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More sh*% my sister used to watch : It’s a Living


So's ditch digging, honey..

Imagine these lyrics being shrieked at you as if by 5 middle-aged women you had scorned terribly:

LIFE’S NOT… THE FRENCH RIVIERA!!!!

LIFE’S NOT… A CHARITY BALL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Actually, no need it imagine. Here, check it out:

 

I had no idea at 12 what I had done to piss these women off so much.. but it was good practice to get used to being yelled at with seething resent by various women for reasons I couldn’t fathom.

Anyway, if you recall, I lamented that my sister absolutely adored a terribly cheesy Canadian kid’s show called Today’s Special. And I mentioned that any mere suggestion that the channel should be changed during said show was met with shrieks and wails at incredible decibels. Well, for It’s a Living, the same suggestion of alternate programming was met with similar auditory assaults, along with projectiles and terrorist threats. I guess we were gonna watch the show.

This spritely pile of dung was a dramatization of the lives of 5 or so cocktail waitresses who worked at a snazzy restaurant in L.A.’s Bonaventure Hotel. The main crux of every subplot seemed to revolve around the women warding off the advances of the sleazy piano-man Sonny, played by Paul Kreppel, who according to Wikipedia is “best known” for this role. Bravo, Paul.

Relax toots, It's 1985. "Sexual Harassment" isn't even a thing yet.. What? What'd I say?

Of course, this was 80s sit-com land. So Sonny’s antics are met with canned laughter and considered endearing. Even at 12 I realized that lawsuits and mace were much more likely.

So, as annoying as Sonny was and every insipid mundane plot, which to my recollection always revolved around some rich guy visiting the hotel and wooing one of the “gals,” always leading inevitably to the guy flaking out or being married (ok, so some of the show was believable), things just got dumber and dumber with each successive show.

The presence of Ann Jillian did nothing to lessen the pain..

When a show runs for too long, and this one died and then was resuscitated exclusively for syndication (didn’t know they even did that), you have to up the ante for each show to keep the viewer interested. It’s why every South Park and Simpsons episode has been basically re-hashed 8 or 9 times, but they can slide in some current pop-culture to keep things “fresh.”

But with TV dramas and sitcoms, it’s not as easy. So to keep viewers interested in this one, things just got more and more hysterically stupid. We had: Bomb threats, terrorist-hostage standoffs, drug busts gone bad, CIA surveillance, spy vs. spy action, mafia shoot-outs… The Bonaventure restaurant became the craziest most dangerous goddam place in the country to work. And these gals were undeterred. Hey, it’s a living.

I remember laughing out loud at the sheer stupidity of it all, not to mention every episode was shot with soft soap opera-lighting and community theater understudy acting. There is fun, campy 80s cheese, and then there is pain. This was mostly pain.

Ann Jillian was pretty hot, and she's a cancer survivor.. so there's that.

I desperately wanted to find a clip from the “Hostage” episode.. there was at least one, maybe several. But alas, no luck on the youtubes. So here’s a little taste of the madcap hilarity of: A creepy would-be sex offender pianist, 5 attractive ladies who came to L.A. to be stars and got stuck waiting tables with said creep coming on to them all shift, every shift, their bitchy boss who doesn’t say or do much but gripe about having the most incompetent wait-staff in L.A., a fatherly type chef I don’t remember at all, and the very dangerous unpredictable world of L.A. hotel dining.

The “joke” here in this episode is that these folks have come to dine at the top of a very big hotel, and they are afraid of heights. So the waitress ignores their desperate please to just shut up and take their orders, and does everything in her power to make them lose their shit. This woman is either a sadistic fuck or a complete moron. We are supposed to believe these people work for tips? Anyway, this kind of violent dislogic permeated every excruciating 60 minutes of every show. So have a little taste of what I had to endure for several years, every weekday at 5:30 on TBS.

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2 responses to “More sh*% my sister used to watch : It’s a Living

  1. Matthew

    I remember It’s A Living! By that, I mean that I remember it being on television, but I didn’t understand the whole concept. Obviously I wasn’t their target demographic as a young boy, but it had neither the glamour of a network show nor the grittiness of an independent. I should have appreciated the camp aspects more.

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