So here’s one more tale of the origin of a show name. Let’s talk “Mad About You.”
“Mad About You” was, for me, one of the underappreciated shows of the Must-See-TV era. It came on our schedule in fall 1992 and was paired up with “Seinfeld” against an hour of comedies on ABC. “Seinfeld,” in its first full season, had the thankless task of facing “Home Improvement,” while “Mad” went up against the one-and-done “Laurie Hill.”
With no lead-in support “Mad” held its own so, when we moved “Seinfeld” to Thursday in midseason, I parked “Mad About You” on Saturday night coming out of “Empty Nest.” It replaced “Nurses.”
I remember listening to the Saturday overnights on Sunday morning and was surprised at “Mad’s” performance. The show did exceptionally well over on Saturday, so well that when it came to the May sweep I kept reruns of it in the time period instead of original episodes of “Nurses.”
This led to yet another occasion when I was told that my job was on the line. The recently installed head of the West Coast operation at NBC confronted me in the parking lot and insisted that I put “Nurses” originals back on Saturday night. I patiently explained to this big, imposing dude that “Mad” was the only good thing that came out of development that year and we need to support it and we may need it in the fall. As I said before, I was never afraid to lose my job if I felt I was doing the right thing. He said “Well your f*****g job depends on it,” which is as close as you get to “Go ahead.”
“Mad About You” repeats performed well in the May sweep and it was the leadoff show of Thursday night the following fall. But “Mad About You” wasn’t “Mad About You” when we saw the pilot.
“Mad” started out its life as “Loved by You.” The theme song to the pilot was the Holland-Dozier-Holland classic “How Sweet It Is” made famous by the great Marvin Gaye, with the white people’s version popularized by James Taylor (did you ever hear Pat Boone sing “Tutti-Frutti”? You should).
Anyway, we couldn’t clear the song so we needed a new title. Now I have to digress again.
In the TV playbook there’s a whole genre of sitcoms that I like to call the schlubby guy with the hot wife/girlfriend. CBS is the master of this genre with “Big Bang Theory” and “Kevin Can Wait,” two current iterations. There is a subset of this genre that I call the “Shiksa Goddess” shows, where the schlubby guy is Jewish and his wife or girlfriend is not. She’s generally blonde. “Mad About You” fell into this category.
When we could not clear “Loved by You” I immediately went to my boss Warren Littlefield and pitched him my suggestion: “That’s My Shiksa.” I think he said it was too on the nose, and “Mad About You” was born.