The Babysitters Club: The Baby-Sitters Remember

Once upon a time in the ‘90’s, there was this little gem of a show based on Ann M. Martin’s classic book series about a group of middle school girls who spend their free time in a club devoted to babysitting. This show must have been filmed at Astoria Studios because even Dawn, who is supposed to be from California, sounds like she’s from the tri-state region. If you were a girl child of the ’90’s you could not escape this book series. There was bossy Kristy, artsy Claudia, fashionista Stacey, California Casual Dawn, good-girl Mary Anne, ballerina Jesse, and Mallory who had red hair, wore glasses, and other than that had no defining features. I hated this episode as a kid because I thought it was a flashback episode full of clips from episodes I had never seen. As it turns out, it’s a clip show full of new material. I guess these were ideas Ann M. Martin had but never felt like turning into a full length book, and the TV show decided that these random clips would make the best series finale, which just goes to show you that not all very special episodes are about terrible topics. It’s the last day of school and the BSC is having a slumber party. Jessie is nervous about going to dance camp, Kristy is excited about going to softball camp, and Mary-Anne is totally bummed that she see won’t see her friends every day for two months. All of these thoughts about their impending separation lead the girls to reminisce about how they first began the club.

Is this jersey from a 1970's athletics store?
Is this jersey from a 1970’s athletics store?

Cue Memory #1 in which Kristy is wearing this bizarre jersey that says Sport Shack in some seriously old school lettering. She gets in trouble for cheering when the last bell rings, and some hard-ass teacher makes her write one hundred words about the importance of decorum. Meanwhile, Kristy’s mom is stressing because she can never find a sitter. Most thirteen year-olds would totally ignore this because it’s not really their problem, but like two and a half seconds after talking to her mom, Kristy’s eyes get wild and she casts aside her homework to plot out her magnum opus: The Baby-Stitters Club. She tells everyone how she didn’t think she would survive her first job, in which the mom meets here at the front door and describes how she must keep her rambunctious three year-old twins locked in the laundry room until it’s time to “go out.” Kristy can’t resist the promise of some cold hard cash, so she doesn’t run screaming from this house of apparent child abuse. Luckily, the twins turn out to be two dogs instead of toddlers.

Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.
Sure lady, I would be happy to sit for the twins you keep locked away, just as long as I get paid.

Memory#2: The girls head downstairs for snacks and Claudia finds her dead grandmother’s teacup, so the girls reminisce about that relationship for while. Kristy does a really offensive fake Japanese accent which all of the girls find funny except for Claudia who is too lost in her thoughts to call Kristy out for being such an insensitive loser. Truly, the best part of all of this is that the very next scene is a flashback with Mimi (Claudia’s grandmother) and she has no accent whatsoever. This is a truly rare very special episode because it doesn’t involve any drugs or pregnancy and includes a racist joke. Also, in this scene Mallory ends up being the only baby-sitter with lucky steam rising from her tea. They had to throw her a bone because Mallory never has anything else going for her. Memory #3: The baby-sitters share a creepy memory about “staging a ceremony” before Kristy’s mom’s wedding. This ceremony turns out to be a full on mock wedding between two of Kristy’s younger siblings, which has clearly been orchestrated by the baby-sitters club. They make everyone attend and the they make the two young siblings exchange wedding vows. Luckily, the little boy runs away when they tell him to kiss the bride,so no almost-incest was committed.

Creepy Fake Wedding
Creepy Fake Wedding

Finally, all of the baby-sitters get sleepy after a night of reminiscing and fall asleep at midnight in what must be the tamest slumber party ever imagined. Note: I didn’t include all of them memories. Some of them were really boring.

Very Special Lesson: You don’t always have to have a very special lesson to have a very special episode. Or maybe friendship…friendship was the lesson.

P.S. This set came from Ikea before everyone shopped there:

claudia ikea

PSA: A Very Special Character Actor

I’d like to take a moment and pay tribute to a very special actor from the 90’s, Jason Marsden. You may know him as Eric’s best friend from Boy Meets World or Brittany Murphy’s brother from Almost Home. Perhaps, you’d recognize the melodic timber of his tenor as the voice of Binx the cat from Hocus Pocus. This guy owned the 90’s. He may have played mostly minor roles, but he was everywhere, and chances are you owe a great deal of your childhood entertainment to him.

Step by Step

Jason played one of the male lead’s best friends in this 90’s version of The Brady Bunch. Can you spot Jason in this cast photo?

Full House

Jason played DJ’s rich boyfriend and even caused some turmoil between DJ and Kimmy Gibbler. DJ broke up with him and then he went on a date with Kimmy. (gasp!)

I’m pretty sure those glasses are back in style.

Almost Home

Almost Home (a.k.a. The Torkelsons) was a show I watched after church on Sunday’s. I doubt anyone else watched it because it only lasted two seasons. It featured a pre-Clueless Brittany Murphy and…you guessed it! Jason Marsden. This time he was a series regular and a lead. Sorry it only lasted one season, Jason 😦 But hey, you did get to go to prom with Allyson Hannigan! Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 7.50.25 PM

A Goofy Movie

First of all, A Goofy Movie came out in 1995. Does anyone else think that is weird? Secondly, Jason Marsden voiced Goofy’s son, Max!

Boy Meets World

Perhaps you remember seeing Jason as a recurring character in the first couple of seasons of Boy Meets World. He played Eric’s bff “Jason” and they both dating the same incredibly annoying girl.

Screen Shot 2014-07-05 at 7.54.07 PM Thanks for the memories, Jason!

Clarissa Explains It All: Hero Worship

Before Melissa Joan Hart was everyone’s favorite teenage witch, she played the coolest junior high schooler ever on Clarissa Explains It All. Clarissa writes articles for the school newspaper, has the best clothes, and a cool best friend who always enters by climbing a ladder to her window. My dad was always outraged at the inappropriateness of a teenage boy entering a girl’s window via ladder, but they only thing that made it inappropriate was him telling me it was inappropriate. I would still enter most rooms this way if possible. On a side note, I am astounded by the number of window seats in Clarissa’s house. I counted three in this episode alone. That sounds like a great place to live! But I digress.

In the world of very special episodes, there are a few go-to topics: substance use/abuse, 30-minute eating disorders, learning disabilities, and miscellaneous peer pressure. Clarissa Explains It All was a pretty cutting-edge show and thus could not fall prey to the cliches of very special episodes. So today I bring you a very special very special episode topic: stalking.

Eve is the new girl at school (as in All About Eve). At first it does not seem weird that Eve thinks Clarissa is the coolest (because duh, she is). Plus, Eve seems like a pretty great friend to have around. She hand delivers the new Nirvana tape along with research for Clarissa’s next opinion column. (Maybe Clarissa is like the godmother of blogging…) Then Eve starts to dress like Clarissa and begins begging for the inside scoop on her articles. Clarissa’s latest cutting edge piece is how virtual classrooms will take the place of actually going to school by the year 2000. Ah, if only.

No one else seems concerned.

Eve really starts to show her crazy when she overhears Clarissa and her bff Sam (aka cool guy who only enters the house via a ladder) talking about how they can use Clarissa’s school newspaper press pass to ride some of the monster trucks at a car show. Eve tells Clarissa there’s a last minute newspaper meeting and Clarissa generously offers for Eve to go with Sam to the car show. It’s so obvious that Eve is lying because she wants the opportunity to go to the car show and pretend to lead Clarissa’s life. But Clarissa is super nice and trusting, so she does not even notice that Eve is a psychopath until it is too late. Suddenly, Eve has totally taken on Clarissa’s personality and it is super creepy. She gets a whole new makeover and acts like she is the queen of the school newspaper. Everyone is totally into her because she’s cool like Clarissa. I guess they’re not worried about how this girl totally ripped of Clarissa’s personality. Maybe she was so shy they never noticed her when she was just regular Eve and now they’re all like “Oh cool, Clarissa has a twin sister who suddenly transferred to our school.” The whole situation really begins to mess with Clarissa’s brain and she hallucinates that her reflection is actually EVE!

Clarissa 8
(Poor Melissa Joan Hart has been in some lighthearted sitcoms with weird hallucination.)

Clarissa’s mom tells her not to worry because eventually Eve will find her own path and give up on copying Clarissa. Clarissa’s mom was always super crunchy granola and maybe this attitude contributed to the warm welcome she offers to this girl who is not only stalking her daughter, but also stealing her identity. Still, this seems like such a cop-out. I’m not a mom, but Sorry, honey, I can’t think of how to help you, but I am sure your stalker will eventually get bored of you seems like the worst parenting ever in existence.

That's not Clarissa, it's Eve. And her mom is super fine with it. What?!
That’s not Clarissa, it’s Eve. And her mom is super fine with it. What?!

Things never get too bad though because Clarissa outwits Eve by planting a false story idea for a column that she know sucks and that she knows copycat Eve will steal.  

Very Special Lesson: Stay away from creepers. Clarissa 5    

Chick Like Me: When Very Special Episodes Get It Right

“Chick Like Me” is one of the most popular Boy Meets World episodes ever, according to Entertainment Weekly. It is certainly my personal favorite (even though there are many close seconds). Most importantly, this is one very special episode that I cannot mock because it actually does teach a moral lesson in a manner that is neither didactic nor trite. “Chick Like Me” is the gold standard of Very Special Episodes. 133097_1233263308571_236_169Inspired by journalist John Howard Griffin’s classic Black Like Me–in which Griffin darkens his skin color and travels through the racially segregated 1950’s South–Corey decides to go undercover as a girl to conduct an investigation on gender relations at John Adams High. Shawn came up with the idea for this, so I’ll have to give him the creative credit here and not Corey. He also came up with the awesome title.

In fact, Shawn is definitely the key player in this episode. As it turns out, Corey is really bad at being a girl. He tries to look “pretty” and attempts to walk like a girl and it is awful. It’s so obviously that Corey is super uncomfortable. Shawn, on the other hand, has no trouble getting in touch with this female side and has even previously thought about what his name would be if he were a girl. In order to get info for Corey’s newspaper article, Shawn goes on a date as “Veronica” with the resident douchebag, Gary. Gary starts off the date by asking every single girl’s least favorite question: “How is it that someone like you doesn’t have a boyfriend?” This is one of the most backhanded compliments, I can think of. It’s almost like “you’re so great, what have you done wrong in your life that you’ve failed to achieve this otherwise attainable goal?” Or worse, “what’s fundamentally wrong with you that I’m not seeing?” What could possibly be the intended response to this question? “Oh, I don’t know. I’m just such a shy and unassuming flower. I’ve been waiting for the right person to discover me and here you are!” But that then again implies, that the woman even wants said questioner to be her boyfriend. And frankly, some of the most offensive things anyone has ever said to me start with that syntax: “How does a girl like you…” It’s not only inappropriate because it massively generalizes supposed “types” of women, but also because it leaves this vague question in the air of “What kind of girl do you think I am?”

Of course, this is the least upsetting thing that Gary does all night. He manhandles “Veronica,” implies that she is “asking for it” by the way she is dressed, and claims that she must not like guys when she pushes him off of her. Veronica a.k.a. Shawn eventually punches Gary in the face on behalf of “every girl [he’s] ever known” and vows to be a better listener (and thus more respectful) in his relationships in the future. Everything I wrote above is what makes the episode great. But what I think makes the episode amazing is Corey.

Shawn has clearly been tasked with educating us in this episode, so what is Corey left to do? He may appear at first to be the comedic relief, but I would argue that he is teaching us his own lesson about self-awareness and acceptance. While, he was awkward walking around as a “cute” high school girl type, he is totally at ease as Cora–the brash and punny new waitress at Chubby’s. Corey has not shared his plans to go undercover as Cora with Shawn (who is on his date with Gary) or Topanga (who is watching from a nearby table). The character of Cora is definitely scripted to lighten the mood in this otherwise assault-y date that Shawn is experiencing as Veronica, but it isn’t that drag that makes Cora funny. Sure, it’s funny in a novel way to see Corey as a saucy waitress, but after the initial shock of seeing Corey crash the Veronica/Gary date, Cora becomes just another character. The joke here is not “hey, look at me I’m dressed like a lady,” but rather “look at me I’m a cheeky waitress who tells it like it is, honey.” And the best part is that Corey doesn’t seem to think it’s funny that he’s in drag. Corey seems to really enjoy exploring this new archetype. Haven’t we all learned something new about ourselves when we experienced being someone different? Even if that lesson isn’t that we need to treat others better? Maybe that lesson is that we need to know ourselves better too.

Shawn’s transformance more classically resembles Black Like Me—in that it is done not for humor or entertainment but rather to gain understanding and empathy for a seemingly disparate person. But Corey learns a lot about himself as well through his experience as Cora. Corey is often worried about fitting in and being cool, so it’s really nice to see him confidently saunter around as Cora. Even though she’s weird and outspoken, I’d imagine that she might be saying plenty of things that Corey is already thinking.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t be a douchebag. Listen to what your date is saying.

Full House: Under the Influence

Full House is possibly the most wholesome show ever, which is why I am surprised that Joey, Danny, and Jesse allowed DJ to go to a frat party while she’s still in high school. I thought they would know better. But maybe they are so wholesome that they don’t. Kimmy gets drunk at the party and feels like she can fly. If getting drunk always had this affect, I would be an alcoholic. Well, probably not. But it does sound like a fun experience.DJ takes her home, presumably so that Kimmy does not get in trouble at her house. However, I never remember Kimmy having parents, so I doubt this concern is warranted. Apparently, Kimmy was so drunk at the party that the frat boys kicked them out. I went to a liberal arts college without Greek life, so I am not that familiar with how this stuff works, but I would guess that they kicked them out because Kimmy was annoying and not because she was too drunk.

DJ is such a good friend.

[There’s a subplot about Michelle and her twin cousins learning about forgiveness but it’s really boring, so I’m not going to mention it here beyond this sentence. Uncle Jesse’s kids were soooo boring.]

It turns out that Kimmy does not remember the party at all like DJ does. Kimmy thinks she was super cool and DJ was lame, but it turns out that Kimmy was really just super drunk and obnoxious. It turns out that this frat party is full of upstanding students who do not want to have alcohol at their party. They kicked out the people who brought the beer that Kimmy drank because they were afraid of losing their charter. But it turns out that DJ is not mad at Kimmy for getting drunk, she is mad at her for trying to drive home afterwards. DJ had to fight her for her keys because Kimmy did not know she was drunk even though she could not stand up. (Is this a real thing or a very special episode thing? I’ve always known when I was drunk. Does that make me enlightened and self aware or does that make Kimmy an idiot?) The reason that DJ is so pissed is that her mom was killed by a drunk driver. I have to give this very special episode some credit because they basically never mention the girls’ mother on the show, and it’s really kind of nice how a young Candace Cameron-Bure handles the moment here. But it definitely drives the point home when the entire plot of the show essentially revolves around a death caused by driving under the influence–even if its depiction of frat parties is silly.

Very Special Lesson: Getting drunk at a college party will make everyone think you’re a jerk. You will embarrass yourself and everyone will have more integrity than you. They will send you home safely with your best friend whose dad is Bob Saget.

The Weirdest Outfits of the ’90’s (A Very Special Review)

If you read this blog, you probably know by now that there’s nothing I love more than a little snark and Saved by the Bell.

I am especially excited for this episode, “Rockumentary,” because it’s a mockumentary and because it has Casey Kasem (may he rest in peace) narrating. It might not be a “very special” life lesson, but it’s a special episode nonetheless. How often does Casey Kasem narrate Saved by the Bell, you guys? And I wouldn’t be surprised if we learned a thing or two about friendship along the way.

The documentary opens with Casey Kasem chatting with Zack Morris about the “Friends Forever Tour” that Zack Attack is kicking off with a big arena concert.

Zack Attack is:

Lead Singer—Kelly Kapowski

Lead Guitar—Zack Morris

Bass—Lisa Turtle

Keyboard—Screech Powers

Drums—A.C. Slater

(Noticeably absent is Jesse Spano. Apparently, Elizabeth Berkeley broke her knee and couldn’t perform. Ouch.)

It’s interesting that Kelly is the lead singer because everyone sings about the same amount except for Screech. They don’t let Screech sing. But some crazed fans do run up on stage and rip his clothes off. Ew.

Alright, alright, I know this is not an actual very special episode. I just wanted everyone to see Not Michael Jackson and Not Madonna give the Saved by the Bell cast a (not) Grammy.

Not Michael Not Madonna
Not Michael
Not Madonna

Below are a few important fashion moments that every millennial needs to bear witness too. These are our early ‘90’s roots and we have to accept them.

Screech’s Ms. Frizzle Solar System Tuxedo Jacket:Screech's Ms. Frizzle-like solar system jacket

Kelly’s Selena Style and Zack’s puffy, puffy coat:

Kelly’s diaper spandex belted bike shorts:

These vinyl sleeves:

These vinyl sleeves

This phosphorescent green jacket that even New Kids on the Block wasn’t brave enough to rock:
This look that even New Kids on the Block wouldn't  have been big enough to rock.

Very Special Lesson: Don’t let your ego get too big or you’ll end up looking like Zack in that ugly green jacket.

***Note: All outfits worn by Lisa Turtle were omitted from the post because she was and will always be fabulous***

Sabrina The Teenage Witch: Pancake Madness

If you were a kid in the ’80’s or ’90’s chances are you saw a lot of very special episodes. You know, that 30 minute comedic romp through things that will totally ruin your life forever but it’s okay because we’ve all learned a valuable lesson and will never again drink/do drugs/go on a crash diet/hide our dyslexia? That emotionally driven, powerfully profound vicarious lesson that made you think, “As God as my witness, I shall NEVER give in to that seductive temptress known as peer pressure! I will overcome my insecurities with the support of my family members, quirky next door neighbor, and this laugh track!” Oh you didn’t think that? That was just me? Well, maybe that’s why I love Very Special Episodes from a very special place of my heart.

But enough about me, remember Melissa Joan Hart? Although her classic ’90’s sitcom (no, not Clarissa, the other one) about Sabrina Spellman’s adolescent transition from average girl to amazing witch was typically light hearted in nature, the show opted to deal with a heavier subject matter in this very special episode.


As far as I’m concerned, Melissa Joan Hart wins the ’90’s.

The day starts off calmly with Sabrina attempting to enjoy a hearty pancake breakfast before school. But before she can take a bite, her aunts whisk the fluffy pancakes away and warn her of their highly addictive nature. Pancakes are in fact so addictive to the Spellman family that they cannot even have a single bite without going on a bender. Sabrina, however, cannot resist the temptation of that syrupy deliciousness.


True to her aunts’ word, the addiction overtakes her quickly. In the very next scene, she goes through the trash at school looking for pancake remnants. The resident mean girl, Libby (did anyone else think she looked vaguely like Monica Lewinsky?) comes by and makes a joke about homeless people (comparing Sabrina to a “bag lady”). But this is a very special episode about addiction not about socioeconomic class relations, so let’s move along here people.

“I’m in the mood for pancakes are you holding?”–Actual Quote

At the end of the school day, Sabrina has the shakes. Witches really can’t handle their pancakes. In the middle of the night, she tries to make them from scratch without magic. She needs a fixfat sabrina! At school the next day, Sabrina is totally out of control. She finally loses the remaining shreds of her self-control and binges on stacks of buttery carbohydrates at the pancake breakfast prom fundraiser. Then she ends up looking like Violet from Willie Wonka. Now, that is one scary overdose.

But what really sets this episode apart from most sitcoms that deal with addiction is how it deals with detox and withdrawal symptoms, including a super weird dream about attending a pancake themed high school and hallucinating this terrifying syrup-person.

Sabrina's scary friend
Now, that’s enough to scare anyone straight.

At the end of the episode, Sabrina still craves pancakes but she knows that her friends and family are more important than throwing her life away for some silly old pancakes. She knows that hers will be a lifelong struggle but she’s committed to staying away from the pancake crowd. She even stages a catnip intervention with Salem during the closing credits—wait how did this become the most realistic very special episode of them all?


Very Special Lesson: Just say no (to pancakes)