This week I learned about the 80’s TV series The Facts of Life.
Entertainment Weekly, which seems to be trying to gain more readers by being the go-to pop culture binge one-stop, put an in-depth article about The Facts of Life on their website. You can check it out here: http://www.ew.com/microsites/longform/facts/
Actually, a lot of it I already knew, but just forgot. Tidbits, like that Nancy McKeon (she was always my favorite) was up for the role of Monica on Friends (Courtney Cox is the best Monica). Or that Mindy Cohn was not even an actor–she was just a regular girl at a private school giving show creators a tour of her school (she proved to be a very important quarter of the show). Or that Geri Jewell was the first actress with cerebral palsy with a recurring role on a TV series. Or that they tried to make a spin-off at the very end about students at Eastland again, featuring young Juliette Lewis, Mayim Bialik, and Seth Green. But, it wouldn’t have lasted, even if they did pick it up. Because it looked like a lot like the first season of The Facts of Life. Mostly taking place in the common room of a dormitory, which had proved unsuccessful previously. The show was its most successful and engaging when it centered on only Mrs. Garrett, the four girls, and the cafeteria.
The article mentions all the “special episodes” that occurred over the years, including racism, “abortion, adoption, drug abuse, alcoholism, rape, and suicide at various points”. But they forget to mention the episode where Tootie talks to the young prostitute in a New York City, and almost gets recruited herself. The prostitute was played by a very young Tammy Lauren, later known for playing Ginger Szabo on ABC’s post-WWII masterpiece “Homefront”.
In the 1980’s, The Facts of Life made me want to create a male version of the show. I wanted to have Dick Clark as the head master, then all the trouble-making school boys would be played by all the young, male actors that I had crushes on at the time. It would have been a hit with tween girl audiences.
If you want to reminisce about all things Facts of Life, including Andy, Pippa, George, and Beverly, check out the link above.
The paint fight is always my favorite.
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