Square Pegs

Square Pegs

This TV show was only on for one season from 1982-1983 on CBS. Square Pegs follows Patty Greene (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Lauren Hutchinson (Amy Linker), two awkward teenage girls desperate to fit in at Weemawee High School. The show was often said to be ahead of its time and was critically acclaimed for showing a realistic portrayal of teen life in the 80s.

You can check out more episodes here.

Patty Greene (Sarah Jessica Parker) is a budding young woman, not quite beautiful yet, but well cultured and intelligent. While clever and seemingly well-adjusted, she seems awkward and a social misfit (i.e. a square peg) when amongst the “popular” students. Patty hates her eyeglasses, but her father won’t let her get contacts (because he says, her eyes are “still growing”).

Patty’s very close friend Lauren Hutchinson (Amy Linker) struggles with her weight (the actress needed to wear padding for the role), has braces, wears unusual clothing, and also does not fit in with the popular crowd. However, much more so than Patty, Lauren constantly desires to be in with the in-crowd, and the series’ episodes revolve more or less around her dragging Patty into various schemes in attempts to make them more popular.

Lauren and Patty are surrounded by colorful supporting characters. Their friends Marshall Blechtman (John Femia) and Johnny “Slash” Ulasewicz (Merritt Butrick) are a pair of lovable geeks. Marshall is a motormouthed would-be comedian, while Johnny is a soft-spoken new wave fan (not punk… “a totally different head… totally.”) Though seemingly off in his own reality most of the time, Johnny Slash states that he “[does not] do drugs and isn’t a hippie” and on more than one occasion displays unexpected intuition and empathy, particularly regarding Marshall and the girls. The two help to maintain a school radio station. Several episodes indicate that Marshall is attracted to Lauren and Johnny to Patty.

The popular kids whom Patty and Lauren are usually trying to impress are Jennifer DiNuccio (Tracy Nelson), the quintessential buxom Valley girl, her boyfriend Vinnie Pasetta (Jon Caliri), a handsome greaser hood, and LaDonna Fredericks (Claudette Wells), Jennifer’s friend and the sole minority character in the cast. Vinnie is cool but dense, using the “Why don’t you make like a tree and get out of here?” line three years before the character Biff in 1985’s Back to the Future. LaDonna is known for sassy remarks such as “Shoot, child, you think this place is crowded? You should have seen our living room when The Jeffersons went to Hawaii. Those were the three worst Sundays of my life.”

The typical official high school activity culture is personified by preppy Muffy B. Tepperman (Jami Gertz) who is the endlessly chipper chairperson of the Weemawee Pep Committee, head of the Morals Club, chairman of the Science Fair Committee, and member of the Future Nurses of America. Muffy has a memorably pompous, oratorical speaking style and begins many sentences with “It behooves me to tell you…” or an elongated “People…”. Though perhaps even more socially inept (“I’m going to ignore that because, frankly, I don’t get it”), Muffy’s unawareness and/or lack of concern with her failure to fit in with the popular kids is in stark contrast to the motivation of the show’s protagonists and does not stop her from relentless involvement in peppy activities.

An ongoing gag throughout the series is Muffy’s fundraising for Weemawee’s adopted “little Guatemalan child,” Rosarita. As the series progresses, Muffy’s charitable intentions become more and more frivolous, asking the school community to provide the girl with her own apartment away from her parents, cable TV, a second pair of culottes, swimwear, a split-level duplex, and finally, her own cleaning lady.

This group of eight students, though clearly of varied academic standing, are always in the same classes.

The recurring staff members at the school are:

Ms. Alison Loomis (Catlin Adams), a feminist liberal arts teacher who often complains about her ex-husband
Mr. Rob “Lovebeads” Donovan (Steven Peterman), who continuously brings up his antics in the 1960s and always stops just short of completing references to smoking pot
Mr. John Michael Spacek (Craig Richard Nelson), the affected but married drama teacher
Dr. Winthrop Dingleman (Basil Hoffman), the grinning, square principal

Read more like this about the show on the Square Pegs Wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Square_Pegs

 

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