Characters getting married might sound like a fine idea for a TV show but it didn’t work out well for I Dream of Jeannie. Barbara Eden, who played the genie named Jeannie, didn’t like the storyline at all.
‘I Dream of Jeannie’ focused on Jeannie’s relationship with Tony Nelson
I Dream of Jeannie debuted in September 1965. It followed Jeannie as Major Tony Nelson (Larry Hagman) released her from her famous purple bottle.
They proceeded to have a will-they-or-won’t-they dynamic going for most of the series. Typically, Jeannie used her magic without thinking of the consequences. And always there to save the day was Tony.
Their relationship stayed the same until I Dream of Jeannie Season 5. Tony realized he couldn’t live without Jeannie. He proposed and they got married. The season turned out to be the show’s last. I Dream of Jeannie originally ran from 1965 – 1970, and in 1971 it went into syndication.
The ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ creator didn’t like the wedding storyline
Sidney Sheldon, the creator of I Dream of Jeannie, didn’t care for the wedding. In his biography, The Other Side of Me, he recounted details about how the wedding came about.
According to him, during the show’s fourth season when it hadn’t been picked up for a fifth, he got a call from NBC’s Mort Werner. He’d decided Jeannie and Tony should get married.
“That would destroy the show, Mort. The fun of Jeannie is the sexual tension between Jeannie and her master. Once you marry them, that’s gone. You have nothing to work with,” Sheldon recalled telling Werner.
Ultimately, Sheldon had no choice. He said they’d get married and the show moved forward with a fifth season. When news of the storyline reached the cast, they too voiced their concern but it didn’t matter.
“With their marriage, the relationship had changed and much of the fun went out of the show,” Sheldon said. “At the end of the fifth year, I Dream of Jeannie was canceled. Mort Werner had taken a hit show and destroyed it.”
Barbara Eden once said the wedding destroyed the show’s ‘credibility’
The wedding of the sitcom’s two main characters marked a shift. According to Eden, it changed the entire dynamic of I Dream of Jeannie and ultimately led to its demise.
During a 2015 interview on Today to mark the 50th anniversary of I Dream of Jeannie, Eden discussed the wedding. She didn’t hold back, saying she felt the marriage signaled the beginning of the end.
“It ruined the show,” she told host Willie Geist. “Because [Jeannie] wasn’t human … She thought she was, and [Tony] knew she wasn’t … I think it broke credibility.”
Tony proposed to Jeannie during I Dream of Jeannie Season 5 Episode 4: “Guess Who’s Going to Be a Bride?: Part 2.” Not too many episodes later, the two walked down the aisle.
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