This two part episode starts off the second season of The Facts of Life (in which the main cast has been reduced by like 45%). This means that Blair arrives and greets Tootie and Natalie like they are totally best friends forever, instead of treating them like the younger, lame kids. That’s what happens when everyone else your age is cut from the main cast.
The show was struggling so much, that Gary Coleman had to make a guest appearance (stealing a lobster from the school cafeteria). Also, like I knew this was a rich prep school but geez they’re serving lobster! Can I please redo high school and go to Eastland?
Anyway, the “new girl,” Jo shows up on her motorcycle covered in grease and threatening to beat-up Blair like twelve hundred times for insulting her clothing and not being able to pronounce her last name. The acting is SO bad. Like Lisa Whelchel is killing it as Blair (I forgot how cool she was at the beginning of the show). And Nancy McKeon is so insufferable as Jo. This totally reversed at the end of the series. But whatever Tootie and Natalie are the best part of this series, and I’m not even sure why were paying attention to the other people. But I guess it’s “plot” or whatever.
So then these two sixteen year old girls start arguing about who can get men easier, and in a much milder version of the plot of Little Darlings decide to hang out at a college bar and see who they can pick up. This is television in the early 80’s, ladies and gentleman. I guess the drinking age was lower then so like maybe they can hang out with some recent high-school graduates. Ugh, yeah whatever it’s gotta be creepy at the beginning, so we can have the very special lesson at the end, right?
Later that afternoon, Blair and Jo discuss their plan with Natalie and Tootie. It is so blatantly obvious that there is no one else at this school anymore because Tootie is in like the seventh-grade and I have no idea why Blair and Jo would think she’s a good confidant for their plan. Could they not get any of the girls from the last season to come back and guest star for the first couple of episodes as a transition? Or like maybe that would have been too offensive after firing them all in one fell swoop.
Natalie and Tootie insist on going along with them and threaten to tell on them if they try to keep them from riding in the stolen cafeteria van and conspicuously watching through the window near the entrance. Anyway, it turns out that Gary Coleman saw them stealing the van and told Mrs. Garrett and so they’re all screwed anyway.
It’s good that Mrs. Garrett found out because this is NOT a college bar. Everyone is like thirty-seven years old and creepy. One dude hits on Blair and Jo at the same time, but Blair gets mad because he thinks Jo goes to college and Blair goes to secretarial school.
Tootie thinks he is threatening Blair, so she and Natalie rush in and blow their cover. It also turns out that the thirty-seven year old creep is a cop, who has only been talking to them because of their fake IDs. You know, it takes a good twenty minutes of polite conversation to arrest someone for a fake ID.
Also, this means that the bar actually served alcohol to minors (either because they couldn’t spot the fake IDs or because the cop told them not to do anything like he was pulling a sting on a high level drug dealer). Either way, I think someone is losing a liquor license.
Skipping ahead to the second part of this episode, Jo and Blair kind of become friends when Jo defends Blair in lock up. Then Mrs. Garrett bails them out and tells them that they’re all expelled. The only loophole is if they agree to let her be totally responsible for them and live above the cafeteria with her. And they have to work in the cafeteria to pay for repairs to the van. And all of their parents have agreed to this. And this is not at all an implausible situation.
So they all move in together, and Blair and Jo argue more. I’m skipping through and wondering why this had to be a double episode. But I guess I spoke to soon about the absence of the original cast members because Molly Ringwald shows up in the cafeteria line to express her sympathies for their new situation. She’s had a growth spurt and I feel like she’s four inches taller or wearing some serious platform shoes. This would be her last/only guest appearance since she was like ten seconds away from becoming John Hughes’s protege. Also, is it just me or does Molly Ringwald seem like a total bitch, but the kind of total bitch you’d still want to hang out with?
Anyway, Molly Ringwald’s new mean girl friend harasses Jo, so Blair throws some pie in her face. And then Jo tries to leave. And Blair is like NO JO WE ARE FRIENDS NOW, DON’T GO! But then Mrs. Garrett comes in and starts guilt tripping Jo about how much her mother has given up for her, and Jo turns on the waterworks. So I guess Nancy McKeon is an okay actress. And then they were all friends!!
Very Special Lesson: If you break the law, break your schools van, and threaten to break your roommate’s face, you’ll end up with the best friends of your life.
2 thoughts on “The Facts of Life: The New Girl”
I liked Jo in the first few seasons, so this is one of my faves, and now that I’ve seen Little Darlings (like in the past few years), I do see the G rating version of it in here–nice call. It is horribly implausible though. Honestly all of them, but Jo, would have gotten slaps on the wrist, They’re rich kids. Jo would have gotten expelled for being a bad influence & we never would have seen her again.
I’ve been watching this show more lately. I forgot how well all of them interacted or how much I enjoyed the earlier episodes (I think they started to go downhill when Blair and Jo graduated HS if I remember correctly. It just became more and more ridiculous that the 4 of them were together all of the time). Their graduation and going off to wherever together would have been a perfect spin off, but I guess why mess with what was working
The show was still kind of interesting to me when Blair & Jo started college and Natalie & Tootie still went to Eastland. But once Blair and Jo were well into college I wondered why they still lived together and never made any other friends. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re segregated from the rest of the school and live above the cafeteria at an early age.