Three’s Company

Three's Company

“Come and knock on our door,
We’ve been waiting for you,
Where the kisses are hers and hers and his,
Three’s company, too!”

Sitcoms have always derived a steady supply of material based on simple misunderstandings, but perhaps no television series has ever utilized the tactic quite so frequently as Three’s Company, where every single episode seemed to revolve around the overheard innuendo and mistaken assumptions that took place in a little apartment complex in Santa Monica.

Debuting in 1977, Three’s Company told the story of Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) and Chrissie Snow (Suzanne Somers), two roommates who needed a third occupant in their apartment to help make ends meet. They found a perfect candidate in amiable single chef, Jack Tripper, but there was one problem – they knew that the frugal curmudgeon landlord, Stanley Roper (Norman Fell) would never approve of such an arrangement (although his wife, Helen, was surprisingly open-minded by comparison.) So, they concocted the story that Jack was gay to alleviate any fears of potential hanky-panky going on behind closed doors. Mr. Roper fell for their deception but Helen figured out the ploy almost instantly. Still, she saw no need to enlighten her husband.

From that point forth, the show focused on each of their lives, their struggles to get the rent paid, and their attempts to each find a little romance. Of course, Jack in particular had to be very incognito in this pursuit, which often led to elaborate tales to hide the true nature of what was going on the apartment. Making matter more difficult was the fact that Chrissie wasn’t the brightest bulb of the bunch and had enormous trouble keeping the stories straight. To further complicate the situation, Jack lusted after his attractive roommates and Chrissie and Janet had to keep him verbally neutered. Luckily, the Ropers were often too pre-occupied with their own marital woes for Stanley to put much effort into investigation. Sure, he had his suspicions, but he also had a wife whose overly amorous nature was well at odds with his lack of sex-drive, leading to plenty of, you guessed it, misunderstandings.

When the clan wasn’t in the apartment, they were often hanging at the local watering hole, The Regal Beagle, a singles bar that offered plenty of prospects for each of the roommates. It was here that Jack befriended Larry Dallas, a used-car salesman that took everything he ever learned from his profession and used it to woo the ladies, usually with very little success.

Of course, as any apartment dweller can attest, roommates tend to come and go, and it was no different at this particular abode. Chrissy eventually moved out and was replaced by her clumsy cousin Cindy, then a gorgeous nurse named Terri. Even the Ropers eventually parted ways, headed to their own spin-off series, The Ropers. They sold the apartment complex to a man named Bart Furley, who, in turn, put his brother Ralph in charge of the landlord duties. Ralph (Don Knotts) was a bumbling self-proclaimed ladies man, although dates pretty much always eluded him, who tried to dress as hip as possible but never quite got his fashion sense together (choosing the most outlandish leisure suits perhaps ever displayed on television.)

With a never-ending assortment of physical comedy, farcical misunderstandings of epic proportions, and a cast of endearing characters, Three’s Company quickly rose in the ratings. It didn’t hurt that the series followed sitcom gold, in the form of Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. With the exception of its first and last season, the show stayed in the Top-10 during its entire tenure on ABC, which lasted for eight seasons. It has remained in syndication ever since, a classic sitcom if there ever was one.

If you remember watching this popular ABC sitcom back in the 70s, we’d love to hear all of your Three’s Comany recollections in our comments section below.

2 Responses to “Three’s Company”

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  1. Gina says:

    I used to watch the syndicated episodes after I came home from junior high school. I was old enough to get the sexy jokes, but not old enough to be turned on by them, so everything worked out. I was reprimanded by my childhood friend Luke, the pastor’s son, for watching the show. He seemed to think it was about a man living with two ladies and having sex with both of them.

  2. Ryan Martinez says:

    I watched this show in the 70s and rather enjoyed it. However, when I tried to watch it in the 90s … not so much; it did not age well.

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