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Cinema: That's Life

The Cast Left to Right: Heather Paige Kent (Lydia DeLuca); Ellen Burstyn
(Dolly DeLuca); Paul Sorvino (Frank DeLuca); and Kevin Dillon (Paul DeLuca)

THAT'S LIFE is a life-affirming, one-hour family show that is neither cloying nor idiotic, but actually joyful and funny. ...This is a happy, gentle show - no heavy lifting.

That's Life has more in common with Providence, Once and Again, even Ally McBeal. The karate crowd may be disappointed, but for fans of those shows, That's Life should provide plenty of kicks.

Lydia DeLucca is a bartender whose boyfriend is Louis Buttafucco, whom she has been seeing since the Reagan administration, realizes that she want's a College Education rather than Marriage to a reluctant bridegoom.

Older, working-class gal goes back to school. It's NOT a tired canard used in "Pearl" or "Educating Rita", but immensely fresh and fun, helped by the spunky (and cute) Heather Paige Kent as Lydia

Paul Sorvino as the supportive Dad, and and Ellen Burstyn is the Mom who is more interested in a grandchild than her daughter's happiness Like a rash, Louis sticks around. He has been part of the family for years and years, and just because Lydia doesn't want him anymore, that doesn't mean he isn't good company Sunday afternoons watching the football game with her father and brother.

Debi Mazar, who played Denise Iannello, the queen of Queens, in L.A. Law and Civil Wars, is a good buddy and proprietor of Jackie's Beauteria. Cast members like those are hard to land. They were attracted by the authentic and optimistic world-view of Diane Ruggiero, who a little more than a year ago was waiting tables at the Park & Orchard Restaurant in East Rutherford, N.J.

Ruggiero's the creator of That's Life, and she says that in so many ways it's about her, a working-class Jersey girl who took a shot and wound up  in Hollywood. No wonder she's optimistic.

"That's Life" is a show with an Italian flavor, that many of us can identify with, and it is NOT filled with mafioso, brutes, & buffoons, and will NOT project a Negative Stereotype, but Likeable, Lovable, Italian Americans, and therefore a Positive.

(1) The Father is not a dominant, fiery tempered brute, but a very likable, loving, level headed, strong but gentle, and even admirable character, who completely emotionally supports his family, EVEN his daughter's choice Not to get married to her long time boyfriend, and GO BACK TO SCHOOL, in spite of his preferences otherwise.

(2) The Daughter is likeable, loving, bright, and wanting to "spread her intellectual wings", but frequently "conflicted" by whether she made the right choice.

(3) The Mother is a little more shrill than I would like, and often "harps" on her daughter to get married instead of going to school (so she could have grandkids), and is not as loving and affectionate toward her husband, as he is toward her.

(4) The brother is no great intellect, but he is a Cop, and was a life saving hero in one episode. He treats his dates, and current girlfriend in only a loving and thoughtful fashion.

(5) The boyfriend is not a "sorehead", because of being rejected after 7 year relationship, but is "confused, by Lydia's goals. He owns his own small business, and still treats Lydia with respect, and concern, and care.

(6) Lydia's best (Italian looking) girl friend while chewing entirely too much gum, owns her own beauty salon, is a GOOD friend, and shows in practically every episode, a very basic common sense, missing in many "bookworms", to the extent that a Psychology professor is enamored of her.

(7) Lydia's other best girl friend (not Italian looking) is very superficial, vain and shallow.

Sure, I would rather have the Italian American equivalent of the I-A "Prince of Belair", with every one being lawyers and doctors, but while this is a middle class family, it is not low class, and its striving, and loving, and close, and supportive, and THERE for each other.

I don't see much you can say negative about the De Luca family.

It's a step in the right direction, and I'll take it over "Friends" with stupid Joey Tribianni.

"Everyone loves Raymond" has very little Italian Flavor (by design according to the Producer). You can easily forget, and think he was of any ethnicity.

My concern is that if we don't support a heavily flavored well done Italian TV series, that the Studio heads will say, "See, the public will accept Italians only as mafioso, or buffoons".

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