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Eric: You'll notice I refrained from the term 'catfight.' You can thank me later.

(From Suburban Jungle. Click on the thumbnail for full sized disturbingly cheerful!)

I've mentioned the Mary Richard Principle before -- most notably in the Shortbreads -- but it bears repeating and possibly an addition to the Lexicon. Succinctly put, the Mary Richards Principle harkens back to the old Mary Tyler Moore show. You had a passel of nutcases on that show -- the arrogant and stupid Ted, the gruff Lou, the neurotic and sarcastic Murray, the machiavellian Sue Ann, and so on and so forth. But in the midst of all the insanity and the way these absurd people played off each other, you had Mary Richards -- Mary Tyler Moore's own character -- who was essentially sane. She had some issues, sure, and her tears were a hallmark of overacting when she cried, but nineteen times out of twenty, Mary Richards was the wholly sane person who just stared at the others, as if to say "are you crazy? Is that your problem?"

Which, not coincidentally, is the catchphrase for Suburban Jungle.

Tiffany Tiger is SJ's Mary Richards Principal, generally. She sometimes has problems, but they're 'real world' problems -- self doubt, heartache and the like. The people around her, on the other hand, are batshit insane. Leona froths. The mice are crackers. Yin -- oh my sweet Lord, Yin. Even Leonard develops obsessions.

And, of course, Dover only speaks in code. Sometimes these aren't subtle.

Now, much has been made of the fact that Suburban Jungle Starring Tiffany Tiger has had less and less actual screen time for Tiffany. This really isn't that surprising, though. A whole lot of screen time went to Ted Baxter doing something inane and dyspeptic, or Lou ranting and pouring a hot fudge sundae on an old flame's head, or the like. It's funny, after all. But the nucleus of all this is Tiffany. Drezzler is involved because he's Tiffany's manager and photographer. Leona is obsessed with exceeding Tiffany. Conrad is still besotted with her. Dover is married to Tiffany's sister, Comfort. And so on and so forth."

We're into a full on Mary Richards sequence, now -- Leona, having deflected her own problems onto Tiffany (have you noticed she does that a lot) is now obsessed with getting Conrad and Tiffany back together, regardless of what that means for... well, anyone. Leona's not the most empathic apple on the tree, after all. And yeah, there's comedic potential -- that's the point, after all. Conflict breeds comedy. But students of the form should appreciate how the sane Tiffany deals with the insane Leona through all of this.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at April 25, 2005 12:19 PM


Comment from: TODCRA Productions posted at April 25, 2005 12:55 PM

...I do believe you've got an open italics tag.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at April 25, 2005 1:00 PM

I do believe you're right. Fixed now.

Comment from: The Gneech posted at April 25, 2005 2:17 PM

It's tough to write comedy for sane characters -- they keep wanting to be reasonable! ;)

-The Gneech

Comment from: Sashi posted at April 25, 2005 3:29 PM

"Comedy can be one crazy person going through a sane world, or one sane person in a crazy world." "Comedy can be one crazy person going through a sane world, or one sane person in a crazy world." "Comedy can be one crazy person going through a sane world, or one sane person in a crazy world." "Comedy can be one crazy person going through a sane world, or one sane person in a crazy world."

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