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Fun Friday–Jumping the Shark, Yada-Yada & the Moonlighting Effect

Friday, March 18, 2011

For the past sixty or so years, television shows have greatly influenced our lives—from fashion to hairstyles to what’s acceptable to our vernacular. And it’s that last one I want to touch on a little today.

Jumping the Shark
Though it’s highly unusual in this day and age for a TV show to last long enough for this to happen, back in the day when shows were on for five, seven, ten, etc., years, they had to keep upping the ante to keep their viewers—even without all of the competition from cable, On Demand, and streaming video that they have to face now. And usually, they finally got to the point at which their storyline/stunt was so ridiculous it was considered the end of the show. Used to be it was referred to as the “fat lady singing.” But since 1977, we’ve called it jumping the shark. “Jumping the shark is a widely used idiom—first employed to describe a moment in the evolution of a television show, characterized by absurdity, when a particular show abandons its core premises and begins a decline in quality that is beyond recovery” (Wikipedia). This has now expanded beyond TV parlance and is now used to describe anything (a brand, a corporation, a designer, an actor, a writer, etc.) has moved beyond relevance into ridiculousness, just to try to keep the public’s attention. Why? Well, watch this clip:

(Ironically, this was one of the first episodes of the third season and the show would stay on the air for an additional six years—but still, the stigma sticks.)

I am the first to admit that I have never (repeat: never) been able to sit through a full episode of Seinfeld. I thought it was boring and unfunny when it first aired, and I still feel the same way. But I can’t deny the impact that the show has had on popular culture in the last twenty years. (Yes, twenty—actually, twenty-one—years since its first season.)

I’m certain there are a bunch that have made their way into the popular vernacular that I’m unaware of (and I’ve even been known to pull out a “No soup for you” upon occasion), but this one sticks out to me the most—probably because I heard it around the office all the time back in the mid- to late 1990s:

I tend to use blah-blah-blah, but have found myself, once or twice, using the yada.

The Moonlighting Effect
This is one that’s gotten a lot more traction over the last year or two with the emergence of its heir-apparent show, Castle. While everyone blames the decline and eventual cancellation of Moonlighting on the fact that David and Maddie finally consummated their relationship in the third season—a deeper examination shows that during the fourth season, Cybill Shepherd was limited in or gone from the production quite a bit as she was pregnant and gave birth to twins; during that same season, Bruce Willis was filming Die Hard—and when that proved a hit, he wasn’t really interested in staying on a weekly TV series. But still, the “Moonlighting Effect” comes from the idea that their getting together is what ruined the show.

What are some iconic moments/dialogue you can think of that have influenced popular culture and the things we now do and say?

(p.s.—it doesn’t have to be from TV shows—can be from commercials, music, movies, or anything else that’s become part of our lingo, for example: “I gave him the Reader’s Digest version” to refer to making a long story short.)

  1. Friday, March 18, 2011 12:50 am

    This is something from Aussies. We had an add here for the yellow pages and in it one company missed out one and you hear see the boss finding out they are not in the yellow pages and we hear “Not Happy Jan” its a common saying here now.


  2. Lyndie Blevins permalink
    Friday, March 18, 2011 5:12 pm


    I felt the same way about Seinfield until the episode of being lost in the mall parking garage. Having spent considerable lost time in the Houston Convention center parking lot myself, I had a different impression of the show.

    For me The Mary Tyler Moore show was iconic….


  3. Friday, March 18, 2011 5:25 pm

    Thanks for explaining jumping the shark. I knew what it meant from context, but had never looked into its origins.


  4. Saturday, March 19, 2011 12:35 pm

    I must have missed the Fonzie/shark scene or took no issue with it’s absurdity.
    I’ll be thinking of this post the next time something programmed into my brain from TV or a movie spouts from my mouth.

    Have a great weekend, everyone!


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