So when we pitch ideas for this show, we usually start by looking up some event from that week in history.
And at one of our meetings, someone mentioned, hey this is actually the same week that TGIF launched a few people on the call were immediately like, oh my God.
Yes, I loved TGIF.
Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out why everyone was so excited about the chain restaurant that makes its employees dress like Candyland referees.
Turns out they weren’t talking about that TGIF.
They were talking about the Beloved Friday night TV lineup.
Specifically, the shows that ran in the 80s and 90s that ABC used to are a two-hour block of iconic sitcom programming.
As I scroll through the list of shows, I recognized some sister sister Boy, Meets World others, I had never heard of like baby talk.
TGIF had a few different iterations over the years, but I’m talking about the OG line up.
The one from the late 90s, the one that truly reached the heights of cultural relevance, it was clear.
I had just missed this TGIF phenomenon, it felt like this Nostalgia gap between the older Millennials and the younger ones.
I didn’t get it.
What made TGIF so special?
Why did millions of Is tuned in every Friday night to watch two hours of families getting into Shenanigans and having resolvable conflict not to be all Seinfeld about it wrong network.
But what is the deal?
From gimlet media.
This is not past it a show about the stories.
We can’t quite leave behind every episode.
We take a moment from that very same week in history and tell you the story of how it shaped our world.
I’m Simone pahanin on September 22nd. 1989, 33 years ago, This Week ABC launched their now iconic TGIF lineup.
So today on the show, three essays from three different people telling You me, all of us about what made TGIF so special turns out sitcoms can teach us quite a bit about history about our families and about ourselves.
Don’t touch that dial.
There’s more show after the break.
Our first essay is from producer, Rimowa Philip.
He has a fondness for one character, in The TGIF lineup and particular someone who turned four little words into a phenomenon.
Maybe you know him.
Did I do that Ramona?
I take it away.
Okay, let me paint a picture for you.
It’s a breezy June afternoon in the early 2010’s, I’ve just gotten off the Staten Island Ferry.
Slowly walking up to a wedding venue where my date is smiling.
She looks me up and down at my thick frame glasses, my long sleeve tucked.
In gingham shirt, the blue suspenders, keeping my pants with wasted comfortably High, my chocolate brown Ankles peeking out under my role pant.
Cuffs, we lock arms and join the other wedding guests by date.
Introduces me around to her friends within 5 minutes.
Maybe 10 one of them asked who are you Oracle going up as a brown shiny nerd, kid in the early 90s, life wasn’t easy to navigate.
I didn’t have endless YouTube tutorials to show me how to you know, say words to a girl.
I couldn’t Google.
How do you solve for shyness?
I did have one source though a 36-inch, big box.
Black TV hits at enshrined in cables and cords and my mom’s small text is apartment on the walls.
There were a bunch of photos aunties wearing the brightest sarees Big Brown family, get-togethers where everyone’s wearing their widest immigrants miles.
My mom, she worked a lot leaving me home alone, so I click on that TV often and watch the world.
Come to life on Saturday mornings.
I tune into Zack Slater and Screech getting into their Saved by the Bell Shenanigans week after week.
Here’s your tip.
Oh, you are very generous and I’ve got a tip for you two.
Lovely ladies free tonight.
But come on.
There wasn’t much me on screen, all that, California blond, but TGIF that Friday night programming, that was the answer it constantly.
Showed all these scenarios of what a family could be ones.
That didn’t have to be white once that even centered around untraditional Heroes, a bit of bubbly my sweet, let it flow.
Perry Family Matters is one of those shows.
This is about the winslows multi-generational black family living in Chicago.
Each week, they get into the typical family sitcom hijinks that wasn’t my family per se.
Me and my mom living a quiet immigrant life in Texas, but one of the show’s primary characters, he did become a kind of North Star.
Steve Allen doing big guy, go home, go home now Steve Urkel was the winslows in knowing nerd.
Back then being in any way, associated with smarts, or intelligence, kind of just made you this social Pariah.
So Urkel, the black Brainiac boy, became this thorn in the side for the winslows.
But he also became the show’s hero in his epic plight.
Convincing Laura Winslow, the winslows daughter that he was her one.
Love my fanny.
I was just so eager to answer you a clue.
Steve, give it up.
Okay, so that whole thing of a man, not listening to a woman when she says, no, you can definitely see that here.
I mean, I didn’t say the 90s were perfect T'.
Urkel, he became this Avatar one.
I could actually see myself in, I wore coke-bottle, thick glasses, just like Steve.
I was smart and definitely not white.
I had huge crushes on girls but did not have the confidence to talk to them.
God forbid declare my undying love.
So watching Steve actually stake his flag with an unrelenting honesty.
That meant something.
He’s owning of his feelings, through all his nerdy shortcomings, it showed the world that he was a person worth being loved.
It showed me, I could believe in myself in that way too.
But then that all got flipped upside down and around, and season 5, when Urkel’s giant brain, got the best of him.
In episode 8, Steve is up to his old bag of Romancing tricks.
He’s trying to convince Laura, that he’s her one true Romeo, but this time science is going to prove it.
Steve stands in the winslows.
Living room with Laura naturally.
He’s wearing a white lab coat.
Okay, that’s a bit abnormal and he’s holding a vial.
Of blue juice up, okay?
That’s totally Urkel.
This chemical compound will make me cool.
Go on and drink then and then I’ll show you my toothpaste.
It turns me and again, Jax sarcasm and Beauty.
Laura, what up babe?
This Elixir will improve my coordination.
My posture my vocal intonation.
And I might even spot a chest hair or two.
Then this ominous music starts playing and Steve.
Well, how else can I say he starts geeking out, then he launches behind the couch Laura looks worried.
We still can’t see Steve but then all of a sudden he stands for a says his name once twice. finally, he was spawns Steve who Steve Urkel you.
No no no no no.
There is no.
I’m Stefan sweep that.
Stefan or kales.
This Stefan urquelle, he looked like Steve, but in no way, was Urkel those big frame glasses gone, that weasely voice.
We were also used to hearing gone, all his lived in nerdiness was replaced by this Rico Suave alter-ego Stefan urquelle.
Stefan spun the show on its axis.
He keeps showing up over and over again.
Always in the coolest-looking suits, never wearing glasses.
Something about them.
Always felt that typical 90s too.
Cool for school.
Honestly, that changed the show for me when I’d hear the Family Matters.
Theme song on Friday nights.
I change the channel.
The show existed for 4 plus Seasons with Steve being the show Center.
Sure, he was annoying and over-the-top.
But there was always something endearing about him and just like that his legacy was undermined.
Until that night. 15 or so years later music playing under the Staten Island Stars.
My suspenders strapped up.
Ready to go.
My high-waisted pants Dancing in the Moonlight with a beautiful date who was proud to be there with me?
Everyone saw me to that.
I look dressed and was every bit Steve A person who loved himself for who he was and was not going to be anyone else.
Well, you know how the old saying goes inside of, you are two wolves, a Steve Urkel and a Stefan urquelle and they, you know, I kind of forget how the rest of the saying goes, but that’s okay, because we’ve got another essay coming up.
This one is from producer, Julie, Carly, forget historic TV, we’re about to get pretty historic tell him.
And is watching ABC, the antediluvian Broadcasting Company.
Well, hello there.
Fellow TV adventurers.
We’ve landed in the wild world of ABC’s, one-of-a-kind hit Dinosaurs.
And it really is the only reason we should be talking about TGIF.
You might remember the prehistoric Masterpiece, it’s the 1991 Henson.
Sitcom about a reptilian family.
No, no, still nothing coming to mind.
Well, let me massage that sweet sweet cerebral cortex of yours with this.
I’m the baby brand new guest out.
Gotta love me.
Come on, I got it off me.
Oh yeah, you felt that?
Didn’t you write in the memories?
As much as the pink little bastard of a baby dinosaur is the star of the show.
The Sinclair family is an entire collection of sitcom archetypes.
There’s the Nolte.
We all have our rough days.
Our little rough, patches loving mother Fran, you sweet thing.
I’m going to miss you so much.
Charlene, you come down here.
This instant All-Stars son.
Robbie, I can always use the workout and bristly.
My dream open the tunnel.
And all of them are going through the gauntlet of modern issues from sexual harassment to corporate greed and getting rid of the elderly by throwing them into a tar pit.
Yes, elder abuse.
But there’s more to this show than just relatable story lines.
There’s something deeper more.
And that’s the absolute total commitment to its driving concept that existence is doomed.
So bright so cheery but it’s true co-creator.
Michael Jacobs said this about the show quote, the thing that human beings knew about dinosaurs was that in the end they were extinct.
So we always had that idea in the back of our minds.
So the show is infused by this polyp death and Extinction.
Actually the first minute of the very first episode begins with this announcement Three times, the size of Earth is heading towards us in a collision course, that will result in the extinction of all life on this planet.
This just in No, it’s not.
So as ridiculous as a show about prehistoric dinosaur sounds its commentary on, Modern issues, mixed with the certainty of Doom.
Suggest, something about our own reality, it will end and nothing matters.
In this episode teenage son, Robbie brings his report card home and is questioning the point of school work life.
Look, this whole entire going to school concept.
Like doesn’t work in isn’t going to last.
Okay, here’s my report card.
I’ll see you around.
The swamp says here, you don’t apply yourself says here.
You’ve got potential look.
I’m just having a hard time with numbers and dates.
Because if this is the are 60 million and 3 Y is next year, 60 million and two.
Why are we counting backwards?
What are we waiting for?
And as a viewer, we all know the honest answer is death.
It really doesn’t matter what you do when life is observed from the 60 million years, vantage point.
But for Earl the father, this takes him down a k-hole of feelings.
After years of tail, breaking work as a tree Pusher for the tyrannical Corporation.
We say so he can’t answer his sons question for Earl.
Everything starts to feel pointless, too. so, the scaly Muppet leaves, his family, and flees to the wilderness, They’re the meat-eating dinosaur finds a rat thing.
Who is ready to risk it all?
Well, you plan on eating me.
Please go ahead.
You’d be doing me a favor.
Actually what do you mean?
The rat thing tells Earl that he just lost his home, his family, but this nihilism gives Earl pause.
So he asks why all of this means the end for the rat thing.
But to tell you the truth, my family’s all that listens to me.
My house is the only place in the world where I’m the boss.
Without your family.
I’m completely nothing.
Just alone out here in the cold completely nothing.
Meaningless in the end Earl decides not to eat the rat thing.
I learned something during my time in the woods, no matter how low you are in this world, as long as you have a family to come home to well then lower Meaning and not still run way Spotlight here, but Family Matters, Four Seasons later in the series finale.
The Sinclair family along with the rest of the world freezes to death in an ice age, caused by the, we say so Corporation.
But even though the end is obvious dinosaurs helps us see that even a doomed existence is still worth living.
Who knew dinosaur?
Could convey such a profound message.
Take that philosophy.
We’re going to take a quick commercial break but don’t go anywhere.
We’ve got one more essay after these words from our sponsors.
Welcome back to the viewers at home.
We’ve been talking 80s and 90s sitcom gold and the iconic TGIF TV lineup.
We’ve got one final essay for you.
This one from our executive producer, Zach, Stewart, Ponte a.
It’s about a show that I had never watched step by step.
But when Zach explain to me, why the show meant so much to him, I knew it was a story we had to share.
So Zach, the mic is yours.
I grew up an only child in a picturesque, small town in Upstate New York and I was around 12 when my parents split up my life, suddenly divided in half, I started spending the week days with my mom at the house.
I grew up in and on Friday afternoons my dad picked me up for a weekend at his house.
Well to be more specific for a weekend at his girlfriend’s house.
Now, his girlfriend was a lawyer and this is a little complicated, but she was representing the weekly newspaper.
That my dad ran against the libel claim was a bullshit libel claim.
The wrinkle was that he ran this newspaper with my mom.
So basically my Dad ran off with his lawyer.
Talk about attorney-client privilege.
That’s a joke.
I’ve been waiting to make for some time.
The first time I saw the sitcom step-by-step was on one of these weekend adventures, with my dad sitting on his girlfriend’s couch.
So given what I was going through the show, hit pretty close to home step-by-step Premiere.
It is part of TGIF on September 20th 1991 in the sitcom Patrick Duffy plays.
Frank Lambert a divorced contractor and Suzanne Somers plays Carol.
Foster widowed salon.
Each of them are single parents with three children after meeting on a blind date.
They fall in love and get married in secret in Jamaica.
I don’t know who came up with us and eventually they form a big happy blended family.
How’s it going?
They feel so small.
And, you know, it’s a sitcom on ABC.
So, family-friendly, hilarity ensues like the time Carol’s son.
Gets caught smoking, a cigar cigar smoke, Carol wants to reprimand him, but Frank offers to step in with a fatherly word because they quote have a lot in common like what?
We can both write our names in the snow.
Like I said, polarity.
The step-by-step theme song is all about New Beginnings.
It’s filled with lyrics like fresh start and better the second time around at the time.
I was just a kid, I didn’t know anything about divorce and it was meaningful for me to see the aftermath of one represented on screen, it confirmed.
One thing for sure, I was about to have a lot of other people in my life.
Often sitting next to me, my dad’s girlfriends cow.
Which was her daughter.
She was just a couple years younger than me.
Me and my dad and the lawyer and her daughter would all spend the weekend together.
I remember trips to the mall playing in the old barn, on the property and getting a cat that I named Jeter.
Jeter the cat, not the baseball player.
Our weekend family time became more and more routine, no time for breakfast.
Frank, I need to talk to you.
Early in season 4 on step by.
Carol gets pregnant and this baby.
This was going to be the true blending of The Fosters in the Lambert’s.
But actually her full name is Lily Foster.
I remember wondering if something like this was in my future, I wasn’t sure about all this change happening.
A new house.
New people things split between the weekends and the weekdays and Mom and Dad but if The Fosters in the Lambert’s were happy, maybe I could be two things.
Turned the first time, the lawyer called me and her.
The kids, it made the hair on the back of my neck stand up.
I didn’t like it at all.
I summoned up some courage and talk to my dad about it.
I remember saying something like, I don’t want to be grouped with this other person.
It makes me uncomfortable.
We aren’t the kids, he told me he understood and he would talk to his girlfriend about it and the next time, the lawyer talked about me and her daughter, she called us the young adults.
Not exactly sure where the game of telephone had broken down.
But clearly my father had misconstrued, the message in my way, I was rejecting the blended family but that hadn’t gotten through.
As my parents divorce was finalized over the next several years step-by-step became a twisted version of a reality that I wanted nothing to do with.
I started noticing the things not depicted in the show.
There were no drop-offs, no pickups know dealing with mom’s feelings of being left out.
No being caught between two people.
You love I stopped watching the show.
I didn’t want a new beginning.
I wanted my old family back.
I will say that we visiting step-by-step, and writing, this essay has been a little bit like jumping into a time machine.
It’s not been an entirely pleasant journey.
I joke to the team that I’ve only been able to work on the piece in 10-minute increments, which is an exaggeration mostly.
But of course, I don’t blame step by step for any of this sitcoms especially the shows on TGIF they were Opposed to be feel good.
It was an escape from the realities of a long week work or school and maybe that’s the beauty of airing.
All these shows in a block, if step-by-step wasn’t doing it for you, it was Family Matters.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch and dinosaurs minutes away.
The lawyer and her daughter, they aren’t in the picture anymore and as for me and my parents, it’s been fun to get to know each other as adults.
I had them over to my house a couple weeks ago for a barbecue and I’m happy to report that they were both on their best behavior sitting next to each other and playing with my kids.
Turns out the thing that actually sort of brought my family back together.
It wasn’t a television fantasy.
It was something much more powerful.
TV, man, that’s powerful.
It’s comforting that brings people together and that communal aspect.
That’s the part that feels increasingly past tense.
I mean I know I can probably go and watch many of the old TGIF shows on some streaming service but I’m not going to have that TGIF moment where everyone is tuning in.
At the same time laughing together crying together.
I know I started this whole thing being like WTF is TGIF but now I’m just like damn major TGIF fomo.
Not passed it as a Spotify original produced by gimlet and DSP media, this episode was produced by the not past it team next week.
We’re taking a history Domino journey through fashion Fitness and political fundraising it robic movement and help women become powerful.
Become become their own person.
They thank me every day.
I knew I was onto something.
Our associate producers are Julie Carly Ramon, Philip and Nick Delle Rose Laura newcomb’s.
Production assistant, the supervising producer is Erica Morrison, editing by k.t. feather, and Andrea be Scott fact-checking by Jane.
Ackerman sound design and mixing by Emma Monger, original music, by sax kicks.
Ave Willie Green Day bless and Bobby.
Lord, our theme song is Taco, Liana by Coco, Co with music supervision by Liz, Fulton, technical Direction by Zach Schmidt show art by lease Harvin and Talia Rahman.
The executive producer at CSP media is Zach Stewart Ponte, the executive producer from gimlet is Matt schulze, special thanks to dr.
Rachel Philip And to Lydia Pole, Green Abbie ruzicka Dan Behar, Jen hon, Emily wiedemann list Styles, Ella Walsh aerial Joseph, and Joshua Bianchi follow not past it.
Now to listen for free exclusively on Spotify, click the little bell next to the follow button to get notifications for new episodes and while you’re there hey why don’t you write as 5 Stars?
You can follow me on Twitter at Simone pollen in.
Thanks for hanging.
We’ll see you next week.
Did I do that?
Let Let It Go.
Let It Go.