Emmys Flashback: 'Kate & Allie' Made a Winning Pair During the '80s

CBS/Photofest
Jane Curtin (left, as Allie Lowell) and Susan Saint James (as Kate McArdle) in a 1984 episode of 'Kate & Allie.'

"Three decades have passed, and it's still rare for network execs to see there's a huge audience hungry for shows about women expressly for women," says the show's creator, Sherry Coben.

The Emmys occasionally have shown a soft spot for female buddy shows. The classic case would be CBS' police procedural Cagney & Lacey, which aired from 1982 to 1988.

One of the show's two leads, Tyne Daly and Sharon Gless, took home the lead actress in a drama series award for six years straight. Fast-forward to 2015, and a sitcom example would be Netflix's Grace and Frankie.

In 2016, Lily Tomlin was nominated, and this year, both she and co-star Jane Fonda are in the running for lead actress in a comedy series. That pairing harkens to another sitcom named for its two lead divorcees: Kate & Allie.

The CBS show starring Susan Saint James and Jane Curtin aired from 1984 to 1989. The Hollywood Reporter's first take was less than positive. "We must admit there was a time or two when we even laughed out loud," said the reviewer, "but not enough to make it worth our time." But the show was a ratings blockbuster out of the gate. Curtin went on to win two Emmys for lead actress in a comedy series, while Saint James was nominated three times in the same category.

"Three decades have passed, and it's still rare for network execs to see there's a huge audience hungry for shows about women expressly for women," says Kate & Allie creator Sherry Coben. "You can count on two hands the number of female-driven shows since. I'd hoped to set more of a trend." 

This story first appeared in an August stand-alone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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