I bet you didn't know that Helen Hunt was in a Facts of Life episode! Although I did mention it in my very first blog post, so if you read that, you already knew. This is the one she's in and it's a first-season classic in which we find out there's weed at Eastland.
We open with Blair and Sue Ann, who apparently are best friends even though they've spent the rest of the season as frenemies, more or less. I have to say I quite like the word "frenemies." I usually don't like made-up words, but that one captures a phenomenon that truly exists and did not have a word before. Anyway, Blair has a secret that she can't tell Sue Ann unless Sue Ann swears she won't tell anyone. After a weird exchange in which Sue Ann refuses to swear on her mother's life because she's only 41, but agrees to swear on her dog's life instead (??), we learn the big crazy secret:
Blair got Sue Ann into "The Group."
But apparently someone named "Tumpy" - because in this episode, and this episode alone, we live in a world where people name their kids that - is coming over to tell Sue Ann the good news herself.
We also learn that Tootie was hiding behind the couch the whole time.
After they shoo young Tootie away, Sue Ann worries to Blair that she won't fit in with "The Group" because they're supposedly "fast and snobby" and she is "kinda square."
Blair makes a shape joke and assures Sue Ann that the girls in "The Group" know she's kind of a nerd and the horrible, scandalous fact that she's a scholarship student(!!), but they don't know she's from Kansas City and let's keep it that way if she wants to stay in "The Group." Ha ha ha ha midwesterners are from the midwest.
We learn that "The Group" meets after dinner in Tumpy's room. Tumpy's last name is Barksdale. I just Googled "Tumpy" to see what came up. There is a place called "The Tumpy Green Equestrian Centre" in the UK because of course there is.
After a brief interruption by Cindy, Molly, and Natalie, Blair mysteriously tells Sue Ann not to be shocked at the meeting that night.
Mrs. Garrett and Mr. Bradley, the headmaster, join us and have a brief discussion about getting a stereo for the common room of the house, which facilitates some minor points later in the episode but isn't really important. The whole thing only happens because Tumpy and her friend Emily - Helen Hunt's character - come over and we see their polite, friendly interaction with Mr. Bradley. This is important because we later find out (spoiler!) that these two girls are bad news.
They flatter Mrs. Garrett, and then announce to Sue Ann that she's "one of them" now. Sue Ann, of course, does a horrible job of feigning surprise but no one really cares that Blair already told her. They tell Blair and Sue Ann that they'll see them at the meeting tonight, and, their introduction completed, they leave.
Sue Ann returns to the question that's been plaguing us all: what did Blair mean when she told Sue Ann not to be shocked at the meeting? "This should give you a clue," Blair says, pulling what seems to be a lipstick out of her purse. When square Sue Ann wonders what's so shocking about a lipstick, we learn what's hidden inside:
"Marijuana!" Sue Ann screams with righteous indignation and surprise. One wonders why the stoners would invite people to hang out with them who aren't into pot, or why Sue Ann would want to be in "The Group" once she found out it was just a bunch of stoners, but maybe I don't remember high school cliquery and peer pressure all that well. Blair says that everyone in the group smokes pot, and tonight the two of them are part of the group.
We fade to Mrs. Garrett, Cindy, and Molly looking at magazines or something in the common room. Tootie and Natalie, looking like absolutely adorable tiny children, come down the stairs.
They announce that Blair and Sue Ann are getting ready to go to Tumpy's, so the rest of the house should discuss the stereo without them. Mrs. Garrett says they're looking at a Yamaguchi stereo, which is not a real stereo brand but a random Japanese name they used to set up a line for tiny little politico Molly Ringwald to tell us that we need to start buying American.
We then learn that Yamaguchi is an American company that was given a Japanese name so that people would have more confidence in the quality, and I have no idea where we're going with this.
Fortunately, Sue Ann and Blair come downstairs and promise that they'll be back before curfew. Tootie speculates that a night with "The Group" is like going to a snooty country club, and she performs a conversation between people named Tumpy, Poopy, Bippy, Dippy, and Snitzy that might be one of the most hilarious points in the entire series. Mrs. Garrett points out that Tootie shouldn't be making fun of other people's names.
A despondent Nancy comes downstairs and we learn that Blair could not get her into "The Group." Mrs. Garrett tells her that some people only feel better when they're keeping others out. Mrs. G. then treats us to a disturbing story about how when the girls who owned purebred poodles in her hometown shunned her and her mutt, her mutt saw to it that there was not another purebred poodle in that town for another ten years. Moving right along...
Everyone besides Tootie and Natalie conveniently goes away, leaving Tootie to propose to Natalie that they start their own exclusive club, once they find out all the secrets of "The Group." They're going to do that by crashing the meeting going on right now! Tootie successfully eavesdropped the secret knock to get in!
We fade to Tumpy's room, which is set up like a stereotypical 1979 high school stoner's room:
We hear the secret knock, and the girls in the room, presumably already stoned, look confused, like they're not sure what sound they just heard and like they're not sure what, indeed, is this "door" you speak of. But they do manage to open it for Blair and Sue Ann, who awkwardly proceed to not fit in at all. We're treated to a joke about the fact that "hi" and "high" are homonyms, another about grass not involving mowing the lawn, and one about Blair screaming that she hates bugs when Helen Hunt's character mentions a roach. Helen Hunt declares that they're going to light the bong when we hear the secret knock again, and Tumpy says it must be Bitsy. I swear.
But no! It's Tootie! And rather than shut the door on the kid and tell her to get lost, tipsy Tumpy stands there dumbly while she comes in and says,
"Hey! Isn't this one of these bong things I've seen at the record store?"
Do you remember that? That is, do you remember when the record store was the head shop? Although at the time I didn't know what bongs were or what a head shop was, I can look back and remember that that's exactly what that section at Sound Warehouse was. Also The General Store, where we bought concert tickets.
Tootie adorably wonders what you hit it with to make it bong, and Tumpy informs her that "you don't hit it. It hits you." Blair interrupts to tell Tootie that you put jelly beans in it, and finally, FINALLY, throws Tootie out of the room. Blair then becomes all righteously indignant, even though she didn't try to get her out before she saw the bong or anything like that. And I haven't put my timeline down on paper yet, but I've done most of the math in my head and I believe Tootie is in about seventh grade here. She's certainly no older than eighth grade. But in the world we inhabit, in this episode only, not one of the teenagers in the room finds it remotely troublesome that a 12-year-old is around while they've been toking.
But anyway, we get some more stereotypical ha ha ha stoners are dumb behavior from Tumpy. We learn that Sue Ann has to write a 20-page book report on Moby Dick, and Tumpy says that pot can make her creative so she'll write the best paper ever. And Tumpy plans to buy a "lid" of the best Hawaiian grass out there.
Funny that she said "a lid." My significant other and I were talking about that terminology last night. Apparently "a lid" was a 60s and 70s term for an amount of weed that would fit into the lid of a jar of Hellman's mayonnaise. The more you know.
Tumpy offers Blair a hit, which she refuses, claiming that she's waiting for the good Hawaiian stuff. Tumpy accuses her of being chicken, and Blair protests that she just doesn't want to get "spaced out" and "giggle at stupid jokes." Her loss. Blair announces that she's leaving, and tells Sue Ann to come along.
But wait! The bad pothead girls tell Sue Ann that she doesn't have to be Blair's little puppet! And they employ every peer pressure stereotype to get Sue Ann to think that the way to express her individuality is to tell Blair no and them yes, which works especially well because Blair and Sue Ann are really frenemies, just like I said before! And Blair says the worst possible thing she can, that they don't really like Sue Ann and they're only saying nice things to her to get her to smoke with them! I've never understood why the anti-weed campaigns all make it look like stoners are just trying to give their weed away at every opportunity.
Anyway, predictably, in an act of defiance, Sue Ann SMOKES TEH POT!!!!!!!!
We fade to commercial, and I'm afraid I must as well.
To be continued at this blog post.