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
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,
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
(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".