Milwaukee, WI

Satire: Remembering Happy Days

Larry E Lambert

Many of us have seen the classic TV show, Happy Days, either when it originally aired, or in syndication. While it portrayed life in the 50s and 60s in Milwaukee as idyllic, if you look closer problems arise.

What about Chuck?

Richie and Joanie Cunningham originally had an older brother, Chuck. After appearing on the series for two seasons, Chuck was gone forever. The family seemed to take it well. Chuck was never seen on a milk carton and John Walsh was never called. Nobody called the police.

While nobody said anything about foul play, the fact is, Arthur Fonzarelli, aka “Fonzie”, and “The Fonz” did slide into Chuck’s role in the Cunnigham family pretty easily. Plus, Fonzie had a suspect background. Hmm.

Then there’s that jumping the shark thing.

The term, “jumping the shark” has been synonymous with a TV show doing something desperate to remain on the air. To be clear, Happy Days was still a ratings dynamo when Fonze jumped the shark. While wearing his leather jacket, no less.

Fonzie performed that stunt to prove his courage. Huh? Was The Fonze so insecure he had to resort to a dangerous stunt to prove himself? I thought he was supposed to exude self-confidence.

But the thing that really bothers me about Fonzie jumping the shark was the fact the Cunninghams supported him in that outrageous stunt. What responsible adult encourages that sort of behavior? It makes me wonder if Chuck Cunningham did something crazy like that and didn’t make it. When it comes to family members, to the Cunninghams, maybe it was easy come, easy go.

And speaking of questionable decisions, why did Howard and Marion allow Joanie to go to Chicago with Chachi?

That sounds like a good plan. Your daughter leaves home to go to Chicago with a guy named Chachi to play in a band. Of course, it didn’t work out. Chachi grew up to be Scott Baio and their spinoff show, “Joanie Loves Chachi,’ was canceled. The Cunninghams were probably relieved that Joanie didn’t come home pregnant.

And then there were Richie, Ralph, and Potsie.

Ultimately, like many young men in the early 60s, Richie and Ralph ended up in the army. Meanwhile, Potsie stayed in Milwaukee and pursued a career as a singer/punchline.

As the show wound down, Richie left for Hollywood to pursue a career as a screenwriter, while Ralph went to college to become an optometrist, like his dad.

In retrospect, Happy Days in Milwaukee were happier during the 50s than the 60s. Which was the way it was for a lot of the country.

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You probably don't know my name, but you've likely seen or heard my work. I've written for various syndicated cartoonists and TV standups. My gags have appeared in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, Better Homes and Gardens, Barron's, Parade Magazine, and the Saturday Evening Post. The comedians I've sold to include Jay Leno for the Tonight Show. In addition, I've written for radio stations and ad agencies. I hope you enjoy my work.

Largo, FL

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