On May 10, 1983, the last episode of “Laverne and Shirley” aired. With a schlemiel and schlimazel, Laverne De Fazio (Penny Marshall) and Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams) skipped their way into our hearts when the show premiered on January 27, 1976. Audiences quickly fell in love with the two best friends, making it the most-watched television show by its third season. In 1979, it was nominated for two Golden Globes and a Primetime Emmy. “Laverne and Shirley” was one of the first sitcoms to feature a female friendship between two liberated women, doing it their way.
The two women were first introduced to audiences as Fonzie’s friends on “Happy Days” in 1975. One year later, the duo got their own show. As expressed in the opening theme song, there was nothing that Laverne and Shirley would not try. They never heard the word impossible and there was no stopping them. The show was set in Milwaukee, WI from the late 1950s to the mid-1960s. Laverne and Shirley shared a basement apartment, goofy neighbors named Lenny and Squiggy, and a strong desire to live independent lives.
During the eight-season run of the show, Laverne and Shirley dodge bad blind dates, goof off at their bottle-capping job at Shotz Brewery and often fantasize about marrying their ideal man: a handsome doctor. Although they were practically inseparable, the bosom buddies have their own individual personality quirks. Perpetually sloppy and loud-mouthed, Laverne always wears a cursive “L” on all of her shirts and loves Pepsi milk, a concoction that actress Penny Marshall had enjoyed since childhood. Meanwhile, Shirley is the perkier, more soft-spoken of the two friends. She is a neatnik who also has borderline unhealthy obsessions with her two foot tall stuffed cat, Boo Boo Kitty, and teen idol, Fabian. Laverne and Shirley are both conventional in how they each pine for a husband. However, the show was revolutionary by also making them multi-dimensional characters, concerned both with workers’ rights at the brewery as well as animal rights at the local pound.
“Laverne and Shirley” inspired so many of the female friendships from TV that we know and love today. From “Insecure” and “Big Little Lies” to “Grace and Frankie,” television is jam-packed with shows about the strength women get from their friends. We can thank “Laverne and Shirley” for pioneering the more relatable way female BFFs are portrayed on the small screen.