While watching the straight-to-DVD masterpiece (read: piece of crap) Gray Matters earlier this week, starring one of my biggest celeb crushes, Tom Cavanagh, it occurred to me he had a connection to divorce. Cavanagh starred as the titular character in Ed, NBC’s all too short-lived (and tragically unavailable on DVD) series, and one of my favorite shows of all time.

photo courtesy of michigandaily.com

photo courtesy of michigandaily.com

Ed Stevens returns to his hometown of Stuckeyville, Ohio, after being fired from his high profile New York City law firm and subsequently discovering his wife in bed with another man. When he returns to Stuckeyville, he runs into his high school crush, Carol Vessey, and when she unexpectedly kisses him, he decides to buy the local bowling alley and set up his own law practice there.

The series struck a great balance between serious and sweet, and leaned heavily on the quirky characters populating the town and Stuckeybowl. Employee Phil (played by the hilarious Michael Ian Black — another celeb crush) constantly came up with harebrained schemes, like writing an alternative to “Happy Birthday” so he wouldn’t have to pay royalties. Ed and his best friend Mike challenged each other to an ongoing series of ridiculous $10 bets, like the infamous “Burger Me” restaurant order (and this one, my personal favorite).

Divorce as the driving catalyst for the changes in Ed’s life was perhaps a bit of a cliche (a man “wakes up” and “discovers himself” after severing his marriage bonds!), but it worked for the show, since it gave Cavanagh an opportunity to play to his strengths, and be at once charming, vulnerable, serious, romantic, goofy, and adorable. (Okay, so maybe I have more than just a crush.) Glossing over the fact that Ed’s ex Liz was played by several different actresses over the show’s four seasons (including Janeane Garofalo and Lea Thompson), Liz’s presence — and lack thereof — in Ed’s life was an important linchpin for the series.

Season one’s “Something Old, Something New” was an especially revealing episode, as it allowed Ed to deal with the dissolution of his marriage in the wake of the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday he’d be spending without his soon-to-be-ex wife. And were it not for Liz’s cheatin’ ways, Ed never would have moved home, wooed Carol, and then come up with the best marriage proposal of all time (sadly, that clip lacks the original music, Old 97’s – “Question.” Sync these two up and enjoy).

– Katie Nowak

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