It's A Living and Making A Living

It's A Living (1980-1981, 1985-1989)
Making A Living (1981-1982)
Type: Series Revamp

   I almost don't wanna count this show. It was basically the exact same show from the first episode to the last. They just kept juggling the cast and the title. It started on ABC in 1980 and was supposed to be a clever comedy with some sex thrown in about waitresses working in a fancy restaurant. Fact is though that it had the comedy sensibilities of bad 60's sitcoms - you know, dialogue that sounded like jokes, bad jokes that needed a rim shot from a drummer. And after each groaner you'd hear the laugh track go crazy! And "sexy" seemed to be looked on by the viewers more as "embarrassing and offensive" because they stayed away.

   ABC tinkered with the show for its second season. It was now called Making A Living. This made the theme song a little more awkward. They sang the title as part of it. "Making" just didn't fit neatly into the short spot "It's" had taken. The central character Lois Adams, played by Susan Sullivan, was gone. Lois had been the serious and grounded character amid all the more wacky ones. Susan Sullivan headed over to soapier ground on CBS's Falcon's Crest. Also gone was waitress Vicki Allen. And as the new serious center for the show Louise Lasser of "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman" fame was brought in as waitress Maggie McBurney. The show had been criticized for being a little too heavy on T&A humor and Louise Lasser was meant to help fix the problem. The show now was down to four waitresses instead of five but, ahh, that big busy restaurant only needed four waitresses anyway. The show still flopped.

   Also on the show at one point or another were Ann Jillian (this show put her on the map with her character being one of the better ones), Wings' Crystal Bernard and Moesha's Sheryl Lee Ralph. Sonny Mann, played by Paul Kreppel, was the obnoxious piano bar player/singer. He was the one given the sleaziest and corniest jokes on the show: think Larry from Three's Company but without the subtle character shadings. For those not familiar with Three's Company, that was sarcasm at the end there.

   After getting canned from ABC, the show popped up in first run syndication in 1985 and ran to 1989 under its original title of It's A Living. Louise Lasser, among others, was gone and the show was back to full T&A humor form. It still was cheesy humor but, hey, to be fair it had a decent lengthed run.

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