thirtysomething

The BEST episodes of thirtysomething

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

When thirtysomething debuted in 1987 it was attacked by some critics as being a self-indulgent examination of the minutiae of yuppie life. Before the first season was over, some of those same critics were covering their tracks by calling it "the most improved show on television." Producers Ed Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz had teamed up before on Family and would go on to create My So-Called Life, Relativity and Once and Again. Often using feature-film techniques, their brand of what could be called "reality" television tackled not only the small subjects, but the big ones too, all the way from life to death, as they followed their characters on the road from the idealism of youth to the search for security and responsibility as they glided toward middle age.

Last Updated: 3/19/2022Network: ABC (US)
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California
star
10.00
1 votes

#1 - California

Season 4 - Episode 23 - Aired 5/28/1991

Michael gets a job offer in California. While out there, he runs into Elliot and they talk about forming another partnership. But Hope is adamantly against the move, so much so that her and Michael's marriage is threatened.

Directors: Scott Winant
Watch Now:Amazon
I'll Be Home for Christmas
star
9.50
2 votes

#2 - I'll Be Home for Christmas

Season 1 - Episode 9 - Aired 12/15/1987

Michael and Hope argue about whether their infant's first holiday should be Christmas or Hanukkah. A famous photographer shows interest in Melissa's work.

Watch Now:iTunes
But Not for Me
star
9.40
5 votes

#3 - But Not for Me

Season 1 - Episode 5 - Aired 11/3/1987

Gary and Melissa rekindle their affair; Michael and Hope's first date in months is a disaster.

Directors: Tom Moore
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Pilot
star
9.38
39 votes

#4 - Pilot

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 9/29/1987

Hope and Michael Steadman are still adjusting to parenthood while struggling with money problems and best-friend crises. After some intercut scenes of a courtship, wedding and pregnancy, we see married couple Michael and Hope Steadman at breakfast with their 7-month-old daughter Janey and their dog Grendel. At work, Michael tells off an important client over the phone, to the dismay of his good friend and business partner Elliot Weston. Both men realize that their fledgling advertising agency could be in danger of folding. Hope goes to meet her old friend Ellyn at a restaurant, but the occasion is ruined when Janey won't stop crying. Michael comes home to find Gary, his old friend from college, there with Hope. Arriving on the scene next is Michael's cousin Melissa, who is distraught because of a philandering boyfriend. From the conversation, it's revealed that Gary and Melissa have had a past romantic relationship.

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
We Gather Together
star
9.00
4 votes

#5 - We Gather Together

Season 1 - Episode 6 - Aired 11/17/1987

Hope and Michael plan a quiet Thanksgiving but learn friends are counting on being invited.

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Therapy
star
9.00
2 votes

#6 - Therapy

Season 1 - Episode 11 - Aired 1/12/1988

Elliot and Nancy seek professional help for their troubled marriage; Michael finds it hard to keep it a secret.

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Separation
star
8.33
3 votes

#7 - Separation

Season 1 - Episode 13 - Aired 1/26/1988

Elliot temporarily moves in with Michael and Hope after separating from Nancy.

Directors: Peter Horton
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Housewarming
star
8.14
7 votes

#8 - Housewarming

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 10/13/1987

Michael and Hope race to renovate their crumbling mansion for a huge housewarming party.

Directors: John Pasquin
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
The Parents Are Coming, the Parents Are Coming
star
8.11
9 votes

#9 - The Parents Are Coming, the Parents Are Coming

Season 1 - Episode 2 - Aired 10/6/1987

Hope's anxiety over her parents' impending visit taxes everyone's patience. Hope gets devastating news: Her parents are coming to visit in two days! The Steadmans hope Gary can fix their out-of-order bathroom in that time. Hope grows more and more frantic as the arrival approaches, and the news that Gary won't have the bathroom fixed only adds to her anxiety. Michael and Hope go to pick up Ruth and Ted Murdoch at the airport. On the way home, a palpable tension already is noticeable between Hope and her mother. Despite the parents' protests, Hope and Michael insist they take their master bedroom with its own bath. At night, Michael needs his razor but is afraid to enter in on Ruth and Ted. When they do let him in, Michael perhaps is thinking he's taking a look at Hope and himself thirty years down the line. Hope goes shopping with her mother and buys a dress she really doesn't like, but was afraid to disagree about with her mother.

Directors: Edward Zwick
Watch Now:iTunes
The Mike Van Dyke Show
star
8.00
2 votes

#10 - The Mike Van Dyke Show

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired 12/20/1988

As Christmas and Hanukkah near, Hope suffers a minor injury and an unknown illness. Michael has a crisis of faith and imagines his life as a 1960's TV sitcom. Michael and Hope are negotiating over Christmas/Hanukkah celebrations. Mike starts watching TV and sees himself in an old black & white TV sitcom, with the Westons interrupting his plans to be with Hope. The next day at work, Elliot tells Mike he seems distracted. Michael gets a phone call--Hope has been in an accident with Janey. Rushing to the hospital, he finds Janey unhurt and Hope looking tired with some contusions on her face, but otherwise apparently OK. Mike watches the TV show again, this time with Santa in it. He drives Melissa to the synagogue and she encourages him to come on Friday. Michael returns home with a tree and finds Hope getting ill in the bathroom. He tells her to go to the doctor about the dizzy spells she's been having. Another flash to the TV show: Hope is missing on a wintry night.

Directors: Ron Lagomarsino
Watch Now:iTunes
Couples
star
7.83
6 votes

#11 - Couples

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 10/27/1987

A night out with friends degenerates as Nancy and Elliot's marital woes become apparent.

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Nice Work If You Can Get It
star
7.67
3 votes

#12 - Nice Work If You Can Get It

Season 1 - Episode 7 - Aired 12/1/1987

Before a deadline, Michael and Elliot wrestle with a creativity block; Ellyn develops a crush on an associate.

Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Business as Usual
star
7.00
1 votes

#13 - Business as Usual

Season 1 - Episode 15 - Aired 2/9/1988

Michael's hopes for a joyous reunion with his father are destroyed when he discovers the real reason for the visit.

Directors: Claudia Weill
Watch Now:Amazon
Accounts Receivable
star
7.00
1 votes

#14 - Accounts Receivable

Season 1 - Episode 16 - Aired 3/1/1988

A rocky relationship between Michael and his brother Brad is further strained when Michael learns the family business is almost bankrupt.

Directors: Edward Zwick
Watch Now:Amazon
First Day / Last Day
star
7.00
1 votes

#15 - First Day / Last Day

Season 2 - Episode 8 - Aired 2/7/1989

Flashback scenes of Michael and Elliot meeting, working together, and forming their own company are interspersed with the present-day dissolution of the Michael and Elliot Company. The two have serious disagreements which threaten their friendship.

Directors: Peter Horton
Watch Now:iTunes
Elliot's Dad
star
7.00
1 votes

#16 - Elliot's Dad

Season 2 - Episode 10 - Aired 2/28/1989

CAPSULE: Elliot gets involved with his wayward father. Ethan suffers an injury. Elliot goes to see his divorced father Charlie who is in town. Charlie introduces him to a woman friend, Roberta Sessions, in a bit of an awkward meeting. When they go to Elliot's sister Ruthie's house for dinner, she gets irritated because her dad won't stop talking business with her husband. Ruthie takes Elliot aside and warns him to not give their dad money or get involved in his schemes. She reveals that Dad never paid for her college like he promised. Charlie tells Elliot he regrets some things in the past, but just looks to the future now. Soon Charlie has Elliot involved in doing some presentation work for a business idea he has. Elliot has Ethan with him at Charlie's hotel room when Charlie shows up with a sitter and says he's taking Elliot out to dinner. Elliot goes reluctantly. While there, they run into Nancy out on a date with Matt Enwright. She and Elliot have a big fight about leaving Ethan w

Directors: Dan Lerner
Watch Now:iTunes
No Promises
star
6.50
2 votes

#17 - No Promises

Season 2 - Episode 5 - Aired 1/10/1989

Ellyn tries to deal with the shock of her parents' divorce and her growing estrangement from Woodman. Ellyn is shocked to receive a call from her father asking her to lunch. With Hope and Nancy, she wonders why he's doing this for the first time in nineteen years. At work she has a disagreement with Woodman during a meeting. Ellyn meets her father, James. His conversation with her makes it obvious that he doesn't really pay attention to what she says. As they are leaving, he drops a bombshell: he and her mother Marjorie are getting divorced, and Ellyn should talk to her. At home, Woodman wonders what's upsetting Ellyn. She just wants to be alone and doesn't know how to act. Later when Ellyn meets with her mother, she wanders through her old house reminiscing about her emotionally distant father. Talking with Michael, Ellyn muses that she should have fallen for a guy like him.

Directors: Ken Olin
Watch Now:iTunes
Success
star
6.50
2 votes

#18 - Success

Season 2 - Episode 7 - Aired 1/31/1989

Melissa gets a job working with Carly Simon. Michael and Elliot face losing their business. Melissa is excited--Russell has shown some of her work around and he might be able to get her the job of shooting Carly Simon's next album cover! When he calls to confirm the good news, Ellyn is with her. Russell also tells her they're going to be a party for Carly and she can invite all the friends she wants. Melissa hides that last bit of information from Ellyn. Meanwhile Michael and Elliot are worried about their biggest account, Motherland Dairies, which has been sold and may drop them. The Michael & Elliot company plays Miles Drentell's DAA ad agency in basketball and loses. Mike relives the game in his imagination, making the winning layup. Later Michael and Elliot meet with the new owners of Motherland, who let them go. Mike is sure this is the end of their company, but Elliot still thinks there is hope. Russell and Melissa are at the Steadman's house.

Directors: Ron Lagomarsino
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
In Re: the Marriage of Weston
star
6.00
1 votes

#19 - In Re: the Marriage of Weston

Season 2 - Episode 2 - Aired 12/13/1988

Things get complicated between Elliot and Nancy as they moved toward finalizing their divorce. They both try to establish new relationships. Scenes of Elliot and Nancy's courtship are intercut with the present-day divorce preparations. Elliot has to get cash advances on his salary from an unhappy Michael. Nancy, using the last name Krieger, calls editor Jack Bronstein about her book. He's enthusiastic but says he can't recommend it yet--the story's a ""little weak."" Meanwhile Elliot's lawyer Adrian tries to talk business with him at a restaurant, but he's more interested in coming on to her. She declines to go out with him. Nancy is working at an office job, and a younger employee there, Terry O'Neil, seems to like her. Later when she and Jack are at her house working on the book, he kisses her. Nancy tells Melissa she's been carrying around her diaphragm! Later, Nancy has a physical encounter with Terry.

Directors: Peter Horton
Watch Now:iTunes
Politics
star
6.00
1 votes

#20 - Politics

Season 2 - Episode 6 - Aired 1/17/1989

CAPSULE: Michael takes on a client that he, his wife and his friends find repugnant. Gary and Susannah's odd relationship continues to grow. At a diner with Hope, Gary, Elliot and Melissa, Michael returns a phone call to Jerry Kravitz, an old friend of his and Gary's from their college days at Penn. He wants the Michael & Elliot company to do some media work a Senate candidate he represents, Diana McKay. Mike has the first of several flashbacks seen throughout the show of himself, Gary and Jerry involved in demonstrations and campus politics. Gary goes to the Race St. Project and offers to help Susannah write up their grant application. A little attraction seems to be developing. Gary leans in as if to kiss her, but she pulls away. Michael & Elliot take on the McKay account, but Gary, Susannah and Hope let them know they think McKay is a terrible choice. Hope is not too impressed with Jerry either after a night of reminiscing with him and Michael. Susannah apologizes to Gary for the ""w

Watch Now:iTunes
Payment Due
star
6.00
1 votes

#21 - Payment Due

Season 2 - Episode 11 - Aired 3/7/1989

CAPSULE: Ellyn's work and personal life take a great toll on her, both physically and emotionally. Ellyn has been suffering from an unknown stomach ailment but she tells Woodman and Hope that's she's OK. But at a dinner at the Steadmans she shows a sharp burst of temper, then makes a drunken crack about Michael's business failing. Hope and Woodman both want to know what's been making Ellyn so crazy, but she doesn't give them any good answers. Ellyn goes to her doctor about the stomach trouble. He gives her a referral to a gastro-intestinal specialist; she throws it away. Meanwhile at City Hall, assistant district attorney Dave Callaman, an acquaintance of both Ellyn and Woodman, has been around asking about an investigation he's working on. But he has a personal interest in Ellyn and he asks her out. Ellyn goes bowling with him and tells Woodman she was talking to him about the investigation. Later at work he spies Ellyn and Dave having what appears to be an intimate moment. When Ellyn

Directors: Ron Lagomarsino
Watch Now:iTunes
Deliverance
star
6.00
2 votes

#22 - Deliverance

Season 2 - Episode 12 - Aired 3/21/1989

CAPSULE: Ellyn, Nancy, Hope and Melissa go on a cathartic camping trip. Melissa gets some camping equipment as a payoff for a photo shoot and the gang makes plans to take a camping trip to the Poconos. But Elliot gets a lead on some work, forcing Michael to have to tell Hope, who has been looking forward to the trip for months, that he can't go. Gary opts out of the trip, and Ellyn, despite her ulcer, decides to go. The four women set off in the car for the journey. On the trail to Parker Cave, Ellyn is gung-ho and pushing the group until they get to the cave, then she's afraid to go in. Nancy and Hope remember the scary old tour guide at the cave from their youth. Ellyn says she'll hike around the mountain cave--seven miles!--rather than go through. Hope decides that she and the others shouldn't leave her. They hike until nightfall, then they make a camp. Nancy's ghost story makes Ellyn more nervous. In the tent that night, Hope inadvertently reveals to Nancy that Elliot had an affair

Directors: Peter Horton
Watch Now:iTunes
Michael Writes a Story
star
6.00
1 votes

#23 - Michael Writes a Story

Season 2 - Episode 13 - Aired 4/4/1989

Michael takes a creative writing class, as does Nancy. Michael incurs Nancy's wrath when he writes about something he heard about her in confidence from Elliot. Also, Michael and Elliot get new jobs working for Miles Drentell at DAA.

Directors: Tom Moore
Watch Now:iTunes
New Job
star
6.00
2 votes

#24 - New Job

Season 2 - Episode 14 - Aired 4/11/1989

CAPSULE: Hope suffers a miscarriage just as Michael and Elliot begin work for Miles Drentell at DAA. Elliot and Michael are in Miles Drentell's office interviewing for jobs at DAA. While they are there Michael gets a phone call from Hope at her obstetrician's office: the doctor has done an ultrasound and it shows a case of fetal demise. Hope acts stoic about it. Later Elliot calls with good news--they got the jobs, with offices and great pay. Mike tells him about the miscarriage. Michael is reluctant to go in to DAA for his first day but Hope insists that he does. Mike and Elliot meet a fellow creative team, Angel Wasserman and Hollis Amato, who seem to be playing with the guys' heads a bit. In fact, they been assigned to the same account as Michael and Elliot, the Spingeri automobile. Michael returns home to Hope, who is glad to see him. The phone rings, and it's Elliot with some work, which secretly disappoints Hope. Hope talks with Val about working for Synergy. Val encourages her t

Directors: Joshua Brand
Watch Now:AmazoniTunes
Be a Good Girl
star
6.00
1 votes

#25 - Be a Good Girl

Season 2 - Episode 15 - Aired 4/25/1989

CAPSULE: Melissa must deal with her aging grandmother who wants her to take over her business. Melissa is preparing to go to her parents for a birthday dinner for herself, her mother Elaine and her beloved grandmother Rose, or Nana, who has runs a dress store for fifty-five years. Elaine thinks her mom needs to move in with her and her husband Murray, but Melissa thinks her mom treats Nana ""like Grandma Moses"", even though she has congestive heart failure! Ellyn, who is therapy now, comes to Melissa with a job offer from City Hall and Melissa takes it, even though she's quite busy. At her parents house, Melissa is taking a family portrait with a couple of other aunts included when Nana has a vivid flashback of a young girl skating. Her behavior worries the others, and they call a doctor. Soon, though, Nana is back at work, critiquing customers, when she has a pain attack. She asks Melissa not to call Elaine, but she does call her, along with a doctor. Nana also has another flashback of

Directors: Richard Kramer
Watch Now:iTunes