20 Things I’ll Never Forget About Trading Spaces

Trading Spaces was a TLC decorating show that premiered in 2000 and ushered in the next 17 years of home and garden television, and if you’re an adult of a certain age there are probably some parts of the show that are branded onto your memory. That’s why when I heard that TLC is reviving Trading Spaces for its 2017-2018 season, I was that special mix of excited and dismayed that you get when one of your former favorite shows gets a reboot.

I haven’t seen an episode since the Trading Spaces was cancelled in 2008 — more accurately, since I graduated high school in 2004 — but somehow I remember those afterschool Trading Spaces episodes better than anything I learned sophomore year. The premise of Trading Spaces – neighbors and friends pair up with a designer to redo a room in each other’s houses in 24 hours, usually with a terrible design scheme and poor execution, because you need more than 24 hours to redo a room – was so high on drama that I can’t believe I didn’t realize it was straight-up reality TV more than it was a decorating show. Of course, the rooms were all VERY early 2000s, like the decorating version of empire waist tops, chunky highlights and flared jeans. In no particular order, these are the Trading Spaces quirks, designs, characters and moments that are still taking up my brain space in 2017:

Frank’s designs were always kind of barnyard-y. That country cute style (ahem… country geese!) had mostly gone out of fashion by the early 2000s, but Frank was always there with the stencils and gingham anyway.

Vern was very minimalist and if he was doing your house, you would probably get something kind of normal and livable.

Hildi knew what this was: reality TV. You can tell because she did things like glued straw to the walls of a house with children living in it and suspended furniture from the ceiling. This is extra silly when you remember that most of these homes were suburban tract houses that were otherwise pretty Pottery Barn-normal. At the time I thought she was nutso but now I think she was a crazy genius.

Doug did things people would hate, on purpose, just because they would hate it. I might love him for that.

Gen always painted barefoot.

When Paige Davis got married, her husband’s surname was Page.

Also her first name isn’t Paige, it’s Mindy. And her hair was SO FLICKY.

Every time a homeowner told a designer not to touch something – be it a fireplace or an antique credenza or a mural – the designers were contractually obligated to mess with it. Probably.

You know what got the biggest excited reaction from homeowners? Every time? When a designer would take their photos and blow them up and hang them on the walls. Things like Shutterfly and Flickr did exist, and you could even get your Kodak prints blown up at Wal-Mart during this era, but I guess it was big news to Trading Spaces homeowners. Last weekend I was at my brother’s neighbor’s house – a McMansion-y suburban cul-de-sac – and one whole wall was giant blown-up canvases of the family. I blame Trading Spaces.

Trading Spaces is also responsible for a lot of early 2000s dining rooms that were painted dark brown, which they told us was chocolate-y.

This lady’s really averse reaction to one of the least-bad rooms I remember seeing:

Theme rooms were so theme-y that they were the interior design equivalent of a Claudia Kishi outfit. If there was a desert theme, your floor was sand. Or if there was a dessert theme, your floor was hot fudge.

The theme rooms were also usually really really tenuously connected to an interest the family had. If a couple went to a Sandals resort in the Caribbean for their honeymoon, the room would be decorated as a giant papaya. That sort of thing.

It was that era when televisions couldn’t just be out in the open, so usually Ty or Amy Wynn (Remember Ty Pennington and Amy Wynn Pastor? If you’re reading this, of course you do) would have to build a giant armoire or false wall or something for it.

In a very 2000s crossover, Natalie of the Dixie Chicks participated. So did the Camden sisters (Jessica Biel and Beverley Mitchell) of Seventh Heaven fame.

They definitely designed a kitchen to look like a horror movie crime scene. Unlike the other list items, I had to look that one up for confirmation because it seemed too outlandish. Yup. Hildi.

Laurie painted everything yellow and had Grace Adler hair. Her rooms were normal.

They said you can spray paint upholstered furniture. To rip off Sondheim, can is different than should.

On day one, they’d get maybe 5% of the work done, then when the designer left they’d give the homeowners their “homework.” The homework was usually along the lines of “paint the entire room and all of the furniture.”

Trading Spaces is what taught a lot of us that you could tape off sections of wall to paint stripes, and I think that as a people, we got a little carried away with that idea for a while.

 

Playlist of the Month: Break Out The Cassettes, It’s 1995

We’re smack dab in the middle of Clueless Week, and to help you get more in the mood of 20 years ago – and get through hump day – today, we’re transporting you back two decades with the power of music.

Songs have this ability to bring you back to a certain time and event in your life, whether it be good or bad. As I was compiling this playlist, I realized that 1995 was one of the first years I became a *fan* of music and certain artists, as opposed to just singing along with songs on the radio. For better or worse, the songs I heard in 1995 helped form my musical tastes today, and help me reminisce about my younger years when my extent of my worries was weather Mrs. Green was going to be in a good mood in class that day or not.

So here are some of our favorite tunes to bring you back to the Clueless era, and get ready to play them on your new-fangled computers and streaming services.

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify HERE!

Traci’s Picks

Another Night by Real McCoy

Kids, dance music was big in the 90s. Not EDM music of today with your Calvin Harrises and Aviciis and Tiestos. But electronica, Euro-inspired dance music that The Night at the Roxbury guys would groove to in the clubs. It’s a sound that’s so specifically 90s, and I remember this legitimately being my favorite song that I would write down in personality tests.

This Is How We Do It by Montell Jordan

Although this was arguably Montell Jordan’s biggest hit in 1995, I would also argue that it’s a hip-hop classic, and also one of my go-to karaoke songs.

Switch by TLC

CrazySexyCool/Waterfalls was one of the biggest albums of the 90s, with the record over two years on the Billboard album charts. It was a career-defining CD for the ladies, and was basically a soundtrack to my life when I was a kid. In fifth grade, me and three of my friends decided to enter our school talent show, and we decided to do a dance to this B-Side track. As we were practicing in my friend’s basement, I suggested someone move forward during Left Eye’s rap and basically lip sync to it. Since it was my idea, I had to do it. We got like second or third place. I believe we lost to a male-cousin team who lip synced to Ike and Tina Turner’s Proud Mary. One of them was dressed in drag. This was 5th grade.

Always Be My Baby by Mariah Carey

I think I was first introduced to Mariah when I procured Music Box on cassette, and I subsequently got Daydream – I want to say by borrowing it from the library? Anyways, I listened to it non-stop, and Always Be My Baby was probably my fave jam out of hit after hit on that record. Can we just get this Mariah back, please?

Head Over Feet by Alanis Morissette

For a long period of time, I used to tell people the first CD I ever bought was Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill. It was a stock answer for anyone around my age, because that’s how big of an album it was. In reality, the first CD I ever bought was Weird Al Yankovic’s Bad Hair Day, strictly because of his parody of Coolio’s Gangster’s Paradise – Amish Paradise. I thought I was cool. Jagged Little Pill was actually a Christmas gift in ’95, and when I eventually got around to listening to it, turns out it wasn’t that bad.

Honorable Mentions: Peaches by The Presidents of the United States of America, Stay by Lisa LoebOne of Us by Joan Osborne

 Molly’s Picks

Wonderwall by Oasis

I was so young, I didn’t even know that none of this made sense.  Radio was more segmented in 1995 (before it was all, like, radio conglomerates?) so you had your station that strictly played “alternative” versus those that played pop. It was really tough for us fourth graders who were really into Mariah AND Oasis trying to hover in front of the radio with a cassette tape to record our favorite songs.

Gangsta’s Paradise by Coolio

I was obsessed with this song. And like Traci, I was even MORE into Amish Paradise. I thought Weird Al was hilarious, and what can I say, I was going through a phase where I thought the Amish were awesome. But in real life, I lived in a city neighborhood. Some might even call it a Gangsta’s Paradise. By the way, watch Dangerous Minds – the movie this is from – for a very different perspective on 1995 teens than you get in Clueless.

Life, In A Nutshell by Barenaked Ladies

Barenaked Ladies were huge in our area, and with my sibs especially. I’m still jealous that one of my brothers got to hang out with them backstage, and it’s been 15 years. The 1994 album Maybe You Should Drive is filled with 90s nuggets like Alternative Girlfriend (referencing a girl in an all-girl band who has a second-hand futon), Jane (mentioning the fairytale romance between … Juliana Hatfield and Evan Dando, of course. What, you don’t remember that love story for the ages? Evan “Lemonheads” Dando!), and Life, In A Nutshell.

Big Poppa by Notorious B.I.G.

You can’t talk about mid-90s music without mentioning the big players in the rap game: Biggie and Tupac. You know what’s kind of amazing? How old-school 80s, early 90s rap had evolved to this by 1995, and it still sounds like it could be released today, maybe minus the synth.

Here Comes The Hotstepper by Ini Kamoze

I am including this strictly so that I can explain that I just learned last year that the lyrics are NOT “I’m the leprechaun gangster.” But for some cultural context, the horror movie Leprechaun was released in ’93 and leprechauns in general were much more intimidating in the ’90s.

Also, I just learned that this song is called Here Comes The Hotstepper now. Right now. While making this playlist.

Honorable Mentions: Don’t Take It Personal by Monica, Run-Around by Blues Traveler, I Believe by Blessid Union Of Souls, Roll To Me by Del Amitri (I just learned ~5 years ago that it’s not “the right time, the wrong me”), Waterfalls by TLC, Fantasy by Mariah  … I can’t stop. I could list every song from 1995. What a year.

SLIMED: A ’90s Kids’ Choice Awards Retrospective

The Kids’ Choice Awards air this weekend, even though it is 2015. See, the Kids’ Choice Awards – a Nickelodeon awards show where B-list celebrities get doused with green slime – were such a ’90s staple that it’s hard to imagine them continuing after our childhoods ended. It’s like visiting your old elementary school and seeing children using your old classrooms as though they’re just theirs. But time marches on, and so does cable children’s programming – but this time, there’s no Rosie O’Donnell, Jim Carey, or LL Cool J (which, when I think about it… were we children, or a bunch of middle-aged women?) As far as I’m concerned, though, the 90s were the definitive decade of the Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Awards.

1990

The ’90s didn’t know what they wanted to be yet, so they were still acting like the ’80s. If you’re inclined to think 1990 isn’t that long ago, think again: Back To The Future Part II won Favorite Movie Actor and Actress… yes, a movie set in the “future” that is 2015. Candace Cameron hosted. Joey Gladstone (Dave Coulier) got slimed, and so did Internet fav Wil Wheaton.

Also, New Kids On The Block were too busy and important to accept their award, but they appeared via satellite, and to kids in 1990, it felt like the future was now.

1991

These awards were hosted by Corin Nemec, a person I hadn’t heard of until right now because I was too young to watch Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. Winners included the Simpsons – which I remember being super “edgy” at the time, so my siblings and I were allowed to watch it, but not downstairs (in case someone respectable came over? not sure) – as well as Will Smith and Keshia Knight Pulliam. Maybe it’s just because 1991 is one of the first years I can really remember any pop culture stuff from, but the rest of the winners hold up surprisingly well over time: Home Alone, Kindergarten Cop, Michael Jordan, and Pretty Woman.

1992

90s kids, now’s when you should really start paying attention: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Robin Williams in Hook. Doug. Roseanne. Sonic the Hedgehog. In my neon-tinted memories, the 1992 Kids’ Choice Awards are how I remember the early ’90s. Elsewhere in the world the Gulf War was raging, grunge was in its meteoric rise into the mainstream, and the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill saga cast a pall over the upcoming presidential election. But it was 1992, and all us kids wanted was to consume Cheeetos, Pop-Tarts and Ecto Cooler in our stirrup pants while shooting scrunchies at our siblings and watching people get slimed.

So it’s no surprise that when 1992 kids were asked to make a time capsule, it looked like this:

1993

Do you have any of those shows or movies that you remember, but nobody else really does? For me, one of those shows is Roundhouse, an ensemble sketch show that I was obsessed with. Well, the cast of Roundhouse performed at the ’93 Kids’ Choice Awards, so suck it, everyone! They really made it big! The awards were hosted by select cast members of 90210, remarkable because I didn’t know any kids in 1993 who were allowed to watch 90210.

If the 1993 Kids’ Choice Awards exemplify one thing, it’s the love affair mainstream America was having with hip hop and R&B. Fresh Prince was a TV show nominee, Ice Cube was a nominated actor, and Kris Kross won for favorite male group (other musical nominees: Boyz II Men, En Vogue, TLC and MC Hammer). We may be the first generation to grow up with computers, but we’re also the first generation to grow up with hip hop targeted specifically toward children.

The three little blonde boys from Home Improvement got slimed, including a pre-Tiger Beat JTT.

1994

Candace Cameron was BACK in 1994 – no holding Deej Tanner down! So was Joey Lawrence. 1994 was really the year that tiny North American children all turned into middle-aged women. Winners, nominees, and slime-ees included Home Improvement, Whitney Houston, Mrs. Doubtfire, Sister Act II, and Nancy Kerrigan. Michael Jordan won favorite male athlete for the millionth time, which makes me wonder if he was the only male athlete we had all heard of. I’m also pretty sure this was smack in the middle of that one time he “retired” for a minute and my brother melodramatically took down the framed Jordan poster from his wall, so it’s pretty amazing he was still a contender. I guess because he was pretending to be a baseball player at the time.

Anyway, in 1994 us kids were all what they called “normcore” in trend pieces written in mid-2014. Our favorite video game was Super Mario World and our favorite sports team was the Dallas Cowboys. We liked Tim Allen and Aerosmith. In that weird transitional era between the neon-tinged 80s-like early 90s, the grungy early-mid 90s, and the shiny Clueless phase, we were all the human version of plaid couches.

1995

Nobody believes me when I say this, but kids in the 90s were allowed to watch stuff that would never fly in 2015. I’m sure there are some permissive parents now, but even television specifically geared towards kids had nuclear spills (Alex Mack) and ghosts (Are You Afraid Of The Dark). Evidence of this: Kids’ Choice nominees in 1995 included Living Single, Roseanne, Speed, Forrest Gump, and Married…. With Children. And yet, the winner was still The Lion King, which is unsurprising to those of us who can remember the phenomenon.

This whole show is on Youtube, and if you either want to relive the mid-90s, or are a teen who was, at best, a baby at the time, you should watch it. With all respect to the 1992 Kids’ Choice time capsule, it is the ultimate 90s kids’ time capsule. Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen won as favorite movie actress, but it kind of doesn’t seem fair because the two of them only added up to one actress. Tia and Tamera won favorite TV actress, so just a reminder, we were all a bit obsessed with twins back then.

1997

Was everyone’s mom secretly voting on their behalf? SPIN CITY, guys. Spin City was nominated. So was One Fine Day and The Preacher’s Wife. Our favorite song was the Fugees’ cover of Killing Me Softly, so at least we got that right.

Also, check out beautiful, innocent baby Amanda Bynes in the video clip above.

1998

If 1994 – 1996 was the era of the moms, 1998 was when youth culture took back the early evening. Titanic was our favorite movie – was there even a question? – and I’m sure I called in from my family’s wall phone to vote for it. Jonathan Taylor Thomas won his rightful place as favorite TV actor, and our favorite musical group was Hanson. I’m sure they just barely edged out Spice Girls. As it should be, Salem from Sabrina The Teenage Witch was the top animal star. By 1998, you were probably watching with your baby barrettes holding back the bangs you were growing out to look more like Rose Dewitt Bukater Dawson and taking notes with your pen with a giant feather puff on top. If you were really, really lucky, maybe you’d see an article about the Kids’ Choice Awards on the AOL homepage the next time you visited your aunt who had the internet.

This happened, and it remains the most 1998 thing I’ve ever seen:

Also, this:

1999

By 1999, we had made our full journey through the 90s, from almost-80s to grunge to normcore to the teen pop takeover. The 1999 awards were all boy bands, Delia*s-inspired fashion, and earnest optimism. Our favorite book was Chicken Soup For The Soul, for goodness sakes. Our favorite actors were Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore, and all was right with the world. We couldn’t imagine a life beyond the 90s – no, literally, my memories begin around 1990, so anything else was unfathomable to me. But really, what more did we need?

A Definitive Ranking of the songs on Platinum Christmas

The year is 2000. I graduated 8th grade and met Molly in high school for the first time. We survived Y2K. George Dubya was elected President for the first time. American Beauty won Best Picture at the Oscars.  Ian ‘Thorpedo’ Thorpe dominated in his native Australia during the Sydney summer Olympics. Joey chose Pacey over that other dude in the Dawson’s Creek series finale. TRL (Total Request Live, duh) was at the height of its popularity. This was the year of …Oops I Did It Again, The Real Slim Shady, ‘N Sync vs. BSB. Pop music was alive and well, and being a 14-year-old teenybopper, I soaked it all in.

The folks over at Jive Records, which was home to a lot of the pop acts featured on TRL, decided to capitalize on this and make a compilation album for the holidays called Platinum Christmas. If you shared any of the same musical tastes as I did, you remember this album clearly. My Christmas music collection was sparse at the time, and rather embarrassing to be quite honest. But I played this album on my boom box for hours. I would make my parents play it in the car, so listening to a lot of these songs remind me of sitting in the backseat, staring out the window and gazing at the piles and piles of snow we passed by.

So in honor of the holiday season, I’ve revisited one of the most nostalgic albums from my youth, and ranked each song by order of import/how good it is. Please tell me I’m not the only person who played this on repeat! And immediately skipped over Santana!

{16} Posada (Pilgrimage To Bethlehem) by Santana

In the summer of ’99, I became obsessed with Smooth by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana. Like, I bought the CD single, and put that shit on repeat with no end in sight. Because I didn’t know any better, I thought I would just automatically love all of Carlos Santana’s music. Yeah, I was a teenage girl into the Backstreet Boys, someone should’ve told me I wouldn’t like listening to the Latin-inspired blues guitar stylings of Santana.

{15} My Gift to You by Donell Jones

This song sounds like one of the B-Side tracks off a Time Life R&B/Soul collection comprised of 10 CDs.

{14} Silent Night / Noche de Paz by Christina Aguilera

Listen, I owned Xtina’s My Kind of Christmas album, and this song wasn’t on it. Because it’s boring. Literally every song on her own record is better than this one.

{13} Christmas Day by Dido

I never really got into Dido, mainly because her voice annoyed me. But apparently Dido’s been busy releasing new music since 2000, and none of it involves collaborations with Eminem.

{12}  The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) by Toni Braxton

I feel like I only really like Toni Braxton’s voice when it’s strictly in the confines of Un-Break My Heart or I Get So High. If I hear it in any other song, I’m not into it. Exhibit A.

{11} Little Drummer Boy by Jars Of Clay

I went through a period of time in my life, albeit brief, where I was super into Christian music. Jars of Clay is one of the big names in that genre (and also some of the guys are from our hometown of Rochester) so I got “excited” when I saw they were on this album. Their version of Little Drummer Boy is real chill, the kind of song that you probably listen to while watching fire crackle in your fireplace.

{10} Christmas Time by Backstreet Boys

As a self-professed BSB fan, I am the first to admit that isn’t the best Christmas or BSB song in their catalogue (If you want a better one by them, listen to this). At the time this song was released, I was in full BSB fangirl mode – I even remember calling into the local Top 40 radio station back home and asking them to play the song, even when it really wasn’t a single? I can’t even recall if they obliged me or not. The point is that although my love for them knows no bounds, I usually only listen to about a minute or two before skipping to the next song.

{9} World Christmas by R. Kelly

Controversies and weird shit aside, I actually do appreciate R. Kelly and his voice. Every time I hear this, I think ‘UGH’ but then it gets to the chorus and I’m hooked.

{8} Grown-Up Christmas List by Monica

While this is a popular Christmas tune, I think this was the first time I had ever really paid attention. Monica, while she doesn’t have to belt-iest or most impressive voice, it’s smooth and pure, and that’s what makes her version of this song so great.

{7} Sleigh Ride by TLC

If you want a never-heard before track by classic TLC, you need to listen to this. Everything about it screams 90s/early 00s, and it’s fantastic. T-Boz’s distinguishable voice, Chili’s R&B riffs, and the magic that is Left Eye’s raps is all featured in this track. Not to mention they managed to make a classic Christmas tune sound like an original. Not many artists can do that without coming off as trying too hard.

{6} I Don’t Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You by ‘N Sync

As previously mentioned, I was a BSB fan. Also as previously mentioned, 2000 was the height of the BSB vs. ‘N Sync rivalry. And while I wasn’t as intense as some girls, I did refuse to listen to any ‘N STINK songs. I changed the radio station anytime they came on, and silently seethed in dance class the day my teacher played the entire No Strings Attached album during warmups. I still have only heard Bye Bye Bye a limited amount of times. So, when Platinum Christmas was on repeat back in Y2K, I promptly pressed fast forward on my CD player. Years later, I calmed it down a bit, and actually listened to this song. It’s great, y’all. But hey, let’s not get crazy. BSB 4 Evr.

{5} Who Would Imagine a King by Whitney Houston

Boy, do I miss 80s/90s Whitney. This particular song was also on the soundtrack to her movie The Preacher’s Wife, and it shows off her gorgeous voice in a more religious setting, and the lack of excessive riffs is exactly what the song needed (or didn’t need). This song is a reminder why Whit became a music icon in the first place.

{4} Christmas Song by Dave Matthews

I don’t know about you guys, but in Rochester, I feel like Dave Matthews Band was like THE band to be into if you were one of those people that was granola-y and wore hoodies like this. And in usual DMB fashion, this track was recorded live, and just hearing the screams in the background reminds me of all the dudes wearing those baja hoodies and flip flops and Grateful Dead tye dye t-shirts. But I mean, great song.

{3} Merry X-Mas Everybody by Steps

2000 was also the year I went to London/UK/Europe for the first time, and I was into this phase of being into a lot of British pop acts, because I wanted to seem cool, I guess? Like I was super into Westlife, BBMak, Craig David, S Club 7, etc. Steps was a S Club 7-like band that was comprised of five guys and gals and really big in the UK. While I did get into Steps a little, it was really just this song that I still sometimes listen to on my current Christmas rotation.

{2} This Christmas by Joe

Look, no one can touch Donny Hathaway’s OG version, but Joe is pretty close. While others have tried, I feel like Joe is the only one who can sing it like Donny, but not actually be Donny or copy his every note.

{1} My Only Wish (This Year) by Britney Spears

By far, this is the best song on Platinum Christmas, and worth the price of the entire CD just for this song. Brit hadn’t released any holiday songs up to that time, and again, she was at the height of her popularity (…Oops era, remember) so this song was like a Christmas gift in and of itself. It’s an original song, which is a welcome respite from the usual Christmas music catalogue played on soft rock radio stations during the holidays, and it’s just fun. It’s upbeat and makes you want to dance around the Christmas tree while eating cookies and watching the snow fall outside. In fact, in college, my friend and I even made up a dance – quite literally made up a dance on the spot – to this song and the non-impressive moves were the highlight of the holiday season every year.

 

Throwback Thursday: Pappy Drewitt

Ah, Pappy Drewitt. If you were born in the 90s, maybe you can still hear the song: Pappy, Pappy Drewitt, he drew Pappyland. And you too can do it, if you’re in Pappyland!

But I wouldn’t know, because I was born in the 80s. Young enough to watch children’s TV in the 90s, but old enough to watch it mockingly, I remember singing something more like “Crappy, Crappy Drewitt, he blew Crappyland. And you too can do it, if urine Crappyland!”

If you wonder why millennials like things ironically, I direct you to the (relative) success of the T.L.C. show Pappyland. Except for children under the age of 5, none of us were watching it in earnest. We were watching it to exercise our budding comedic sensibilities, like a fawn first learning to walk. Pappy Drewitt is probably the cultural moment that confirmed that we are truly The Shittiest Generation.

Pappyland was a children’s art show about a kindly elderly man who lives in a fantasy world that he drew himself, possibly an allegory about how those with Alzheimer’s connect with the very young, possibly an attempt to teach children about the joys of self-expression. It was a tender gift from TLC to the children of the world – literally. The opening sequence actually says “Dedicated To Children Around The World.” And the shitty children around the world said “ha, it rhymes with Crappyland!” and tore it to shreds.

80s Babies, I’m back for round two.

Feel free to watch along and follow my commentary – but I’m inclined to think that this is burned so deeply in our collective memory that you don’t even need to watch it to remember.

Even though I hate-watched Pappy Drewitt, I still always secretly wished he would say my name when he greeted children through the screen. He never did, because those bitches were always named Jessica.

Pappy Drewitt is a soulless children’s show: like Barney without all of the children. Or Mr. Rogers without the gentile middle-class lifestyle (I think Pappy is Appalachian?). Or Sesame Street without virtually everything likeable about Sesame Street.

They’re obviously trying – there are puppets, which is sort of the minimum baseline effort you have to make in children’s t.v. – but there’s not a surly Oscar or a childlike Elmo in sight. Instead, the Pappy puppets are all indistinguishable idiots. There’s an idiot bear, a dumb-bitch girl flower, and this one stupid bird.

The bear, in particular, looks like a Furry. I think Dumb Bitch Girl Flower is the only female character on the show, and for once I say “thank you, that’s quite enough representation for one day!” Boys, you’re going to have to bear responsibility for this tv mess almost alone.

pappy4

Pappy wears a ring, so he is either married or widowed. He also wears a 99-cent bandana and a plain t-shirt that look like they came from a Michael’s Craft Store. There is a turtle named Turtle-Loo, who has a god-awful indistinguishably “ethnic” accent. He is either French, Italian, or Spanish. Pappy whitely intones “prrrrronto!”  At least  Dora The Explorer teaches the children of the world how to speak annoying non-English catch-phrases correctly.

Pappy teaches us about manners in this episode, I guess, but he’s sort of dogmatic about it and he’s basically a real dick.

pappy6

During the first run of Pappy Drewitt, I was at that magical age where no matter what he drew, in the beginning it always looked like a butt or some boobs. This episode is no exception. He draws a bunny, but he starts with the eyes, which look like nothing so much as lopsided cartoon tetas.

pappy1

Guys, he just KEEPS DRAWING. In real time. For over six minutes, we watch a piece of paper as a grown man doodles a bunny on it. Can’t they do that cooking show thing and time-lapse it? When Pappy finishes we learn the name of this piece: “Two Bunnies In A Doorway, And There’s Carrots In The Doorway.”pappy3

In college we made my friend, who was high, watch a video of these cat marionettes. He could not deal with it. We had to turn it off. I think if we had showed him Pappy Drewitt instead, his brain would have actually exploded.

Sing-A-Song-Sam (Michael Curley), a 1920s barbershop quartet-looking guy, sings a tuneless song about manners. I’d like to remind everyone that before T.L.C. was America’s Sideshow, this is the kind of thing we watched on it.

pappy5

Holy cow. He is seriously going to spell out the entire word “polite” as a mnemonic to teach the rules of politiness. Isn’t that way too complicated? Isn’t the only rule of politeness “don’t be a dick?” Maybe I shouldn’t have kids. There are not actually six rules, because some of these are clearly repeats:

P – Say Please And Thank you!

Okay. I’ll give them this.

O – Offer To Help Out Too!

Fine, yeah. But this still falls cleanly under “don’t be a dick.”

L – Listen To What Others Say

Sure.

I – Is there anything that I can do?

I’m sorry. Is this an illustration of “offer to help out too”?

T – take turns in the games you play
E – Excuse me if I’m in your way!

So basically, be more Canadian.

Hold onto your hats, kids, now Pappy’s going to color the picture! We watch a grown man color for an additional 5+ minutes. I take back my indictment of our generation: Pappyland deserved our scorn.

Pappy calls himself “Pappy,” in the third person, and it truly sounds like more of a personal weird bedroom thing.

As Pappy colors the wall yellow, he surmises “It could be made of straw! Or it could be painted this color!” Then he says like seven more things about the color, which I repeat, is just yellow.

Finally, Pappy shows us drawings sent in by viewers. There’s one with the same first and last name as a girl we went to high school with and, considering Pappy was filmed an hour away in Syracuse, I think it’s probably hers. All of the kids’ drawings look better than Pappy’s stupid Rabbits With Doorway Carrots or whatever.

Speaking of high school, the quality of Pappy Drewitt’s special effects is actually lower than the greenscreen we had for Morning Update, our daily in-house student news program.
We have to leave, because it is now “quarter to orange!” I hope you’ve enjoyed this journey to Pappyland. Michael Cariglio (Pappy) is (or was?) probably a kind-hearted, imaginative man who wanted to share his love of drawing with children around the world. Instead, he helped a generation of children hone their mockery skills and probably inspired more than a few of them to take up light drug use. This, truly, was his gift to the world’s children.

The Duggar Girls: A Style Chronology

It’s no secret that we’re a little fascinated by the Duggar family.  I hold the same befuddled interest in them that leads people to read ethnographic studies in National Geographic. I may not have seen their TV show for years, but we’ll always have fond memories of creating a slightly sarcastic Duggar Facebook group – only to be inundated with Duggar groupies.  I promise, we’re even going to do a C+S Book Club post on the Duggar girls’ book — as soon as we gather the mental fortitude to read it.

Jill’s wedding this past weekend has me thinking about why this family is so fascinating. Sure, part of it is that they have 97 kids and a lifestyle that is completely foreign to me. Part of it is hate-watching for hints of Vision Forum creepiness. But I think a good bit of why this family has such a huge audience is getting to see the variations in how the kids all go through their childhood and teen years. There are so many Duggars that you get to see all of it — the carefree tomboy (Joy-Anna), the girl who’s too cool for her family (Jinger), the gawky teens who manage to become really pretty (Jill and Jana), the golden child who wouldn’t know an awkward phase if it hit her in the face (Jessa). You get to experience all the awkwardness of trying to find your style footing as a teen, without having to be the one to go through it yourself.

When the Duggars first hit the airwaves a decade ago, they looked like something out of Little House On The Prairie. I distinctly remember Jana sewing bonnets for her sisters. They wore matching teddy-bear-print dresses, even the girls who would be in middle school if their mom weren’t teaching them about Noah’s tea parties with the dinosaurs instead. But today, the Duggar ladies look almost stylish! What a journey it’s been.

14 Children And Pregnant Again – 2004 – 2005

Isn’t it weird to look at a family and thing “wow, they ONLY had 14 kids then!” This is when we first met the Duggar girls, and they were …. um… not looking awesome. The year was 2004, which style-wise involved a lot of flared jeans and fake tans, but which wasn’t super Doctor Quinn-y. You’d never know from looking at these kiddos.

Jana – who was in one hell of an awkward phase, so thank heavens my family had a normal number of kids so I didn’t have to be on reality TV – has a collar bigger than a Thanksgiving turkey platter. Jessa has puffed sleeves that would make Anne Shirley blush.

Nope, that’s not a 44-year-old midwestern piano teacher who attends the local Kingdom Hall. That’s Jana, proving that awkward phases can always get awkwarder. Those bangs were not her fault; she was just a kid. Bless.

Here, the Duggar ladies teach us how to “draw attention to our countenance.” The trick is to wear dresses so horribly hideous that nobody will want to look at them. What is Joy-Anna wearing? Is it a Laura Ashley shower curtain? It is, I think.

Raising 16 Children / 16 Children And Moving In / On The Road With 16 Children – 2006

There are more bangs, now. Not just any bangs – bangs curled under with a round brush. A few girls are still sporting jumpers made out of bold patters culled from the discount fabric rack. However, some of them have graduated to button-up tops with t-shirts underneath, lest we be exposed to some errant collarbone. True facts: our high school dress code prohibited us from showing collar bone, which in most human anatomy, is nowhere near your boobs, anyway. We coined the term “collar-bone slut” for those days when you wore your clavicle loud and proud.

Here, the children are forced to dress alike because when you hit the road with 16 kids, it’s really easy to lose one or five of them.

YOU BETTER WERQ.

Take a look at those countenances, kids.

Duggars’ Big Family Album – 2007

There are now 17 children – yes, it took 17 J names to get to Jennifer. You may think there’s still a lot of permed hair and ankle length skirts, and … well, you’re right. But there are some changes afoot. Yes, I would pinpoint 2007 as the year the Duggar ladies dressed a little less like my childhood porcelain doll collection and a little more, in their words “modern modest.” Sure, they still look a little like a kid trying to fashion a pioneer costume out of stuff that’s already in their wardrobe, but look closer. Of the older girls, only Jessa is wearing a jumper, and let’s be real, they probably made her wear jumpers longer because she’s the pretty one. The others look borderline-normal, with modern tops and more casual skirts. Little Joy-Anna is still in a frock with ankle-socks, but she’s also a small child.

For the most part, bangs have been replaced by crispy perms and these brushed-over quasi-bang sections of hair in the front.

This is just further support for my Jessa-Jumper theory. Note, again, the collarbone-obscuring white tees.

If you’re wondering why I’m not doing a post about the Duggar boys’ fashion, it’s because it seems that the family policy for boy clothes is “Fashion? Yolo! – Wear a Polo!” or possibly “Buttons of four – show it the door! Buttons three – it’s right for me!”

17 Kids And Counting / 18 Kids And Counting / 19 Kids And Counting

So many kids, so much counting. By the time they get an original series, the girls’ style starts getting so much better. Some skirts even almost show knee! The girls go through those style phases that I guess happen even if you don’t go to high school with other kids: sunglasses on the head indoors, flip flops when they should be wearing proper footwear, improperly styled side bangs. Ah, youth.

But really, what an improvement. If you looked closely you’d realize they’re all wearing skirts, but they aren’t calling attention to themselves anymore. Which, when you think about it, is way MORE modest, right?

The Duggar style evolution (oops, that may be a swear word in Duggar parlance) was never more evident than when they visited the Bates family. I think this is the first time we heard the phrase “modern modest,” as one of the girls (Jinger, probably) said “we’re more modern modest, and the Bates are more…” I forget the end of the sentence, but you could easily fill in the word “collared,” “jumper-y” or “be-calicoed.” A few elder Bates girls even had Gibson Girl-worthy pompadours, if the Gibson Girls hadn’t been such hussies. Basically, they looked like the 2004-era Duggars. Amazing what a tv show will do for your fashion consciousness.See? They’re in public in different colored shirts, the girls are accessorizing and wearing skirts of reasonable length, they’ve sprayed on some tan. I know this isn’t about the Duggar boys, but they’re even letting them wear fitted jeans. The times really are a-changin’.

PANTS.

And here we are today. Except for the number of kids, this looks like a normal family. In the final step away from outdated fashion, the girls have loose curls instead of crunchy perms.

But the truest sign that the future is moving in? Look at the flock of little Duggar girls. They’re wearing long tunics over leggings. That’s practically pants. Unlike their big sisters, they’ll never know teen years of teddy-print jumpers, six-inch collars, and hairsprayed bangs.

Praise be.