Inspired partly by Tracie's opening credits post and partially by this piece in the San Francisco Chronicle about "very special episodes," I decided to examine the important lessons we learned from our childhood sitcom heroines.
Lesson 1: Ice Pops Are Not A Sufficient Meal
D.J. Tanner desperately wanted to look good in a bathing suit for dumb ol' Kimmy Gibbler's boy/girl pool party. Sadly, she decided to obtain the perfect body by subsisting on "ice pops" and working out too hard at the gym. After passing out during a somewhat creepy family fitness excursion (who goes to the gym with their dad, real uncle, and fake uncle, at the age of 13?) , D.J. learns an important lesson: crash diets don't work. Years later she will look back on this incident as the beginning of her seething hatred for the Gibbler. The Gibbler remains oblivious to said hatred and sends D.J. a Christmas card every year with "HOLA, TANNERITO!" written in hot pink marker across the front.
Lesson 2: It Is Important To Not Leave Your Mom's Side At The Grocery Store
The entire premise of Punky Brewster is built on the horrifying incident wherein Punky's mother just ups and ditches her at a grocery store. This terrified me throughout my childhood. If I lingered too long in the cereal aisle, trying to decide between Boo Berry and Count Chocula, and my mother had wandered along to the next aisle over, I had a full out panic attack and started truly believing that I would end up an orphan living with a curmudgeonly photographer. This show is the reason why I insisted upon riding in the cart until I was about 10 years old. Thanks, Punky.
Lesson 3: For The Love Of God, Take Off That Refrigerator Door Another lesson from the crew at Punky Brewster comes to us via Cherie Johnson, who decided to hide in an abandoned refrigerator, and ended up passing out due to lack of air. She was later rescued via CPR, but not by stupid Allen, who had neglected to pay attention in CPR class. Therefore, there are three lessons here: don't hide in a refrigerator, take the doors off of your old refrigerators, and pay attention in CPR class, lest you end up looking like a total tool, Allen-style.
Lesson 4: The Nerd Next Door Just Might Have A Magic Machine That Makes Him Cool
Have a Steve Urkel in your life who won't leave you alone? Perhaps you can take inspiration from Laura Winslow, who actually fell in love with the nerd after he "transformed" into Stefan Urquelle. Because being super shallow and falling in love with someone only after they give themselves a magical makeover and lower their voice a few octaves is just a classy thing to do.
Lesson 5: Just Don't Give A F&*k
If there's one thing we can learn from Kimmy Gibbler, it is to just be the most annoying, loud, ridiculous version of ourselves we can be. Because nobody stops the Gibbler. NOBODY. And if you cross the Gibbler, you'll be labeled a "geekburger with cheese" for the rest of your life. So watch yourself!
Lesson 6: There's No Hope With Dope, Caffeine Will Mess You Up, And Driving Drunk In A Toga Is Always A Bad Idea
Over the course of the series, the kids of Saved by the Bell showed us the dangers of smoking pot, popping pills, and drunk driving. Caffeine pills derail super feminist genius basketcase Jessie Spano's geometry midterm AND her pop group, Hot Sundae; a visit to a toga party results not only in a totaled car, but a totaled lack of trust between the kids and their parents after drunk driving is revealed as the cause; and smoking pot, according to the "Johnny Dakota" episode, results in turning you into a giant Hollywood douchebag with no hopes or dreams. The episode also provides us with Lisa Turtle's best line: "You know, when I wanted to talk to you, I couldn't. And now that I can? I don't want to." OH SNAP!
Lesson 7: You can't always get what you want
That's pretty much all we ever learn from Jan Brady. Life sucks sometimes, even for kids who have their own traveling singing group. And yes, I know she is technically a 70's sitcom heroine, but I grew up watching the reruns as a child. A middle child. A sad, doomed, brace face glasses wearing middle child. I'd tell you more, but I'm late for a date with George Glass.
Lesson 8: Be Your Own Designer!
Does your brother need an awesome designer shirt? Pull a Denise Huxtable and create your own Gordon Gartrelle rip-off. So what if it's slightly ill-fitting? That's what makes it unique.
Lesson 9: If You're A True Friend, Someone Will Thank You For It
Rose, Sophia, Blanche, and Dorothy taught us several things: namely, that women don't become sad sexless beings as the age, but instead live full lives with great friends and wacky adventures. The most important lesson of the Golden Girls, however, is that a good friend means more than anything in the world. And also that St. Olaf is a slightly bizarre place.
Lesson 10: Your Family Will Stand Up For You In The Most Awesome Way Possible
With Claire Huxtable or Julia Sugarbaker on your side, even the biggest jerks will be put in their place. Here, we learn that even if you and your sister don't always get along, she will shut down a hater in your name with love and sass:
What lessons did you learn from the ladies of the 80's? Feel free to post them in the comments.