More TV Memories – 8 Simple Rules…

8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter (ABC, 2002-2005)

This is an American sitcom that started off fairly quietly, but is best remembered for going through a rather traumatic period. 8 Simple Rules… is a sitcom that was based on the book 8 Simple Rules For Dating My Teenage Daughter by W Bruce Cameron, and centres around the Hennessy family. The parents are Paul, who is a writer, and Cate, who is a nurse. Their three children are Bridget, Kerry, and Rory.

Paul was played by John Ritter, and Cate by Katey Sagal, who of course had starred in sitcom Married… With Children for a decade (it was odd to think that the children in this sitcom were younger at the start than they were in Married… With Children which had launched 15 years earlier), and this was a character who was far removed from the bawdiness of Peggy. And Bridget was played by Kaley Cuoco, who would find fame by starring in the long-running sitcom The Big Bang Theory.

Most of the early episodes were based around the children becoming teenagers, and the rather strict rules that Paul had for anybody who wanted to date them. 8 Simple Rules… looked like it was going to settle down into becoming a rather straightforward domestic sitcom, with nothing too spectacular happening, but still containing enough amusing situations to keep going for a while. But then, something rather unexpected happened.

Shortly after work had began on the second series, John Ritter, who was best-known to viewers for starring in the sitcom Three’s Company and its sequel Three’s A Crowd (the American versions of the British sitcoms Man About The House and Robin’s Nest) died suddenly, and this show’s future was now in doubt. After a short break though, the decision was made to continue, with the character of Paul being written out.

There were some special episodes made without a studio audience, where the family were shown trying to cope with their loss. These were a rather tough watch though, as it was clear that a lot of the cast’s emotion was genuine, and this once cosy sitcom had suddenly turned rather bleak. It’s a long way from Married… With Children, put it that way. The role of Paul was not recast, but some new characters were added to fill the gap.

These were Jim, Cate’s dad (James Garner), and also her nephew CJ (David Spader). They struggled on until the end of the third series, but many people felt that without the father character, the idea was rather redundant really, and the ratings dropped off. There were 76 episodes of 8 Simple Rules… and they have been shown on various channels in this country, including Five, 5USA, ABC1, and Comedy Central.

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