Friday, 22 August 2008

You take the good, you take the unbelievably bad...

I'd say that I'm a big fan of everything through Edna's Edibles. When it burned down and became Over Our Heads, the show started to lose me. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was no longer ten, but it suddenly seemed that there were too many tertiary characters appearing out of nowhere, and Mrs. Garrett's presence got more and more confounding, and the homoerotic tension between Blair and Jo went from charming to FREAKING DO IT ALREADY, and then, out of nowhere, Cloris Leachman. The whole premise of the show suffered major suspension-of-disbelief problems after the first two or three seasons anyway, since no 18-20 year-old women I know would voluntarily share a bedroom unless the circumstances were very, very not what you would base a 1980's network sitcom on.

Of course, The Facts of Life as most of us think of it--Blair and Jo trading barbs, Natalie and Tootie gosh-golly-gee-ing around in pigtails--didn't actually come about until season 2. The FIRST season was thirteen episodes of pure bliss, and it stands alone in its unintentionally Felliniesqueness. Don't get me wrong, the first couple of Jo seasons are great, but nothing--NOTHING--out-camps the the houseful of superfluous girls hilariously overacting some of the most appalling dialogue every written. Sue Ann smokes pot! Is Cindy a lesbian? Blair wants to do the headmaster! Natalie finds her birth mother! Nancy loves Roger! Mrs. Garrett's ex-husband teaches the girls how to gamble! Blair's mom is a slut! Tootie, the original Rollergirl! Natalie buys a bong from a record shop to put jelly beans in! Plus, you have the sleaziest, 1970's-jailbaitiest costuming imaginable(one false move and we would have been able to see Lisa Whelchel's virtue for ourselves), you have Molly Ringwald as an 11 year-old, you have the Drummonds constantly popping up for no apparent reason, and nothing makes any rational sense whatsoever. It's a hot mess made in heaven.

The clip below is what started my lifelong girl-crush on Lisa Whelchel. Not even her descent into blithering, fundy psychosis can shatter my love completely (although it has facilitated significant erosion), because freaky-for-Jesus or no, she took my breath away--especially when her character was still vaguely skanky and chilled and kept a joint in her lipstick tube. The uptight, overachieving heiress Blair Warner of post-season 2 still bewitched me, but I clearly remember thinking that, when I got to be a teenager, I wanted to run around in purple satin hot pants and have long, luxurious, golden hair. This was before I was old enough to understand the cruel genetic lottery, of course.

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