Monday, October 17, 2011

Barbara Eden's Jeannie Out of the Bottle

Question. Am I reading more non-fiction these days? I hardly used to read any before. My theory on this observation is that most people tend to read non-fiction (versus fiction) because it is about something that interests them, and when you're younger, you're still figuring out what you like. In my teens, I read movie companions for movies I liked, but most of the non-fiction books I bought I never finished, if I even started them. Now when I buy one, I actually do read it, saying that it's because it's by such-and-such or it's about such-and-such. Because, that is, I am genuinely interested.

This spring, Barbara Eden published her autobiography, Jeannie Out of the Bottle, which I just finished reading tonight. What perfect timing for this book to come out, not so long after my "discovery" of I Dream of Jeannie. (This is the second Jeannie book I have read--the other was Dreaming of Jeannie: TV's Prime Time in a Bottle, which I don't believe I ever commented on here.) I was glad to get this book (which I seem to be saying often lately--am I that emotionally involved?), though it's worth noting that as an autobiography, I Dream of Jeannie is not its only subject matter. But I liked everything else, too, from learning about Barbara Eden's youth, her entrance into show-business, and her encounters with various big names. The Lucille Ball bit was interesting (one does love to hear about intersections between people from two shows one loves), if also sad. If you're wondering, Barbara Eden appears in the I Love Lucy episode "Country Club Dance," which I just watched this summer knowing for the first time that it was she in the role.

A couple of sentences caught my particular attention. Now, I knew that most everybody involved in the show (I Dream of Jeannie, that is) had been against the wedding in the fifth season. But I didn't realize this: "After all, I Dream of Jeannie's abiding theme was Jeannie's unrequited love for Major Nelson, his belief that she was just a figment of his imagination, and her stubborn insistence that she was real" (Barbara Eden, Jeannie Out of the Bottle, 2011). The first time I read that, I probably took it a little further than it actually is, but still. I don't know if I interpreted the show quite in that way. I always took delight in the fact that Jeannie and Tony adore each other, but often don't show it in the usual, obvious ways. Because, honestly, I don't see it as such a bad thing that they got married in the end. Although I don't think Barbara made any mention of this in her book, I've heard elsewhere (from more than one place) that the show was already under threat of cancellation; if that's the case, the wedding didn't change anything from that perspective. But it does allow for a kind of "happy ending" sense to the show; to me, it makes it so that it didn't really just end, it concluded.

Anyway, I must go and stow away another good book on my shelves. And, yes, that will be a feat in itself: there is hardly any spare space left, I have so many books.

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