Do you enjoy a good story with compelling and memorable heroes and heroines? This monthly column features homeschooled characters in literature and film. Wish you had your own copy of the book or movie? Just click on the product image or text links to go to the author’s site or Amazon to buy it!
Dharma & Greg is a TV sitcom that ran for five seasons, from 1997 to 2002. I had never watched it until I got the DVD of Season One for Valentine’s Day this year. Created by Chuck Lorre of The Big Bang Theory, it follows the adventures of an unlikely couple from completely different backgrounds who fall madly in love and get married on their first date.
Greg Montgomery (Thomas Gibson) is a Harvard-educated lawyer who works in the U.S. District Attorney’s office. He comes from a snooty rich family who reside in the “Old Money” part of San Francisco. Greg’s dad is an ultra-conservative businessman and his mom is the queen of socialite snob-ism.
Dharma Freedom Finkelstein Montgomery (Jenna Elfman) is a free spirited yoga instructor. She was raised – and homeschooled! – by unmarried hippie parents in a geodesic dome home in San Francisco. Dharma’s eccentric counterculture parents often talk about drugs and embrace liberal politics.
Both in-law families, who never agree on anything, stir up trouble and insult each other as they are shocked and offended by each other’s lifestyle and beliefs. But the two main characters are shown as caring and sensitive to each other, and they obviously love each other despite their differences.
Dharma’s need of stability is fulfilled with Greg, and his need of optimism is fulfilled with her. But there are bound to be some rough days ahead for the new couple and, indeed, their first fight follows quickly as Greg bemoans Dharma’s propensity to say whatever is on her mind regardless of social proprieties.
Whether it’s personal routines, cherished celebrations, politics, relationships with friends, or philosophies on discipline, Dharma and Greg can be counted on to see just about everything from opposite perspectives and their conflicting worldviews infallibly collide full force – resulting in chaos and hilarity along the lines of “I Love Lucy.”
I especially like how the show often incorporates Dharma’s homeschooled background into the story. In one episode, she buys a schoolbus because she missed out on the experience of riding one as a child. In another, Dharma takes a college class and is shocked to realize that some of the history she learned from her radical leftwing father (such as that the Apollo missions were sent to bury the Watergate tapes on the moon) may not have been true. Although played for laughs, it’s not disrespectful toward homeschoolers in general. Dharma’s nontraditional upbringing is actually part of what makes her such a likable character.
This sitcom is best for older teens and up, as some of the dialogue is a bit on the adult side – e.g., bedroom innuendo (they are newlyweds after all), but at least the couple is married. The series actually attempts to explore some of the more “serious” issues facing young couples in the first year of marriage.
Overall, Dharma & Greg is sweet and silly, the writing is witty and funny, and it’s good uplifting entertainment that leaves you with a positive feeling. It’s also an intelligent show as far as romantic comedies go – refreshingly humorous without being stupid.
Now I’ll have to get Dharma & Greg: Season Two!