The Only Sitcom With A Realistic Series Finale

By Charlene Badasie | Published

Mad About You was a popular sitcom that aired on NBC from 1992 to 1999. The show starred Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt as Paul and Jamie Buchman, a newly married couple living in New York City. Reiser created the show, which focused on the Buchmans’ day-to-day lives as they navigated the ups and downs of their relationship.

Paul was a documentary filmmaker, while Jamie worked in public relations. Unlike other sitcoms that end happily, Mad About You ended on a more realistic note.

The 90s Hit Mad About You

In the series finale, “The Final Frontier,” which was a nod to its theme song, it is revealed that the once happily married couple had separated. The story jumps years into the future and is told by Paul and Jamie’s 23-year-old daughter, Mabel.

A filmmaker like her father, Mabel, made a movie about her parents. It begins on their 8th wedding anniversary when the couple realizes their marriage isn’t legally binding because the minister who officiated their wedding was never ordained.

Never Actually Married

Despite this startling revelation, Mabel recounts how her parents rectified the situation by hastily arranging a wedding on the same date as their faux marriage to preserve their anniversary. However, the process was far from straightforward. Mabel also chronicles the eventual dissolution of her parents’ marriage, attributed to a blend of emotional turmoil from a miscarriage and the gradual drift between them. 

The unexpected finale revelation was not too surprising since Mad About You had always been praised for its realistic portrayal of a modern marriage in the 90s. However, the series was considerate of viewers who may have preferred a less gloomy ending as Mabel details an instance that brought her parents back together.

Fell In Love, Fell Out Of Love

It happens at the screening of her film, “Stabbing Bob,” where the family conspires to have the separated couple sit beside each other. After the film Paul and Jamie realize their relationship may not be completely dead. 

Mad About You was a critical success throughout its eight season run, winning multiple Emmy Awards, including four for Helen Hunt as Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series. For the final season, both actors were paid $1 million per episode, a record at the time. In 2019, a limited revival series was released on Spectrum Originals, with Reiser and Hunt reprising their roles as Paul and Jamie.

Revival Starts Before The End

The Mad About You revival begins somewhere between Season 7’s penultimate episode and the series finale, rendering the couple’s separation irrelevant to the story. The 12-episode series begins with an 18-year-old Mabel heading off to college while Paul and Jamie prepare for life as empty nesters. In the final episode of the 2019 run, Mabel tells her parents that she decided to drop out of school temporarily to help conservationists clean up plastic from the Pacific Ocean.

Sitcom Canon Is A Tricky Thing

Paul and Jamie express disappointment and initially attempt to dissuade Mabel from her unconventional path. However, they eventually accept her decision, and the Mad About You revival ends with Paul surprising Jamie by fulfilling her long-held desire for a vacation in Tahiti, symbolizing their embrace of newfound freedom as empty nesters.

It’s unclear if the series will continue within the same timeline. If it does, the writers would further explore what led to the couple’s separation, as the Season 7 finale is still canon.