Pretty in Pink is All About Harry Dean Stanton and Jon Cryer

Pretty in Pink, a classic tale: Boy meets Girl. Boy is rich. Girl is poor. Girl’s BFF is an eccentric guy who is madly in love with her. Girl picks pretty rich Boy. Boy ditches her for shallow reasons. Girl makes ugly dress. Girl goes to prom alone only to be rescued by consolation prize BFF. Girl ends up with pretty rich Boy in the end anyway because everyone loves Andrew McCarthy.


Of course, thirty plus years of re-watching this movie has led to a general consensus amongst viewers that Andy should have picked her BFF Duckie. One day that pretty smile of Blane’s will fade or he’ll try to use it to weasel out of some dumb crap like flirting with the pretty woman next door while Andy tries to hustle their brood of children into their suburban mansion, juggling the groceries alone.

And she’ll look back on her largely lust-driven, desperate need for validation from the cool guy and wonder why she didn’t notice that their relationship was rife with communication issues from the start–or why she didn’t care that his friends were all colossal jerks that she now has to make nice with at the country club. After all, what was his big gesture of romance after spinelessly shunning her when James Spader shamed him for “slumming it”? He shows up to prom alone and claims he “always believed in her”?? Barf. But you’ve heard that all before and I’m here to talk about Pretty in Pink‘s sub-plot.

That being, of course, that Andy’s mom ditched the family three years prior to the start of the film and her father is utterly blown apart, barely functional, for most of the film because of it. I first saw this movie at eleven and I thought he was an alcoholic because that was most of the dysfunction I had seen in my own extended family. I didn’t know what grief and depression looked like. I didn’t understand what it feels like when someone you love deeply abandons you out of nowhere. I certainly didn’t realize how short three years could be and, for Andy as all of us, the difference between thirteen and sixteen must have felt like a lifetime.

But for her father, it isn’t. He wakes up every day in the same house he lived in with his happy thirteen year-old child and his seemingly happy wife. He wakes up alone, haunted by his memories of the past and the memories of his aspirations for what his family could have been. It must feel like someone has died. It must feel much worse than if someone had died. And yet, he is still deeply in love with his wife.

I re-watched a scene between Andy’s father and Duckie as soon as I heard of Harry Dean Stanton’s passing. He’s a terrific actor. He’s shown off his chops in much better movies than this. I find Pretty in Pink to be a pretty weak entry into the John Hughes cannon (go ahead, fight me in the comments if you will), but it’s Harry Dean Stanton who offers the one sage piece of advice in a script full of melodrama unsuitable for the subject matter.

In this scene, Duckie (Jon Cryer) meets with Andy’s father (Harry Dean Stanton) to reassure him that he is serious about Andy’s welfare and cares deeply about her wellbeing. Of course, he doesn’t need to offer his assurances because he and Andy aren’t dating. And let’s be honest, this whole exchange shows that Duckie has some pretty poor boundaries, so maybe Andy should just wait until college to get serious about anyone. But Duckie’s feelings are genuine and her father–no stranger to unrequited love–offers him some advice.

In my opinion, Duckie is the real winner of Pretty in Pink. I guess we’re supposed to think that he’s such a “good friend” that he wanted Andy to be happy with Blane and that’s why he’s such a good sport at the prom. But I hope it’s more that he learned how to be a good friend to himself.

John Hughes’s original ending would have subverted this exchange between Duckie and Andy’s dad. If he had his way, Duckie would have ended up with Andy, but ultimately this didn’t test well (see above re: Andrew McCarthy’s smile). And that makes this subtly poignant scene with Harry Dean Stanton feel all the more relevant to the overall plot of the film. I’m not worried about Duckie ending up sad and alone in his middle age like Andy’s father. I feel like he’s going to bounce back from pretty much whatever life throws at him and he’s going to do it while wearing a bolo tie.

The Facts of Life: The New Girl

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.

JEM: The Movie You Never Asked For

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew this was happening. But it seemed so ridiculous that I thought it would die in pre-production. And while I always want to give a movie cool points for securing Juliette Lewis, this trailer reminds me of Hannah Montana mashed up with the Josie and the Pussycats movie. In the words, of Buzzfeed Top Commentor, Ze Ofdensen: “Fuck this movie. I watched an episode of Jem today on Discovery Kids and THIS.IS.NOT.JEM.”