The girl was wearing pale blue high-waisted jean shorts and a black tank top. Her hair was long, dark, and wavy, hitting her shoulders like a greasy waterfall. Her makeup was perversely brown, like she’d just finished making out with a chocolate bunny who had no plans to call her. Understandably, I was briefly convinced I was in the midst of a Versailles Time Slip, and nearly panicked, positive I’d see a high school me practicing my chief high school hobby of being a total douche.
“Did you see her?” I said to Mrs. Supermarket. “I think she’s from 1995.”
“That’s where the hipsters are now,” she said, unconcerned. “They made it to the nineties.”
“Oh, good. No one tell them about System of a Down.”
It’s become a common sight around the hipster infested areas of East LA: otherwise attractive women with messy updos, semi-diaphanous black tops, and earth-toned shorts hiked up to their armpits. At a restaurant in Eagle Rock, our waitress looked like she stepped off the set of Zandalee. And what I can’t understand is that these fashions sucked the first time around, so why would anyone want to go back? ‘90s fashion grew out of the AIDS pandemic and the safe sex movement. This was back when any sexual contact would immediately get your penis haunted, and you’d need Zelda Rubenstein to clear that shit up. That’s if I remember my high school health class correctly. Anyway, these were birth control clothes, designed to destroy any vestige of sexual impulse. Unless you’re a Catholic preteen, you have no earthly reason to dress like this.
I bring it up because of this week’s Very Special Blossom, “Sex, Lies and Teenagers” (season 1, episode 5). The absence of the oxford comma implies that this will be about sex on one hand, and lies and teenagers on the other. It conjures images of Nick Russo having sex, then lying to teenagers Joey, Blossom, and Six about it. Or perhaps Nick realizes that the time to have “the talk” is long overdue for his fourteen year old daughter, and then lying extravagantly about what goes into sex in the misguided hope she will join a convent. Sadly, no, this is all about our young heroine (who only just became a woman literally four episodes ago), taking her first few steps on the road to Pleasure Town.
While I have a few things to say about teenaged sexuality that will likely get me added to a couple watchlists, the primary purpose of watching these things are as time capsules. Which is why I bring up the fashions, because this is the first episode where I looked at them and realized, holy living fuck, people actually left the house dressed like that. There’s a very simple truism with regards fashion in television and movies: the less cool your character is supposed to look, the better his fashion sense will age. The best example comes from the ‘80s cable staple Just One of the Guys, in which one of the dorky characters dresses in vintage bowling shirts and slacks, a proto-hipster chic that would not look out of place on the streets today. He gets a makeover in the film to become a paragon of ‘80s excess, and ends up looking like he should be sucking off the members of Roxy Music. In Blossom, the uncool adults don’t look terrible, even if their shirts are too loose and their pants are upsettingly tight. Joey and Tony fare a little worse, with tight, ripped jeans about an inch too short, and in Tony’s case, a vest over his t-shirt. The real victim in all this is Blossom. Oh, poor Blossom.
It’s generally a bad sign if I can’t even identify what a garment is supposed to be. I mean, I’m no expert, but I know about dresses, and skirts, and shorts, if only because my existence is pretty much focused around determining which of these my wife is wearing and attempting to get it off of her. For Blossom’s trip to the make out party at the center of the episode (for which everyone says she looks incredible), she wears a blazer over a piece of clothing whose floral print is the same color as Linda Blair’s vomit. I couldn’t figure out what the hell it was for the longest time. Skirt? Dress? Shorts? Then, with mounting horror, I came to the conclusion that it was a jumper.
None of this is what the episode is supposed to be about. No, Blossom wants to attend her first make out party with a fetal Johnny Galecki, but is of course nervous about what will be required of her. There’s even a place in the infamous house referred to in hushed tones as “The Room.” Predictably, I immediately pictured Tommy Wiseau waiting in the darkness, ready to have some Borat-inflected meltdown. No wonder Blossom’s worried! No one wants to make out in front of Tommy. The “lies” in the title refers to Blossom’s lie to her father about the make out party, and presumably, about the likely presence of a future cult film director and possible vampire. After he discovers the deception, they have a blow up where they basically agree that lying to your parents is natural and is just part of the relationship now.
That’s right, this Very Special Blossom wants to impart the lesson that lying is a-okay! Well, lesson learned, Miss Russo. Lying is a perfectly natural part of the parent-child relationship, and one that while not necessarily treasured, should be tacitly understood. The way you don’t go into mom’s room when her special friend spends the night.
As always, a few familiar faces popped up. I mentioned Johnny Galecki, but the guy is seriously young here. I kept expecting his voice to crack. The second recognizable face is Brenda Strong, an actress who has carved out a respectable career mostly on television, with her most famous role probably as the dead narrator on Desperate Housewives. Here she plays a love interest for divorced Nick, who is immediately cockblocked by his children. The most recognizable face belongs to a near-extra who has a single line and is credited as “Boy.” His screentime is so brief, I didn’t even recognize him until I saw the name in the credits: Tobey Maguire. This has to be the answer to some obscure trivia question somewhere.