There was a huge television controversy in the 90’s – unfortunately, a lot of people disagreed with the name that Jamie and Paul Buchman named their daughter. Despite the fact that they were fictional and the change impacted nobody negatively, Mad About You was such a hit that people took it a bit personally. I mean – Mabel? I get it. It’s an acronym for ‘Mother’s Always Bring Extra Love’, but it was well before its time of unusual baby names.
Sadly, Mabel’s birth was the beginning of the decline of the show, which started in 1992. The series, which focuses mainly on newlyweds Paul Buchman, a documentary film maker, and Jamie Stemple Buchman, a public relations specialist, lasted for seven seasons. Despite the baby plot being kicked around for some time, many critics blamed Jamie and Paul’s cluelessness regarding parenting for the decline in quality. The show very bravely focused an episode around Mabel crying throughout the night – yet sadly, the audience wasn’t up for a comedy filled with 22 minutes of baby tears. The show ended in 1999, with a flash forward episode.
So – what’s the cast up to today?
Paul Reiser as Paul Buchman
Paul didn’t just star in the show – he also co-created it. In the early 2000’s he was featured in a few TV movies, and went on to star as himself in a 2002 episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. After a short acting break, he wrote and starred in the 2005 drama The Thing About My Folks. His next series didn’t end well – The Paul Reiser Show only aired for two episodes in 2011 before getting cancelled. This year you might have caught him in the well publicized TV movie Behind The Candelabra, about the life of Liberace.
One of my favorite childhood books was Paul Reiser’s “Couplehood”. I can’t explain why I was attracted to it, but it was good. And I’m not the only one who thought so, since Paul wrote two books afterward – “Babyhood” and “Familyhood”.
Helen Hunt as Jamie Buchman
Helen got nothing but praise for her role as Jamie, which explains why she starred in numerous blockbusters after the show wrapped. The year 2000 was especially kind to her – she played lead roles in Cast Away, What Women Want, Dr. T and the Women, and Pay It Forward. In 2006 she played a role in the film Bobby, and followed it up as the lead role of April Epner in Then She Found Me, which she also directed. In 2012, she starred alongside William H. Macy in The Sessions as a sex surrogate.
As far as her personal life goes, Helen has become a poster child for having children later in life – her daughter Makena Lei Carnahan was born while Helen was in her 40’s.
“Part of me wishes that I’d started having children earlier and had four of them. But that’s not the reality. I had to fight like a wild animal to get pregnant with my daughter; I went through a lot of rigorous fertility stuff. I think I have more appreciation of motherhood having had my daughter later,” Helen said.
Anne Ramsay as Lisa Stemple
Since everyone has that dysfunctional sibling, Anne was cast as Lisa, Jamie’s older sister. Anne got her start in acting after being inspired by Barbra Streisand in Funny Girl.
Anne had no problem finding roles after Mad About You – while she seemed focused with TV Movies and shorts (film shorts, not cargo) after the show ended, she found success with a minor part on The L Word, and later jumped onto the cast of Six Feet Under in 2005. After her story arc ended, she played Trish on the TV show Related. In 2008, she played Ellen Wolf on a few episodes of Dexter, and had a strong presence on Hawthorne throughout the show’s run from 2009 to 2011.
Her most recent success has been on ABC Family’s The Secret Life of the American Teenager, playing Nora Underwood, Ricky’s kind-of-a-mess biological mother.
John Pankow as Ira Buchman
Ira is Paul’s cousin, who is a musician as well as the owner of the sporting goods store that originally belonged to their Dad.
Here’s a fun fact for you Friends fans: Ira was known for having a major crush on Ursula, the waitress at local hangout Riff’s. Ursula was played by Lisa Kudrow, who crossed the character over to Friends, where she was Phoebe’s crazy twin sister. Small world, eh?
John had a two-episode role on Ally McBeal in 2002, and had a few sporadic roles since. You might have caught him in the 2009 movie Bride Wars, as well as the Rachel McAdams movie Morning Glory. In 2012 he had a role on the show Episodes, playing Merc Lapidus.
Leila Kenzle as Fran Devanow
Leila plays Fran, Jamie best friend who eventually goes into business with her. Oddly enough, Leila got her acting start by playing a stripper in the off-Broadway production of Tony n’ Tina’s Wedding – luckily she wasn’t typecast when she made it onto television!
While Leila had a few parts after Mad About You, her last role was in 2003, playing Alice York in the film Identity. She’s still keeping busy – she earned her Master’s Degree in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University, and she currently works as a therapist with a strong background in fertility. In fact, she and Kerry O’Reilly, who was once a television anchor and reporter for ABC and NBC, founded “Fertility L.A.,” a counseling program for people who are struggling with fertility issues.
Winner: While Anne put up a strong fight, I’m giving this one to Helen Hunt. Every project that Helen has chosen has been solid. I mean, you’ve seen Cast Away, right?