Jan 13, 2013

Love, American Style


In November 1966, my bedtime changed from 7:30  to 8:00, and a dozen beefcake and bonding shows were opened up for me:  It's About Time, Run Buddy Run, Time Tunnel, and My Three Sons, 

In November 1969, my bedtime changed from 8:00 to 9:00, and I felt terribly grownup as I watched Mission: Impossible, Hawaii Five-0, It Takes a Thief -- and Love American Style.  

It was an anthology show.  Every episode had 3 vignettes about heterosexuals interested in having sex with each other.  Bosses chased secretaries around the office. A plumber seduced a coed.  A wrong number turned into romance.

Sex was on everyone's mind, the unspoken impetus to every action.  No one ever had any, but they often planned to, as Hollywood mirrored the sexual revolution.  In the end the traditional "no particulars until your wedding night" was affirmed.

It was fascinating, a glimpse into a completely alien world.  There was nothing like this on The Brady Bunch or The Partridge Family.

Yet it was familiar and comfortable, due to the endless parade of guest stars that I knew and liked from other programs: Davy Jones, Bill Bixby, Don Grady, Ted Bessell, Tony Randall (left), Barry Gordon (below).







The adults all insisted with knowing grins that in a few years I would be joining their motley crue, with my own tongue-lolling machinations after girls, so I watched to get a glimpse of my future.

And I found:

1. Beautifully decorated apartments, groovy threads, a world of light and color.






2. Beefcake.  The men were always taking their shirts off.

3. Buddies.  While the protagonist quested after girls, his quiet, loving best friend stayed home and waited.  So wherever I went in life, at the end of the day there would be a man waiting.





In the first episode I saw, "Love and the Dating Computer" (November 3, 1969),  a mixup at a computer dating service matches two men, Francis (Broderick Crawford, right) and Marion (Herb Edelman, left).  They have everything in common -- they are perfecly matched  -- except for that little matter of being of the same sex.  But maybe that was what they were looking for all along.

See also: Love Boat/Fantasy Island