In 2021 Will I Be Martin Mull from That Episode of The Golden Girls?

3233Let me start off by saying, I would 100% prefer the nerves I feel re-acclimating to society as NYC continues to reopen to the crippling lingering effects many people experience after covid. And if you’re an anti-masker, don’t even come at me! I do not have time to argue science with you. If everybody wore a mask back in April, then maybe I would leading a semi-normal life right now instead of wondering if I’m going to find Jimmy (Martin Mull) from the “Snap Out of It” episode of The Golden Girls a tad too relatable when this pandemic is over.

While I have loads and loads of normal regular times neurotic anxiety, I’ve never had social anxiety. But after spending months and months only seeing like, oh I don’t know, the same five,  the thought of a full-length conversation face to face with  ANYONE other than one of those five people seems a little spooky. 

In all fairness, I went on a blind-friend date (which is a blind date with a new friend, not a romantic blind date) last weekend and it felt surprisingly normal. But it was like 90 minutes of walking outside, which as much as I want to claim to be a fit healthy person is not how I typically socialized in the pre-quarantine life.

So what I’m talking about is getting cozy in a bar or sitting next to a total stranger on a subway car (gasp). WTF is THAT going to feel like??

Okay now join me on this journey back to 1990 and let me paint you a little picture of what’s going on with The Golden Girls. Sophia and Dorothy are volunteering for Meals on Wheels. Dorothy complains that Sophia is talking and visiting with the meal recipients, which honestly is kind of the point of Meals on Wheels, but there’s this one door where they don’t even knock because that person just wants the food left outside the door.

Dorothy catches a glimpse of the man as he retrieves the food and immediately believes him to be a scammer because he is both young and physically abled. So Dorothy follows this man into his apartment and rudely grills him because he doesn’t have any illnesses that she can SEE with her EYES. Ugh.

mm1Even though he shouldn’t have to (because he’s on the freaking food recipient list) he tells Dorothy that he hasn’t left his apartment in twenty-two years, so that she will let him keep his damn food!

Dorothy apologies and immediately leaves only to complain to Sophia that it’s such a bummer that this poor dude is all alone and there isn’t anything she can do about it. WHICH ONCE AGAIN. IS THE POINT OF MEALS ON WHEELS. (We know this show is smarter than that so don’t worry, it’s all a big set up for character development.)

Off-screen Dorothy and Jimmy have a big heart to heart. We don’t get to hear it, so I guess they didn’t want to pay Martin Mull that much for his shooting time, but we do get to hear Dorothy describe to Blanche later on that the stress of the tumultuous 1960’s caused Jimmy’s agoraphobia. Blanche is all like yeah I get that but things are fine now so how come he isn’t hanging out with everybody???

Eventually, Dorothy gets a call from Jimmy who says he is ready to stop isolating. Sophia warns Dorothy that she isn’t a psychiatrist and should check her ego. But come on have you met Dorothy?? She is nothing if not egotistical.

As it turns out, Jimmy doesn’t want to leave his apartment. He wants Dorothy to move in with him and be his bride. Uh. Oh. So that’s something else to be concerned about once everyone gets fully back on this streets. Note to self: do not marry the first person you talk to.

Dorothy tells Jimmy that the feeling is not mutual. Jimmy becomes depressed and doubles down on self-isolation.

Note to self: do not put all your eggs in one basket. Expect rejection from the “love” your trauma-bonded brain tells you that you’re experiencing. GET BACK ON THE HORSE.

Jimmy refuses to speak to Dorothy the next time she drops off his food, so she seduces him by slowly listing the names of the Chicago Seven in a bedroom voice. Geeeez Baby Boomers, am I right?

mv5bmji3otm2njk2mf5bml5banbnxkftztgwndu5mdy1mje40._v1_Jimmy confides in her that he would really love to shop for his own groceries, so she convinces him to go to the store with her — where he just so happens to be the one millionth customer. There are many streamers! Balloons! And a grand prize trip to Mardi Gras! But Jimmy runs away immediately because woah what an overwhelming reintroduction to the world.

Dorothy returns home defeated, only to find Jimmy minutes later at her door with a sweater she left behind at his place. Dorothy’s generosity has convinced him that he would like to rejoin society. He’s even willing to go to a counselor if she will give him a ride.

Very Special Lesson: Hmmm this seems like a very inaccurate depiction of agoraphobia. But I do think it seems like an accurate depiction of someone who is just a little socially anxious after self-isolation. But if Martin Mull could walk to The Golden Girls House in Miami heat after 22 years inside his apartment, I can probably get back on the subway someday.

Saved by the Bell: That Mamas and the Papas

Hello! Happy Saved by the Bell Day! I did a cursory Google search and I’m honestly not sure if this holiday is anything more than an attempt to sell sandwiches but hell, we need something to celebrate in 2020!

On that note, let’s talk about gender roles. This episode is from very early in the series, airing way way back in 1989. Zack’s voice hasn’t even changed! Like I think I just heard it crack.

Anyway, they’re all adorable babies. Who for some reason need to spend a class learning about what it’s like to be married? WHAT???

Anyway, curious to know if this was like a “real thing” that people did in school back in the days of home economics. Also curious to know if taking care of an egg in order to be a “good parent” was a real thing.

Okay, so the kids are paired off into “marriages” — this is as heteronormative as you would expect. The couples are (I’m sure you can guess) as follows:
-Zack/Kelly
-Slater/Jessie
-Screech/Lisa

True to form, Jessie and Slater’s relationship is immediately contentious. Jessie won’t take Slater’s last name and he says that one of the important parts of a relationship is “great legs.”

As per usual, Screech is creepy stalking Lisa throughout most of this episode. This causes her to have night terror in which she cannot escape him. Freddy Krueger take note. Incidentally, I have to imagine this is Lark Voorhies felt for much of her time on the show acting opposite Dustin Diamond.

Alright, so the true plot of this episode comes from the weird stuff they’re required to do during class for their “marriages.” This involves running through scenarios…while Principal Belding grades them on how they behave in their “marriages”…I’m sorry…what? This doesn’t feel like it should be legal.

Of course, this turns into Jessie and Slater fighting again. She’s trying to get him to help with the household chores. He’s trying to get her to call him “Tiger Man.” Jessie tells the principal that Slater, “doesn’t want a wife. He wants a maid.” So it seems like this is the point in time where Principal Belding should be “helping” them solve this issue, right? Nah, he just says, “that’s a problem you two will have to work out.”

Up next are Kelly and Zack. Kelly asks Principal Belding to refer to her as Mrs. Morris. Barf. The scenario is that she must tell Zach she has wrecked his car. HIS car? Are they married or not? Is this car a joint asset or NOT? Anyway, Zack pretty much just tries to seduce her the whole time. He’s trying to get her to make out in class. It’s A LOT.

Screech and Lisa are up next. Their scenario is that Screech has been fired and Lisa must comfort him. She responds by doing an offensive impression of a Spanish speaking maid and Screech mistakes this for German. The stress of all this causes Lisa to develop a literal allergy to Screech. Fearing the risk of anaphylaxis, Principal Belding annuls their “marriage.”

If you thought that everything up until this point was extremely strange and disturbing, I would have to agree with you. I’m also not sure how to warn you or prepare you for what comes next, so I’m just going to jump right into it.

Evidently, there are other kids in the class who are not assigned to “marriages.” These kids sit in desk and watch this whole mess unfold. Then Belding tells the “couples” tha tthey will now select children, played by their classmates,  Let’s Make a Deal-style. I’ll pause here until your head stops spinning.

Zack and Kelly end up selecting Screech while Slater and Jessie pick Lisa. Cut to: Screech writing Lisa’s name in toothpaste on the mirror in the boy’s bathroom. WHY WAS THERE NOT A GUIDANCE COUNSELOR AT THIS SCHOOL?

Slater discovers Screech as he begins his slow evolution on the path to becoming the next Green River Killer and offers to help him out by pressuring Lisa into dating him because she “has to listen to her Daddy” in order to get a good grade. Annnnndd I’m going vomit EVERYWHERE.

This transaction involves some kind of quid pro quo, but we cut away after Screech offers to teach Slater how to (literally) inhale a slurpy. I assume this wasn’t the offer Slater was looking for, so I’m not sure where they landed.

In a shock to absolutely no one, Zack is a terrible father. This upsets Kelly, so she and Zack split up. I assume this was how their actual marriage unraveled, unless their Vegas wedding ended in a quickie divorce before they even had kids.

Honestly, this episode could have been titled “Slater is Trash” because he’s trying to manipulate Kelly now by pretending to be a “good father” to Lisa. This is back in the early days of the show when Slater was trying to date Kelly. They must have seriously rewritten his character after she and Zack got together because Slater is truly awful in this episode. And I am UPSET about it.

Anyway, in his ploy to get an IRL date with Kelly, Slater has agreed to be a stay at home dad with Jessie and take the last name of Spano-Slater.

When Lisa still refuses to go out with Screech — because no grade is worth that — Screech announces to the class that he broke up his “parents” because Slater promised him that Lisa would go out with him.

All of the boys end up in the principal’s office and somehow a thirty second conversation turns into a genuine change of heart. They apologize and ask to continue the project. Belding says he will only allow this with the girl’s permission. They agree and they all go on a creepy family dinner date at The Max.

Slater orders for Jessie at dinner because he thinks that’s what’s men do. Jessie tells him a “real man wouldn’t be threatened by a woman who knows what she wants.” He responds by saying, “You’re really a great girl, but I think we should break up before I send you to the moon” — a callback to a 1950’s joke about spousal abuse.

Meanwhile, Zack and Kelly reconcile. Somehow Screech has ended up under the table with his head stuck “on a platter.” I don’t even want to know. Kelly closes the lid and decides that all marriages need some alone time. Wtf. This was so weird. I can’t. I cannot even comment.

I am truly so sorry for that visual. I simply didn’t know how to use words to describe this. Please know that I truly understand if you hate me forever because of it. 

Very Special Lesson: Uhhh. Maybe virtual learning isn’t so bad. At least you would probably be in the vicinity and could shut this toxic shit down if you kid was unfortunate enough to attend Bayside High.

**Also sorry for posting this so late. Hopefully it’s still Saved by the Day at least on the west coast by the time I post this!

OH and in other very important news, Mark-Paul Gosselaar started a podcast with Dashiell Driscoll of the excellent Funny or Die series Zack Morris is Trash, and my personal favorite, A Very Special Episode. Evidently Mark-Paul has never watched the series and will now be going through every single episode of Saved by the Bell for our listening pleasure.

Here’s What I Meant by “Culturally Heavy.”

A few years ago, I posted about a lost very special episode of Hey Dude. On Saturday Night, I got a notification that a podcasted aptly titled Hugging and Learning had used my post as a source for their recent episode, “Saved by the Cowbell” — once again awesome title.

The portion of the podcast I’m writing this follow up post in response to involves the character Danny Lightfoot, a member of the Hopi Nation, portrayed by Joe Torres. Let me pause here and acknowledge that this casting and the way the show’s creators have since described it could be its own separate post entirely. According to Michael Koegel in the book Slimed!: An Oral History of Nickelodeon’s Golden Age, when casting the show “we fudged it because Joe Torres was really Mexican-American. He had a little American-Indian blood in him, but once you get into that part of the country, there’s a fine line between what’s an American Indian and what’s a Mexican Indian. It’s a cultural divide.” This book was published in 2013 and even though it is an oral history, I am struck by how glib this statement is, right down to the “what’s” instead of “who’s”. And in case it needed clarification, tribal sovereignty is much more than a “cultural divide.”

In all fairness, I did not dive into the casting (nor did I research it) in my original post and it doesn’t appear to come up in the discussion between hosts Chelsea and Andrew on the podcast either, though I may have missed it. However, as anyone would in 2020, Chelsea and Andrew immediately zero in on the incredibly problematic line Danny says to describe why he would not go drinking with his coworker Melody’s brother. If you’re listening to the podcast, this section starts at about 24:52.

For those of you who haven’t read the original post, I’ve included a screenshot below for the section in question.

There is so very much to unpack here. The first of which is that I’d like to clarify that “betrayed” is my word. Chelsea refers to this in the podcast, but she attributes that word to the character (before she quotes the same section I quoted in the original post). To be clear, Chelsea says, “He had a friend of the family that he says betrayed all of them by becoming quote another Indian with a drinking problem.”

The text from the show is actually as follows, “it felt like he let us all down.” So here’s where this gets sticky and where I want to be very clear because this podcast is using a lot of my phrasing. Anything in the screenshot above that I did not directly quote came from me, not the show.

My interpretation of the line reading was that Danny and his community felt “betrayed” and I chose that word in 2017 because of my personal experiences with alcoholism and perhaps that’s unfair for me to apply to this situation. However, alcoholism runs in my family and I was very strict about experimentation (or lack there of) as a teenager because I personally would have felt that I betrayed my family if I were to become another member of the family with an alcohol problem: betrayed the experiences and examples of my ill family members; betrayed the expectations of my immediate family; betrayed the family name at large in our community. I don’t know what the writers intended, but Danny’s sentiment of not wanting to let anyone down or in essence “betray” them resonated with me. The most glaring difference here being that my perfectionism was self-imposed and Danny’s was the result of generations of oppression following a genocide.

Chelsea then goes on to say that, “He basically lays it out like therefore I can never drink because that would make me a stereotype, which is like a really weird thing for a writer to put into the mouth of a character who’s, I’m guessing, ethnic group they don’t share. You know what I mean? Like part of me is sort of like wow okay we like got culturally heavy here for a second.”

Once again, that “culturally heavy” is my interpretation of the actor’s line reading, one that Chelsea and Andrew appear to agree with. But I want to take this one step further and tell you exactly what I meant by that in 2017 because I didn’t lay it out and I should have.

To me, one of most devastating aspects of racism on a micro level is that individuals do not feel permission to express a full range of emotions, and there are often devastating consequences should they choose to do so. My interpretation of Danny’s statement is not that the show unfairly “puts” this desire to avoid “stereotypical” (and wholly untrue) behavior “into his mouth” so to speak, but rather that this statement reflects the innermost thoughts of a young man who is not afforded the opportunity to make mistakes in the same way that Melody’s white brother is.

And let’s be clear, Melody’s brother has a disease. All people experiencing alcoholism unfortunately face stigma and stereotyping. That said, the stereotypical interpretation of his disease is not nearly the same as it would be for Danny’s friend.

I do think this is an appropriate conversation to have. I do not think this is a “weird” statement for Danny to say because the pressure this character feels is very real and very relevant. He in fact states, “I don’t think there’s anyway I could have gone with Billy, even if I wanted to.”

What I find to be inappropriate in this episode and, more accurately, harmful is that this statement is said and dropped. Within this episode, there is no unpacking of Danny’s feelings or the systemic pressure that created them. There is no acknowledgment of the immense unfairness in the simple fact that he cannot make a mistake even if he wants to.

I wrote “culturally heavy” and I figured people would get it. But maybe what I should have written was “personally heavy” because we personally carry the pain of our cultures and for minority communities that pain is more than any individual should bear.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.” — Anne Lamott

This Post Is About Ice Cream!

Wow oh wow I cannot believe we haven’t spoken since pre-pandemic times, Very Special Readers! I just don’t have it in me to poke fun at sitcoms right now. My whole vantage point has changed! What I wouldn’t give to crawl into Growing Pains and let Daddy Seaver tell me he’s proud of me for not doing cocaine in the bathroom of another suburban home. Can you imagine the LUXURY of that simple life???

Anyway, what I have been doing is getting busy in the kitchen. Yes, yes ME the person who six years ago could not crack an egg! So what happened is I ordered this fancy ice cream bowl from Williams-Sonoma. And then I found out it was backordered. I know there’s a pandemic, so I’m not blaming anyone but finding out something is backordered after you hand over your money is a real bummer. What’s an even bigger bummer is finding out that item is non-refundable even though they cannot actually send it to you. So I was like screw this fancy ice cream bowl, I’m just going to freeze a metal mixing bowl and prove that it works just as well…and you know what…it did!

I used this recipe from the Minimalist Baker. I didn’t have vanilla bean so I just used a little more vanilla extract than the recipe called for. I let my coconut milk chill for 24 hours but I do think 48 hours would have been better. I ended up sacrificing a little fat closer to the bottom of the can because it hadn’t fully separated from the water down there.

Here are some photos for your viewing pleasure:

But listen, I’m not going to leave you hanging. I know you come here for a little nostalgia and a little (okay, a lot of) snark, so I did some research and here are some sitcom related ice cream things:

I learned from Michael’s TV Tray that there are TWO SEPARATE sundae holidays in this country. There’s a lot we’re not doing right but at least we have two separate sundae holidays over here! *crying emoji* *grimace emoji* Anyway, here in America we have the opportunity to celebrate National Sundae Day or, for those of you who prefer your ice cream with toppings, National Hot Fudge Sundae Day.

You can head on over to Michael’s TV Tray to learn all about Saved by the Bell’s girl group “Hot Fudge Sundae” which like serious wtf that was the name? Idk I forgot because I was so distracted by Jessie’s caffeine pill addiction. If that’s not up your alley, maybe you’d prefer to read about the time Marcia Brady worked at an ice cream store.

If you’re like, no no no listen I came here to learn about an entirely NEW show that’s EXCLUSIVELY about ice cream right down to the show name and it NEEDS to be from the 1980s and bonus points if I have NEVER heard of it, then yes, I also have you covered:

Once upon a time there was a television series called Rocky Road. (Pause for laughter.) The series is about a group of siblings, ranging in age from twelve to twenty-two, who takeover the family ice cream business after their parents die. So it’s like Party of Five but much, much worse. According to John Carmen, who was assigned the unfortunate task of reviewing this show way back in 1985 for The Atlanta Journal and The Atlanta Constitution, “Watching these made-for-WTBS comedies is getting to be like shopping the generic food aisle at the supermarket. The unadorned cans and boxes are supposed to contain real edibles, but you can’t help having misgivings.”

Finally, I present to you some of the troubling episode titles from the show’s three season run: “Knives Near the Water”; “Sister Was a Centerfold”; “Jess, You Is My Mother Now”; “Why Frank Senior Can’t Read.” So it seems like there’s a lot to unpack there.

Anyway, hope you’re all hanging in there! If I can make ice cream, you can too!

Full House: Happy New Year

Joey hasn’t had a date in while, so Danny and Jesse decide to set him up with a lady. Really this shouldn’t be shocking because he’s a grown man who randomly lives in the basement of his friend’s house. On top of that, I’m not even sure that he has a job at this point in the show. But fine I’ll pretend to care about Joey for this episode.

But first, I’m obsessed with Stephanie’s outfit here, so please leave me a note in the comments if you see this jacket in an adult size. Thank you in advance.

Joey spends the afternoon calling everyone he’s been out with that year to see if anyone is free for New Year’s Eve. This is the 1990 equivalent of getting a “hey” text several months later from a guy you regrettably hooked up much earlier in the year and have since forgotten about. NOT that I’m speaking from experience.

Joey — sad that he has no date but apparently unaware of the negative effect his denim shirt with Babar appliqué has on his relationship status — offers to stay home with Michelle and Stephanie on New Year’s Eve, so that Danny, Jesse, and DJ can go to parties. This prompts Danny and Jesse to find Joey a date. This also marks the last point in the episode in which there is any semblance of ethical or personal boundaries between these three grown-ass men. Should be a fun episode!

The two of them decide to sign Joey up for a video dating service without him knowing. To trick him into sitting for the video, Danny calls Joey up to the attic, where Jesse has hidden a secret camera in an ad for toothpaste. (So I guess this is the point in the series where Jesse and Joey are writing jingles. My bad for calling Joey unemployed earlier on.) 

Danny and Jesse act super strangely, which freaks Joey out. He notices they’re “talking to the easel” but doesn’t see the big circular cutout in front of the camera lens. He endures the weirdness just long enough for Danny and Jesse to get what they need on tape. When they come clean, Joey is made for literally two seconds. When Jesse tells Joey there are plenty of women who want to meet him, Joey gets over the massive violation of his privacy pretty quickly.

The prospects aren’t great though. And what follows is a PG version of the club scene from Coming to America. But then we get to Christine’s part of the video. Her friends have signed her up for this for Christmas and she’s kind of skeptical about the whole thing. She seems cool, so Joey invites her over to the house for New Year’s Eve dinner. I mean, I would have told DJ that she couldn’t go to Kimmie’s party, but I guess it’s fine to bring a first date over to dinner when you’re a grown man babysitting…(And just so you know I’m not a total jerk, Joey only agreed to babysit in the first place because DJ wanted to bail on her babysitting plans and go to Kimmie’s party next door instead). 

Unfortunately, Joey’s gotten a little obsessed with the idea of Christine. He’s decided she’s “the one” based on a five second video in which she said literally nothing about herself. But they do appear to hit it off pretty quickly. She’s even fine with babysitting three kids.Oh yeah, I should mention that Danny’s date also left her son behind for babysitting. He’s creepy and has breath spray even though he’s like eight years old. Please see below: Steph has a pro-tip for dealing with this and I’m happy to share it with all of you – 

Everyone arrives home in time to ring in the New Year, and Joey proposes to Christine. Even more bizarrely, she says yes. They decide to pack and go get married in Tahoe. In the time it takes Christine to go home and pack, they both decide that they don’t want to get married.

Very Special Lesson for the New Year: Eh I mean honestly, it’s just one day. 

The Nanny: The Hanukkah Story

Happy fifth night of Hanukkah, Very Special Readers! Here we are in the final season of The Nanny. Fran is finally married to Maxwell, and she gets to host a Hanukkah celebration with her new family. Also this episode marks Ray Charles’s final appearance on the show–because Ray Charles had a recurring role on The Nanny???? You learn something new every day.

Sadly, Maxwell has to go out of town for business. CeCe is going too but she and her long-standing enemy, Niles are “in love” by this point in the show, so I’m glad to see her gone. (He gives her a lemon Pledge soaked handkerchief to remember him by because he’s a butler and evidently that’s his dominant personality trait in the relationship ughhh). And for some reason the youngest child, Grace, goes to Boston with CeCe and Maxwell. Is she like a theater producer in training? I have no idea. I’m only just now realizing that the last season of this show wasn’t great and evidently I haven’t seen many episodes of it.

Fran is very upset that her stepdaughter and husband have left town on the first night of Hanukah. We learn (via flashback where Fran plays a younger version of her mother) that It’s very important to her that they celebrate this night together because she never spent the holidays with her family as a kid.

Meanwhile, in the car to Boston everyone is crabby. We learn (again via flashback) that young Maxwell puts business before family because that’s what his father (played by grown Maxwell) did when he was a child. We also learn that young Maxwell and young Niles played together as children! (Mostly because Maxwell’s father was neglecting him but aw that’s still a cute backstory!)

Realizing his mistake, Maxwell decides to turn back. He phones Fran from the car to let her know he will be coming home for Hanukkah. While they’re on the phone, Fran hears Maxwell crash the car mid-blizzard. So what I’m trying to say is that this sitcom has dramatically increased the stakes with only ten minutes remaining, And no, this isn’t a two-parter.

Meanwhile back in the car, (it’s The Nanny, they’re obviously not injured you guys), CeCe tries to sing for entertainment. It’s not very pleasant and luckily we cut away quickly. Maxwell determines they have enough gas in the car to run the heat for an hour.

I suppose because they’re anxiously awaiting news or the return of Maxwell’s car — Fran and her best friend Val are waiting outside of the townhouse in the freezing cold. Fran prays to God for help and a nun appears. Fran assumings that God must have gotten confused because of her new last name (hehe).

Fran and the nun pray together and wow–I guess she was right to wait outside! — Maxwell appears! He actually had enough gas to run the car for eight hours and was able to make it all the way home. It’s a Hanukkah miracle! Literally and figuratively!

They end up celebrating the first night of Hanukkah on the second night. And then Ray Charles plays “Home for the Holidays.” I think he’s dating Fran’s grandma. Is that what’s happening here? Someone more familiar with this show, please weigh-in on the comments. Was Ray Charles even an actor? Was he just moonlighting on the The Nanny near the end of his life for fun? I need to know more about this odd turn in his career!!

 

The Magic School Bus Holiday Special

It’s the holidays and Ms. Frizzle’s class is sorting recycling! (This genuinely makes my heart glow). Liz the Lizard is even powering the sorting conveyor belt by peddling a bicycle — so this is an entirely green operation!

But Wanda is being kind of a grinch about the whole thing because she’s worried they won’t finish recycling in time for her to make it to the Nutcracker ballet performance. She even has a special nutcracker that she’s brought to school with her.

In her haste, Wanda drops the nutcracker on the classroom floor as they head to the recycling plant. Arnold mistakes the nutcracker for recycling (idk how) and puts it in a bin. (Cue the drama.)

At the recycling plant we meet Ms. Frizzle’s cousin, Murph. She’s voiced by the one and only Dolly Parton! As you probably know, Ms. Frizzle is voiced by Lily Tomlin so it’s like a very special mini-9 to 5 reunion! (Also, I did not know Ms. Frizzle’s first name was Val, so that’s kind of a fun fact.)

At the plant, Arnold dumps the nutcracker into one of the transportation bins. Wanda spots it just in time to see Murph drive away, which sets us off on a journey through recycling! Wanda’s nutcracker doesn’t fare so well. He’s smooshed up and turned into a pile of plastic pellets, which is strange because I thought Nutcrackers were made of wood. But evidently in this case, they’re made of recyclable plastic.

So now Wanda hates recycling…and she wishes that recycling had never been invented. (Careful what you wish for Wanda! Sounds like you would really like the Trump administration).

Luckily, this is a safe learning environment and not 2019 America, so Ms. Frizzle decides to show Wanda what the world would look like without recycling. Hint: there are no trees and the landfills are overflowing.

Wanda is a hot mess. She bangs on the bus (rude, since we know the bus is anthropomorphic) which sets off its anti-recycling ray — and un-recycles the bus. So basically it’s a pile of junk.

Luckily, Murph is there to show them how to recycle bottles and cans (at the landfill that used to be their school) in order to rebuild their bus from plastic pellets in a few short minutes! Idk if this is okay with child labor laws, but I guess they were in dire straights and really needed that bus back. Now that they have the bus back, Ms. Frizzle restores the recycled world!

Things work out for Wanda too because she uses what she’s learned about plastic pellet recycling to make brand new nutcrackers soldiers for herself and the entire class. (So I guess they were toy soldiers the whole time and not nutcrackers–whoops, my bad.)

I’ll let Dolly handle today’s Very Special Christmas Lesson:

Small Wonder: Vicki and The Pusher

Seriously, who greenlit this show? The number of times this robot becomes involved with controlled substances is truly astounding. Only slightly more astounding than the fact that I grown man built a little girl robot slave to serve his family. And yet, this was American family television thirty years ago.

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Anyway, this episode involves everyone’s favorite 1980’s topic: drug pushers.

This episode starts with Vicki’s creator trying to teach her to eat solid food. Lord knows why, she’s a freaking robot so this makes no sense. Also, I’m probably taking this too far but now I am wondering what happens to all of the food clogging her gears and frankly, it sounds like a public health crisis.

But let’s go ahead and skip ahead to the drugs. A full-grown adult man appears at a chain link fence encircling the cafeteria’s outdoor eating are. He says, “hey kid, you ever get high?”

So let me stop you right there. I know it was *the 80’s* and *stranger danger* wasn’t so much of a thing and maybe I can’t understand that as a child of the 90’s. But something tells me a real-life 80s drug dealer would have been a little more stealthy.

Okay, so today’s drug is Speed. Does anyone do speed anymore? Is Adderall like the Speed of today? I honestly wouldn’t know. I can barely handle coffee.

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Alright, so now I know why they introduced the fact that Vicki can eat now. She’s come into possession of these pills and we had to setup the backstory that would allow her to be able to ingest them.

Vicki goes home and hides the drugs in a flower pot, which her creator’s wife promptly finds. She tells her husband they have “a drug problem” and he makes a joke about getting her “into the Betty Ford Center” because of course he does. This is a creep-ass man who made a little girl robot-slave and of course he’s going to make a joke about rehab when he thinks his wife is confessing to an addiction.

(Sidebar: I’m not sure why his wife was digging through a flower pot. I’ve been skipping through this episode because honestly this show is so bad. However, I am so intrigued bythe fact that a robot main character is somehow going to teach me not to do Speed, so I’m gonna keep watching.)

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They confront their child, who seriously must be eleven years old AT THE MOST. And he’s kind of just like confused and probably not at the prime age for doing Speed anyway, right? I don’t know! Were the 80’s this bizarre or is this just Nancy Regan lying to me???

Anyway, Vicki the robot starts behaving very strangely, so the parents realize their robot is high as a kite. (Once again, I can’t figure out how she’s metabolized these pills in order to get high in the first place, but she is literally flapping her arms and flying in the air, which is pretty cool.)

Okay, sincerely I think this creepy man needs to have his child taken away from him. He has volunteered his son to go undercover and purchase drugs from the drug pusher. He’s going to program Vicki the robot to protect him.

I ACTUALLY DON’T UNDERSTAND THIS THOUGH BECAUSE WHY NOT JUST LET THE ROBOT DO ALL OF THIS??? WHY INVOLVE AN ACTUAL CHILD??? I think we have all the evidence we need here. This family is toxic and should be banned from television.

(Oh by the way, for reasons I cannot explain, this show ran for four full seasons.)

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Okay, so this is actually a teenaged drug dealer not an adult. I couldn’t tell because this YouTube video is grainy. But either way, I don’t think it’s a best practice to send children in as plants on a drug deal.

Luckily, this dealer is very stupid. He doesn’t pick up on the fact that this is a setup, not even when the little boy tells him to “speak into my shoulder” a.k.a. where the microphone is. Once the cops descend upon him, the dealer tries to flee, so the little robot picks him up and holds him in the air over her head.

This gives us an opportunity for an excellent one liner: “Hey pal, from now on, that’s as high as you’re gonna get.”

Very Special Lesson: You know actually, I don’t think they got their point across. If I knew nothing else about Speed, I would think that it could literally make me fly, which sounds awesome. But I’m pretty sure is not the case.

P.S. I have no idea who this is but this person put together a pretty awesome Small Wonder Halloween costume. Since this show is the scariest thing I’ve ever seen, I’d say it’s a pretty appropriate look for any spooky parties you may be attending this Fall.

Saved by the Bell: Fake IDs

Hello, thank you for reading my dissertation. 

To be honest, I was very confident that I had already covered this episode a long time ago. I mean, MY GOD, the title is SO very special. But it appears that any commentary on this one only happened in my head, so here ya go!

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A beautiful woman walks into The Max. Zack rushes up to her and starts taking photos of her. Because this is a young male fever dream sitcom, she doesn’t find this incredibly creepy. She’s wearing a USC sweatshirt. Zack pretends he is also a freshman at USC. (I’m not sure of the timing of this episode but he’s probably about sixteen). She needs a phone. The payphone is occupied. Zack hands her his obscenely large first-generation 1984 cell-phone.

The woman calls roadside assistance but balks when they tell her she has to wait an hour. So Zack offers to change her tire for her. (Never in my life do I believe this boy has done manual labor of any kind. Zack Morris changing a tire would SHOCK me to my core, but sadly this happens off-screen so it’s kind of a let down.)

Anyway, Zack’s obviously not a USC student and this lady has clearly driven away. So you’re probably like seems like a dead end, what could possibly happen next??

idsWell, I’m so glad you asked. It turns out, Zack had that camera because he and the other kids are taking a photography class. They decide to use the class to make fake-IDs. (Seems like a bit of a stretch but whateverrr.) The plan is to then meet the USC woman at an “over eighteen club.”

Okay, so…now I have some questions. Who is going to an “over eighteen club” in college? Are you not trying to sneak into the real clubs when you’re in college but not yet twenty-one? I always felt like everyone in an over eighteen club was probably a minor and anyone who wasn’t a teenager at an over eighteen club was a creep. But seeing as how this USC freshman is still a teen, I’m actually just starting to think she’s kind of lame and doesn’t know where to hang out.

My other question is why is Zack bringing Screech with him to the club? Is it because he owed him for making the ID? Is this a quid-pro-quo kind of situation? Now Slater, I get. You need a wing man and Slater looks even older than Zack, so it lends credibility to the “old enough to be in this club” thing. (Oh and by the way, if you’re looking for hot tips to sneak into clubs you’re actually in the very much wrong place for that and please don’t let my Zack/Slater club theory influence any of your decisions in life. Now, that I’ve satisfied the assurance needs of my self-diagnosed Responsibility OCD, let’s move on.)

saved_by_the_bell_s3e9_sony_smc70Zack’s mom is suspicious that he is having a sleepover with Slater and Screech, so she brings them brownies and then checks the room for girls. (I mean I fucking love this woman. This is GOOD parenting.) Slater also addresses her at “mom” which I find simultaneously adorable and off-putting.

In order to not look like a thirteen year old, Screech wears a fake mustache. It does make him look older, but it’s so obviously fake that it just shouldn’t work. Also, I don’t think anyone at an over eighteen bar is really growing a lot of facial hair (see above). So this should automatically be a red flag.

Zack and the tire woman kiss almost immediately, so I guess he got what he was looking for. Slater agrees to dance with her friend, but he says he has a girlfriend and he won’t do anything more than dance. Further proving that he is the MORAL COMPASS of this show.

So here’s the big thing though. Everything, I just wrote is UNIMPORTANT compared to this. Zack, Screech, and Slater see Kelly’s new, older boyfriend making out with SOMEONE ELSE. But see, Jeff’s existence at this club further proves my point because I feel like Jeff is about seventy-five years old (ugh okay maybe it’s more like he’s a college sophomore). But Kelly is a BABY. All these kids are BABIES. They learned to drive in a GOLF CART. They’re not ready for any kind of interaction outside of the safe, safe walls of Bayside.

attic-1Screech lets this info slip to Jessie and Lisa. They convince Zack that he has to be the one to tell Kelly the truth. (Bad move.) She yells at him and calls him jealous, of course. So Jessie and Lisa decide to sneak into the club too, so they can take a photo and prove the truth to Kelly. But all of this is frankly unnecessary because Kelly speaks to Screech and asks him what happened. He cries and she believes he really did see Jeff kiss someone else.

No one has to take a photo because Kelly shows up at the club and sees him making out with someone else with her own two eyes. Oh and then Zack’s mom shows up to tell him she knows he’s been sneaking out! (He left that giant cell-phone in his room and his mom answered it when the college woman called to say she was running late to the club.)

Very Special Lesson: Ugh, girl I know you’re barely in college but can’t you spot a high school boy when you see one? Kelly, Jeff is trash. Zack is trash. Sorry, girl, you should probably talk to other people at your high school. Slater, Zack, and Screech CANNOT be the only dudes you know. Don’t do that to yourself.

Oh and happy Mean Girls Day by the way!
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I Am Fully Aware that None of You Google Milli Vanilli

At least not as much as I do. (But that’s okay. I’m doing the work so you don’t have to.)

In the interest of historical accuracy, I would like to point out that I am a little too young for Milli Vanilli. Although I was alive when they returned their Grammy, I didn’t know who they were or anything. Alas, I think my first actual memory of these guys was from this commercial:

But I didn’t even realize who they were or what their whole controversy was. In my teen years, my Spanish teacher who is the same age as the real Zach Morris, would make jokes about Milli Vanilli and I would laugh along because HELLO I GET CULTURAL REFERENCES. But as it turns out, I didn’t get the reference. I just thought they were a silly washed up early 90’s music group. She might as well have been making a joke about C&C Music Factory (who also had a different lead singer on vocals than the lead singer in their “Gonna Make You Sweat (Everybody Dance Now)” video, by the way).

The actual story of Milli Vanilli is quite tragic and more than likely contributed to Rob Pilatus’s early death from an overdose.

I didn’t know the entirety of this story when I started binge listening to “Girl You Know It’s True” during a very dark period in my own life. And I don’t know if you’ve noticed…but when I find a piece of pop culture I think is interesting, I like to obsessively find out all of the information I can about it and then write a personal essay about it.

It’s been well documented that they were taken advantage of, but I think their arrogance pre-controversy made it difficult for people to want to listen to their side of the story once the truth came out. The dynamics of power in this situation were clearly not in their favor. But if you know you’re faking it, you probably shouldn’t compare yourself to The Beatles.

And now you may be thinking, “why have you wasted my time with a really old story that is sad and we already all know about? And why the heck are you Googling, Milli Vanilli on a semi-regular basis??” Excellent question. The reason is that I find the second-half of this story to be very up-lifting.

So I like to check-in on Fab.

Here he is explaining the fallout from his perspective:

And if I hadn’t Googled Fab recently, I wouldn’t have found this excellent “Blame It on the Rain” performance. And I just want to say that he sounds fucking amazing and you should all listen to it immediately. I think I like it better than the studio recording. And you can quote me on that.