8 Things I Learned About ’70s L.A. from ‘Three’s Company’

It looked like a funny place to be, but did art represent reality?

Image for post
Image for post
Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter, and Suzanne Somers in the Three’s Company bachelor/bachelorette pad (Photo: ABC)
Image for post
Image for post
John Ritter, Suzanne Somers, and Loni Anderson at the Regal Beagle (Photo ABC)

1. Blondes really did have more fun (and dates).

An assortment of lovely ladies came in and out of the Three’s Company bachelor/bachelorette pad and in and out of Jack’s life — and most of them were blonde. Suzanne Somers, Jenilee Harrison, and Priscilla Barnes each took turns as the resident blondie (Chrissy Snow, Cindy Snow, and Terri Alden, respectively), and they always seemed to outrank poor, pretty brunette Janet Wood (Joyce DeWitt) on the babe scale.

2. Disco must have danced right past it.

Three’s Company may have launched at the height of disco fever, but its three young people in the city couldn’t have seemed less interested in getting their boogie down. The Regal Beagle, though perfectly OK for an after-work drink or two, wasn’t exactly jumpin’ jumpin’.

3. It was blindingly white.

In the dozens of episodes I’ve watched on YouTube during binge sessions over the last two years or so, I can remember seeing a black person in a speaking role only once — the time Jack got arrested for beating up a cop and two of his cellmates were black. Were all the other blacks on parole or living in Watts with Fred Sanford from Sanford and Son?

Image for post
Image for post
Mr. Roper (Norman Fell) regresses. (Photo: ABC)

4. It was homophobic in the most high-school sense of the word.

I was too young in the late ’70s and early ’80s to identify as gay or to get offended by the words Mr. Roper (Norman Fell) and Mr. Furley used to describe gay men. “Fairy” and “Tinkerbell” made occasional cameos, and to Roper and Furley, who hardly qualified as macho men, to be gay was basically to be female.

5. But when it came to living with two women, it was worse to be straight than gay.

Three’s Company’s L.A. might be the only place in the ’70s where it was easier for an out gay man to score an apartment than an out straight man.

6. Men needed a #MeToo of their own.

In the aforementioned “And Justice for Jack” episode, Jack’s boss hit on him and then fired him when he turned her down. After he decided to sue, his female lawyer hit on him, and the judge ruled against him because she thought he was too sexy for his clothes.

Image for post
Image for post
Four’s a crowd: David Dukes, Joyce DeWitt, John Ritter, and Suzanne Somers (Photo: ABC)

7. You weren’t allowed to hit a violent blind man — or forcibly remove him from your home.

“Jack’s Navy Pal” was possibly the worst episode of Three’s Company’s eight seasons. In this 1978 installment, David Dukes played a Navy nemesis who punched Jack on sight at their reunion — only his old enemy was blind at the time. (Dukes had previously played the guy who tried to rape Edith Bunker in a 1977 episode of All in the Family and the ad man who tried to convince George Jefferson to pretend to be a descendant of Thomas Jefferson in a 1976 episode of The Jeffersons.)

8. You could get a furnished two-bedroom apartment with a huge separate kitchen for $200/month.

As a kid, I always assumed the furniture in the Three’s Company apartment belonged to its tenants. I must not have been paying close enough attention. When they moved out in the 1984 finale, they took everything but the furniture.

Written by

Brother Son Husband Friend Loner Minimalist World Traveler. Author of “Is It True What They Say About Black Men?” and “Storms in Africa” https://rb.gy/3mthoj

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store