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United States (TV series)

United States
Genre Dramedy
Created by Gary Markowitz
Written by Gary Markowitz
Larry Gelbart
Tom Whedon
Everett Greenbaum
Carol Gary
Directed by Will Mackenzie
Nick Havinga
Starring Beau Bridges
Helen Shaver
Rossie Harris
Justin Dana
Composer(s) Jack Elliott
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13
Producer(s) Gary Markowitz
Larry Gelbart
Running time 30 mins
Production company(s) OTP Productions
Original channel NBC
Original run March 11, 1980 – April 29, 1980

United States is a short-lived half-hour comedy-drama (dramedy) that NBC added to its Tuesday primetime schedule in March 1980.

Larry Gelbart, the show's executive producer and chief writer, said the name United States was not a reference to the country but rather to "the state of being united in a relationship". Gelbart envisioned a series that would be "a situation comedy based on the real things that happen in my marriage and in the marriages of my friends".

Episodes tackled such topics as marital infidelity, household debt, friends who drink too much, death within the family, and sexual misunderstandings.

United States focused on Richard and Libby Chapin, an upwardly mobile couple who lived in a Los Angeles suburb. Beau Bridges played Richard, and Helen Shaver played Libby. Gelbart reverted to black-and-white script for the show's titles. He said that was to convey the mood of "a sophisticated '30s film." Gelbart also avoided use of background music and a laugh track. Scripts featured dialogue such as, "Just for once I'd like to be treated like a friend instead of a husband," and "Maybe you and Bob can go out and get yourselves one redhead with two straws."

United States premiered at 10:30 p.m. on March 11, 1980. NBC pulled it from the schedule within two months, after only six of 13 episodes had aired. The remaining episodes were not broadcast until 1986, when the A&E cable channel aired United States.

The show's tagline made by NBC was "It will do to marriages what M*A*S*H did for war".



Critical reaction to the series at the time was largely negative. Writing in The Toronto Star, entertainment critic Ron Base (reviewing the first episode) felt the program lacked insight, and wrote that the program's emphasis on talk and arguments made Bridges and Shaver "surprisingly unlikable".[1]

In their Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946—Present), authors Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh characterize the show as "tedious, boring and didactic".[2]


  1. ^ Base, Ron (12 March 1980). "Nasty arguments aren't funny". Toronto Star. p. F3. 
  2. ^ Brooks, Tim; Earle Marsh (2007). The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows (1946—Present): Ninth Edition. U.S.A.: Ballantine Books. p. 1702. ISBN . 
  • Lurie, Alison. (1980, April 26-May 2). Are We Ready For Marriage—1980s-Style ... With No Sugar Added? TV Guide, pp. 4–8

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