Thirtysomething & more things

2 minutes estimated reading time


I remember catching Thirtysomething in between working and DJing on a weekend and during my evenings. What caught my eye at the time is that the show felt ‘bigger’ than other shows on TV at the time. It was down to Thirtysomething having talented directors and really good script writers who managed to tease the drama and storytelling out of everyday life events. It was the first show where I watched and learned how it was being created rather than being merely entertained by it. I had already taken a similar attitude to film thanks to Alex Cox’s Moviedrome series.

Promotional artwork for the series

Thirtysomething dealt with issues like ‘selling out’, having career disappointment and becoming a ‘corporate being’. The storylines included episodes where cast members were killed off or had cancer. It was also unashamedly aspirational; they were all university educated. Two of the main characters ran an advertising agency together, that would be later bought out – which brought its own troubles. Others were a successful artist, a successful photographer and a college lecturer.

In many respects Thirtysomething was a forerunner for the BBC’s This Life, which was the younger, hipper British cousin. There is something very ‘HBO’ about the feel of Thirtysomething despite the fact that it was shot for the network ABC.

The people went on to work on big Hollywood projects:

Looking back at Thirtysomething you realise that the problems that middle class America worry about have grown. Thirtysomething came from a middle class that was still striving and unashamedly white as was the later Friends. This Life had it easier being set in multicultural London rather than Thirtysomething which was set in Philadelphia. Thirtysomething had a limited release as a box set in the US. It is unavailable for streaming in the US or UK and doesn’t have the kind of following it would likely deserve, given the quality of the storytelling and the script writing involved. Much of this seems to be down to issues with music rights, which makes sense when you see tracks by The Who being replaced on the DVD releases of the original TV series of CSI.

Tracker software

In the early 1990s, tracker software packages that ran on the Commodore Amiga inspired a number of music producers, mostly bedroom producers. Some prominent producers used this set-up, notably drum and bass pioneer Micky Finn.

Tracker software is the grandparent of modern DAW software like Cubase which has replaced most outboard studio equipment.

Making Leatherman multi-tools

This video looks at the Leatherman multi-tool factory and the legacy of engineer Tim Leatherman who founded the company in 1983. In a globalised world, Leatherman is unusual in continuing American manufacturing.

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