ABC’s eight-season hit, Three’s Company, contains many of the sitcom tropes the era was known for. Like the beloved Friends series that would come a decade later, the show follows roommates’ adventures in their apartment complex. They endure relationship drama, work hardships, and frequent trips to the neighborhood bar.
Despite the cast easily charming audiences, things weren’t always as smooth onset. A glance behind-the-scenes reveals the real-life drama, especially between two of the show’s stars, John Ritter and Suzanne Somers.
The series was progressive for its time
Like many shows and movies of old, Three’s Company is full of plot lines and jokes that likely wouldn’t be green-lighted today. Its main story component, which revolves around Ritter’s Jack Tripper pretending to be gay in order to be approved for the coed apartment, even ruffled feathers when it first premiered.
While modern viewers scorn the potentially harmful stereotypes, some 70s audience members found the sitcom to be sexually perverted. Despite these initial misgivings, the show received rave reviews throughout its eight seasons. It raked in multiple Golden Globe Awards, Emmy nominations, and was consistently recognized as the People’s Choice.
All of this triumph wasn’t without its trials. There were bound to be some cast disagreements during the seven years the show dominated the airwaves. While none of the actors could deny the success of the show, some stars seemed to benefit from it more than others.
Contract disputes led to on-set resentment
The first sign that three was becoming more of a crowd came following a photoshoot with Newsweek. Allegedly, Somers attended an individual session without her two co-stars. When the magazine cover appeared with Somers imposed in front of Joyce and Ritter, her colleagues felt lied to and that Somers was taking more than her fair share of the spotlight.
This perception of Somers as a money-hungry, deceptive co-worker was only perpetuated when it came time to renew contracts. According to Closer Weekly, Somers insisted that her pay be increased to $150,000 — a raise of 500%. Although the large pay jump was apparently the idea of Somers’ husband, judgments fell on the star herself.
The Newsweek photoshoot, coupled with Somers’ want of a raise and a few missed shows, left Ritter with a bad taste in his mouth. He felt that his co-star had become a drama queen, and he was not having it. ABC wasn’t interested, either. They offered Somers an additional $5,000 per episode — a far cry from her initial ask — and she denied. She was swiftly fired and Chrissy Snow was written off the show with one phone call.
Perspective on the drama has shifted since then
At the time of Somers’ firing, she was scorned on set and on the streets. As far as the public was concerned, their favorite show had been knocked off-course by a celebrity who had let the fame go to her head.
As time passed, however, it became clear that Somers’ wasn’t greedy — she was just ahead of her time. Like many women who would come after her, Somers was battling for equal pay, not some exorbitant sum that would put her far from her co-workers.
According to Biography, Somers was aware of her worth and was sick of “looking around and thinking, ‘Why are all the men…making 10 times more?’”
Her firing from Three’s Company was not only a great injustice, but a needless destruction of a strong relationship with Ritter. Although Somers said the two reconciled in future years, we wish Chrissy had never moved out of Mr. Roper’s apartment complex.