Three's Company (1976–1984)

TV Series   |  TV-PG   |    |  Comedy

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Three's Company (1976) Poster

The misadventures of two women and one man living in one apartment and their neighbors.


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Don Nicholl, Michael Ross, Bernard West

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13 March 2006 |
| Back In The Day, The Landlord Lets You Stay, Only If He Thinks You're Gay
In the 1970's it was considered odd for a man to be sharing an apartment with two women. It was almost an invitation to be scrutinized by the public. Now many single guys share living arrangements with one or more girls. In the 1970's being gay was considered very odd or "queer". Now being gay may still put you in a minority, but it is commonplace. "Three's Company" which began its formidable run on ABC in 1977, brought to the forefront these taboo subjects.

A strange man whose name is Jack is found sleeping in the bathtub after a wild party the previous night in the girls' apartment. The girls want him out of their apartment until they find out that Jack (John Ritter) is a master cook, and since their cooking is lousy the girls Janet, (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissy, (Suzanne Somers) ask Jack to live with them. They're working. He's unemployed but being their personal chef will pay his room and board.

Mr. and Mrs. Roper are the landlords of this beach front L.A. apartment complex. Stanley Roper (Norman Fell) is an old fashioned sot who is very much set in his ways. There is no way he would ever allow a man to share an apartment with two women, in his day and age and even this day and age until of course the girls tell him a fictitious story that Jack is 100% "gay".

Stanley's wife of many years Helen Roper (Audra Lindley) quickly discovers that Jack isn't really gay, and kids are only trying to fool her husband into allowing them to share the apartment. But Mrs. Roper couldn't care less. She's more concerned about the lack of action going on in her apartment with Stanley than Jack's possible hanky panky with the girls.

This great 1970's sitcom is carried by two important themes, the gay agenda, and mistaken identities. The first three years of the sitcom with Norman Fell and Audra Lindley the gay theme carried the show. When the Ropers left the show in 1980, and Don Knotts took over as the kids' landlord, mistaken identities dominated the plots. The comedy was based on the characters always overreacting and jumping to conclusions before they knew all the facts about a given situation. I liked Don Knotts as the bumbling bachelor Mr. Furley, but the early shows with Norman Fell and Audra Lindley as the long suffering Ropers were absolute classics.

"Three's Company" was not as good as some of television's best sitcoms plot-wise- namely, "The Honeymooners", "All in the Family" and "Seinfeld", but often times "Three's Company" was a lot funnier than these other three great shows. "Three's Company may not be one of TV's greatest sitcoms, but it was certainly a formidable one. Recently I saw the episode where Jack finds himself in bed with Mr. Roper, and I was balling with laughter, as though I had never seen this episode before.

"Three's Company" basically centers around two important verbal exchanges, the one between Mr. and Mrs. Roper and the one between Mr. Roper and Jack.

Mr. Roper will say something to Mrs. Roper like "What's all that banging upstairs in the middle of the night? It sounds like one of the kids is moving their bed." Helen Roper typically responds, "I only wish you would move our bed like that Stanley."

A typical dialogue between Mr. Roper and Jack:

Roper: "Jack. Helen wanted me to invite you and the girls over for Thanksgiving dinner tonight. You like turkey don't you?" Jack: "Well I like the drumstick. I don't care much for breasts." Roper: "Yeah I know. I've already figured sweeties like you out." Then Norman Fell as Stanley Roper turns to the camera and unleashes one of his goofy classic smiles.

John Ritter was the king of physical and slapstick comedy, beginning from the day his character Jack TRIPPER TRIPPED all over himself trying to leave the bathroom in Janet/Chrissy's apartment. And of course it is classic laugh out loud comedy every time Jack acts openly gay in front of Roper or Furley in order to stand by his cover story that he really is homosexual and needs to cohabitate with these two girls because (a) he can't share an apartment with men, and (b) his relationship with the girls is strictly platonic.

It was classic Ritter physical comedy every time his Jack Tripper character was caught by Roper- or later- Furley making a move on a girl, and he has to cover his hide by pretending to be openly gay and sometimes even sissy-like so he won't be evicted by his landlord. Then of course is the classic Mr. Roper line. "Helen. That guy up there, he better be gay or he's outta here. I'll throw him out on his ear." Roper often suspects Jack is not gay, but Ritter's Jack outwits him with his classic gay mannerisms. Jack eventually tells Mr. Roper he's straight and Roper thankfully doesn't believe it. Roper has so convinced himself that Jack is gay. Mr. Roper says "If you're straight, than I'm the King of Siam, and you're the queen."

"Three's Company was a great back in the day comedy." Norman Fell and Audra Lindley and of course John Ritter formed the unbreakable comic triangle which made the sitcom certainly one of the best of the 1970's, ending its strong run in 1984. "Three's Company" joined "Happy Days" and "Laverne and Shirley" to dominate ABC Tuesday nights the way "The Cosby Show", "Family Ties" and "Cheers" ran NBC Thursday nights in the 1980's.

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