Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Sitcom Style: Inside America's Favorite TV Homes by Diana Friedman

If you are a fan of pop culture, then you should definitely plan to check out Diana Friedman's book "Sitcom Style: Inside America's Favorite TV Homes". This book will give you an inside look at the set design and decorating style of over two dozen television "homes" from the past 50 years.

When you think of sitcom houses, what house comes to mind? Just about every notable and recognizable sitcom home from the most beloved shows in television history is covered in this book. With full color photos, the "addresses" of the houses, and a blow by blow description of what is in the house's most notable rooms, this book really has it all. It also includes fun trivia and pop culture facts about the set design.

I am not in film school and I'm not a huge fan of architecture. I like pop culture, plain and simple. I feel like when you turn on the television set, you are being invited into the living room of the TV family. That is why "Sitcom Style" is such a special book, in my opinion.

Some of the homes detailed include The Huxtable's townhouse from "The Cosby Show" (undeniably the defining sitcom of the 1980's), the Cunningham home from "Happy Days", the Bunker abode from "All in the Family", and the ultra-retro Brady house from "The Brady Bunch". You'll also get a glimpse into the house of The Connor family (from "Roseanne"), Jerry's apartment from "Seinfeld" and Mary Richards' Minneapolis apartment from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show".

A couple more recent shows are also included, like that great apartment that Monica and Rachel shared in "Friends", Will Truman's pad from "Will and Grace" and Carrie Bradshaw's New York City apartment from "Sex and the City".

The book also includes key style elements from the homes, which is great if you actually want to attempt to duplicate some of the style elements. You can learn how to create a sleek, sophisticated apartment like Frasier Crane's or how to use natural elements to bring the outdoors in (ala The Brady Bunch house, with all of its stone, brickwork and foliage).

Are there any glaring omissions in the book? Of course, everyone will think of at least a couple. Personally, I couldn't believe that the Stephen's house from the 1960's TV series "Bewitched" wasn't included (the best television house of all time, in my opinion), but obviously the author could only include a certain number of homes in the book.

And were there a few homes that I questioned why they were included in the book? Yes, I'm not sure why the author felt it necessary to include the loft from the TV show "Dharma and Greg" or the attic from "Third Rock From the Sun" (except for the fact that, style wise, these two sets were very different from most of the other homes in the book). And the "Fashionable Fantasy" section is a little silly-- yes, I loved "The Flintstones", but their house is not what I would call stylish(in fact, I could never get a feel for what their house really looked like, as it seemed to change in every episode). Indeed, in this book you can visit everywhere from the Cleaver home from "Leave it to Beaver" to the swinging singles pad from "Three's Company" and it makes for an eclectic mix of styles to give the book a well-rounded feel.

If you're looking for interesting TV facts, you'll find some interesting tidbits in this book. You will also get the dates that the series ran and the addresses of the homes. For instance, do you know who lived at 1344 Hartford Drive, Apartment 402 in Indianapolis, Indiana? It was none other than single mom Ann Romano and her two daughters (played by Mackenzie Philips and Valerie Bertinelli) in the 1970's hit "One Day at a Time". And I admit I had to chuckle when I read that Al and Peggy Bundy (from the somewhat-raunchy comedy "Married With Children") lived at 9764 Jeopardy Lane.

One of my favorite parts of the book are the "floor plans" that are included for some of the homes (the layout for Mary Richards' "Mary Tyler Moore Show" apartment is just too cool). And there are informative sections about the sets of the "I Love Lucy Show" and "the Odd Couple", two of my all time favorite classic shows.

All in all, this book is a must-read (actually a must-own) for any fan of sitcoms and pop culture, so definitely make it a point to check it out.

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