I’m not going to lie, you guys. I am REALLY excited about today’s list.
I love the “You’re NOT my father!” moment of pretty much anything. One of our most gloriously over-used cliches in both TV and film, it’s pretty self-explanatory. A well-meaning authority figure tries to instill a little wisdom or caring and the uncaring brat responds with that most below-the-belt of blows- “You are not my biological parent.” It’s best when used in a sitcom so there’s a proper storm-out or run up the stairs (A Full House specialty, the run up the stairs) and the studio audience can go, “Ooooooooooh.” I highly encourage you to say, “Oooooh” at the end of each entry, it really does make a world of difference.
5. Shawn Hunter to Mr. Turner in “Cult Fiction” on Boy Meets World (1997)
Ah yes, the classic “Cult Fiction” episode. Occasionally, a series will whip out the old “main character joins a cult” situation (Kelly on 90210, Tori Spelling and that religion that’s supposed to be Scientology on So Notorious, Veronica Mars tries to live on that farm in that one episode) and who doesn’t love TV’s squishy take on what a cult is really like (namely, there is so much hugging involved that this can’t be kosher). When it comes to Boy Meets World, poor (ha ha ha, SHAWN’S POOR!) Shawn Hunter has been having a hard time of it lately- his trailer trash lifestyle has become even more trailer-tastic after his dad takes off after his wayward mom and leaves Shawn in the care of first the Matthews (who clearly don’t know what to do with someone who wears so much flannel and doesn’t appreciate clean cut wisecracks from a little sis) and then oh-so-cool teacher Mr. Turner, not at all sketchy for a single man with a Jheri-curl to take in a teenage boy. When Shawn takes up with the Huggers, Mr. Turner steps in and obviously Shawn’s not going to listen to someone who is NOT HIS FATHER. Don’t you ever watch television, Mr. Turner? God.
4. Jessie Spano to her New Stepmom in “Palm Springs Weekend I & II” on Saved By the Bell (1991)
This is the Saved By the Bell episode where you muttered to yourself, “I think there’s something wrong with Jessie Spano.” She REALLY hates her new stepmom to-be. Like, tries to drown her in the Palm Springs pool hates-her (not ok, Mama). Although, if I were forced to wear that heinous bridesmaid dress, I might also consider making snide remarks about my dad’s fiance’s youth and inappropriate hotness to everyone too. I mean, she’s a aerobics instructor for God’s sake. I think we all know why this wedding is taking place.
But don’t worry. Zack Morris, next door neighbor, best friend, always there with a snappy blazer, is there for some friendly advice. Namely, suck it up and get back to the wedding, in the name of all that is holy so we can end this episode and move on to California Dreams where I think Jake and Tiffani are about to hook up in the gang’s garage thisisthebestSaturdaymorningever!
3.Tracy Morgan to Everyone Who Tries to Tell Him What To Do in “Rosemary’s Baby” on 30 Rock (2007)
You have no idea how much I wish there was a clip of this scene. Basically, Tracy has an issue- whenever an authority figure (Jack, in this case) tells him not to do something, he has to do it. Even dog-fighting, the most repulsive thing a person could do (which Grizz and Dot-Com hilariously try to circumvent by recruiting poodles). When Jack tries to talk some sense into Tracy, he retorts, “You’re not my dad!” And prompts a series of flashbacks when Tracy was a little boy, played by Elijah Cook who is SPOT-ON with an attitudinal delivery that just kills me every time. It goes something like this:
“Tracy, don’t play with matches!”
“You’re not my dad!”
“Tracy, don’t stare directly at the sun! It’ll make you crazy!”
“You’re not my dad!”
And my favorite- little Tracy’s dressed for church in a red dress and matching hat. “Tracy! You’re not going out dressed like that!”
“You’re not my dad!”
AAAAAND scene. Seriously, Hulu, I can’t believe you want to charge me and yet you don’t even have that clip. Pathetic.
2. Buffy Summers to Ted (John Ritter) in “Ted” on Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997)
In one of Buffy‘s greatest episodes ever, John Ritter plays Ted, new boyfriend to Buffy’s mother, poor suffering Joyce. Everything seems dandy except Buffy thinks he’s a giant creep. Nobody else does though, since Ted’s making these cookies with dreamy tranquilizers in them, that make everyone just love the guy. We see flashes of the real Ted though, when he tries to smack Buffy around and it’s all the more creepy and awful because nobody sees it or is really on her side. So when she has enough and roundhouse kicks him down the stairs, it’s a short-lived rush of satisfaction. See, Buffy actually kills Ted and the ramifications of her killing a person, not a demon or a vampire, are pretty heady. (Not to mention the most dramatic “You’re not my father!” overreaction ever).
Luckily for all of us, he’s actually a sociopathic robot who comes back to life to try and recruit Joyce into living with him in his creepy basement of love. Which means we get to see Buffy’s fears validated. And she gets to kill him again, always a bonus.
1. Will Smith to Uncle Phil in “Papa’s Got a Brand New Excuse” on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1994)
Welcome to the part of the program where I tear up uncontrollably. I’ve mentioned previously my inability to watch this episode of what has to be one of the most ridiculous sitcoms of all time without getting choked up and making excuses like, “I’m sorry, there’s a ceiling tile in the bathroom that needs my attention” so that my friends don’t mock me when Will blows up at Uncle Phil for not exactly being psyched that his deadbeat dad Lou (Ben Vereen NO!) has shown up to make yet more false promises. And then when Lou makes an excuse about bailing on him AGAIN and Will breaks down I just, I can’t- I’m sorry, there’s a ceiling tile in the bathroom that needs my attention right now. (PS originally my choice for this week’s topic was “Very Special Episodes on Sitcoms That Actually Really Did Make Me Cry Don’t Judge Me” so you see we’re killing two birds here.)