If you were a kid in the ’80’s or ’90’s chances are you saw a lot of very special episodes. You know, that 30 minute comedic romp through things that will totally ruin your life forever but it’s okay because we’ve all learned a valuable lesson and will never again drink/do drugs/go on a crash diet/hide our dyslexia? That emotionally driven, powerfully profound vicarious lesson that made you think, “As God as my witness, I shall NEVER give in to that seductive temptress known as peer pressure! I will overcome my insecurities with the support of my family members, quirky next door neighbor, and this laugh track!” Oh you didn’t think that? That was just me? Well, maybe that’s why I love Very Special Episodes from a very special place of my heart.
But enough about me, remember Melissa Joan Hart? Although her classic ’90’s sitcom (no, not Clarissa, the other one) about Sabrina Spellman’s adolescent transition from average girl to amazing witch was typically light hearted in nature, the show opted to deal with a heavier subject matter in this very special episode.
The day starts off calmly with Sabrina attempting to enjoy a hearty pancake breakfast before school. But before she can take a bite, her aunts whisk the fluffy pancakes away and warn her of their highly addictive nature. Pancakes are in fact so addictive to the Spellman family that they cannot even have a single bite without going on a bender. Sabrina, however, cannot resist the temptation of that syrupy deliciousness.
True to her aunts’ word, the addiction overtakes her quickly. In the very next scene, she goes through the trash at school looking for pancake remnants. The resident mean girl, Libby (did anyone else think she looked vaguely like Monica Lewinsky?) comes by and makes a joke about homeless people (comparing Sabrina to a “bag lady”). But this is a very special episode about addiction not about socioeconomic class relations, so let’s move along here people.
At the end of the school day, Sabrina has the shakes. Witches really can’t handle their pancakes. In the middle of the night, she tries to make them from scratch without magic. She needs a fix! At school the next day, Sabrina is totally out of control. She finally loses the remaining shreds of her self-control and binges on stacks of buttery carbohydrates at the pancake breakfast prom fundraiser. Then she ends up looking like Violet from Willie Wonka. Now, that is one scary overdose.
But what really sets this episode apart from most sitcoms that deal with addiction is how it deals with detox and withdrawal symptoms, including a super weird dream about attending a pancake themed high school and hallucinating this terrifying syrup-person.
At the end of the episode, Sabrina still craves pancakes but she knows that her friends and family are more important than throwing her life away for some silly old pancakes. She knows that hers will be a lifelong struggle but she’s committed to staying away from the pancake crowd. She even stages a catnip intervention with Salem during the closing credits—wait how did this become the most realistic very special episode of them all?
Very Special Lesson: Just say no (to pancakes)