3 thoughts on “The Strange Cultural Setting That Gave Us the Sitcom The Occasional Wife

  1. I may be showing my youth (at age 40), but I always found the premise behind “THREE’S COMPANY” to seem like a similar odd cultural setting thing regarding a “faked” arrangement to please some busybody authority figure. While I know landlords are legally allowed a lot of discretion as to what kinds of tenants they can have, which historically was usually used to make it harder for people of color to move into neighborhoods, by 1977 that was on the wane and less socially tolerated. It really is no landlord’s business if two unmarried women tenants want to have a male roommate, and I imagine any landlord who got that nosy about his tenants would have been sued, even in 1977. Then the show ran until 1984 when that sort of thing was really out of place, even in the Reagan era (especially in Santa Monica, California, for Pete’s sake). I know the show was deliberately a farce, but in practice all that premise allowed for was a lot of “gay panic” jokes which were awkward whenever I watched the show in syndication as a kid and REALLY are awkward now. I always got the feeling that beyond for aping a British sitcom (from 1973), the premise was at least a half decade too late to be as relevant.

    Nowadays mixed gender roommates are no big deal; in fact they’re common in virtually any urban setting, especially with high rents and low wages (and younger generations being more tolerant than their parents and grandparents).

  2. Generally speaking, of course the stigma is almost non-existent now, but I think there’s still some…if not STIGMA, at least a tendency to not have mixed gender roommates. But yes, certainly not something you could hang a premise of a sitcom on anymore.

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