Confessions of a Childhood Larry Fan

You know, Jack Tripper is a terrible role model. I wasn’t supposed to watch “Three’s Company” as a kid but of course I did. It was slapstick and stupid. The objectification of Suzanne Somers was thorough enough even as a seven year-old, I got it. I learned the difference between good guys and bad guys—Jack learned by the end of the episode not to listen to Larry because Larry was a pig and Jack had to learn not to be a pig. I thought Larry was hilarious too. “Three’s Company” is not a show with much good acting so when Richard Kline can actually deliver a wry joke, it connects. Of course, the stoic suffering of Joyce DeWitt always goes unappreciated. But I know I’m not supposed to be like Larry, because he’s a pig. And the girls don’t actually like him, they like Jack, who learns not to be a pig. I’m oversimplifying “Three’s Company” but not by much. At least not in terms of the Jack story-arcs. How many times did he date the boss’s daughter and no one was supposed to know? If Larry is in an episode enough to get a scene with Jack alone, it’s probably going to go the pig discovery route. And Jack always has to learn. He never shuts Larry down, not unless the script’s dismissing Richard Kline for the week. If you’d asked me as a teenager—or even a high school graduate—to explain the Larry fandom, I’d have said it was because Larry’s dated, unsympathetic, and because it doesn’t matter the show used him for exaggeration and avoidance. Because “Three’s Company” was never actually hip. When you watch that show, you don’t think it’s hip, you realize it’s really cheap at times, but it was never hip. We all watched some really bad TV in the seventies and eighties. We watched some good TV too, but some of it was real bad. Anyway, I don’t feel like Larry failed me because Larry did make me into a bit of an asshole and what else would the point be of that character. But Jack was supposed to be a solid role model. And he was a dope.

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