must see TV back in the 80s occurred around 4:30 in the afternoon,
immediately following a hard day of junior high school.
Once the bell
rang few things could tear me away from my gang of girlfriends, but when
there was an Afterschool Special on, that trip to the
mall/beach/frozen yogurt joint were just going to have to wait.
ABC Afterschool Specials started airing way back in 1972 but I
remember them from their heyday throughout the 80s.
With titles like:
- “Me and my Hormones”
- “She Drinks a Little”
- “School Boy Father”
- “My Dad Lives in a Downtown Hotel” and my favorite...
- “Mom’s On Strike”
How could I be expected to not fly home, grab a Jell-O Pudding Pop and
plop myself in front of the television for a full hour?
The pre-teen/teenage stories focused on kids in controversial situations,
many focusing on drugs, alcohol, divorce, and teenage pregnancy. They
were meant to be educational and speak my language, which they pretty
The mini-movies starred some of the biggest young stars of the decade from
television and film; Rob Lowe, Helen Hunt, Kirk Cameron, Kristy McNichol,
Kerri Green, Malcolm-Jamal Warner, Nancy McKeon and River Phoenix all
were some sort of troubled teen in an Afterschool Special.
Sure they were a little dramatic, but that’s what made them memorable and
great. The specials played out like mini soap operas for teenagers and
as kooky as they could be some of them struck a chord and gave some good
advice about important topics like drunk driving, divorce, bullying and
The series won over 50 Emmy Awards and ran for a whopping 25 years. Who
They deserved the accolades and awards – thank you Afterschool
Specials for always knowing just the right thing to say, and for
using Scott Baio several times to say it.