Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Deck the Halls

MERRY CHRISTMAS, VERY SPECIAL READERS! I was at a 7.5 hour long Christmas party last night, so I’m late on this post but it is still Christmas! So not too late!

So Will discovers that his youngest cousin, Ashley, isn’t very into Christmas. All of her friends are out of town, so she’s decided to make Christmas break interesting by learning a new word each day. Will is obviously concerned that she’s missing out on childhood, so he decides to make Christmas super special for her. He makes her write a letter to Santa even though she’s 10 and doesn’t believe.

He’s particularly bummed about the post-modern crystal nativity set, in which the baby Jesus is abstractly represented by a tiny disc. When he finds out that his aunt and uncle pay a store in Beverly Hills to decorate their home for them every year, Will opts to head to the story, pick up the decorations, and deck the halls with Ashley himself.

At the store he finds one measly box of sad, pretentious decorations, so he leaves them at the story and goes off in search of reindeer-worthy decor. The house is less minimalist-chic and more completely covered in candy canes:

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It isn’t long before the neighbors calling to complain about the “blinking Frosty the Snowman.” And Will threatens to fight one of the callers. Soon, an angry mob forms on the lawn. Carlton wants to solve the problem by “writing a few checks,” but his father opts for a rational discussion instead.

Ugh. The neighbors are complaining about property value and how these Christmas lights are ruining that. They suck.

As it turns out, Evander Holyfield (played by himself) is the neighbor that Will threatened to fight…so he quickly pretends that he never spoke to anyone on the phone.

Just then, a group of kids ring the door bell and sing carols. They’ve been driving around, looking at Christmas lights, and decided to sing carols at this house because they felt like it had the best decorations.

Just then Ronald Reagan (not played by himself) stops by to tell everyone how much he loves the lights because Nancy won’t let him decorate their house. So you know, if the Gipper approves, then I guess all of the other trickle-down aficionados have to play along too.

Very Special Lesson: “Happy Christmas to all and to all a goodnight!”

Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: Someday Your Prince Will Be in Effect

This is a two-part Halloween episode. That’s serious business. But Amazon lied to me and told me Part II was really part I. So what follows is Part II plus what I’ve filled in from Part I:

Carlton and Will have some kind of a bet over who can be the first to find a date for Hillary’s Halloween party. This all boils down to them fighting over the same girl. That feels pretty unrealistic, but we’ll go with it. This mostly consists of them insulting each other in front of this poor girl who should not be considering either one of them at this point. Carlton even uses the R word as an insult (my, how far we have come since the 90’s).

Meanwhile, Hillary has been falsely arrested for shoplifting while she and the rest of the family attempt to find Halloween costumes. It seems pretty ridiculous that fashionista Hillary would wait until the day of a party to find an outfit, but whatever.

Will and Carlton have reached a stalemate in trying to win this girl’s affections, so they start flat-out lying to her. Will describes a “typical” night with him, which involves hanging out with Bo Jackson and Heavy D. Plus, Malcolm Jamal-Warner calls him from the set of The Cosby Show and asks for dating advice. Oh and then Quincy Jones shows up and begs him to sing on a track. But the Fresh Prince is too busy, so he calls his buddy Al B. Shure to fill in for him. Just as Al B. Shure and Quincy Jones are leaving, they talk about how they have to be sure not to miss A Different World–which is so convenient because Kadeem Hardison just happens to be hanging out at Will’s house!

Carlton can’t follow Will’s story at all, so he’s just like “come to the party with me.” And the girl is like well, I’m just more attracted to Carlton. So there you have it. Carlton won out over Will for like the one time ever in history. They all head to the party, and Hillary (who has been released from mall-jail) has invited the mall cop to party with them. Everything seems great for Carlton and crappy for Will (he invited a waitress from the mall to be his date, but she hasn’t shown up). But Carlton can’t really win anything, so it turns out that his date is actually the shoplifter that the mall cop was searching for. She’s also a kleptomaniac who was about to rob them out of house and home.

And then Will’s date shows up as this gorgeous, perfect, real-life but also dressed-up as Cinderella. She lives in Encino with her step-mother and step-sisters. They have a great time and Carlton is miserable. Balance is restored to the Fresh Prince’s world. But the story isn’t over yet. A group of trick-or-treaters show up after they’ve run out of candy. They’re so late because they’ve been watching Matlock. So Will just invites a random group of children into his home and tells them a “scary story” about the “Bel-Air Beast,” which is clearly a description of Carlton. Then all of the children run from the house when Carlton walks into the room. Poor guy, he must have developed some serious self-esteem issues when Will moved-in.

Halloween Lesson: Don’t pick up randos at the mall, be careful not to be mistaken for a shoplifter–and if you’re going to a 90’s Halloween Party, always remember the best costume is grapes.

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The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: There’s the Rub

Carlton and Hilary volunteer at a homeless shelter on Thanksgiving, but they are only doing it to serve their own needs. Carlton wants the volunteer service for his college application and Hilary wants to film the experience for her talk show. Carlton picks a fight with a young homeless Brad from Home Improvement. Brad puts him in his place for being so stuck up, but then he says he was only kidding. I think Carlton is really humbled either way.Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 2.55.17 PM

Hillary gets annoyed at manual labor and starts clearing plates before people are done eating, then she is totally shocked and horrified when they run out of food. When she finds out that the supervisor who has been bossing her around is not some holier-than-thou volunteer, but rather a homeless woman, she realizes she has been a big jerk.

Meanwhile, Will takes Uncle Phil to a massage parlor after he throws out his back. They get arrested after they’re surprised to learn it’s, erm, not the kind of massage parlor they expected. In jail, Uncle Phil settles in to eat a prison Thanksgiving dinner and is only moved to tell of the detective when Will starts to wax on about the delicious meal that they are missing. He only lightly played the judge card when they were arrested, but missing out on the “little tiny onions” in cream sauce moves him to provide a litany of procedural errors that could cost the detective his job unless he gets the D.A. on the phone immediately. Pretty soon there after, Will and Uncle Phil get to go home.

Screen Shot 2014-11-16 at 4.57.56 PMCarlton and Hillary realize that they really do want to help the homeless, so they return to the shelter with a catered candlelight dinner. When the camera crew finally shows up, Hillary sends them away because she doesn’t want to exploit the homeless anymore. I guess she didn’t think of turning it into a public interest piece that might actually help the homeless. Oh well.

Very Special Lesson: Catering a candlelight supper for one night is far better than feeding the homeless for many nights.

Very Thanksgiving Activity: I have had the opportunity to volunteer at a couple of food pantries in the past. I can say firsthand that food pantries are often the first way to help underserved populations connect with the resources they need to improve their circumstances. Food pantries cannot operate without grants and donations from area food banks, many of which come from individual donations. If you really want to help this Thanksgiving or ever, I suggest finding your local food bank and making a donation: http://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank/

The Very Special Blog Makes Me Cry

Wait. No. That doesn’t sound right. Let me explain. I recently drafted a post about the Disney Channel classic Wish Upon a Star and I was scoffing away, furiously banging out some insulting witticisms about the silly plot, and then I totally teared up. I was sitting there being like “Damn, this movie is dumb but like they are sisters and they are friends! I love it!” So the truth is…and maybe this is a pretty poorly kept secret…but I love very special episodes so much.

My boyfriend–who I forced to actually visit this blog by taking away the “read via email” function.–told me that every time a very special episode came on TV he would be like “oh noooo it’s one of those lesson episodes!” Child version of me, on the other hand, was like “Oh my gosh. This is a very important message about how to be a better person and not die of a marijuana overdose. I must give Mrs. Garrett my full attention.” Between Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life Mrs. Garrett felt like the bizzare fairy-godmother to my early social development. Like that time Arnold was in the hospital and had a crush on his roommate but her dad (who otherwise seemed like a nice guy) was a racist. Everyone is sort of like, woah he sucks but he is still nice. What gives? And Mrs. Garrett, refusing to excuse his behavior, says “There’s nothing little about bigotry.” It’s a pun. But I was ten years old and totally like “Oh my GOD that is SO profound.”

And I still feel that way. Sure they’re often badly written, either totally implausible or entirely trite. But oh my gosh the feels. I can’t resist the feels.

The Anguish.

The Tears.

The Time Tootie Casually Saved a Teen from Sex Trafficking in a Diner.

I love it all. Each and every very special moment. And while they do not always make me cry, I’ve been known to spontaneously break down from the sheer social justice of it all. I mean the world really would be a better place if we all went to a school where Mrs. Garrett was going to make sure that we were all sensitive supportive people who did not get jealous of our cousin, a comedian with cerebral palsy, because she was getting more attention. Well, I promise it’s more generalizable than that one incident. Or if we lived in a world where people like Mr. Drummond really would just adopt a couple of orphans and then end up being awesome and dedicated parents.

Or just the touching reminder that someone out there has your back.

Today, I salute you very special episodes. Thanks for warming my heart. Now, I will go back to mocking you. Because I love you. Because that is how Millennials with blogs show love.

What makes you cry? But like in a good way…