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film criticism by maryann johanson | since 1997

Laverne & Shirley: The Complete First Season (review)

It’s hard to imagine that this idiotic sitcom was ever intended for adult consumption: its putative heroines come across, at best, as mentally retarded, and at worst, as whiny, shallow bimbos. But that’s hardly a surprise: producer Garry Marshall would go on to make a career of denigrating the female gender with films like The Princess Diaries and Runaway Bride. Living in the same 1950s Milwaukee universe as the Happy Days gang, Laverne DeFazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) work at Shotz Brewery and share a basement apartment, as well as a rigid uptightness about everything and everyone outside their claustrophobic little social circle, even though they ostensibly dream of expanding their horizons beyond the blue collar. The forced laugh track cannot cover up the petty meanness and small, cold heart of this ludicrous show. The 15 episodes here, dating from 1976, transfer nicely to DVD, though the sound is mono. But who needs to hear these two mewling in stereo?


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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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