25 October 2006 | lambiepie-2
A good series the network didn't stick with
This was one of my favorite television shows as a teen.
It was different - in as much as it centered in on the lives of waitresses at the an upscale restaurant which I knew was the Bonneventure Hotel in Los Angeles. The ABC Network used this as a vehicle for actress Ann Jillian and casted around her red head actress Barrie Youngfellow, Gail Edwards Susan Sullivan and Wendy Schaal. Then after a season, Louise Lassiter came in and left. The program was allegedly plagued by low ratings, and went into the new medium of "first run syndication". First run syndication was the new idea that was to let folks know there was an audience for material but not as large as needed for Network TV. Network TV never thought it would last. This was one of the pioneer programs that set into motion that it could.
"It's A Living" on the ABC Network (I do remember Danny Devito from the show Taxi, as his scum bag character Louie DePama, promoting the series with platinum blonde Ann Jillian) turned into "Making a Living" for a season and then turned back into "It's A Living" for syndication to my memory.
Whether in syndication or on Network, the women came from all walks of life and wanted to become all sorts of things: actresses, artists, singers, dancers, teachers and to make money - they were waitresses.In it's syndication, the women were more career oriented and you understood that their waitressing was "just a living". The series followed them, their lives, their jobs at the "Above the Top" upscale restaurant. The waitress uniforms were designed interestingly - and they had several.
Under syndication, "It's a Living" came up with a new and younger cast with Barrie Youngfellow, Gail Edwards, Wendy Schall staying and adding what is now very familiar faces: lovely Crystal Bernard, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. In syndication, the scripts were more light hearted, funnier, a bit younger, and there was more interaction - a camaraderie lets say - between the waitresses and their lives. The Hostess, actress Marian Mercer, was a great constant between both series - she took the job very seriously and in the syndicated version was more of a "strict den mom" than in the ABC Network version more of the Hostess being a "snotty upper class twit" and letting long term waitress Barrie Youngfellow take over sometimes in the Hostess duties was nice to watch as well.
The additional comedy came from the piano player character, Sonny, who was a wonderful comic foil and gave the series its air of a "upscale restaurant" complete with live lounge-lizard singer.
I got a better understanding of being a waitress and what they go through by watching this series: waitressing didn't bring in the worst people in the world or wasn't the worst job in the world -- it's only a living.