You know those television shows you loved so much when you were little that you haven’t seen in years? I’m not talking about shows like Three’s Company or Roseanne – those have been running in syndication for years and we have all revisited them pretty frequently. In fact, during the time my insomnia was at its most profound (otherwise known as “the time period during which I should have been rewarded for not snapping and going on a blood-drenched killing spree due to lack of sleep”), Three’s Company helped me stay sane. If you have blessedly never experienced such a thing, try to imagine that you are exhausted almost beyond belief but you still can’t sleep and your mind is racing like it’s a possessed windup toy and the entire world around you has literally gone dark and every concern you have ever had has mutated into a gigantic and pressing matter and all of the stress has come to reside in the very front of your mind and right at the moment where you think you cannot possibly stand it for another millisecond, you see that a marathon of Three’s Company or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air is airing on Nick at Nite. That realization is like a sleeping pill, a tranquilizer, and a delightful punch in the head all occurring at exactly the same time and maybe it’ll calm you down enough that you will eventually drift off to the sound of a laugh-track and Jack Tripper’s barely veiled sexual harassments that somehow managed to read back then as charming.
But then there are the shows I haven’t seen a bit of since I was young – really young – and I am saddened to say that many haven’t aged all that well. Take The Facts of Life. I loved The Facts of Life. A show about a bunch of smart girls who were good friends to one another at a boarding school where a dietician who made croissants pumped full of chocolate was their guardian? Sign me the fuck up. Sure, I realized that the show was a little schmaltzy at times. It was the kind of program that sprinkled “very special episodes” throughout a standard season so we could all quietly confront hot-button issues like parents with debilitating illnesses, attempts at date rape, and hair that was feathered beyond height and comprehension, but the rest of the series felt light and fun and it was maybe the only time in my life when I wanted to be blonde so I could have tresses like Blair.