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Jessie Saved by the Bell

So Excited

10 Cheesy ‘Just Say No’ Sitcom Episodes

"Just Say Yes" to That '70s Show, Mondays & Tuesdays starting at 6P on IFC.

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Sitcoms in the ’80s and ’90s were rich with “Very Special Episodes,” plotlines where your favorite comedy would take a break from the laughs and warn you that the world was a scary place. (Full House did like 10 of these things.) That ’70s Show fans know that the show poked fun at the trend with their spoof of the classic “pass on grass” propaganda film Reefer Madness. Before you catch That ’70s Show on IFC, check out a look back at some of our favorite childhood sitcoms telling us to just say no to drugs and get high on life instead.

10. “What a Drag,” Home Improvement

One of the glories of these anti-drug episodes was the hypocrisy behind the scenes. Who uses more drugs than the sell out sitcom writers trying to fill the blackhole where their artistic dreams used to live? That was never more evident than in this very special Home Improvement episode, in which Tim and Jill find Brad’s weed stash, and confront him on it. Tim Allen, America’s favorite dopey dad, actually served two plus years for dealing cocaine in the ’70s, making us wonder if the “Toolman” was just upset his son wasn’t into harder stuff.


9. “Fast Friends,” Full House

Peer pressure can be a difficult thing to navigate for kids, especially dweebs like Stephanie Tanner. Everyone knows smoking cigs is the coolest. Well, everyone but that dork Stephanie. Jeez, if an older kid offers you one, you smoke it, and do everything else she tells you to do. Um, that’s how you make friends. You do want friends, right? But when Stephanie gets pressured to light up, instead of starting up a lifelong habit, she calls up Uncles Joey and Jesse’s radio show for advice. What a narc. Also, who gave Joey and Jesse a radio show?


8. “Chewed Out,” Small Wonder

Small Wonder

Peer pressure strikes again, but this time young Jamie and his bud Reggie find impressing the cool kids can be a moving target. At first, they think cigarettes are the trick, only to learn that smoking is so last week. Everyone who’s anyone chews tobacco now. That’s when Vicki, the family’s creepy robot, steps in and gives the boys a primer on all the awful things cigarettes can do to you. Clearly the message of this “very special” Small Wonder is, “cigarettes are bad, but there’s nothing wrong with your father building you a robot sister/bionic slave child.”


7. “The Life of the Party,” Family Matters

Steve Urkel, the uber nerd next door, was a ridiculous character, and, for the most part, the writers knew it. He was known more for his alter egos and time machines than for life lessons. How do you have a teachable moment with a character that’s so utterly absurd? Well, for one episode, the writers decided to give it a whirl, with Urkel binge drinking at a party thanks to some healthy peer pressure before falling off a roof. We’re assuming the lesson here was to pump the people you hate full of booze, and hope they accidentally kill themselves. Unfortunately in this case, we had no such luck, as the grating geek lived to screech “did I do that??” another day.


6. “Steroids to Heaven,” Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs

What better way to confront the realities of high school steroid abuse than with eight-foot tall dinosaur puppets? In this very special episode, Robbie is desperate to impress his crush, Caroline. Unsure what to do, he starts taking “Thornoids,” little creatures that help you bulk up when you eat them. His dino-pecs soon balloon, along with his mood swings. Robbie begins fighting with his parents and ripping sinks from walls, but when he takes Caroline on a date from Hell, he realizes he has a problem. Presumably a thoroughly confused generation of kids learned to never eat tiny puppet dinosaurs as a result.


5. “Say Uncle,” Family Ties

Uncle Ned seems like the cool relative we all wished we had. Heck, he’s played by Tom Hanks, the nicest man in the history of people. It’s only when Alex stumbles upon the future Forrest Gump late one night, drinking along in the kitchen, that he realizes he might be in a “Very Special Episode.” Uncle Ned proceeds to get physical with the young Republican before digging through the pantry for cans of pickled treats that might have some alcohol in them. Oh Tom, if only Wilson could see you now.


4. “Just Say Yo,” The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

The Fresh Prince’s life got flipped-turned upside down in this Season 3 episode of the NBC hit. Finding himself overwhelmed with basketball, homework and the ladies, Master Will did what any responsible student would: He got his hands on some meth. Unfortunately, Carlton mistook the pills for vitamins, and downed a handful. Of course, as often happens in these “Very Special Episodes,” Carlton soon found himself the life of the party, dancing like a Janet Jackson backup dancer to the delight of everyone at a school dance. It was only when he passed out that everyone realized he was drugged out of his mind. When Uncle Phil offered a guilt-stricken Will season tickets to the Clippers, he was forced to admit what he’d done, and have an Emmy moment. The real lesson here seems to be the Clippers were so bad in the ’90s, Will would rather admit to giving Carlton drugs than have to go one of their games.


3. “Just Say No,” Punky Brewster

We’re all desperate to fit in, but we never thought Punky Brewster, with her rainbow colored threads and killer catchphrases, would fall prey to peer pressure. Holy Macanoli, how wrong we were. When a cool new crew of girls called “The Chicklets” show up in town, Punky is desperate to join the gang. It’s only when they break out a stash of grass, a few uppers and some nose candy, that Punky — and the audience — realize that maybe these bitchin’ babes with the bodacious bangs aren’t as cool as they first seemed.


2. “The Reporter,” Diff’rent Strokes

Nancy Reagan herself popped up on this very special Diff’rent Strokes episode, in which Arnold went undercover at his middle school to expose a drug dealer. When the school’s faculty questioned the authenticity of Arnold’s story, the First Lady herself stopped by to convince them he was telling the truth. Thankfully, the “Just Say No” message worked like a charm, and none of the cast members would go on to have crippling addictions.


Tie: 1. “No Hope With Dope,” Saved By The Bell

Because the wholesome characters on our favorite sitcoms could never be drug users, these “Very Special Episodes” often employed cartoonishly fiendish guest stars to introduce drugs to the otherwise upstanding ensembles. That definitely was the case in this Season 3 episode, in which celebrity Johnny Dakota stopped by Bayside to film an anti-drug commercial. When the gang learned that Dakota himself had been smoking dope, they got a rude awakening to the dangers of drugs, and the hypocrisy of Hollywood. It must not have been that shocking a lesson to the show’s cast, considering that Lifetime’s The Unauthorized Saved By the Bell Story seems to suggests they were themselves high while filming the episode.

“Jessie’s Song,” Saved By The Bell

Saved by the Bell

Elizabeth Berkeley must have been so excited when she saw the script for this episode about Jessie Spano going full speed freak after getting hooked on some pep pills. But once the episode aired, and her melodramatic meltdown helped inspire the Internet to become a thing just so she could be meme’d out, she must have been so scared.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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GIFs via Giphy

Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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