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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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Photo Credit: NBC Productions

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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Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at IFC.com

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Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.



Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…