When Penelope Alvarez caught her teenage son, Alex, vaping marijuana, her distress wasn’t just about the pot — not in California, and not when her own mother was off getting legally stoned at the opera.
“The reality is, if a white kid like Dylan gets caught with a little weed, he gets a cool story,” she told her son, referring to his friend. She and Alex, characters played by Justina Machado and Marcel Ruiz on the sitcom “One Day at a Time,” are Cuban-American.
“You?” she went on. “You could wind up in prison.”
For the writers of “Nip It in the Bud” — Episode 5 in that show’s third season, which hit Netflix this month — the juvenile drug plot was at once a reliable sitcom standby and an opportunity to broaden the kinds of teary-eyed conversations it usually depends on. Gloria Calderón Kellett, the series’s showrunner, said she had been keen to complicate the picture, beyond “Just Say No.”
“One of the things we were talking about was vaping and, in California especially, with pot being legal now, how it’s confusing for some teenagers,” she said.
“The added thing in this family,” she continued, going on to use a gender-neutral term for people of Hispanic origin, “is that, yes, drugs are a big deal. But also, if you’re a Latinx kid who looks like Alex and have darker skin — if you’re out with your white friends, guess who’s going to get in trouble?”
Call it the latest in a long line of “Very Special Episodes,” updated for a more diverse, more politically thoughtful, more pot-permissive age.
Since the early 1970s, the Very Special Episode, as it has half-mockingly come to be known, has provided sitcom writers with a ready template for speaking earnestly, and (sometimes) with levity, to families about societal issues, particularly drugs. But as the culture has evolved, the requirements of — and the taste for — such episodes have evolved with it.
Viewed historically, “One Day at a Time” represents the most recent phase of that often corny, but obviously durable, convention.
From its earliest incarnation, the family sitcom has served as both mirror and model. The Cleavers, the Bunkers, the Huxtables, the Conners: All, in their way, have functioned as workaday avatars for those watching at home.
But where sitcoms in the ’50s and ’60s generally eschewed social messaging, there was a shift toward social realism evident in the sitcoms of the 1970s, part of a broader change in the demands of audiences, who increasingly wanted to see their own experiences represented onscreen.
Networks at the time also had demographic concerns, said Mary M. Dalton, a professor of communication and film studies at Wake Forest University and a co-editor of the essay collection “The Sitcom Reader: America Viewed and Skewed.”
“We’ve got people rioting in the streets, and we’ve got the antiwar movement, and we have the generation gap,” she said. “And we have CBS canceling its rural sitcoms because advertisers wanted a younger, more urban demographic, because those are the consumers they’re targeting.”
Shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “Green Acres” disappeared, giving way to more topical, urban-based sitcoms. The writer and producer Norman Lear, who created shows like “All in the Family,” “Maude” and the original “One Day at a Time,” pioneered a new kind of sitcom, in which humor was used as a bridge to address serious issues like divorce and sexual assault.
The Very Special Episode — such as when Maude decides to get an abortion in the two-part episode “Maude’s Dilemma” — pushed the boundaries of that approach. As such, it was often characterized by a difference in tone.
“One of the reasons why we chuckle or use air quotes or even a falsetto tone when we say ‘A Very Special Episode’ is because, of course, these issues are complex and some have long-term implications,” Dalton said. “And these cannot be resolved in 22 minutes.”‘Just Say No’
The subject of drug abuse was mostly absent from the groundbreaking sitcoms of the 1970s, but as Lear’s influence spread, creators like Gary David Goldberg made early attempts in the ’80s to take it on with that same kind of thoughtful, socially conscious approach. His sitcom “Family Ties” offers a prime example.
The actor Michael Gross, who played that show’s ex-hippy father, Steven Keaton, noted the evident shift in tack.
“This was not ‘Happy Days,’” he said. “This was not ‘Laverne & Shirley.’ This was not ‘Joanie Loves Chachi.’” Creators like Lear and Goldberg “were out to say something without necessarily hitting you over the head.”
“Family Ties” aimed to strike that balance, including on the subject of drugs. An episode like “Speed Trap,” in which the son, Alex (Michael J. Fox), takes amphetamines to increase his chances of getting into a good college, marked the show as an heir apparent to the kind of sitcom Lear had perfected. The topic was serious. But the jokes were still there.
“Humor did make it all easier,” Gross added. “There’s nothing worse than feeling like you’re being preached to, that somebody’s nagging at you.”
But as Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign ramped up, the antidrug episode soon became a staple of 1980s family sitcoms. The tone taken by many other sitcoms was more stilted.
Often, they felt like public service announcements for teenagers and their parents. After a group of cool girls pressures the 9-year-old Punky (Soleil Moon Frye) to smoke a joint on “Punky Brewster,” she just says no, lets the girls know “drugs are bad for you,” then goes on to create a Just Say No Club and organize an antidrug march.
“Diff’rent Strokes” went even further: Nancy Reagan starred as herself in one episode, confronting the boys Arnold and Willis (Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges) in their own classroom.
Dealing with the seriousness and the long-term consequences of issues like drug abuse in a single, tidy half-hour inevitably felt simplistic. Story lines in the ’90s about the perils of caffeine pills in “Saved by the Bell,” speed in “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air” and weed in “The Wayans Bros.” offered all-too quaint — if not outright conservative — presentations of complex subjects.
Bruce Helford, who worked on “Family Ties” before writing for sitcoms like “Roseanne” and “The Drew Carey Show,” joked that television writers probably wrote those episodes as easy Emmy-grabs — which, he said, was exactly what writers on “Drew Carey” did for “A Very Special Drew,” its fourth-wall breaking Season 5 finale that took on illiteracy, kleptomania, addiction and homosexuality.
“During Norman Lear’s time, those were truly Very Special Episodes,” Helford said. “Very often what it devolved into — and why it went away for a while — is that it started to diminish the power of real problems.”
“Roseanne,” which had already broken ground with its candid depiction of a blue-collar family, also broke with convention when it came to discussing drugs. The 1993 episode “A Stash from the Past” features the requisite sit-down talk between parents and a pot-smoking teenager. Eventually the parents realize the stash was theirs all along — and proceed to smoke it.
The Conners soon discover that parenting while high is hard to do. The lesson is ostensibly the same (drugs are bad), but the irreverence turned the usual sitcom self-seriousness on its head.
[Before Season 8 begins, sign up for our “Game of Thrones” newsletter for a rewatch guide for the first seven seasons.]
Given its propensity for self-seriousness, the genre soon gave way to parody. Twenty-first century sitcoms like “The Goldbergs,” “Bojack Horseman” and “Family Guy” have mined the conventions of the drug-focused Very Special Episode in order to poke fun at them — part of a broader cultural attitude that values irony, self-awareness and a more nuanced perspective on drug use.
Still, an appetite for something like the Very Special Episode persists, as evidenced by the success of “One Day at a Time,” which is crammed with heart-to-heart discussions. The challenge for today’s creators has been figuring out how to have drug conversations meaningfully when the curtain on the old way has been pulled back.
“We talk about how not to do a Very Special Episode but something that is just another episode of our show that will start conversations in people’s households,” said Calderón Kellett from “One Day at a Time.”
Still, she acknowledged the lasting influence of the tradition, which often crops up in her writers’ room, however derisively.
“Certainly, people of my generation, we talk about the Very Special Episode,” she said. “The bike shop in ‘Diff’rent Strokes,’ Tom Hanks as the drunk uncle in ‘Family Ties’: I remember those episodes!”
The writers for contemporary sitcoms like “Modern Family” and “The Conners” seem similarly interested in doing something different. In one “Modern Family” episode, weed supplies the jokey premise in which two strait-laced characters finally let loose. “The Conners” debuted last year with a serious episode that took on the opioid crisis.
It’s not not earnest. But no one is running off to start a Just Say No Club.
“On ‘Roseanne’ and ‘The Conners,’ we always try to not preach,” said Helford, who today is an executive producer on “The Conners.” “We would say things we thought were important, but we never have an agenda. It would just be: How is this thing going on in the world going to affect these working people? We were illuminating something.
“But, as we like to say: ‘It’s a sitcom. It’s not brain surgery.’”B:
【河】【锦】【知】【道】【这】【是】【妖】【黛】【的】【规】【矩】，【便】【不】【打】【算】【强】【人】【所】【难】。 【他】【平】【静】【地】【吩】【咐】【到】：“【长】【风】、【无】【夜】，【你】【们】【两】【个】【退】【到】【山】【脚】【下】【等】【我】。【事】【情】【办】【完】，【我】【找】【你】【们】【汇】【合】，【一】【同】【回】【去】。” “【殿】【下】，【你】【一】【人】【上】【去】，【万】【一】【有】【危】【险】【怎】【么】【办】？【长】【风】【绝】【不】【能】【让】【你】【一】【人】【去】【冒】【险】，【要】【上】【山】【一】【起】【上】，【要】【下】【山】【一】【起】【下】。【何】【况】” 【长】【风】【不】【同】【意】【河】【锦】【独】【自】【一】
【约】【克】【等】【人】【是】【水】【军】，【段】【非】【也】【就】【直】【接】【让】【他】【们】【住】【在】【军】【舰】【里】【了】，【反】【正】【里】【面】【各】【种】【设】【施】【都】【有】，【缺】【的】【东】【西】【段】【非】【都】【能】【给】【他】【们】【补】【上】。 【随】【即】【段】【非】【又】【在】【他】【们】【的】【指】【点】【之】【下】，【将】【搬】【来】【的】【各】【种】【配】【套】【设】【施】【整】【理】【完】【毕】。 【这】【些】【东】【西】【如】【果】【换】【成】【小】【人】【儿】【恐】【怕】【还】【需】【要】【各】【种】【机】【械】，【但】【段】【非】【却】【简】【单】【的】【很】，【两】【根】【指】【头】【完】【全】【可】【以】【摆】【平】【一】【切】。【至】【于】【更】【细】【小】【的】【东】【西】，【就】【交】【给】
【一】【群】【人】【中】，【鹿】【丸】【倒】【是】【成】【了】【最】【容】【易】【被】【忽】【视】【的】【一】【个】，【鹿】【丸】【也】【乐】【得】【如】【此】，【他】【悄】【悄】【得】【躲】【在】【人】【群】【之】【中】，【偷】【眼】【观】【察】【着】【对】【面】【得】【情】【况】，【当】【看】【到】【只】【有】【三】【个】【人】【时】，【他】【悄】【无】【声】【息】【的】【对】【君】【麻】【吕】【打】【了】【个】【眼】【色】。 【君】【麻】【吕】【见】【到】【对】【面】【只】【有】【三】【人】【也】【好】【奇】【了】【一】【下】，【他】【干】【脆】【开】【口】【道】：“【喂】，【你】【们】【晓】【不】【是】【一】【直】【是】【两】【人】【一】【组】【行】【动】【吗】？【怎】【么】【就】【只】【有】【你】【们】【三】【个】，【难】【不】【成】【是】马经通天报2018114图库【此】【话】【一】【出】，【连】【和】【医】【的】【脸】【色】【立】【马】【就】【沉】【下】【去】【了】。 “【有】【些】【困】【难】，【伤】【是】【不】【要】【紧】，【但】【是】【要】【紧】【的】【是】【身】【体】【里】【的】【毒】。” 【昌】【寺】【刷】【一】【下】【站】【起】【来】，“【你】【说】【什】【么】，【中】【毒】【了】。”【要】【知】【道】【清】【泽】【的】【修】【为】【可】【是】【仙】【尊】，【如】【果】【一】【个】【仙】【尊】【中】【毒】【了】，【那】【么】【得】【是】【什】【么】【样】【的】**【能】【有】【这】【么】【霸】【道】。 【清】【泽】【听】【见】【自】【己】【中】【毒】【以】【后】，【也】【只】【是】【眼】【眸】【轻】【轻】【一】【抬】，【他】【淡】【淡】【的】【道】，
“【王】【家】【主】【你】【也】【太】【苛】【刻】【了】【些】，【令】【郎】【年】【纪】【还】【小】【现】【在】【重】【情】【义】【也】【可】【以】【理】【解】。”【白】【袍】【老】【者】【轻】【笑】【道】。 【王】【天】【点】【了】【点】【头】。“【王】【辉】【你】【把】【解】【药】【给】【他】【们】【服】【下】【吧】！” 【说】【完】【王】【辉】【与】【几】【名】【男】【子】【便】【拿】【出】【一】【个】【小】【药】【瓶】【给】【一】【队】【骑】【兵】【服】【下】。 【酒】【剑】【仙】【低】【叹】【一】【声】。“【名】【门】【世】【家】【竟】【然】【如】【此】【卑】【鄙】。” “【酒】【疯】【子】【江】【湖】【险】【恶】，【只】【有】【冷】【冰】【冰】【的】【利】【益】【得】【失】，***
【李】【浩】【这】【才】【安】【心】【的】【在】【树】【洞】【中】【盘】【膝】【坐】【下】，【开】【始】【调】【息】【先】【前】【消】【耗】【掉】【元】【气】【来】。 【他】【在】【树】【洞】【中】【一】【呆】【就】【是】【半】【日】【之】【久】，【当】【双】【目】【一】【睁】【开】【的】【时】【候】，【不】【但】【体】【内】【元】【气】【恢】【复】【如】【初】，【连】【精】【神】【也】【明】【显】【比】【先】【前】【好】【上】【了】【许】【多】。 【毕】【竟】【这】【几】【天】【小】【心】【谨】【慎】，【不】【断】【使】【用】【神】【识】【打】【量】【四】【周】，【让】【其】【心】【神】【也】【大】【为】【消】【耗】【不】【少】【的】。 【李】【浩】【展】【开】【双】【手】【伸】【了】【个】【懒】【腰】，【活】【动】【了】【一】【下】【身】
【宁】【烟】【棠】【真】【不】【想】【搭】【理】【他】，【奔】【三】【的】【人】【一】【股】【幼】【稚】【劲】，【磨】【着】【她】【要】【上】【房】【顶】【玩】。 【重】【点】【在】【于】【他】【自】【己】【不】【会】【轻】【功】，【让】【她】【带】。 【她】【感】【觉】【在】【带】【孩】【子】。 【此】【刻】【便】【慢】【腾】【腾】【地】【挪】【到】【他】【旁】【边】，【恹】【恹】【地】【道】：“【看】【什】【么】？” 【时】【择】【乐】【得】【不】【行】，“【看】【阿】【砚】【和】【小】【王】【妃】【两】【口】【子】【啊】，【噫】，【两】【人】【没】【点】【公】【德】【心】，【回】【房】【玩】【不】【好】【吗】，【偏】【偏】【跑】【外】【面】【来】。” 【宁】【烟】【棠】【诡】【异】