The battle of the similar series. I did a post on both shows separately about a year ago. So, why not compare and contrast the two? Ron Leavitt created both shows and of course there are familiar plots as well as differences in both.
Married With Children was set in Chicago, IL. Throughout the series, references can be made to Chicago sports teams; Bulls, Cubs and White Sox. I believe the Arlington race track was mentioned in one episode if I’m not mistaken. Unhappily Ever After was set in Van Nuys, CA a bit northwest of Los Angeles in the San Fernando Valley. A few episodes have their hometown in the headline such as “Don Juan De Van Nuys” and “Leaving Van Nuys”. Ryan and Tiffany attend junior college in Northridge which is not far from their home.
Married With Children follows Al and Peggy Bundy through their unusual life of shortcomings. Unhappily is actually the same thing. I now realize that the plots are rather inconclusive and aimless. The characters go through their daily lives with little direction, bad advice and false hope. This is followed by complete hilarity!
Al, Peggy, Kelly and Bud is the starting lineup for Married. Jack, Jennie, Ryan, Tiffany and Ross makes up Unhappily.
Al vs Jack- Al works as a women’s shoe salesman. Whereas Jack works as a used car salesman. I believe Jack has Al beat here, ha ha. As far as personality, both are rude and despise their family. Although, I think Al has more morals and has a heart. Jack it appears has some sort of mental issues. The thought comes into play as he is frequently seen in the basement talking to a stuffed bunny named Mr. Floppy. Out of the two, I’ll pick Al over Jack.
Peggy vs Jennie- Both of these women neither hold steady jobs. Peg sits on the couch all day watching Oprah and snacking. Jennie putz around the house looking for something to do and complains when Jack or another family member gets home. To me it seems Jennie has more of a dislike of her family than Peg does. Peggy stands up for Al and the rest at times where Jennie does not. In this battle, I’ll take Peg.
Kelly vs Tiffany- Kelly is not the brightest girl. Tiffany is rather smart. Both ladies are good looking and flaunt it regularly. Kelly aspires to be an actress later in the series and gives a valiant effort. Tiffany excels in school and eventually is excepted to Harvard. I am not a huge fan of Tiffany. She is manipulative, selfish and condescending. In fact, as the series went on, I disliked her more and more. Kelly is more likeable with her naive behavior when it comes to general life.
Bud vs Ryan- These two are around the same age, same height and have the same luck with women, ha ha. Bud is a sharp young man where Ryan is plain stupid. I enjoy both characters and it is hard to dislike them. Bud holds a job at the local DMV in the latter stages of the series; Ryan failed at a few jobs he has had like working at the used car center with Jack. Out of the two, I’ll pick Ryan.
Ross- Ross is the odd one out in Unhappily. He is the running gag on the show due to his lack of air time. However, he does offer sound advice and quick wit when he is seen speaking. I have a love/hate feeling for Ross. Although he speaks his mind, his whining is sometimes hard to tolerate.
Side Characters (just to name a few)
Married With Children:
- Griff- Al’s co-worker at Gary’s Shoes.
- Jefferson- Married to Marcy. He is a cunning yet charming playboy.
- Steve- Former neighbor who was married to Marcy.
Unhappily Ever After:
- Mr. Floppy- A stuffed bunny whom Jack seeks advice. Jack’s alter-ego.
- Sable O’Brien- Tiffany’s High School rival in season 3.
- Maureen- Jennie’s mother. Is often disoriented due to alcohol and medication.
Married with Children ran a span of 11 seasons from 1987-1997. Unhappily Ever After ran 5 seasons from 1995-1999. My favorite episodes from Married would probably be “Movie Show” from season 7 and “Get the Dodge Outta Hell” from season 9. From Unhappily, “The Agony of Victory” from season 2 and “Tiffany Burger” from season 5. Unhappily seemed to be a bit meaner with their brutal honesty towards Hollywood. The show would often break the fourth wall and talk directly to the studio audience. I always wondered if their was really a studio audience? Was the laughter real or a laugh-track? Anyway, I enjoyed both series, I would choose Married With Children hands down.