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Paul's 7 Best And 7 Worst Moments On Mad About You

Before Paul Reiser starred in "Stranger Things," audiences knew him as New York-based documentary filmmaker Paul Buchman on NBC's "Mad About You." This beloved sitcom follows Paul, a married 30-something living in New York City, over the course of seven seasons. "Mad About You," which is still considered one of the best parts of the 1990s sitcom landscape, won a multitude of awards throughout its highly successful run, including 12 Primetime Emmy Awards. The series even received a limited revival in 2019, 20 years after the original finale aired. 

Part of what makes "Mad About You" so compelling is the richness of the main characters' lives and relationships. Each of them is clearly defined and has their own well-developed motivation and backstory. Audiences get to watch Paul navigate his new marriage, his bonds with friends and family, and his budding career as a director. Along the way, his multifaceted personality's good and bad sides come to brilliant life. His most memorable moments include instances of dishonesty and jealousy, but they also include ingenuity, love, and plenty of humor — and we're here to explore them all. These are Paul's 7 best and 7 worst moments on "Mad About You."

Worst: Everybody Hates Me

It's easy to feel like the world is against you. Paul experiences this uncomfortable emotion in the appropriately titled Season 4 episode "Everybody Hates Me." Paul's cousin Ira (John Pankow) frequently relies on him to serve as a wingman while he tries to find a date. Paul usually does a respectable job in this role, but here, he fails. Ira tries to date a woman named Sophia (Fabiana Udenio), whom he meets in an Italian bakery. Much to Paul's surprise, his smooth-talking cousin succeeds in wooing her, and the two men decide to go on a double date with Sophia and Paul's wife Jamie (Helen Hunt).

Paul creates problems for Ira when he lets his tendency to ramble get the best of him. He accidentally reveals an embarrassing nickname from Ira's childhood, and tells Sophia the cringe-worthy story of its origin. Paul thinks nothing of telling this tale, but it profoundly affects Sophia. An enraged Ira calls him later that evening to let him know that his and Sophia's relationship is over. When Paul tries to make things right, he and Ira get into a physical altercation over his failure to keep the childhood secret to himself. It is, to put it bluntly, not one of his finer moments.

Best: Married to the Job

Paul and Jamie each have a rich professional life. They're always willing to advise each other in difficult situations, especially when prioritizing work satisfaction. In the Season 2 episode "Married to the Job," Jamie complains to Paul about her boss, Mr. Farrer (Larry Miller), while they have dinner at Riff's Bar. According to Jamie, Mr. Farrer is biased against women and constantly takes credit for her ideas. Paul assumes the familiar role of supportive husband, and encourages Jamie to stand up for herself.

At first, Jamie is reluctant to follow his advice. But Paul gives her some tough love, and demonstrates how he would tell Mr. Farrer off on her behalf. Paul's protectiveness is endearing, but unfortunately, Jamie's boss happens to be seated near them. Paul feels horrible for his mistake, and Jamie worries that she'll lose her job. The next day, Paul shows up at Jamie's office to help make things right — but his help isn't needed. The conflict he created between Jamie and her boss inspires her to finally quit her miserable job and move on with her life.

Worst: The Baby Video

Paul Buchman means well, but sometimes, his good intentions aren't enough to make a project successful. In the Season 6 episode "The Baby Video," Paul allows Jamie and Ira to rope him into making a children's video. At first, Paul serves as a mediator for Jamie and Ira's heated creative debate, and struggles to decide which side to support. However, his role quickly evolves from impartial advisor to reluctant actor and director. Jamie and Ira even talk him into playing the Sandman, the classic fictional character that helps children sleep peacefully .

Filming the video soon turns into chaos, and it's clear that Paul has no interest in playing this role. Worse, his costume is hilariously humiliating, which only adds to his disdain for the project. Ira and Jamie continue to bicker during filming and give Paul directions that are confusing enough to make him give up. Finally, when Jamie shows the finished product to her Mommy and Me group, Paul is humiliated yet again. Instead of being soothing or enjoyable to watch, his terrible performance terrifies all the kids in the group. The result is a room full of crying babies and toddlers, including Paul's daughter, Mabel.

Best: Till Death Do Us Part

Although relations between Paul and Jamie's families aren't always pleasant, the couple supports each other's love of their respective relatives. When Jamie's Uncle Van dies in Season 3's "Till Death Do Us Part," Paul does his best to help her cope. As a grief-stricken Jamie struggles to give an eloquent eulogy at the funeral, Paul steps up to the podium and tries to salvage the speech for her. His efforts aren't very successful, but his desire to save his wife from embarrassment is immensely endearing.

Later, Paul comes up with an excellent idea for what to do with Van's ashes. He was an avid horse-racing fan, so Paul calls upon Ira for help spreading Van's ashes in the Winner's Circle at the nearest racetrack. The cousins bring Jamie, Lisa, and Uncle Van's urn to the track for one final race before scattering the ashes. Paul goes to great lengths to blend in with Ira's friends and inadvertently bets on a winning horse. Unfortunately, Lisa loses track of the urn, but Paul's plan still succeeds: The urn finds its way into a trophy case, and is forever housed in one of the places Van loved best.

Worst: So I Married A Hair Murderer

At first, Jamie struggles to adjust after quitting her job at Farrer-Gantz Public Relations. She's bored and directionless — a state Paul becomes a victim of in Season 2's "So I Married A Hair Murderer." Jamie decides to buy a device called a Vacu-Trim to eliminate Paul's need to visit the barber. Paul is fearful of this new machine, but Jamie insists on cutting his hair. Sadly, the Vacu-Trim does a terrible job, and Paul spends the rest of the episode wearing a baseball cap.

But even this humiliating haircut isn't enough to justify the very poor decision Paul makes later in the episode: He lies to Jamie about having to work late. In reality, all he wants is to watch "The Three Stooges" without Jamie hanging around. When Jamie shows up at his workplace, Paul continues to lie, although she's obviously caught him. He finally comes clean, but it's too late. His lie hurts Jamie's feelings far more than honesty would have. She forgives him, but they could have avoided this conflict if Paul had just told her how he felt.

Best: The Birth, Part 2

Despite their recurring conversations about becoming parents, Paul and Jamie don't have children until Season 5. The two-part season finale, "The Birth," details all the events that lead up to the birth of their only daughter, Mabel Buchman (Alyssa and Justin Baric). In the finale's second half, Paul frantically searches for Jamie's ring and fears he won't make it to the hospital in time. When he finally arrives, news reporters, police, and a massive crowd are blocking the entrance. Paul soon discovers the source of the commotion is Bruce Willis, who's receiving treatment after a filming accident.

Paul desperately tries to push his way through the crowd to get to Jamie and runs into Bruce Willis, who's trying to hide from the press. Paul helps Bruce evade hospital security, and, in return, Bruce helps Paul make his way to the maternity ward. The two have to crawl through the hospital's ventilation system to avoid detection, but Paul still manages to arrive before the delivery. He stays beside Jamie throughout the labor process, and the couple welcomes their first child into the world together.

Worst: Disorientation

Toward the end of Season 2 of "Mad About You," Jamie gears up to return to college. Paul is supportive, but his thoughtlessness gets him into trouble in "Disorientation." Jamie is understandably anxious about starting school and repeatedly prepares for her first day. She tasks Paul with mailing her class registration paperwork ahead of time, which he completely forgets to do. Instead of being honest, Paul tries to hide his mistake and enlists Fran, Lisa, and Ira's help.

From long registration lines to unpleasant run-ins with professors, Paul's failure costs him and his helpers a frantic morning of frustration. Each of them struggles to get Jamie a place in the classes she selected and has to beg or bribe the professors to sign the registration cards. To make matters worse, all four have to take identification photos as Jamie Buchman. Although they eventually succeed in getting Jamie's schedule finalized, they fail to hide Paul's mistake. When Jamie gets her identification photo taken, she gets copies of Ira, Lisa, Fran, and Paul's photos as well.

Best: Surprise

Romantic gestures are one way Paul shows Jamie he cares ... but things don't always go according to plan. In Season 2's "Surprise," Paul begins Jamie's birthday with a special breakfast. He also buys tickets to Broadway's "Tommy." Sadly, Paul isn't able to get two consecutive seats due to a seating chart mishap. Undeterred, he decides to try switching the tickets before the show begins.

Jamie tries to guess where Paul is taking her, but he refuses to spoil the surprise. However, things start to go wrong when Paul and Jamie get separated on the subway. They finally find each other at the box office, but are too late to get better seats. Jamie is so upset by the non-consecutive tickets, she begs Paul to take her home. Although Paul initially gets frustrated, he realizes that Jamie's happiness is what matters most. They make up on the subway, and Paul has one last good idea: He pays a trio of subway singers to serenade them. It's a simple, sweet moment that makes her feel better about the evening's many mishaps.

Worst: Paved With Good Intentions

Relationships with in-laws are complicated, and the Buchmans are all too familiar with this struggle. In Season 7's "Paved With Good Intentions," Paul borrows Mark's car and plans to pick up his mother-in-law Theresa (Penny Fuller) at a local toy store. She walks out of the store with armloads of toys for Paul's daughter and waves him down. The pick-up should be simple, but Paul's foot accidentally slips off the brake pedal and hits the gas. Instead of picking up his mother-in-law, Paul runs her over.

Paul takes her to Roosevelt Hospital for her injuries, which include two broken arms. When Jamie arrives, Paul initially lies about the accident, claiming to be a witness, but Theresa soon forces him to admit the truth. As if being in hot water with his mother-in-law isn't bad enough, Paul soon finds himself scolded by his wife, too. Unfortunately, Paul's next decision worsens the situation: He inexplicably calls Theresa's feuding ex-husband and current boyfriend to see her in the hospital. No one can figure out why he would do such a thing, including Paul himself. 

Best: Giblets For Murray

Throughout "Mad About You," Paul proves himself to be a supportive husband, even when things are at their worst. This is on display when the Buchmans take their first turn at holiday hosting in Season 3's Thanksgiving episode, "Giblets For Murray." Jamie's mother Theresa and Paul's mother Sylvia (Cynthia Harris) take turns making the event more difficult for their children. They complain about the food, the table settings, and everything else, which makes an already-nervous Jamie even more panicked. Paul's mother is especially hard on Jamie about her homemaking skills.

To keep the dinner from going off the rails, Paul steps in to help his wife appease their picky guests. Paul and Jamie take turns running back and forth to their local grocery store for marshmallows, salad, and other items their disappointed mothers request. Despite their efforts, the evening goes from bad to worse when the dog eats Jamie's perfectly cooked turkey. Paul immediately comes to the rescue by helping Jamie distract their guests and sneaking off to buy a new turkey. They even rope some of their friends into the operation, making their desperate attempts to save the day even funnier. Luckily, Paul's mother takes mercy on them and pretends not to notice the turkey debacle. 

Worst: Virtual Reality

Season 2's "Virtual Reality" highlights some of Paul's worst behaviors. It begins when Ira convinces Paul to invest in a virtual reality company by letting him try the system out for himself. Of all his available choices, Paul opts to go on a very steamy virtual date with Christie Brinkley. He gets a little too excited during this tete-a-tete, especially since he's happily married to Jamie. The demonstration is more than enough to sell him on the merits of virtual reality.

To his credit, Paul does attempt to get Jamie's permission to invest in the company. However, the conversation is just for show: He's already put up the cash. Jamie is furious at Paul for making a financial decision without her, especially since money is tight. What's worse, Paul openly admits to his virtual date without regard for his wife's feelings. Finally, Paul talks her into exploring virtual reality for herself. He then reveals an unfair double standard when Jamie has a virtual date of her own. Although Paul feels justified in his actions, he can't stand the thought of Jamie doing the same. Ironically, her ideal date is just a virtual version of Paul admitting he was wrong.

Best: Paul Is Dead

It's difficult to imagine that a funeral could be a good moment for anyone, but Paul finds himself in that situation in Season 2's "Paul Is Dead." When the Buchmans discover their credit and debit cards aren't working, they go to the bank for answers. Much to their surprise, a bank representative tells them that Paul is dead. The bank had another customer named Paul Buchman, apparently, and that Mr. Buchman recently died. Temporarily penniless and curious about the man with his name, Paul decides to pay his respects.

While attending the funeral, Paul and Jamie meet one of Mr. Buchman's relatives, Monty (Lenny Wolpe), who mistakes them for a couple he's met before. While Monty tells them about Mr. Buchman, Paul imagines how his own funeral might unfold. In this imaginary funeral, Paul appears to Jamie as a spirit and discovers she's found a new man. Despite being sad she's moved on, Paul tells Jamie to enjoy her new life and assures her he cherished their time together. Then, after snapping out of his daydream, he kisses Jamie, clearly happy he isn't the Paul Buchman in the casket.

Worst: Out Of The Past

Many people have fond memories of former crushes or old flames, but Paul lets them get the best of him in Season 1's "Out Of The Past." Paul's friend Selby (Tommy Hinkley) gives him some surprising news over lunch: He ran into Paul's college love interest, Lynne Stoddard (Lisa Edelstein). Paul immediately wants to know if Selby talked about him, and is upset Selby mentioned his marriage. As if that isn't cringeworthy enough, Paul later goes home and re-watches videos of himself and Lynne. Jamie catches him and presses him for information, and Paul suspiciously overreacts.

Paul's behavior becomes more inappropriate when Selby calls to let him know he's having dinner with Lynne. Paul frantically gets himself ready to meet them and tries to avoid bringing Jamie along. When they arrive at the restaurant, Paul completely forgets to introduce his wife to Lynne and spends most of the night ignoring her. Jamie responds by being justifiably passive-aggressive, but Paul is so blinded by his crush that he tries to defend himself. The result is an embarrassing public fight between husband and wife. Even once they go home for the night, Paul goes on a tone-deaf tangent about whether or not Jamie thinks Lynne was standoffish. Jamie is gracious enough to spare Paul's ego, but he probably deserves a very different response. 

Best: Met Someone

Every couple has an origin story, and the history of how the Buchmans met includes some of Paul's finest moments. The two meet at a newsstand, where they bicker over the last available copy of The Sunday Times. Smitten, Paul is easily convinced to let Jamie have the newspaper. Later, Paul meets his friend Selby at a bar to discuss an upcoming double date. When it goes badly, Paul becomes determined to find the newsstand stranger with the help of a dry cleaning ticket she dropped.

To Jamie's surprise, Paul shows up at her office to deliver her dry cleaning. Even more surprisingly, Paul reveals that he spoke to receptionists on 33 floors to find her office. Somewhat reluctantly, Jamie allows Paul to attend an office holiday party already in progress. Paul does his best to mingle with her coworkers and friends, including Fran (Leila Kenzle) and her husband Mark (Richard Kind). By the end of the episode, Paul's grand gestures and funny banter finally win Jamie over, and the two leave the party to go on their first date. It's one of the most romantic moments in '90s TV.