One of the most popular sitcoms in the 1990s was “Mad About You.” Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt played Paul and Jamie Buchman, a young, married couple living in New York. The series ran for 7 seasons, from 1992-1999, and almost every episode took place in their one-bedroom apartment in Greenwich Village.
The building used for the exterior shots of their apartment is located on the corner of 5th Avenue and 12th Street in Manhattan. The interior scenes were filmed at Culver Studios in California.
Here they are outside their apartment with their British neighbors from across the hall:
When the series premiered, critics weren’t crazy about it. Entertainment Weekly gave it a C+ and quipped that they were “Ambivalent About You.” Ouch.
The EW article also noted, “Paul and Jamie’s biggest problems in life seem to be deciding which sofa to buy and which restaurant to choose for a leisurely brunch.” Indeed, one of the first episodes revolved around furniture shopping. And I remember being flabbergasted when that odd little sofa with the patchwork of patterns on it was what they came home with.
The Buchmans’ dog Murray was played by a Collie mix named Maui who was found in a California animal shelter by animal trainer Boone Narr. He started out in TV commercials before becoming famous as Murray.
According to an article in Mutt News, “Maui’s favorite skills are ‘hiking’ (making people believe he is relieving himself), sneezing, crawling, shaking his head and rolling over. In the summer of 1994 he shared the cover of TV Guide with fellow NBC star Moose (Eddie, the dog on ‘Frasier’).”
Paul Reiser’s production company (which produced “Mad About You”) was named Nuance Productions after a line in Diner, the first film he appeared in (1982): “You know what word I’m not comfortable with? Nuance. It’s not a real word. Like gesture. Gesture’s a real word. With gesture you know where you stand. But nuance? I don’t know.”
Thirty-nine million people tuned in to see the birth of their daughter Mabel in 1997. They named her that after Jamie’s mother (played by Carol Burnett) suggested it could stand for “Mothers Always Bring Extra Love,” and I think 39 million people collectively rolled their eyes…
Lisa Kudrow had a recurring role on the show as the inept waitress Ursula Buffay until she was cast as Phoebe on “Friends.” In one episode, Paul and Jamie see Ursula after a long absence and ask where she’s been. The answer: “Hanging out with friends.”
Paul and Jamie’s bedroom featured black and white photographs of New York hanging over their bed…
…and an old piano in the corner.
Teri Hatcher was considered for the role of Jamie Buchman but lost out to Helen Hunt in the end.
I remember an interview with Paul Reiser where he said that in the audition he was impressed by the way Helen just walked in and started puttering around in the kitchen like it was hers while they read their lines. He thought she was a natural, and perfect for the kind of comedy he wanted to do. It’s hard to imagine anyone else in that role now. She won 4 Emmy Awards for this role from ’96-’99.
Jerry Adler played Mr. Wicker, their friendly superintendent.
Back out in the living room (with apologies to Helen Hunt for snapping this horrible photo of her!) we see the swinging door that leads to the kitchen:
Helen Hunt was reportedly in serious talks to take over the role of Sarah on “Parenthood” after Maura Tierney bowed out, but it went to Lauren Graham instead.
By the final season, both Reiser and Hunt were being paid $1 million an episode, but the ratings took a nosedive after the show was moved to Monday from its former Tuesday night slot.
In this Thanksgiving episode, Paul and Jamie try to distract their family until a new turkey can be delivered through the window (long story!).
Paul Reiser hasn’t done much since “Mad About You” went off the air in 1999, but he’s returning to TV with a new sitcom on NBC starting April 14 called “The Paul Reiser Show.” He’ll be playing a fictionalized version of himself and show his life after TV.
I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at some of my favorite sitcom sets this month! In case you missed the others, they were:
P.S. You can see all of the Movie and TV Houses I’ve featured over the years here.