Last week Charlotte Rae, better know as Mrs. Garret from ‘Diff’rent Strokes’ and ‘The Facts of Life’, passed away, and a few weeks ago a reboot was announced. Being a huge fan of ‘The Facts of Life’, I’ve been rewatching my box sets in her honor, and seeing again how well it dealt with important life issues teenagers and people in general face, and how it can be done for modern times.
The Facts Of Life
‘The Facts Of Life’ was my favorite sitcom of the 80’s (and as it was an all female cast, probably the earliest sign of me being Gay). Starting with the second season (when it was revamped to concentrate on a smaller core group of girls) it started dealing with serious issues, that other shows barely touched
on, on a regular basis.
The show dealt with teen issues, such as teen pregnancy, underage drinking and dating. Tootie being the youngest had to deal with peer pressure to make out with a boy when she wasn’t ready, on an upcoming camping trip. Natalie had her reputation tarnished when a boy she dated spread rumors about her. Jo had to deal with the cost of school, when she found out her mom was working two jobs to pay for her tuition. One serious episode dealt with the oversexualization of kids when Tootie was selected for a photo shoot.
Other issues involved dealing with the suicide of a fellow student, divorce, jealousy, and dealing with cancer. Sexual assault was dealt with several times, the first time was when Jo was nearly date raped by a friend of Blair’s and the second time Natalie was assaulted after coming back from a costume party and had to deal with the trauma.
Blair often deals with her concerns with Geri, her cousin who had cerebral Palsy. Geri was the first person with a disability cast in a recurring role in a prime-time show, she was played by actress/comedienne Geri Jewell.
In the first attempt to spin-off the show, Tootie and Natalie visit Tootie’s Aunt and her white husband played by Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver, Stargate SG-1), in a time when interracial dating was still very controversial. Tootie also deals with celebrity obsession when she fixates over Jermaine Jackson (who guest stars) to the point of fanaticism.
The Facts Of Modern Life
Early this month it was announced that a reboot is in the works from Leonardo DiCaprio’s production company Appian Way, along side Jessica Biel’s Iron Ocean Films (Source: Deadline). While normally I hate reboots, The Facts of Life is perfect for one, as a lot of the issues dealt with in the original are still relevant today, plus there are a lot of issues that weren’t addressed or weren’t as relevant then as they are today.
As issues pertaining to the LGBT+ community weren’t touched on in the original, there are a lot of issues like conversion therapy, gender identity, and Transgender issues among others could be addressed. Other issues include Autism, the racial tensions of today and discrimination against religious minorities.
While the new show is still very early in development and there aren’t any other details, I am looking forward to a new take on a show that highlights issues teens deal with as they grow up.