Friday, September 27, 2013

Great Moments in Springsteen Television History: The Facts of Life

So a few weeks ago I was hit with a serious case of insomnia.  I tried a number of different things to fall asleep, but as the minutes turned to hours and I just stared at the ceiling, I gave in, turned on the TV and flipped around.  I stopped on a late night marathon of The Facts Of Life.  For those who don't remember, The Facts of Life was a popular show in the 1980's about 4 girls coming of age while living together at a boarding school with their motherly figure, Mrs. Garrett.  The girls run the gamut of usual stereotypes: Blair, the rich and pretty girl, Jo, the tough tomboy, Tootie, the sassy black girl, and Natalie, the cheerful chubby girl.

This particular episode, "The Fear Strikes Back", was "a very special episode."  Again, for you young ones, "very special episodes" were a staple of sitcoms back in the 80s and early 90s where they tackled serious issues.  Usual topics included drug use, drinking and driving, and child abuse.  This time the topic was sexual assault.  In this particular episode, Natalie is the victim of sexual assault.  What does that have to do with Bruce Springsteen?  In a vain attempt to cheer Natalie up, the other girls get her tickets to the Bruce Springsteen concert.  I couldn't help but laugh at this episode, and think about how mercilessly this episode would be lambasted today as sexist and misogynistic.  The other girls spend a good part of the episode wondering why Natalie can't just get over what happened to her and go to the Springsteen concert, why would the attacker want Natalie as a victim (after all, she's a fat girl), and finally they all come to the conclusion that Natalie basically deserved what happened to her because she was by herself, and walking on a dimly lit street.  Ah, 80s TV... is there anything finer?

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