Semi-Homemade Halloween Costumes – From Cory Matthews to Doonice

I think everyone grew up with certain things that just Were Not Done in their house. In my family, store-bought costumes fell in that category. It was a waste of money, and besides, Halloween was an opportunity to think hard, dream big, and get creative. Every Halloween involved a blowout trip to Goodwill or Salvation Army.

Don’t get me wrong. When I look at those elaborate handmade costumes floating around the internet this week, that age-old refrain pops into my head: ain’t nobody got time for that. I will not bedazzle a sweatshirt to turn myself into a human disco ball. I am not going to painstakingly dye and mold foam pieces to be a human hot dog. I’m not going to buy a glitzy minidress, craft an elaborate headpiece and become a sexy snowball.

No, I take my cues from Sandra Lee. Have you all seen Semi-Homemade With Sandra Lee? She takes storebought cakes and gussies them up, basically. That’s where I’m at with Halloween. I don’t want to walk into a Halloween party in a costume straight from Target, but I will buy something from a big-box store or Salvation Army, tweak a few elements, and come out with something more creative than what’s on the bag. But less creative than becoming a human carrot with a friend dressed as a giant cabbage. Come on. Who ARE these people? Let’s think simpler:

The Schuyler Sisters

See this generic Colonial woman? You can buy this costume at any of those pop-up Halloween stores, and there are versions at Target, too.

Grab two friends. Put one in the same, or almost the same costume.

Now, do you have that one friend who always insists on being a Sexy This or a Slutty That?

Cool. Get her this Little Bo Peep get up:

Now she’s Slutty Peggy Schuyler, AKA Maria Reynolds.

 

Anne(ie Hall) Of Green Gables. Or Pilgrim Felicity Merriman. Whatever.

annie hall of green gables

Let me tell you something about kids. They’re basically idiots. Even the smart ones. It’s not their fault, they just haven’t been alive long. If you have a daughter in that 6-12 year old range where they’re really into books and movies set a long time ago, you have it made. All you have to do is buy a long dress, or pair a maxi skirt with a blouse. It does NOT have to be a style that people actually wore at the time. You may know that shirtwaists didn’t come into vogue until the late 19th century, but if your nerdy kid wants to be Jo March, just give her a button-up and a long skirt and she’ll be none the wiser.

I’m not sure why I was wearing these weird old glasses and dorky hat for my Anne Of Green Gables costume when I was about 11, but I like to call the look Annie Hall Of Green Gables.

When I was Felicity Merriman in second grade, I wore a frilly blouse under a long, brown floral jumper dress that my mom wore in the ’70s. It was like Revolutionary War-era girl meets pilgrim meets hippie. Loved it. Anyway, that is my half-assed costume advice: put your daughter in a long dress or skirt and she’ll feel fancy.

Cory Matthews, Season 1

cory matthews

This was semi-homemade at its finest. I bought a $3 afro wig and trimmed it down a bit. I wore early 90s stonewash jeans, but any straight leg will do. I layered a flannel shirt over a $2 Phillies shirt. Bam. Cory Matthews from Boy Meets World, circa 1994.

Clarissa Darling

This works especially well if you’re a smaller adult. Just go to the children’s section of a thrift store and buy some cheap, bright leggings. Layer under overall shorts or a skirt. Put on a loud button up. Can you find a sunflower hat? Great. That’s great. Blonde wig if necessary. May I present Clarissa Darling of Clarissa Explains It All?

A Six Pack Of Diet Cokec65b266c-c687-4fd9-b2c9-6284f755b8f9_zps81e03060

Yes, my family really did this. Corrugated cardboard, spray paint, and apparently zero sense of shame went into this one. I’m the tiny one whose face isn’t obscured.

Doonice – Kristen Wiig, Saturday Night Livedoonice

You’re going to need the following:

  • a wig cap – to move your hairline back
  • a wig, placed about 4 inches back from your natural hairline
  • a lounge singer-y dress with long sleeves and cuffs
  • a doll to dismember

Then watch the magic happen. People LOVED this one. Be sure to act extra creepy:

doonice 2

Joan Holloway Harris

In case you hadn’t caught on, I usually go with TV-based costumes. Joan’s an easy one: just pair a shift-dress with a pen on a chain around your neck, a broach, a bouffant hairdo, tan hose, and possibly some fake boobs.

 

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Clarissa Explains It All Live Blog: ‘Sick Days’ – The Girl Who Cried U-N-I-T-Y

Welcome to the first day of our Big Orange Couch Week, when we revisit five of our favorite shows that were among the classic SNICK Saturday night lineups from the 1990s, and liveblog them!

Today, we’re kicking it all off with Clarissa Explains It All and Sick Days, the season one finale. Of course, back then, finales for Nick shows didn’t end in some ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ cliffhanger (that reference was relevant, right?), so many of these eps were stand-alones, which made it perfect for syndication. That being said, Sick Days is classic Clarissa: tension between her and her parents, tension between her and her little turd brother, Ferguson, and possible sexual chemistry between her and her BFF Sam. Let’s go back in time and see what happens when Clarissa plays sick – only to backfire on her soon enough.

Episode Title: Sick Days

Air Date: June 1, 1991

Clarissa fakes sickness in trying to get out of her part in the school pageant. But, when the play turns out to be a success, Clarissa truly becomes ill.

snick_clarissa

Hit Play!

T: I do not remember this episode, but judging by the description, it’s going to be a GREAT one.

M: I vaguely remember it, but 1991 Molly would be floored that she was watching it at age 28 via an app and an internet connection on her flatscreen. Or, she would be floored if she knew what any of those things meant.

0:15  T: Does Clarissa have a lisp?

0:45 T: Whoa Janet Darling’s outfit is very Mom Jeans-esque!

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T: My memories of Janet Darling – she is obsessed with healthy food. Like seaweed and sprouts and tofu.

M: Yes! And Marshall was an architect whose buildings were always like the architectural version of a Claudia Kishi outfit.

M: I feel like moms have stopped saying “pronto.”

T: I feel like everyone has stopped saying “pronto”.

1:04 Opening Credits T: I don’t remember quirky pajamas being part of Clarissa’s ‘thing’?

M: Were those pool ball pajamas? Do tweens play pool? I know there wasn’t an internet in 1991 but I still don’t remember recreating at pool halls.

This theme song sounds wrong. The NaNas are too fast and Clarissa isn’t wearing that weird aerobicise outfit.

2:44 M: Clarissa outfit #2: Black top with giant floral bell sleeves, denim cuffed jorts over polka dot bike shorts, teva(?) belt, pink chiffon hair scarf, daisy earrings, big freaking watch.

2:53 T: Sam asked Clarissa for help as he walked up the ladder and handed her an aquarium… did he climb up to the second story with this glass aquarium in his one hand?

M: Shhhh. My inner child can hear you.

T: Sam is like the Joey Potter to Clarissa’s Dawson. I’m sure this comparison hasn’t even been brought up before.

M: Between this, D.C., and Saved By The Bell, I was definitely lead to believe that in high school I’d have straight male friends crawling through my window all the time. Also that I’d have a straight male friend. NOT!

Remember “Not?” That was a thing people said a lot in 1991, it was like the “said nobody ever” unfunny punchline of the early ’90s.

T: Also did the all of this show’s budget just go toward’s Melissa Joan Hart’s wardrobe? Because the actor who played Sam looks like he straight up rolled out of bed and walked onto the set.

M: Sam Outfit #1: A giant blue Hanes t-shirt, rumpled plaid shorts from a man.

4:50 T: Sam – “I think this calls for the one sure-fire method of getting a sick day.” Clarissa: “What is it?” Sam – “Take it!” Sam’s comic timing is great. I’m not even being sarcastic.

T: As a kid I thought this show was ‘ahead of its time’, however now it just looks incredibly low-budget.

M: I think it actually looks ahead of its time compared to the Nick/Disney shows of today (I mean I love Girl Meets World, but otherwise). Instead of those slick production values, it looks more “indie” or “real.”

Wait, were those just words for cheap?

T: Yes.

6:16 T: Marshall – “You’ve had two children, you’re not the same woman you were when you were 18.” Besides the fact he’s being a tad misogynistic, it really doesn’t matter if she can fit in it or not because this dress still sucks and she shouldn’t be wearing it.
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M: Reunion themes like “wear what you wore in high school” are the reason we skipped our 10-year. Even though those boot-cuts and handkerchief hemlines are really calling my name.

6:50 M: Clarissa outfit #3: Giant robe, pajamas without billiards ephemera on them. Try harder, Darling.

7:10 T: MJH is doing her best coughing acting work and that is saying something.

8:37 M: Clarissa Outfit #4: I can’t see it behind the giant aquarium Sam carried one-handed up a two-story ladder.

9:50 T: Clarissa’s outfit is back in style and I think I hate it.
Photo Aug 08, 9 29 14 PM

M: Clarissa Outfit #5: A thing I think I saw a youth wear on the bus a few weeks ago

T: Soy muffin. Take a shot for Janet’s healthy weird snacks.

M: Janet’s 1991-weird food is stuff that’s all over Pinterest and instagram now. Oh, what 20 years will do.

11:30 T: Janet calls the family doctor, Dr. Festerspoon, to check on Clarissa. Did doctors still make house calls in ’91 or is this a result of low-budge and not being able to afford a medical office?? Also why would a sick doctor make a house call to a sick child???

M: And why is he from, like, the Progressive Era? Also of course Clariss has a rhinovirus, her room is a nest of dusty plants, hats, stuffed animals, and aquatic life. I feel germy just looking at it. Speaking of aquatic life: Clarissa Outfit #6: pajamas with a repeating trout motif.

12:30 T: Dr. Festerspoon suggests Clarissa’s common cold could escalate to “The Schezuan Flu” if she didn’t take care of herself… and then an Asian-sounding gong playing right after he said “The Schezuan Flu”…

T: What was the point of the guitar riff every time Sam came in?

M: Sexual tension music. But where “sex” is, like, exchanging slap bracelets and waving glowsticks in unison.

14:20 T: Clarissa – “I can’t miss Queen Latifah!” … because Queen Latifah is making a guest appearance at a small Ohio middle school for their Ancient Greece day, and it makes sense, obviously.

M: Wait, this is OHIO?

T: Per Wikipedia, it is!

15:25 M: Clarissa is trying to act like she feels better and she just put on the same outfit from earlier. I’m not counting it.

T: I just realized that both Marshall and Janet are home during the day? What are their jobs??

M: Architect and museum person. I, uh, watched a lot of Clarissa.

But seriously, this isn’t the mixed-up files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. You go to museums in the DAYTIME, I’m sure of it.

T: Clarissa’s phone isn’t the same one I used to covet? Did she just upgrade her season 1 phone to a clear one in the later seasons?

Photo Aug 08, 11 07 09 PM

M: She absolutely did. My sister had the clear one – and her own phone line – and I thought it was the coolest thing in the universe. And I was right.

18:50 OMG CLARISSA’S U-N-I-T-Y OUTFIT

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M: Clarissa’s Outfit #6: A Cultural Appropriation Headband. Next week’s episode: Clarissa Explains White Privilege.

19:37 M: Clarissa and Sam try to sneak out, but are thwarted by Ferg-Wad dressed as a Greek Cloud. Sam is again wearing a giant crumpled top that belongs to a dad.

20:53 M: To get Clarissa to stay home and convalesce from Asian Disease, Marshall plies her with any video rental she wants. Sometimes I forget about life before Netflix, when a sick day meant watching Wheel of Fortune or soap operas unless your parent did you a solid and picked up Beetlejuice.

21:12 M: Clarissa’s Outfit # Whatever: A floral top, honestly pretty good bangs for 1991, and I can’t pay attention to the rest because I’m looking at her awesome watermelon drinking glasses.

22:00 M: Man, what I wouldn’t give to tour Nickelodeon Studios, Universal Studios, in Orlando Florida during its heyday. Heck, I’d settle for a t-shirt. That I’d wear with two pairs of layered shorts and an African headband in Clarissa’s honor.

T: Nickelodeon Studios, Universal Studios, in Orlando, Florida was the MECCA for our generation. RIP.

90s Nickelodeon Shows – And Today’s Adult Equivalents

Buzzfeed, Tumblr, and your Facebook friends won’t let you forget it, and neither will we: 90s kids are adults now, and we’re all still really, really passionate about the 90s. Can you blame us? The 90s were a great time for kids’ culture. With so many Baby Boomers having children from the late 70s to the mid-90s, there were a lot of us growing up then. The economy hadn’t tanked yet, and 911 was still just an emergency phone number. Nickelodeon was at the forefront of it all, promoting a “pro-kid” culture and presenting kids as cooler and smarter than adults. If people want to blame Millenials for forming a mass internet-culture that older folks can’t penetrate, it all started with Nickelodeon and its ‘us against them’ attitudes.

Today’s TV networks aren’t stupid. They know what Millenials want. That’s why, for every beloved Nickelodeon show from our youth, there is an adult equivalent on the air right now:

Are You Afraid Of The Dark = American Horror Story

Are You Afraid Of The Dark: From the second you heard those creaky swings and eerie theme music, you knew you were in for a scare. The midnight society gathered every week to tell stories and throw some sort of weird sand into a camp fire, and we were right there with them. I watched every week as a five-year-old, even turning off the lights for an extra scare. We liked this show because it didn’t underestimate kids. There were real ghosts, vampires, and murders in Are You Afraid of the Dark – it wasn’t that weak-sauce kid stuff where the creaking in the attic was just a leaky pipe, or the ‘ghost’ was just a beekeeper in a bonnet (I’m looking at you, The Adventures Of Mary Kate And Ashley). If you didn’t love the story one week, you’d just wait until the next Saturday when you’d get a whole new plotline to scare the pants off of you and make you ask your mom if she will let you sleep with the hall light on. That’s right – a children’s horror anthology series. Can you really blame us for missing the 90s?

American Horror Story: Like Are You Afraid Of The Dark, American Horror Story is a spooky anthology. However, to account for adult attention spans, each season tells a different story, instead of each episode. This show touches on all aspects of the horror film genre – psycho killers, ghosts, aliens, nuns, evil doctors, Anne Frank, witches, a pinhead, The Black Dahlia … it’s like a winning hand of Apples To Apples.

An aside: I just finished watching Season 2 of AHS. Somebody told me to start with that one because Coven isn’t on Netflix yet, and Season 1 would scare me more. Now that I’m done, I have to wonder – if Asylum was this freaky, what the hell could possibly happen in Murder House? Don’t worry, I’m starting it this week, because I’m an adult now and I’m in charge of my own hall light.

Clarissa Explains It All = Girls + The New Girl

Clarissa Explains It All:A young woman with ambitions of being a journalist lives in a cooler bedroom than you can imagine having. She is supported by her academic parents. She has constant fallings-out with her brother Ferguson, and the undying support of her buddy Sam. She dresses like a cool hobo. Lots of tights. Clarissa has a creative solution to every problem and gets into a lot of scrapes because she sort of doesn’t think everything through.

Girls: A young woman with ambitions of being a writer lives in a cooler apartment than you can imagine having. She is supported by her academic parents. She has constant fallings out with her friends, yet somehow retains their constant support. She dresses like a cool hobo.

The New Girl:  It’s almost like Jess Day and Hannah Horvath are two different versions of how Clarissa could have turned out. Jess and Clarissa have a lot in common. The first word you’d use to describe them is “quirky.” They have wacky clothes. They have a cool home. And – unlike Hannah Horvath – they both have fun, sunny attitudes toward life. So, if Clarissa went to college, became an el-ed major, and held onto her obsession with tights, you have Jess. If Clarissa decided to become a hipster in college, started writing for the school literary mag and reading a lot of McSweeney’s, and went to slightly seedier college parties, she graduated and became Hannah.

Salute Your Shorts = Community

Salute Your Shorts: A group of teens are thrown together for summer camp, and form all of the bonds and rivalries that you’d expect in that kind of close situation. They work both with and against the camp’s administration (counselor Ugg) and truly become a community of their own. There are even themed genre episodes – Zeke The Plumber, everyone? The characters are surprisingly well-developed for a kids’ show, with the jock, nerd, and popular girl presented as being complex people instead of just stereotypes.

Community: A group of adults are thrown together in community college, and through forming a study group, they become a… well, community of their own as well. Like in Salute Your Shorts, there is a love for Greendale Community College, but just like the kids at Camp Anawanna, they also have to work against it sometimes. I don’t think I even need to tell you about the genre episodes. Character development is a big deal on this show, too, and the former athlete and the brainy liberal arts girl aren’t just two-dimensional.

Hey Dude = Brooklyn Nine Nine

Hey Dude: Somehow, a bunch of teenagers are working at a Dude Ranch, because… why not, I suppose? It filled pretty much the exact same niche as Salute Your Shorts, except these kids had JOBS and RESPONSIBILITIES and HORSES. Never underestimate the pull of horses for tween girl viewers.

Brooklyn Nine Nine: This is one sitcom you should be watching if you aren’t already. Equal parts buddy cop (with multiple pairs of cop-buddies), workplace comedy, police procedural (er… kind of) – but with really clever writing an an awesome cast. Like Hey Dude, this is a funny ensemble show that actually shows people doing their jobs. Every kid who grew up watching Salute Your Shorts thinking “ugh, somebody get those irresponsible kids some stalls to muck or cows to lasso” should watch Brooklyn Nine Nine, a workplace show where people actually work.

The Adventures Of Pete And Pete =  Parks And Recreation

The Adventures Of Pete And Pete: This show is probably the reason our generation has been into quirky indie comedies since we were in high school. This small-town sitcom is a bit absurd, and centers around two brothers named – you guessed it – Pete and Pete. The show was so matter-of-fact about the weird goings-on of the town that the place became a character unto itself, and the audience accepted all of its weird quirks at face value.

Fun Fact: The Wellsville of Pete and Pete is apparently supposed to be Wellsville, NY. I live about 100 miles from there and have passed through on plenty of trips, and honestly, apart from an annual Balloon Rally it’s not that interesting.

Parks and Recreation: If you grew up loving slightly offbeat comedies about life in a more-than-slightly-offbeat town, you may as well watch Parks as an adult. It’s no secret that we’re big fans of this show around here, but we’ve never stopped to consider that our childhood watching Pete and Pete primed us for this small-town comedy about a group of unusual personalities. Like our favorite redheaded brothers, the folks in Pawnee face situations that are a touch more surreal than you’d see in real life, but the show somehow manages to be more true-to-life than a lot of more ‘realistic’ comedies.

The Secret World Of Alex Mack = Orphan Black

The Secret World Of Alex Mack:How good was this show? So good, right? Alex Mack was a junior high student who was hit with a truck from a chemical plant, and she developed special powers like being able into morph into a puddle of what looked like mercury, moving objects with her mind, and conducting some sort of electrical charge. Alex, with the (sometimes grudging) help of her brainy sister Annie, had to keep her powers on the down low so the folks at the chemical plant wouldn’t find out about her and … well, I’m not sure if we knew what they would do. Experiments, probably.

Orphan Black:  Here’s another show about a young ladies who are scientific freaks because of circumstances beyond their control (they’re clones). Once again, they have to escape the clutches of the sketchy Dyad Institute, and creepy Dr. Leekie, who are already collecting samples and monitoring the clones against their will. Like Alex Mack, Orphan Black deals with the ethics of scientific progress. No, really –  a major issue ahead is going to be the copyright of human DNA.

Space Cases = Battlestar Gallactica

Space Cases: It’s hard, guys. It’s hard walking around under the burden of being the only person alive who remembers the show Space Cases. It was a short-lived children’s sci-fi show set in space. I think this one is due for a re-watch, if only to revel in the low-budget 90s-ness of it all. Some of the props were evidently things like CDs glued together, and the game Lights Out pasted to the wall. See, things like this are why the Montreal TV industry – and children’s cable sci fi shows – never really took off.

Battlestar Gallactica – I’m positive that this is a sci-fi show with space ships, the future, and I’m pretty sure aliens. Okay, you caught me. I’ve never seen it. But there haven’t been too many outer space-based sci fi shows in recent years, and this is the closest one I could find in the near past. I suppose Stargate Atlantis is another option.

Noozles = Doctor Who

Noozles: According to Wikipedia, this show is 1000% more confusing and screwed-up than I remember it being. But basically, it’s like this: Noozles were adorable koala bears, but only certain people could know that they were actually aliens!

Doctor Who: Doctor Who is an adorable British man, but only certain people can know that he’s actually an alien!

The Mystery Files Of Shelby Woo = Scandal

The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo: Shelby Woo was a ridiculously talented teen who, with the help of a mid-90s PC and her crew of friends, solved mysteries and fought crime. As a mere teenager, Shelby wasn’t officially part of the police department, but we all know that Shelby Woo was the law.

Scandal: Children who grew up without questioning how it was possible to solve mysteries in a short span of time with the help of just an internet connection and a rag-tag crack team of experts – without wondering why the proper law enforcement didn’t just deal with crime itself instead of allowing a non-officer to take the reins — well, those children probably grew up to watch Scandal. Like Shelby Woo, Olivia Pope is able to fix anything – even stuff that technically, we’re pretty sure somebody else should be handling.

Nick News With Linda Ellerbee = 20/20

We love you, Linda. We don’t care what Dawson Leery says.

Nick News: This was a kids’ news magazine which tried to deliver the “who, what, where, when, why and how”  of the age to kids whose other main source of news was that Scholastic Weekly Reader that you’d get on Friday afternoons when your teacher had basically given up for the week. To be quite honest, Nick News did an admirable job of it, breaking down issues like presidential elections, the Gulf War, racism, and global warming down to a nine-year-old’s level without condescending. In fact, you can probably thank Nick News, in part, for the environmental “go green” push that’s sweeping the nation. Older adults were just getting into these issues after that Al Gore powerpoint, but us 90s kids grew up hearing about pollution and climate change from one Ms. Linda Ellerbee.

20/20: Well, this one also is able to break news and information down to a nine-year-old’s level. We may have mentioned this before, but both of us watched way more than a normal amount of 20/20 as kids. As a fourth-grader, I stayed up until 11 on Fridays because 20/20 was on at 10. At least these days, 20/20 is light on the news, heavy on the magazine, with a bunch of tiny segments simplifying stories as much as possible. Actually, maybe Nick News was better – at least they didn’t do monthly stories about “places you won’t believe our crew found a lot of germs!”

All That =  Saturday Night Live

Okay, this isn’t quite fair. All That was almost certainly intended to be a kids’ version of SNL, so there shouldn’t be any surprise here. But when you consider that today’s 20-somethings grew up watching Kenan Thompson on All That, it is sort of remarkable that we’re watching the same guy on the grown-up version of the show.

I may have been under-supervised as a kid, but I watched a lot of real SNL in the 90s (especially the older stuff), and was struck by how very not funny All That was in comparison. That Lori Beth Denberg sure could deliver the fake news, though.

10 Catchiest Wordless TV Theme Songs

For years, instrumental TV theme songs were de rigour. Then, sometime in the mid-to-late 60s, somebody realized that you could sum up the entire premise of the show in a one-minute, three-verse song. Writers didn’t have to add in any exposition! Keep in mind, this was before the age of a two-minute “previously, on ____” preceding every 42-minute program. Viewers needed some way to know what they were getting into.

As time wore on, more generic theme songs took hold, usually about themes like friendship (Golden Girls) or family (Full House, Family Matters). By the mid-90s, tv themes had become chart toppers in their own right, and I still get a little giddy when the Friends theme pipes onto the radio.

Commercial breaks expanded, and run times contracted. Networks had to cut something from their shows, and theme songs were the first to go. By season 9, the Friends theme was about 12 words long. Other themes were reduced to a single line, followed by a nonsense word (Friendship is family forever…. toodles!). Don’t believe me? The Mike And Molly song is 17 seconds long. 10 words.

In tv theme songs – as in fashion and politics – the pendulum always swings back eventually. Instrumental theme songs are it again. I’ll be damned if they aren’t darn catchy, too.

Mad Men

A great title sequence calls for a great theme song. There’s a bit of a tense, Hitchcock-y buildup, so you know there’s going to be drama. But then the cymbals kick in, so you’re pretty sure there will be fun times and laughs, too. Who needs three verses explaining Don Draper’s back story when you have that? (I would actually benefit from three verses explaining Don Draper’s back story).

The Simpsons

I started watching The Simpsons almost as soon as it aired, even though I was barely a toddler. My mom didn’t approve of Bart’s attitude, but that didn’t mean we weren’t allowed to watch it. It just meant that my brothers and I had to go upstairs to do it. This really typifies my parents’ child-rearing philosophy. Like, my room could be messy for a while, but my door had to be closed. Hi, I’m half Irish Catholic, if you couldn’t tell.

Anyway, the most exciting part of the show when I was 4 or 5 was “the couch” – the sight gag at the end of the credits when the family piled onto the sofa. To get to it, you had to sit through a rollicking tour of Springfield. Danny Freakin’ Elfman, you guys. Genius.

30 Rock

Totally jazzy and New York-y. Oddly, more of an early-60s feel than the Mad Men theme. Jeff Richmond is without a doubt one of the great tv composers of our day. His wife’s pretty cool too I guess.

Parks and Recreation

Upbeat and spirited, this is like a theme song for optimism itself. Will Leslie Knope prevail? Of course she will. You don’t write a theme like this for someone who’s anything less than triumphant.

Boy Meets World

I have so much trouble finding people who remember the original Boy Meets World theme. We all remember the generic 90s tune of the later seasons (when this boy meets world — boy meets wor-or-orld – travelin down this road that we call ly-eeef –). But, do you remember the synth-y yet magestic tune of the first season? Extra bonus, the entire title sequence looks like it was created on Microsoft Paint, pre-Windows ‘95.

Because we all still  love the Boy Meets World cast, enjoy this behind-the-scenes info from the filming of the later title sequence:

Law And Order

I don’t know if it’s the solid bass backbeat, the twangy guitar, or the — is that a clarinet?? — but if you blindfolded a person who had never seen Law and Order, played this sequence, and asked them what this show was about, they’d be like “police procedural set in a big city? Early 90s?” I like the moment about 50 seconds in when you think that it’s over, then the music kicks back up, like “just kidding!” Am I overthinking it if I think that’s supposed to evoke the moment ⅘ of the way through the show when you think they got the bad guy but it was a different bad guy? Yeah, I thought so.

Batman

This doesn’t all-the-way qualify, because they say Batman a crazy number of times. By the end of it, it’s like when you repeat a word multiple times and it stops sounding like a word. I also notice that the way kids sing “na na na na na na na na na na BATMAN!” doesn’t sound much like this. See, I find that children are terrible at most things because they haven’t been alive very long.

What’s amazing is that even though this is a superhero cartoon, it kind of sounds like 1960s beach music, too. Except for the part where they won’t stop saying Batman.

Doug

I think in this context, “do” isn’t a word.

Babar

Oh, Babar. The show I always saw 20 minutes of because it was on HBO right before I had to leave for church in the morning. Babar was a gentle, sweet show (about colonialism), so this lovely little melody fits perfectly. Unless, that is, crazy, terrible shit always started to go down in the final 10 minutes.

Leave it To Beaver

    When you listen to this peppy, spirited little tune, you just know that for the next half-hour you are going to be in a world where the biggest problem is an 8-year-old with a slingshot. If only that darn announcer would just shut up.

Honorable mention: Clarissa Explains it all

Just a cheerful, energetic number featuring a 14-year-old girl dressed like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I had to DQ it from the list proper because there were a few too many words in there.

Honorable mention: Andy Griffith Show

This theme song is iconic and completely evocative of the show. I’m not denying that. Here’s the thing, though. When I was in elementary school, our music director decided to debut a sung version of this song at the spring concert. It wasn’t even my grade doing it, but all I can think of when I hear this song is 40 eight-year-olds with recorders trying to squeak out the melody, then putting them down to sing about a fishin’ hole.  It was actually way more cute when Andy Griffith sang it than when two classes of third graders did it, who would have thought?

Also, I know this makes me sound like a dour and joyless person, but I can’t stand when people whistle, and this song just encourages it.

My Imaginary TV Family

Look – I’m not saying I want to get rid of my real family. They’re pretty great. But I’m just saying, what if I were FORCED to pick an all new family made out of TV characters. What if?

Mom: Lorelai Gilmore. I didn’t even have to think for a second about this one. She’s a young mom, which I always thought would be fun to have, but she doesn’t fall into the trap of being Rory’s friend instead of her mom. When Rory was being stupid, she absolutely called her on it. But at the same time, they WERE friends. I just know if my mom were Lorelai Gilmore we’d have awesome snack foods and a sweet Netflix queue.

Dad: Marshall Darling. Yeah, I know. But here’s why: tv dads are usually over-involved and obnoxious (Danny Tanner) or practically absent except when required for a plot point (most TV shows). But Clarissa’s dad was pretty great. He was involved, and not overly lenient, and was pretty nerdy. However, he also let his kid wear ridiculous outfits and hang up probably- stolen hubcaps in her bedroom. He allowed Sam to crawl in through the window, but he wasn’t letting his teen sleep in the same bed as her opposite-sex best friend or anything (hello, Dawson Leery’s parents!). Can I have two tv dads? If I can, I’d also like Andy Taylor to be my dad. He was so great with Opie, and look how well that little red-headed kiddo grew up! Well, that was more Ron Howard, but I’m sure Opie Taylor turned out just fine, too.

Uncle: Ron Swanson. To be honest, Ron Swanson already IS a lot like most of the older generation of guys in my family, so maybe I’m just choosing him out of familiarity. But seriously, Ron Swanson would be the BEST uncle.

Uncle: Jack McFarland. At my family reunions, as our crazy relatives drank and argued, me and Uncle Jack would find a tv and watch reality shows on Bravo, or critique everyone’s outfits.

Older sister: Liz Lemon. Because it would be nice not to be so alone in being a hot mess with a penchant for cheese-based snack foods.

Older brother: Ross Gellar. Every once in a while, I’ll hear somebody talk about how older brothers are so protective of their little sisters. And I’ll think seriously? So, your older brothers didn’t just make fun of you and beat you up a lot? Because that’s what mine did. I think it was character-building in that I learned not to take myself too seriously, and I’m pretty quick with a comeback. Not that I think I’m that great, because I don’t. My brothers would want me to say that — under threat of physical injury. So while I may have wanted a doting ,protective older brother as a kid, I don’t think that would have been great for me. As an adult, I think Ross Gellar is a good older brother – he and Monica have history and inside jokes, and hang out on the regs, which is great. But he also trusts her to just live her life.

Younger sister: Rudy Huxtable. She was a cute kid, and granted, she did overshadow Vanessa a bit. But she wasn’t obnoxious (Michelle Tanner) or boring (Ruthie Camden) or smarter than her older siblings (Lisa Simpson). I always wanted a little sister, and if I could choose, I’d absolutely pick Rudy Huxtable. However, if I had to pick one tv character I absolutely DIDN’T want as a little sister, it would be Olivia from the later Cosby Show seasons.

Little Brother: Theodore “Beaver” Cleaver. As a youngest child, I always wanted someone younger than me to boss around and blame things on. Ideally, I’d have had a mischievous and ill-behaved younger brother, so that whatever I did wrong, there was always someone there who had just done something worse. Also when he grew up I’d tell all of his significant others that his childhood nickname was “the beaver.” That would be pretty fun.

TV Characters’ Bedrooms That I Covet

As a kid, your bedroom is an important place. It’s the only place that’s really YOURS – or maybe shared with one or two other people, but still. It’s a no-grownup zone, and though your parents probably made you clean it and set some parameters, you had a bit of free reign as far as decorating went. I seriously went with it – in fifth grade, when I got a new bedroom, I went antiquing to pick out the right accessories, and pored over catalogs for months until I found the right bedspread. Even now that I’m older, I love seeing character’s home spaces on tv. Like a child’s room, the way these people decorate their bedrooms – the place in their house that outsiders wouldn’t usually see – tells you a lot about their character. Plus, the set designers just make them look really, really cool. Until I was preparing this post, I didn’t realize that set decorator would probably be my dream job. Here are some of my favorites.

Clarissa Darling Obviously, right? Clarissa’s bedroom had everything! Her own computer game system. An amphibian named Elvis. Multicolored, hand-painted furniture. Mismatched quilts. A hat collection. Partially painted-over wallpaper. Hubcaps. License plates. SAM.

Carrie Bradshaw

I know Carrie’s apartment is pretty unobtainable, but I love how her bedroom wasn’t TOO perfect. It was cozy, with bookshelves and a big comfy duvet. Even her radiator was cute. I remember reading an interview with the set decorator back when Sex and the City was still on, and she said that Carrie’s apartment was done in the shades of a bruise, since she was a little brokenhearted when she moved in. While that sounds grody, it’s actually a really pretty color scheme – soft gray, light green, and shades of blue and violet.

Jess Day

While the word “adorkable” could go away forever, this bedroom kind of IS adorably dorky. I love the bright teal wall contrasted with the brick, the clustered prints over the bed, and the fun printed bedspread. I could actually see Jess picking out all of these items. While Jess has some ditzy moments, she’s a teacher so we know she isn’t dumb. I’m happy to see some books in here to remind us of that.

Literally All of the Main Teens in Pretty Little Liars

I like how dark Aria’s room is, actually. Plus the gumwood gives it a craftsman vibe, and all I really want right now is to own a pre-1940s bungalow. My dream Arts and Crafts house is on the market now, about 10K too high and 4 months to early for me to buy it, so this is all a little fresh for me. Anyway.  The window seat is to die for. I’m usually not too into bedroom wallpaper, but this is so soft and pretty with the light furniture and white  french doors. I wish I could find a picture of the whole bedroom, because while the decor is pretty dainty, Spencer has a hardcore desk/bulletin board situation. So Type A! I know at some point we’ll all be over gray as a neutral (we got there with taupe, after all), but Hanna’s bedroom is just so nice. I’m less jealous of the bedroom and more of the adjoining bathroom with a clawfoot tub. I’ve always sort of wanted a white iron bed, so of course I love Emily’s bedroom. Plus an alcove AND a window seat!?! Between that and the cheerful, but not to bright, yellow and green color scheme, this is a winner.

Cora, Countess of Grantham

This image is from http://chameleon-interiors.blogspot.com/2012/02/downton-abbey-putting-downton-to-bed.html, which has a great analysis of Downton Abbey bedrooms, if you’re so inclined.

Really, I love all of the bedrooms in Downton, but I especially like how, despite the heavy furniture and being in a stone castle, this feels breezy and airy. I love the fireplace, too – so cozy! I expect that this bedroom comes fully equipped with a lady whose job it is to brush and braid my hair before I go to sleep. It goes without saying that I picked Cora’s bedroom over Mary’s because a Turkish houseguest didn’t pass away in the bed.

Based on the above list, I think I have some criteria for a perfect bedroom. Sloped ceilings or an alcove, mixed prints, giant plush bedding, books, and some kind of windowseat or built-ins. When I was a kid, I loved kids’ rooms with multiple sets of bunkbeds or rows of beds. Like Madeline, except that I don’t want to live with a dozen French orphan children. Basically, if I end up in a tiny house with a ton of kids, I’ll be all set, decorating-wise. Otherwise, I’m screwed.