Friday, January 15, 2010

Sitcom Secrets: Black Sheep

Sitcoms are cliquish places. And just as every clique has the cool kids, there's also the guy that everyone loves to kick around. In some cases, this happened off screen when actors got the short end of the stick. In other cases, characters got messed with because the writers had it in for them (See also, Meg Griffin).

Screech, Saved by the Bell

Sure, you all say you loved Screech, along with all the cast. But was Screech anyone's favorite character? For example, when you found out that the Saved by the Bell sex tape was all about Screech, who wasn't disappointed? There's no one I'd want to see a sex tape of less, and that includes Richard "Hey, hey, hey, what is going on here?" Belding.

Even though Zack and Slater were up to their ears in be-scrunchied and plastic hoop earringed girls, Screech, on the other hand, sugared his churro alone almost every episode. After all, he had the sex appeal of a Cialis ad. He was nerdy, but not in an artsy Woody Allen way, and he inhabited an era before Michael Cera made awkward teenage boyishness hot. (Even Paulie Bleecker was virile enough to knock up Juno on the first go.) Poor Screech. The one time they did give him a real girlfriend, it was because he lost a poker game to Aaron Spelling.

Aunt Vivian #1, Fresh Prince of Bel Air

I loved Aunt Viv #1. She had the physique of Angela Bassett and the career aspirations of Clair Huxtable without the bitchiness. And she fired me up to learn more about black history. I think of Aunt Viv each time I read an article on how there may be black Barbies, but they've got straight white girl hair and they certainly don't got back. But after season three, Janet Hubert pissed off Will Smith and she was replaced by Daphne Maxwell-Reid.

Where have you gone, Janet Hubert, a nation raised on lukewarm sitcom moms turns its lonely eyes to you. Daphne Maxwell-Reid was nice enough but she was a cocoa colored Stepford Wife next to Janet. When I think of Daphne as Viv, all I think of is her smiling insipidly while managing to overlook the fact that her youngest offspring has the same aging disease that Robin Williams made us aware of in the documentary Jack.

In a clip posted to youtube, Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton) rants about how Janet was crazy and that's why she was fired.

My theory? She disapproved of her eldest TV son's dalliances with certain creepy monkey loving NAMBLA members and as a result was wished into the cornfield.

Yup, that's a young Alfonso dancing with MJ. You think it's a coincidence that Aunt Viv #1 only published her tell all memoir about her experiences on the show the year after MJ died?

Eric, Boy Meets World

Eric used to be the character with the most unused potential. He was cute and smart, but lazy. Every now and again, he'd do something to show that he was more than an adorable dumbass, like become a weatherman or date a girl with a five year old. And Eric was clearly Feeny's favorite. But when the show started becoming Boy Meets World: the College Years, the producers figured the show already had one cute floppy haired slacker and Rider Strong beat out Will Friedle. (It's those damned pouty lips--who can say no to them?)

Eric gained weight, his floppy haired 'do became shorter, spikier, and Kate Gosselin-ier and he was reduced to a barely lucid man-child spouting off Cartman imitations. While Rider Strong went on to such meaty roles as Cabin Fever and Cabin Fever 2, the highlight of Will Friedle's career was voicing Ron Stoppable on Kim Possible. Playing second fiddle to a naked mole rat--how low can you go? (Disney Fans: "How DARE you refer to Christy Carlson Romano that way?!")

Stephanie Tanner, Full House

On the show, Stephanie was the oft overlooked middle child. In her autobiography, Unsweetined, Jodie Sweetin talks about feeling like the black sheep: Candace Cameron was the eldest and the Olsen twins owned stock in a hypno toad that convinced people they were the cutest thing since Gary Coleman's kidneys started working again.

On screen, Steph was the middle child who had to resort to pretend marriages to get attention, and off-screen, after the show ended, she was the one doing drugs. Not a cool drug (i.e., cocaine and dexedrine laced ow-scream) like the Olsens or the opiate of the masses, like Candace, but meth. The trailer park drug. Where have you gone, Steph, a nation of middle children turn their lonely eyes to you.

Jan Brady, The Brady Bunch

The vintage overlooked middle child. Marcia could dump guys and undump them when her old nose grew back and the really cute guys didn't want her. Plus, she had the sex appeal to hook celebs like Davy Jones and Desi Arnaz Jr. Cindy was too little to worry about boyfriends. But Jan was stuck in the middle and she had to resort to the pretend George Glass when she wanted a date.

Eve Plumb, who played Jan, was the only actress who didn't return for the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, and when she did come back for the made for TV Brady movies, she was given the unsexy conflicts of marital problems and fertility issues. When asked what her favorite episode was, she once jokingly responded, "The last one," which apparently made fans very sad.

Did you guys know that Maureen McCormick (Marcia, Marcia, Marcia) was on Celebrity Fit Club? Under Eve Plumb's pillow, there's probably a really fat voodoo doll with a lock of Maureen's long annoyingly straight blond hair.