Anything But Love is an American television sitcom, which aired on ABC from March 7, 1989 to June 3, 1992, spanning four seasons and 56 episodes. The show starred Richard Lewis as Marty Gold and Jamie Lee Curtis as Hannah Miller, coworkers at a Chicago magazine with a mutual romantic attraction to each other, who struggled to keep their relationship strictly professional. The series, from creator Wendy Kout and developers Dennis Koenig and Peter Noah, was produced by Adam Productions (a production company run by John Ritter) in association with 20th Century Fox Television for ABC.
Chicago native Hannah Miller (Curtis) returns to her old hometown after quitting her teaching post out of state and breaking up with her long-term boyfriend. On the flight back, she meets Marty Gold (Lewis), an eccentric magazine columnist for the Chicago Monthly, a trendy publication with hard-hitting exposes and pop-culture pieces. Marty's fear of flying and frazzled nerves were calmed by Hannah, who then shared her story of change with him and her plans to launch a writing career upon returning home. It just so happened, according to Marty, that there was an opening at the Chicago Monthly for a researcher, which Hannah jumped at. Once the two arrived home, Marty introduced Hannah to his boss, blustery magazine editor Norman Keil (Louis Giambalvo), who saw a lot in Hannah and gave her a trial run assignment—a 2,000-word article on "the tortilla wars: does Chicago prefer corn or flour?" for 9 o'clock the following morning. Hannah aced and delivered, becoming part of the team and, ironically, getting a desk just opposite Marty's. It became clear that getting Hannah the job was a result of Marty's reeling her into his life—from the plane ride, he was instantly attracted to her. Hannah, who was still getting over her recent breakup, was not ready to consider anyone new yet, but could not help feeling a certain connection to Marty that she could not yet—or rather, did not want to—consummate.
Others at the Chicago Monthly detected that there were hints of attraction and likeness between Hannah and Marty, but (early on at least) they were generally more occupied with the sensational and outrageous stories to which the two were assigned. Jules Kramer (Richard Frank), affectionately known as "Julie", was Norman's fawning assistant, and Pamela Peyton-Finch (Sandy Faison), a glamorous, cutthroat writer. The stories equally shifted between the easy-going (but sometimes frenetic) office camaraderie and the personal sides of Marty and Hannah. Also during the first season, Hannah's gun-touting outdoors-man dad, Leo Miller (Bruce Kirby), was present on the show.
With each passing episode, as the two wittily bantered and formed a nice friendship (as well as a working relationship), they came closer to realizing that there could be the potential for romance. They would have realized this sooner if they were not so distracted. Marty was tentatively dating a girl named Alice (guest star Wendie Malick) while Hannah's recent ex, Jack (guest star Robin Thomas), came for a visit and turned out to be none other than Marty's former college roommate. The reunion for the three, needless to say, was a bit strained. Finally, in the first season finale, Marty was dumped by Alice, and Hannah, who was making strides in getting over Jack, accepted Marty's invitation to go out to dinner—both agreed, however, that it was "not a date".
As the second season opened, there were new faces and adjustments in the series, along with further progress in Hannah and Marty's relationship. Each episode now began with a prologue scene in which Marty and Hannah had lunch at a diner while having a conversation which poked fun at life's trivial conventions (i.e., clothing styles, dating habits, etc.). A sneak preview of these segments aired in ABC network promos for the show in August 1989, advertising the show's return in its original Tuesday night time slot after a three-month break. The following month, Anything but Love moved to Wednesday nights at 9:30/8:30c.
In the season premiere, Hannah returned from vacation to find that the magazine had been taken over by new owners, becoming a weekly publication and being renamed the Chicago Weekly. Norman was replaced by a new editor, the ultra-hip Catherine Hughes (played by performance artist and former Bongwater member Ann Magnuson), who instantly promoted Hannah to writer. Pamela was also gone, and arriving in her place was English TV critic Brian Allquist (Joseph Maher), whose reviews became one of the more popular features of the Weekly, but not without its fair share of controversy. Harold and Kelly (as played by actor/playwrights Billy Van Zandt, and Jane Milmore, who also served as story consultants on the show at this time) were other new staff members. For unexplained reasons, Julie's last name changed to Bennett; however, under the new ownership, he remained as editor's assistant.
Hannah and Marty were now fighting off a stronger sexual attraction, and their close calls with intimacy and courtship intensified, which resulted in hilarious and comedically challenging situations. To give Hannah an outlet in which she could sort out her feelings for Marty, and her love life in general, the producers added her long-time best friend, Robin Dulitski (Holly Fulger), who also acted as Hannah's landlord. Hannah and Robin had an in-joke running back from their teenage years, in which they pictured themselves married by their thirties to dashing brothers named Schmenkman. For fun, they both regularly called each other "Mrs. Schmenkman". Robin was truly rooting for a Hannah/Marty relationship; at one point, however, she started feeling herself drawn to Marty, which resulted in them sharing a brief kiss. Marty was not as interested in dating Robin as she was in him, so after a brief disappointment, Robin re-channeled her energy in helping Hannah realize her feelings for Marty. Various family members of Marty's began making further guest appearances, as the emphasis on the character's Jewish culture became more prominent. While the two danced around their attraction, they continued to date others from time to time. Later in the season, Marty introduces Hannah to his ex-fiancee at his family's seder, upon which Hannah feels that the two may still have feelings for each other.
Hannah and Catherine became something of soul sisters both in and out of the office as well, providing support to each other through many twists and turns. Their friendship became similar to that of Hannah and Robin's. At one point in the season, Catherine hires Robin briefly to write a column featuring her "every woman" views on current events and social issues. Catherine, who prided herself on being very avant-garde in her editorial command and all-knowing of the ins and outs of pop culture, was crushed when a close companion and legendary artist snubbed her of mention in his recently published diaries. Feeling the onset of a nervous breakdown, she temporarily left Marty in charge of the Weekly. Brian also faced his first major public criticism at the magazine in this episode, in which fans of the latest Star Squad movie (a fictional take on Star Trek) stormed down to the Weekly office to protest his scathing review. Fortunately for Brian and Marty, Catherine overcame her wounded pride and returned to work. Marty would get a chance to fill the editor's shoes again that season, when a troubleshooter from the Weekly's parent company arrived and decided to replace Catherine; again, Catherine's cutting-edge approach to journalism was underappreciated. Marty had to pull some clever blackmail in order to get her back. While Catherine in the end remained at the Weekly, it was Brian who ended up with a short stint. In the episode "The Days of Whine and.." (March 21, 1990), a woman shows up to threaten Brian after an unfavorable review of her husband's work caused him to die. The woman stalks Brian ruthlessly. It escalates to the point where, out of rage and his attempt to avoid her watching his every move, Brian smashes all the TV sets on display at Marshall Field's department store, and is sent to jail.
In the season finale, Hannah celebrates her 30th birthday, a time which celebrated many joys but also some emptiness and regret. After looking back at her complicated romantic life, she realizes that the one missing aspect of her existence is right under her nose—Marty. After a year's worth of dodging the obvious chemistry between them, Hannah comes forward and shares her true feelings with Marty. As it turns out, Marty was on the cusp of revealing the same.
Anything but Love was renewed for a third season in the spring of 1990, but was omitted from ABC's 1990 fall schedule. In the wake of a ratings fall the previous season, the producers had called for further retooling of the show. The third season premiere was moved to February 6, 1991, and the season itself only consisted of ten episodes. The opening storyline picked up straight from where the second season finale left off, with Marty and Hannah admitting that they were indeed in love with each other. The two reveled in their newfound joy, and agreed to take things slowly and uncommitted. However, such an event was not to be complete without a monkey wrench thrown in. The breakthrough development was compounded by the arrival of guest star John Ritter, who signed on for a three-episode story arc (which ABC aptly planned for February sweeps, and was heavily promoting in order to kickstart the series). Ritter played Patrick Serrau, a renowned photographer swept into town when the Weekly hired him to work on a special series. Hannah and Patrick become well acquainted, and when the two are required to work together on her piece for the project, their association quickly gets to be more casual than professional.
Marty catches on to Patrick's maneuverisms and spies on him and Hannah when they stop by his hotel suite. Hannah feels wooed by Patrick, but feels challenged by her standing love for Marty. Struggling to keep his composure, Marty lets Hannah know of his awareness of the whole situation, while Hannah decides to let her heart lead the way. Patrick and Hannah get intimate, and as their assignment progressed, Patrick asks Hannah to join him in West Africa—for both work and romance. After some consideration, Hannah says yes, and Marty is devastated. Rather than resort to drastic behavior, he nonchalantly challenges Patrick's views on many urban issues discussed in the magazine project, which bring out an arrogant, negative side of his personality. Hannah, who had seen these true colors appear at times through her partnership with Patrick, finally admitted to herself that he was not the right man to be with. She ultimately turned back to Marty as Patrick departed the country, and the two finally entered a committed relationship.
The couple fantasized how everyone in their life, who had constantly pondered "will they or won't they?" for nearly the last two years, would react to their dating. Once the word got out, everyone celebrated. The one person who was a little less keen on the idea was a new columnist at the office, Mike Urbanek (Bruce Weitz), who thought Marty and Hannah's tendency to avoid full-out romance was nothing but silly game playing. No-nonsense Mike, a good friend of Marty's, was only weary of the pairing as a result of the experiences he had after many years of marriage. Just as Hannah got from Robin, Marty got the male counterpart of advice from Mike, albeit from the point of view of a husband. All the significant "firsts" of Hannah and Marty's courtship were then chronicled—the first fight (which unfolded at work), the first bout of jealousy (Hannah's reeling when Marty has to accompany a swimsuit model to the Caribbean for an interview), etc.
The fourth season begins with Hannah feeling ill, and at a visit to the doctor's, is told that she may be experiencing signs of morning sickness. Hannah takes a home pregnancy test, which shows a positive result. Both Marty and Hannah are excited when they learn that they are expecting parents—yet unmarried ones. As both believed in a legal union before embarking on such a step, they decided to rush off and get married. However, in the eleventh hour, just a short while before the couple marched off to the hastily prepared ceremony, the doctor's office calls back to tell Hannah that the results of their in-house test are negative. Given that Hannah's supposed pregnancy symptoms have disappeared, she and Marty are convinced that the home test was a lie, and decide to call off the wedding.
The couple's relationship reaches enticing new heights, and the main plotline further became inventive. In one episode, a young staff writer/intern at the office causes Marty and Hannah to escape into a fantasy in which they met as children, and brought their relationship from juvenile puppy love to the present day. The series continued to draw much critical acclaim as a result of Curtis and Lewis' on-screen chemistry at this time. The bond of the cast as a whole was at its strongest as well, with more episodes centering on the escapades of the guys (Marty, Julie and Mike) as well as the "sisterhood" (Hannah, Robin and Catherine). Then, perhaps not to the surprise of fans, John Ritter returned in December 1991 to further the saga of Patrick Serrau for two more episodes. Patrick was back in Chicago when his photography went on exhibit at the local art museum. Showing no signs of his usual lecherous self, Patrick attempts to lure Hannah once again by digging up some discrediting facts about Marty. Before the end of the two parter, Marty manages to outplay Patrick once more, who truly did not have a chance to get Hannah due to how committed they were. While "dashing" Patrick proved no threat to the love of Hannah and Marty, others around them began facing less stable relationships. In early 1992, it was revealed that Catherine had a husband in an open marriage, who showed up wanting a divorce when he found a new woman he wished to be exclusive with. Not long after, Mike begins to show emotional distance in his marriage, when he puts the moves on Robin while his wife leaves town for a week.
Although the show was initially popular in its abbreviated first season, producers decided to make cast changes for the second in order to provide Curtis and Lewis with more flavorful supporting characters. While critics hailed the changes, ABC's moving the show to Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c caused a large drop in the series' ratings. (It was announced as the 9:00/8:00c show but the immediate success of Doogie Howser, M.D. caused ABC to flip the shows two weeks into the season. Since it was renewed as a mid-season replacement; the third season did not begin until February 1991. ABC kept the show in the same Wednesday time slot, and ramped up promotions with the advertising tagline "The All-New Anything but Love" (corresponding with the current cast changes and the opening three-episode arc with John Ritter). All of this stabilized audiences enough to grant the series a fourth season. In August 1991, Anything but Love was moved to the unusual time slot of Wednesday at 10/9c, as a part of an all-comedy block (The Hump) that was short-lived. Ratings slipped again, and the show returned to the Wednesday 9:30/8:30 slot in early November.
Unusually, the show was not canceled by the network. Instead, 20th Century Fox pulled the plug on the show in 1992, having calculated that the show would not get renewed for a fifth season and would be unprofitable in first-run syndication.
Tia Carrere guest starred once as the now grown-up, Asian-born college student Marty had once sponsored as a child. Carrere would later go on to play Richard Lewis' girlfriend on several episodes of the 2007 season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, and would co-star with Jamie Lee Curtis in True Lies.
The title track, which shared its name with the series, was a sentimental soft-rock song. In the first season, a main vocal track was used for the opening credits, dominated by woodwinds with a synth underscore, and was performed by J.D. Souther. The original opening sequence featured time-lapsed stills of Lewis and Curtis outdoors as the two "bonded".
Beginning in the second season and onward, the theme song was now instrumental during the title sequence, featuring an acoustic guitar and piano prominence on a synth base, and a higher pitch. The visuals were redesigned to feature still photos of Lewis and Curtis in a series of different poses, separately and together, with professional photo backgrounds behind them. These photos appeared in moving strips that traveled in all sorts of directions along a greenish-blue, textured wall. The title and credits were encased in metallic, multicolored boxes that traveled across the screen along with the photos; the font was a Calligraphic type.