When I was a kid I loved The Facts of Life. Loved it! I loved it when they lived in a dorm with Molly Ringwald, when they were ordered to live over the cafeteria as punishment for trying to sneak into a bar, when they all moved out of the school into a bakery shop, and I even loved it when Cloris Leachman turned the bakery into a crappy, pastel colored, junk shop (especially when George Clooney showed up).
Oh, those crazy Eastland girls. How I wanted to wear the burgundy vest and transfer to a school short on classes and long on zany antics! I wanted Blair's money and looks, but to be cool like Joe (in a feminine way). Sadly, in reality I was a Natalie- fat, freckled, and goofy. Though Tootie and I did share a passion for roller skates.
I never thought it was weird how the parents of these kids turned over custody to Mrs. Garrett who, in retrospect, kind of looked like a drunk tranny. Unaware of things like child labor laws, I never questioned their years of indentured servitude for the one time bar infraction. Though, their sentence was extended due to a paint fight....still.
Remember when Natalie was date raped or nearly date raped? Or the very special episode where Tootie lost her virginity? And who could forget the two hour Facts of Life movie where they all went to Australia to shave sheep? Or the one where they went to England to.....to somehting? That was some great television. I even stayed with them when they brought on the Australian girl and Patty Duke's son because I'd grown up with the FOL girls and wanted to see them through to the end, even if the end included more abandoned children.
I don't suppose the FOL girls would do well in today's dog eat teen world. Can you imagine Natalie on Gossip Girl? They'd get her drunk on a martini (it'd only take one), strip her, then post video of her naked, chubby self on the Internet. And Blair would be the fat girl on any of today's shows while Joe would be a lesbian. And Tootie? Where would Tootie be in 2008? Well, for starters she'd be on the WB or relegated to funny side-kick with zero sex so as not to be threatening. I guess not much would change for Tootie, after all. But, poor Mrs. Garrett would be a murder victim on CSI, tortured and killed by her own charges! On a more positive note, Blair's cerebral palsy cousin, Geri, would crash-land on a magical island where she'd be healed and less palsy! The Island might even make her funny!
Man, 2008 is tough. I miss the sweetness of 80s television (aside from the date rape and Gary Coleman's almost molestation on a very special episode of A Different Strokes), but I know I'm not the same sweet chubs I was then and would deride any show that dare display such naivete. Still, the memories of a gentler date rape time give me a warm, fuzzy feeling.
A little FOL for your trip down memory lane......