Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Podcast Tuesday: "The Last Temptation of Richiekins"

Ron Howard flirts with Mary Margaret on Happy Days.

Richie Cunningham (Ron Howard) is a nice kid -- honest, hardworking, forthright, and considerate. In Season 5 of Happy Days, he meets an equally nice girl named Lori Beth (Lynda Goodfriend). Together, they make a nice couple. After suffering numerous romantic disappointments in Seasons 1 through 4, Richie was overdue for a winning streak. But sitcoms need more than niceness for their stories; they need conflict. So the writers of Happy Days conspired to create turmoil in the Richie/Lori Beth relationship. 

They did it by making Richie a jerk. In episodes like "Potsie Gets Pinned," "Richie's Girl Exposes the Cunninghams," and "Rules to Date By," Richie becomes paranoid and possessive, and he goes out of his way to pick fights with Lori Beth, usually over nothing. During the "Westward Ho" three-parter at the beginning of Season 6, Richie is so taken with a cowgirl named Thunder (Ruth Cox) that he seemingly forgets about Lori Beth for a while. (He eventually remembers her.)

Things reach a culmination point in the episode we're reviewing this week: "Casanova Cunningham." In this story, Richie actually lies to Lori Beth so he can escort a visiting baton twirler named Corinne (Mary Margaret) from Michigan. After he and Corinne make out at Arnold's, Richie is so consumed with guilt that he immediately confesses to a devastated Lori Beth. Does this slip up spell the end of their relationship? Does Richie actually learn anything?

You can find out the answer to these and other burning questions by listening to the latest installment of These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast