Normal Life aired from March until July 1990 on CBS.
Real-life siblings Dweezil and Moon Unit Zappa starred in this family comedy that did such a good job living up to it's title that it was to boring to attract much of an audience. Max Harlow ( Maxwell Gail) was a successful freelance writer and his wife, Anne( Cindy Williams), worked for the school board. The Harlows lived in the Hollywood Hills with their 3 children-Jake ( Dweezil Zappa), an aspiring rock guitarist who didn't want to go to college; Tess ( Moon Unit Zappa), recently graduated from college but unsure what she wanted to do with her life; and Simon ( Josh Williams), the quiet insecure 13 year old kid brother who was neither as popular or athletic as Jake had been . Also seen regularly were Tess's spaced-out best friend, Prima ( Bess Meyer), and Bob ( Jim Staahl), the wacky doctor who lived next door.
Viewers may have wondered what the oddly named children of eccentric rock musician Frank Zappa were doing in a comedy as pedestrian as this. Therein lies a tale. When originally proposed, the series was supposed to be based on the Zappa family's real-life highly unconventional household, in which the activist, radical parents allowed their teenagers to do anything-drop out of school, experiment with drugs, alcohol, or cigarettes, sleep over with friends of the opposite sex. The kids called their parents by their first names, and rock music blared throughout the house. It was anarchy rooted in love. With nothing to rebel against, the kids became surprisingly responsible. A pilot was made, but the thought of such an unconventional family ( a sort of abnormal life) on its schedule made CBS so uncomfortable that the concept was progressively watered down. In the end , the most radical thing anybody did was go on a date or adopt a dog.
A Review from USA TODAY
TV PREVIEW/BY MATT ROUSH
This 'Normal Life' is a bummer to the max
If this is what normal life is all about, pass the Seconal and Demerol. On second thought, who needs a pill cocktail, when merely watching Normal Life is downer enough for anybody.
Sad as it sounds, maybe this show about a wannabe-hip L.A. family is what life is all about to the Hollywood Hills hacks who came up with CBS' midseason sitcoms. They take the network from comedy-weak to strong on weak comedies.
This one hopes, is the weakest. Paired with Sydney, a less hateful Los Angeles sitcom, Life is a good argument for that eventual earthquake. Either that or program execs should broaden their sights beyond their back yard. Or celler, where this ought to dwell.
Life's most glaring abnorality is its identity as a star vehicle for those gnarly sister-and-brother dudes, Moon Unit and Dweezil Zappa. Unattractive and self-satisfied, these siblings coin the phrase "smugly."
Moon Unit, a college grad still at home, hangs with a friend named Prima and wears funky Melrose clothes more suited to the Sunset Strip. Dweezil, a hopeful rocker and one time high-school jock-yea, right-mopes about with a tousled mop of hair and lots of unearned attitude.
It's disheartening to see how the kids of rock iconoclast Frank Zappa have bought into such mainstream muck . The thankless task of playing their TV parents goes to Cindy Williams, so shrill and priggish she's anything but a Mother of Invention and a bearded bloated Max Gail as Max.
Max's pot belly, as Moon Unit might have said before her Valley Girl act devolved into a Vallum-like haze, is grody to the max. He keeps a low profile in the pilot. Who can blame him?
The family also has a younger teen-age brother ( Josh Williams) who's not a Zappa. He's almost normal, except he's given , of all things , an inferiority complex about growing up in Dweezil's shadow of athletic triumphs. Get over it, kid , and get thee to a better sitcom. Even Growing Pains would do.
Normal Life won't. It's only bonus is giving you something constructive to do with your remote control. Zap the Zappas.
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