John Monroe had to contend with his hot-tempered, often obtuse boss, Manhattanite editor Hamilton Greeley, who usually found John's cartoons incomprehensible. (Greeley was loosely based on New Yorker editor Harold Ross.) Fortunately for John, he could share his frustrations with his writer friend, the sardonic Phil Jensen (based on writer Robert Benchley).
At home in Westport, Connecticut, John had to contend with the women in his life, whom he spent much agony trying to understand. His wife Ellen was practical and down-to-earth and was constantly bemused by John's inability to cope with day to day life, while his daughter, 10-year-old Lydia, was precocious and intelligent in ways that constantly confounded John.
In addition to the innovative use of animation combined with live action, the show had several other unusual characteristics. Many of the episodes incorporated Thurber stories like "If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox" or "The Unicorn in the Garden." There were many fantasy sequences, the products of John's fertile imagination, which allowed him to escape reality, much like Thurber's most famous character, Walter Mitty. The cartoons that John drew for The Manhattanite were Thurber's cartoons. And John would often turn from the action to talk directly to the camera, just as George Burns had done on The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show and Garry Shandling would do years later on It's Garry Shandling's Show. In 1970 My World and Welcome to It won the Emmy Award for Best Comedy Series, and William Windom won Best Actor in a Comedy Series for his portrayal of John Monroe. Unfortunately, the show was cancelled after only one season. There was a great outcry when NBC cancelled the show, and there was talk of bringing the show back, but the cost of resuming production would have been too high, so that idea was scrapped. My World and Welcome to It Trivia: The title My World and Welcome to It is also the title of a collection of Thurber stories. The character of John Monroe is named for a character in a series of Thurber short stories. A TV pilot for a comedy series based on Thurber's work was made in 1959, written by My World and Welcome to It creator Melville Shavelson and directed by James Sheldon, who also directed episodes of MWAWTI. The proposed series would have been titled The Secret Life of John Monroe and the pilot, which had virtually the same plot line and characters as the "Christabel" episode of MWAWTI, starred Arthur O'Connell as John Monroe, Georganne Johnson as Ellen Monroe, and Susan Gordon as Lydia Monroe. It also included animation done by UPI Studios. The pilot was shown on Alcoa/Goodyear Playhouse on June 8, 1959. The animation for the series was done by DePatie-Freleng, who were also responsible for the Pink Panther cartoons. The reason for the show's cancellation was that after CBS has unexpectedly cancelled The Red Skelton Show, NBC quickly offered Skelton a half-hour comedy series, and in order to fit this new show into their schedule, they had to cancel a show already on their schedule. Sadly, their choice was My World and Welcome to It. NBC's Red Skelton Show lasted all of one season. CBS reran the series in the summer of 1972, a rare case of a program that had originally been shown on one network being rerun on another network. In 1972 creator Shavelson directed and co-wrote (with Danny Arnold) a film loosely based on Thurber called The War Between Men and Women, which was also the title of an episode of My World and Welcome to It and a famous series of Thurber cartoons. The film starred Jack Lemmon and Barbara Harris and featured a performance by MYAWTI's Lisa Gerritsen.moreless