‘Three’s Company’ Evolved From a British Sitcom to the American Hit Series

by Josh Lanier
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To hear creator Fred Silverman tell it, Three’s Company shouldn’t have made it to television. There were so many bumps along the way and lucky last-second decisions that it was a miracle the network didn’t shelve it before giving up on it.

And that included a lot of people seeing the potential in the show long before a script was even commissioned. For instance, an ABC executive had watched a British show called Man of the House, and she was convinced a similar show could work in the U.S.

The IMDB descriptions for the shows are practically the same.

“One morning after a particularly wild party, Chrissy and Jo wake up to find Robin sleeping in their bath. He needs a place to live, they need a flatmate that can cook, so they decide to let him live with them. Robin is convinced he’s in with a chance with both of them, but he never seems to quite manage to impress either woman enough to get them to go out with him! Further ruining his chances is the dampening presence of landlord George Roper and his wife Mildred who live downstairs.”

It took a while to get ABC on board for Three’s Company, Silverman said. For instance, Man of the House ended in 1976, the same year Three’s Company debuted. But once the show was on the air it was a rating juggernaut.

Major Fights Behind Scenes of ‘Three’s Company’

Three’s Company would go on to be a massive success. But that didn’t mean there was harmony behind the scenes. In fact, at one point, they were at each other’s throats over contract disputes.

It started because Suzanne Somers, one of the breakout stars from the show, wanted as much as star John Ritter per episode. It started a fight that caused the cast to splinter into factions, she said.

“Oh, it was so sad,” Somers said in a 2020 interview with ET Online. “It was so sad. It was like being shunned from your family and whatever those producers said to them when they went back to the rehearsal hall, they painted me as greedy.”

Somers said Three’s Company show producers made it look like she was trying to ruin the hit show.

Somers and Ritter only spoke once more before his death in 2003. Joyce DeWitt and Somers spoke for the first time in 30 years for an interview.

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