80s TV: Square Pegs

The 80s were awkward; they were the years of neon colors, perms, shoulder pads, new wave dances, and teenagers of the decade epitomized that awkwardness.  Square Pegs, the television show which aired from 1982 to 1983, showcased all of these 80s trends, alongside typical teenage angst, to make for truly some truly great TV.

Entering their freshman year at Weemawee High School, best friends Patty Green (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Lauren Hutchinson (Amy Linker) are hungry for popularity, hoping to break into the hipster clique which is run with an iron fist by valley girl Jennifer DeNuccio (Tracy Nelson), her thug boyfriend Vinnie Pasetta (Jon Caliri), and her BFF LaDonna Fredericks (Claudette Wells). But things don’t go as planned when Patty’s glasses and lunchbox, and Lauren’s braces prove to be badges of uncool in the cafeteria, so the forlorn girls find comfort in Weemawee’s other social rejects: future stand-up comic Marshall Blechtman (John Femia) and dim new waver Johnny Slash (Merritt Butrick). Together the teen losers spend their weeks trying to achieve acceptance, only to routinely fail, forcing them to pave their own unique way through the nightmarish high school experience, lorded over by pep-powered Muffy Tepperman (Jami Gertz).

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After a pilot episode fueled with the lustful wishes Patty and Lauren hold for hallway supremacy, “Square Pegs” took off in a gazillion different directions over the course of its short 19-episode run, following the loves, losses, and interests of just about every character on the show (contributing to the show’s short-lived existence). Sure, the writing is so-so, and the acting is on the level of Saved By the Bell, but there is something charming and lovable about the 80s cheese of the whole thing, and the musical cameos were pretty excellent (Devo, the Waitresses), not to mention Bill Murray!

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