There are a handful of pop culture items that I strongly associate with my childhood and adolescence. I’ve covered a shitload of them here, from the BSC, to Judy Blume, and even non-book nostalgia like Roseanne, Pump Up the Volume, and Sassy. But the show Blossom has always belonged on this blog and in my heart, but until recently, was difficult to find. Thanks to Hulu, we can all watch Blossom in it’s fantastic 90’s-girl glory.
You all remember Blossom, right? The TV show followed fourteen year old (in season one) Blossom Russo (Mayim Bialik) as she dealt with teen girl issues (periods! boys! friends!) while living with her single musician father (Ted Wass), and two older brothers, the adorable but dim Joey (Joey Lawrence) and newly clean and sober Anthony (Michael Stoyanov). She had a sidekick best friend, the fast talking Six Lemure (Jenna Von Oy), and in later seasons, a boyfriend Vinnie, (David Lascher).
It sounds fairly tame, but Blossom was known for the ‘very special episode,’ and for being pretty frank about teen issues without being melodramatic in a 90210 sort of way, and for being pretty feminist as far as the 1990s go. Blossom was her own self, had her own wacky sense of style, and even though she could be boy-crazy, she had a lot of self respect.
So what’s it like re-watching it as an adult?
Well, I’m only a couple episodes into season two, and I can tell you it holds up surprisingly well. Despite being multi-cam with a laugh track (something I normally can’t stand now), I find a lot of comfort in it with Blossom. It helps that the laugh track isn’t very invasive, unlike Mayim Bialik’s current terrible show, The Big Bang Theory. Even things like Blossom’s vivid imagination and dreams featuring celebrities (Phylicia Rashad and Little Richard are among season one dream stars), could seem cheesy, and next to modern shows they do. But somehow it all manages to work. Also, hey that’s Johnny Galecki and Tobey Maguire with small roles in season one!
For whatever reason, in my head I was remembering Blossom as a slightly older version of Full House. But really it’s not. The characters talk really frankly about sex pretty frequently, and they don’t shy away from Anthony’s drug-addict and alcoholic past. Joey at sixteen hates being a virgin and talks about wanting to have sex all the time, and there are plenty of jokes at his expense about his masturbating to dirty magazines in his room. The dad, Nick, is single and goes on dates and when Joey reports he found condoms in his dad’s sock drawer no one is shocked and Nick shrugs it off (“Stay out of my sock drawer.”)
And let’s talk about Nick for a minute. First of all, hot dad alert. While most 90s girls were creaming themselves over Joey Lawrence, I was all about Anthony and Nick. (I also preferred Angela’s dad to Jordan Catalano in My So-Called Life, so idk what that says about me.) Second of all he’s a thousand times better a father than any of the nitwits on Full House. His wife left him four years prior to the start of the show (I’m sure it’s not a coincidence that is the same time frame when Anthony’s drug problems started) and he stuck around. Even with his weird late-night schedule, he’s always there for his kids. And I want to pay particular attention to how he is with Anthony. He’s tough but fair with Anthony, helping him through his sobriety, but giving just enough tough love to help him be successful.
Anthony is another character I’d forgotten was as interesting as he is. Again, most people seem to remember Joey and his “Whoa!” catchphrase. But Anthony both has a more interesting back story and is a better brother to Blossom. Also, he’s a better dresser. I mean, Joey wears jorts, vests and fanny packs.
The thing that Blossom was most famous for were her wacky outfits. There were some crazy clothes in the 90s, and if anyone is going back and looking for 90s fashions, I want to assure you that even for the time period, Blossom’s outfits were pretty bizarre. I don’t know anyone who wore hats like Blossom Russo.
But listen, the show isn’t perfect. I remember it being peak feminism, but honestly? There are a couple of troubling lines. A couple of jokes by Six about fat girls. Definitely calling girls sluts, and Joey is really misogynistic and no one seems to call him out on it. I get it that it was 25 years ago, but some of the jokes are really cringe-worthy to 2017 ears.
Anyway, despite that, having a rewatch of Blossom is 100% worth it. It’s a completely fun, sweet show that about 80% holds up to contemporary standards.
(***A little off topic, but I want to point out that, yes, Mayim Bialik is SUPER DUPER problematic. Her playing feminist teen icon Blossom taught her absolutely nothing and I was insanely disappointed in her recent NYT opinion piece where she states that the reason she was never sexually assaulted by anyone in the industry is because she dresses modestly. It was a really gross thing to say, especially considering a-the ages of the many minors who were, and b-the fact that she must know she’s an anomaly and the industry demands 99% of its women dress differently. There is only room for so many anomalies. It really sucks that she seems to be picking up lessons more from her current show, The Big Bang Theory, which is basically a study in gross misogyny, than she did from the show where she came of age.***)