Blue Moon sets being dismantled, with an ABC network executive informing them of the show’s cancellation. The characters then race through the studio lot in search of a television producer named Cy, as the world of Moonlighting is slowly deconstructed.
Despite its relatively short run, Moonlighting left a memorable mark on television history. It pioneered the dramedy genre and showcased the power of on-screen chemistry between lead actors Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd.
Moonlighting was a groundbreaking show that combined elements of comedy, drama, mystery, and romance to captivate audiences during its run from 1985 to 1989. The series not only launched Bruce Willis’s career but also revitalized Cybill Shepherd’s. With the remastered episodes set to debut on Hulu, a new generation of viewers will have the opportunity to experience the magic of Moonlighting for themselves, ensuring that its legacy lives on for years to come.