TV 101: Five VERY SPECIAL EPISODES that saved society - VIDEOS
But how did we get here? What was the spark that spurred us from barely cognizant man-apes into the enlightened, elegant creatures that we are today? Look no further than that great black monolith sitting in your living room: your TV. Five VERY SPECIAL EPISODES that saved society after the jump...
Before we begin, it's important for you to understand that the following are not just episodes, they are very special episodes. And while some cynics might say that only people like Sara Goldfarb actually listen to their televisions, I say to you that the world we live in is shaped by these episodes. Society grows in leaps and bounds and those leaps and bounds are measured by very special episodes of Blossom. You cynics can post your comments elsewhere; this article is about celebration.
Episode: Kimberly Drummond's hair turns green on Diff'rent Strokes.
Result: The environment is cleaned up.
It was the kind of beauty tip that you often hear teenage girls give each other (before the police make you leave the mall): wash your hair in the rain and it'll never look better! But in 1982, audiences were not treated to the sight of Kimberly's hair shimmering in the summer sun; instead they got a glimpse of the horrors of acid rain. Kimberly's hair turned green!
Though there had never once been a bit of scientific evidence that acid rain could do that sort of thing, people were worried. "Could my hair turn green because of acid rain? We should really do something about this!"
The nation mobilized. Polluters were shut down or taxed into oblivion and new, clean fuels were developed by scientists. Within five years of the episode's airing, Mother Earth was well on its way to a full recovery.
To this day, the environmental movement is named the "Green" movement, a quiet nod to where it all began.
Diff'rent Strokes - Green Hair
Episode: ReRun bootlegs a Doobie Brothers's concert.
Result: America learns it's WRONG to steal music.
In 1978, ReRun was your typical high school student: morbidly obese with a penchant for joining cults. When he was approached by shady characters to illegally tape a Doobie Brothers concert, however, he made a stupid, silly blunder and agreed. When Taking it to the Streets started he lost himself in dance, which led to the unthinkable happening: the gigantic cassette recorder given to him to tape the concert fell on the floor for the entire world to see.
The Doobie Brothers, unlike every other touring rock band before or since, performed each night without any kind of lighting for the stage. Thus, when the compact-car-sized cassette recorder fell on the concert hall's floor, the Doobie Brother's stopped their show in shock!
We, the viewing audience, were left to worry during the entire commercial break that ReRun would face the standard punishment for illegally recording concerts -- death by flaying -- but luckily for everyone, the Doobie Brothers showed restraint. It wasn't ReRun they wanted, but the shady characters who abused ReRun's trust.
The combination of humanity and humility that the Doobie Brothers showed in the face of such betrayal proved to America that any kind of illegal sharing of music was undeniably evil.
We're left today with a music industry that's stronger than ever. Though, in theory, the internet might allow "file sharing" of "illegal music", not a single person anywhere will engage in it. We have What's Happening to thank for that.
To this day, music aficianados are heard to be "lighting a doobie", which is an "in-term" meaning "to purchase a compact disc at its full retail price".
Episode: Jason Bateman decides to NOT lose his virginity on Valerie.
Result: Unwanted teenage pregnancies drop to zero.
When old family friend Lori shows up at the Hogans' residence to look at colleges, she has her heart (and her groin!) set dearly on getting down with David Hogan. She offers herself to him but, though prepared with a condom purchased earlier that day, David is able to resist his more primal urges: he decides to "wait" until he's "ready."
Wait until he's ready! It's a standard phrase among teenage boys today, but at the time it was revolutionary. This episode taught both boys and girls that the sex drive, thought until that point to be deeply ingrained into our DNA thanks to 500 million years of evolution, could be easily overcome just by "deciding". Sex was not an imperative, pushed onto us by a biology that makes it more pleasurable than any other physical act, it was a choice you made when you were ready to make it.
Teenagers everywhere stopped having sex overnight. The drop in unwanted pregnancies freed up resources for other endeavors which lead directly to both our permanent base on Mars and our brand new manned observatory orbiting Venus. Mars and Venus: seems a little appropriate, doesn't it?
And, as an added benefit: the biological restraint shown by David spilled over to adults as well. No longer did we have turn red with embarrassment as our politicians gave in to their baser needs. No, the biological drive is easily conquerable and the last 20 years have born that out.
The only downside? The condom industry was crippled by people's realization that sex was entirely a choice.
Thankfully, the manufacturers found a new outlet for their latex wonders, with men everywhere getting "blowjobs": or the fun job of blowing up a condom to hang as a decoration at an abstinence party. The trend became so popular that even a president and governor or two got into the act.
Episode: The first prime-time lesbian kiss occurs on Roseanne.
Result: All gay prejudice disappears.
Roseanne and Jackie were having the time of their lives at a lesbian bar until guest star Mariel Hemingway, overcome by Roseanne's carnal charisma, planted a delicious lesbian kiss on her.
Before the episode aired, many people were outraged. Conservative groups protested the existence of lesbians (The Heritage Foundation considered lesbians a mythical product of left-wing propaganda); gay-rights groups saw the episode less about furthering their cause than about garnering the increasingly unstable star some easy publicity; and porn-rights activists demanded it be hotter women kissing. It was quite the quagmire.
Luckily, the episode had immediate and far reaching consequences. The morning after -- Rainbow Wednesday, it was called -- lesbians and gays got their first taste of true acceptance.
See, before 1994, homosexuality was viewed as a choice, something that kids "claimed" to "be feeling" so they could get "attention" (e.g. intense bullying, suicide-inducing alienation, hatred from their conservative parents, etc.) After that kiss, however, homosexuality was seen for what it actually was: just one of the many colors on the human rainbow.
Thanks to the efforts of Roseanne and her sitcom, lesbianism is now so accepted by mainstream society that there are literally thousands of websites devoted to promoting it!
Episode: Jessie Spano becomes addicted to caffeine pills on Saved by the Bell.
Result: America wins the war on drugs; homelessness cured.
You look at a cup of coffee and see your morning friend. Jessie Spano sees the face of a killer. Desperately enslaved to her many commitments, Bayside High's resident Type-A decided she needed a little pick-me-up. Her drug of choice? No, not coke or meth or speed -- caffeine pills.
While many people thought the choice of caffeine pills was a lame one (seeing as how there isn't a single recorded case anywhere in the history of the universe of any kind of kid at any time getting addicted to caffeine pills), it turned out to be a stroke of genius. Kids were tired of seeing real drugs depicted in their educational programming; what they craved was seeing the effect of a pretend drug that couldn't hurt you. The producers of Saved by the Bell heard their call and responded.
As word spread of the episode, kids from towns all over America took their needles and their hash pipes, their eight balls and their water bongs, and threw them into the trash, where they were found by enterprising hobos and turned into street art. In one fell swoop, two of the nation's worst problems -- drug abuse and homelessness -- were solved as drugs were suddenly uncool and the former paraphernalia of drug users (twisted into roughly beautiful sculptures) were being scooped up by the bourgeois. It was win-win for everybody.
The money America saved on the drug war was poured, naturally, into scientific ventures. This sped up our knowledge gathering and, in 2005, America stumbled blissfully into Ray Kurzweil's predicted Singularity. Now we live forever in a state of eternal bliss.
Thanks to Jessie Spano and the producers of Saved by the Bell, the term "getting high" still exists, but all it means is that "you're so excited and you just can't hide it."