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Article

Get a Life

Posted on

Get a Life

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
In Season
run date:
09/23/90
performer:
Chris Elliott, Brian Doyle-Murray, Sam Robards, Robin Riker
broadcaster:
Fox
genre:
Comedy

We gave it a B

Try to imagine Bart Simpson all grown up. His yellow hair is thinning, he’s developing a paunch (it’s either the beer or the doughnuts), but he still has that same sour expression around the mouth, that same devilish glint in his eyes. In fact, an adult Bart would look just like Chris Elliott, the chinless brat who used to snicker and sneer so amusingly on Late Night With David Letterman. Elliott now takes over The Simpsons‘ old time slot with his own sitcom, Get a Life.

Elliott plays Chris Peterson, a 30-year-old paperboy who lives over his parents’ garage. His parents are played by Bob Elliott (half of the great Bob and Ray comedy team and Chris’ real-life dad) and Elinor Donahue (yes, ”Princess” on Father Knows Best). As he did on Letterman, Elliott specializes in brand-name put-downs and loopy non sequiturs; after dreaming about being on The $25,000 Pyramid and losing, he rubs his eyes and mutters, ”That’s the last time I eat a whole box of Steak-Umms before bed.”

As a grown-up paperboy, Elliott is satirizing the fantasies of yuppies who wish they could get off the fast track and move back home, and he provides an actual yuppie to make fun of — his neighbor and pal Larry (Sam Robards), who feels trapped by his suit-and-tie existence and his harpy wife, Sharon (Robin Riker). Chris’ goal in life is to turn Larry into as big a screw-up as he is.

There’s a certain whiff of misogyny in Elliott’s humor. Women exist in this show as either bimbos or complainers, and both get the brunt of the star’s razzing. Like the men of an earlier generation, Elliott’s character views women as scary creatures to escape from. Still, Elliott, who also cowrites and coproduces the show, is willing to let Sharon be merciless in her criticism of him: ”You’re losing your hair and you’re stupid.” As soon as she leaves the room, Elliott mock-gushes, ”Isn’t she a treasure? You’ve got to let me know if you two ever plan to split up, Larry, so I can ask her to marry me.”

Get a Life‘s elaborate, malicious sarcasm is somewhat different in tone from The Simpsons‘ gleeful variation; let’s see how many fans Elliott can convert to his brand. B

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