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Laverne & Shirley Was The Happy Days Spin-Off That Showed How Spin-Offs Should Spin Off

“Laverne & Shirley,” of course, would have been nothing without its two leads and the powerful onscreen chemistry between them. Cindy Williams brought a gentle, charming brio to Shirley Feeney, making the character come off as a fist in a lace glove — something many actresses wouldn’t be able to bring to life in such a likable way. Shirley dreams of marrying a doctor and making it out of poverty, desires clearly formed by Doris Day movies and “Leave it to Beaver.” Marshall, meanwhile, brought a dour sense of humor to Laverne, a self-described “adjuster.” She’s out looking for happiness, good times, and a cute guy. While Laverne wants to get married and have kids, she has no illusions about leaving Milwaukee.

This two-way chemistry leaned heavily on slapstick comedy in a way that “Happy Days” never did. Cindy Williams often described her connection to Marshall as a kind of telepathy, according to People Magazine. When one watches this duo hang from a window ledge to avoid getting in trouble with pop singer Fabian, to swimming in a vat of beer to avoid an industrial spy who’s been ruining Laverne’s life, it’s done in perfect harmony 

“Laverne & Shirley,” like its title characters, was the scrappy spin-off that could. It was the series that rose to become just as culturally influential as its predecessor, but in its own way. A series that, in its era and now, stood apart from its fellow female-empowering sitcoms like “Rhoda” and “Maude.” 

Above all else, though, it was a show anchored by a simple, but lasting message: whether or not your dreams come true, you’re nothing without your friends. 



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