Lessons for the Future From Disney Channel and Nickelodeon Original Shows

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

Kids shows: dumbed-down, predictable, unfunny… right? Pause for a minute. Actually, children’s programming can reflect the attitudes and fashions of a generation that is first learning the power of self-expression.

If you were one of the lucky children with basic cable, chances are your favorite channels included The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. These were channels specifically geared toward younger audiences! Their shows did not show family and school life from an adult perspective; they were made to make us feel like Clarissa Darling, Arnold and others were more than characters — they were people we knew.

If we were to look back on the programs we grew up watching, we might find that not only did those shows reveal something important to us then. More surprisingly, they might be able to provide us with some important lessons we should hold on to, things that are still relevant to our experience as millennials in the year 2017. Here is some good old-fashioned wisdom from the shows that made you laugh till you cried or in some cases, scared you. They sure don’t make ’em like they used to.

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Balance is the key to life (from The Famous Jett Jackson)
The Famous Jett Jackson was Hannah Montana long before Miley Cyrus rose to fame for donning a blonde wig. It was a show revolving around a teenager who was attending a school and making friends but also fighting crime on his very own hit television series.

While his character Silverstone struggles to restore order to his fictional universe by battling evil, Jett must balance school assignments with his filming commitments, red carpet appearances and some semblance of a normal social life. Who hasn’t been overwhelmed by all the things that are expected of us on a daily basis? There are the hours we devote to our work, trying to lead a healthy lifestyle by taking walks or heading to the gym, cooking meals and keeping up with the plans we’ve made for our few hours of downtime. Sometimes it all feels a bit much.

The Famous Jett Jackson tells us though that if we find people that support us when we have a lot on our plate, we will feel more equipped to tackle our seemingly never-ending to-do list. It should also be noted that Jett never put his work (his paid job or otherwise) before his loved ones, because he knew that the money and fame would not always be there, but his family and friends would be there no matter what.

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Your talent is worth using (from The Wild Thornberrys)
One of Nickelodeon’s best-loved animated series, The Wild Thornberrys explores the lives of a family of documentary filmmakers who are aided by their youngest daughter’s unusual (and secret) talent.

Unbeknownst to the rest of her family, Eliza has gained the ability to talk to animals which aids the family in discovering new things about the creatures they encounter during their travels. While Eliza’s father is a nature expert, it is truly Eliza’s talent of speaking to animals that the family acquires much of their knowledge of the natural world. We would do well then to remember that our own talents and passions have value not only to ourselves and our self-esteem but to others and are worth sharing.

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People with different interests and opinions must learn to coexist (from CatDog)
In this day and age, everyone has an opinion on everything, from politics to music to TV and hairstyles. While we are all entitled to our differing opinions, in a time where social media dominates our everyday lives, now more than ever we must learn how to tolerate opposing views.

No two beings struggled to do just that more than CatDog, the animated duo living in a conjoined body. On one (literal, physical) side Dog is hyperactive, easily distracted and eager to take on tasks. Opposite of Dog, Cat (whose head is at the other end of the hybrid animal) manipulative, ambitious and quickly angered. In order to stay intact though, Cat and Dog must embrace each other’s interests, shortcomings and dreams.

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Our differences do not have to define us (from Hey! Arnold)
Arnold (what is his last name?) has always been unusual. For starters, he lives with his grandparents in a boarding house full of strange renters. The biggest difference between Arnold and the rest of his classmates is his odd, football-shaped head. Despite this unique malformation though, Arnold is well-adjusted, kind and a great friend to all. He even has a secret admirer in school bully Helga who keeps a shrine in her closet to the “football head”.

Arnold may have a head that is shaped differently than others, but it never stops him from being the moral center of the program or going on many adventures with his peers. Anything that we do not like about ourselves — physical or otherwise — do not have to prevent us from doing anything we wish and may even endear others to us.

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Girls and boys can in fact be just friends (from Clarissa Explains it All)
One myth that is widely misunderstood is the old adage that men and women cannot be friends — there is too much built-in sexual tension. Contrary to this, one teenage girl got revenge on her brother, got through junior high school and sought independence from her parents all with the help of her best friend and confidant, a boy named Sam.

Sam even climbed a ladder up to Clarissa’s bedroom window during each episode! While under most circumstances a teenage boy being in a girl’s private room would have been a parent’s worst nightmare, there was never any indication that Sam and Clarissa were anything but the best of friends.

In 2017, isn’t it time we threw away the idea that there is always a romance budding between friends of the opposite sex? While we’re at it, let us throw away the made-up construct of “friend-zoning,” it doesn’t really exist, people!

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You were born for success (from The All New Mickey Mouse Club)
Sure, The All New Mickey Mouse Club consists mostly of goofy skits and cringe-worthy musical numbers. But if you look closely, you will find this is where many future stars cut their teeth on performing for an audience.

From Britney and Christina to future *NSYNC members JC and Justin, these music superstars made their start on the program. No matter what Ryan Gosling might try to convince people, he did not start singing only to prepare for his role in La La Land; he sang right alongside Justin Timberlake on the variety show long before he was a Golden Globe winner. Actress Keri Russell also had an early gig on the show as did singer-songwriter Matt Morrison (not to be confused with the actor from Glee). It is remarkable to see these stars at the beginning of their long careers, before they were even old enough to vote or sometimes drive! See what a little perseverance will do?

 

Yada, Yada, Yada: Dating Advice as Told by Seinfeld

Author: Alli Jean, The Dating Game

If your family was anything like mine, there was one TV show in the 1990s that stood apart from the stale family dramas and programs depicting unrealistic expectations of adult friendship. I am of course talking about Seinfeld, the “show about nothing” that quickly became a water cooler gold mine, and a pillar of pop culture after first airing in 1989.

One over-arching theme of the series was the constant missteps and amusing tribulations of the dating lives of the four New Yorkers we all came to love: Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer. Far from romantic, Seinfeld was more of a lesson in what not to do than a guide to pursuing a successful and meaningful relationship. From the vault, here are a few lessons learned:

The “will they, won’t they, why do we care?”

One of the first sitcom stereotypes broken by Seinfeld was how the show’s writers dealt with the constant pressure from fans to push Jerry and Elaine into a romantic relationship. At the beginning of the series, it was explained that the pair had previously dated, but they were now just good friends.

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However, by the end of Season 2, network executives and fans were anxious to see the witty banter and playfulness between the two culminate in romance. Jerry and Elaine discreetly consider the idea, while insisting that their friendship is very important and that nothing should change that. They simply want to take “this” (their friendship) and add “that” (sex); essentially asking if friends with benefits can work long-term. And in order to do so and maintain their friendship, they develop a set of rules, including no phone calls the next day, and that spending the night after having sex is optional.

While George is initially very impressed, he predicts that Jerry will get greedy and that there’s no way this arrangement will last. In a rare moment, George is right and after the rules fail them, Elaine proclaims that she wants “this,” “that” and “the other” (romance). Although they initially break up after the rules fail them, by the end of the episode Jerry and Elaine are together in every sense and at least temporarily seem to have “this, that and the other.” However, they are so nauseating about it that Kramer proclaims “you know, I liked you two a lot better when you weren’t a couple.” Apparently the fans and critics agreed because by the start of Season 3, there was no more mention of them dating.

Lesson learned: men and women can have a platonic friendship.

The Setups

Setups occur multiple times on Seinfeld, always with hilariously disastrous results. Perhaps the most well-known instance of a setup occurs when Jerry and Elaine are discussing the fact that they each have a friend (George, and Elaine’s friend Cynthia) who has nearly given up on dating altogether – and Jerry and Elaine set them up.

Both George and Cynthia are hesitant at first, and when the idea is proposed to each of them, George is primarily concerned about the looks of his potential date (does her cheek have a pinkish hue, a must have), her personality, and finally, what she does for work. Cynthia however, immediately asks what George does for work and is disheartened to discover he is unemployed.

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Despite initial chemistry between the two, Cynthia is…late (due to George using a defective condom given to him by Kramer), thus ending their courtship. George is set up again shortly after he begins wearing a toupee and therefore feeling more confident. He is ironically horrified to discover he is set up with a bald woman.

Jerry also sets Elaine up with one of his good friends, Phil Tuttola – who Jerry claims he respects more than most of his other friends, and could actually see Elaine dating. The two have a great first date, but as Elaine conveys to Jerry the next day, Phil “took it out” and thus ended her interest swiftly. Jerry is horrified and Elaine sarcastically inquires “got any other friends you want to set me up with?”

If these stories tell us anything, it is that often times, despite your good intentions, setting up friends does not always work out for the best – for anyone involved.

Other Random Observations

  • Be aware of your dancing ability. If your moves are similar to “the little kicks and the thumbs” Elaine is so famous for, have a little self-awareness of how you’re coming across.
  • Try to split costs evenly. No one person should have to pay for everything, yet don’t be cheap. Don’t skimp on things like wedding invitations. We all know how that turned out (RIP Susan Ross).
  • Breaking up is difficult. You either have to go all-in and end a relationship like ripping off a band aid, or like trying to push over a coke machine, rock it back and forth a few times.
  • Honesty is always best. Whether it be about your occupation, how bald you are, your living situation, whether you accidentally dropped your partner’s toothbrush in the toilet, yada, yada, yada. yada

These ere just a few of the takeaways from the disastrous love lives of our favorite New York comedian and his three closest friends. While they might not be the best role models in terms of striving for healthy relationships, their trials and tribulations are certainly relatable nearly 30 years later.

Why I’m a Boy Band Addict, Part 2

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

Since the dawn of music there have been great rivalries – but perhaps none greater than the competition between two groups born from the same money-making blueprint, by the same man. That man was Lou Pearlman and the two bands were *NSYNC and the Backstreet Boys.

The Backstreet Boys were the first group that Perlman formulated, and 20-something year old me isn’t afraid to say that the boys paved a lot of the way for *NSYNC. Eight-year-old me would have insisted that *NSYNC was clearly the better band — but over the last ten years, I’ve had quite the change of heart.

Back in my day there was no question –- you were either team *NSYNC or team Backstreet (or, like some independent party, a 98 degrees fan) and choosing your allegiance was a serious decision. I was staunchly team *NSYNC as my future husband Justin Timberlake was a member and I never once questioned my loyalty to his boy band. That was… until I heard As Long As You Love Me.

On the way to dinner one evening, the radio was blasting in my mother’s car when an upbeat guitar riff started to play and the sounds of a teenage boy filled my ears. By the time the chorus began I could hear luscious harmonies and my heart sank.

The song was catchy (albeit slightly naive sounding) but there was one major problem: this group was not *NSYNC! The DJ confirmed those heavenly voices that blended so well together belonged to none other than *NSYNC’s arch nemesis… the Backstreet Boys! Though I tried to resist, I slowly started to warm up to BSB.

No one could have predicted the smash success of BSB’s leading single from their second U.S. (third international) release, Millennium. I Want it that Way was so popular even my mother knew the lyrics! The track was an unstoppable force on radio and my dance school even decided to create a routine to the album’s next single, Larger than Life.

The boys pushed through a gruesome court case against one-time manager Pearlman and came out on the other side with an album that remains my favorite BSB album to date – an album aptly titled Black and Blue. I credit this album (and my mom who bought for Christmas that year) with solidifying my status as a BSB-fanatic. But there was more heartache to come for BSB and their fans…

Armed with a husky voice and a bad boy attitude, AJ McLean will admit to his fair share of sex, drugs and rock and roll. He had arms full of tattoos and had the edgiest sounding voice of any of the boys, but his tough exterior was a mere mask for the inner turmoil he kept hidden from the public.

While filming the music video for fan-favorite The Call, McLean stated he used cocaine for the first time. But the dabbling did not stop there and soon, his life was spiraling out of control, threatening the future of the band.

On a stop in Boston, the BSB were expected to show up to a little league game. Hungover and uninterested, McLean refused to take part in the outing. Eldest BSB member, Kevin Richardson, infuriated with McLean’s carelessness broke down his bandmate’s door. McLean called his mother and manager announcing he wanted out of the band. His family and friends had other plans, and McLean was instead admitted into a treatment facility to begin to fight his demons.

The BSB released a greatest hits album before taking the longest break of their collective career. Fans and critics were markedly split regarding BSB’s 2005 “come back” album, Never Gone. The new album saw a departure from the band’s dance-pop fare and leaned more towards adult contemporary. Never Gone would also become the last BSB album featuring original member Richardson until his return in 2012.

In 2007 I was a college freshman with few friends besides the ones I left behind in my hometown. As ever, I found solace in the music I love.

That year, the BSB released their first album without Richardson. Inconsolable- and Unbreakable in its entirety remained on repeat in my dorm room (although my always-drunk roommates never complained). The only thing better than a new album was of course a tour to promote said album and in 2008, I went my to very first BSB concert. I have seen the boys six times in as many years and celebrated Richardson’s glorious return during the last two.

2015 gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at the recording of BSB’s eighth studio album and a glimpse into the early days of the band dominated by sleep-deprivation and endless touring thanks to the documentary, Backstreet Boys: Show ‘Em What You’re Made Of. My sister and friend jumped at the chance to watch the film in theaters and sang, laughed and even cried with about 20 other BSB fans (and got judgmental looks from the guy that collects the tickets…whatever, dude).

Thankfully, the boys have no intentions of stopping after more than 20 years together; they’ve got a new record slated for release sometime this year!

Thank you Kevin, Howie, Brian, AJ and Nick. All of your time spent keeps us… (fangirls)… alive…

Why I’m a Boy Band Addict, Part 1

Author: Kerrin Frappier, Entertainment

Ah yes, the specific sub-genre of pop music so hated and loved by so many: boy bands.

I’m a 27-year-old with a Bachelor’s degree and a job in my chosen field, but I’ve still got a thing for guys who sing songs about love while gesturing toward their hearts — you know the move I’m talking about, and I’m betting you just pictured it too. After nearly 19 years as a massive pop fan, I’m resigned to the fact that I am, and probably always will be, a boy band addict.

The appeal for me is simply undeniable. Their marketing is brilliant, their songs are always so darn catchy and it’s fun! I guarantee if you bust out a boy band track it will have you dancing before the first chorus comes around. Truth be told, I’ve had a love affair with multiple boy bands over the years — Backstreet Boys, New Kids on the Block, 5ive, Westlife and One Direction (I’m not ashamed to admit it, that concert was super fun) to name a few. I’ve even been known to listen to The Wanted, 98 Degrees and O-Town.

I wasn’t always this way though, I had a life before boy bands… a life before my first headlong dive into bubblegum pop… a life before *NSYNC…

Okay, so I didn’t have much of a life. I was eight! The year was 1998 and boy bands were on the rise again after grunge had invaded the airwaves a few years prior. I for one was vehemently against boy band pop… at least for a little while. I grew up listening to my mother’s music in the car. Lady powerhouses like Mariah Carey, Gloria Estefan, Whitney Houston and my idol Celine Dion filled up the soundtrack of my life.

Girls in my elementary school were already fangirling over boy bands but I just didn’t get it. I didn’t want to be into what everyone else was going crazy for. So what if they were good looking boys?! So what if they could dance?! I wanted to be different! I was not going to like something just because it was gaining popularity! And then it happened…

It seems strange that one of the strongest childhood memories I can recall involves a band. But I think this is the exact point where I began to appreciate other styles of music beyond what my mom listened to. It was February vacation and my then 13-year-old cousin was sleeping over at my house. My cousin turned around from her place in the front seat of the car and took out a CD. She asked me if I knew the band pictured on the front and of course I didn’t. The band was called *NSYNC and within ten minutes, she made sure I knew each of the members by name.

Chris was the one with the messy hair hanging down in front of his face, Joey had a goatee and mustache. JC had brown, spiky hair and Justin and Lance were both blonde. As soon as we went to my room and set up the sleeping arrangements for the night we popped *NSYNC’s album into my boom box (there I go again, making myself feel old).

From the very first line of Tearin’ Up My Heart I was hooked! To make matters worse, my eight-year-old heart had been captured by one blue eyed, frosted haired guy — Justin Timberlake.

I watched the Disney Channel concert special, memorized the choreography from I Want You Back and Tearin’ Up My Heart and I even liked to pretend Justin Timberlake was singing God Must Have Spent A Little More Time On You just to me.

*NSYNC’s sophomore album No Strings Attached smashed CD sale records but also brought up unpleasant feelings against former boy band mastermind, Lou Pearlman. When you hear your favorite boy bands (yup, that’s more than one) have been cheated out of hard-earned cash, the fangirl claws will come out! Pearlman threatened the band members with stripping them of their name, and fans came out in droves to support them.

*NSYNC got the last laugh as their second album gave them the chance to defy the manager who sought to ruin them and poke a little fun at him as well (get it? Because they cut ties with him… and they won’t be his puppets?) all while selling millions of albums in the first week. I wore the No Strings Attached album out-so much so that I had to get a replacement for Christmas that year!

On their third studio album, Celebrity, Justin Timberlake took the lead for a whole song, a track entitled Gone and perhaps this should have been a sign of things to come. Breakout single Pop promised fans that the band wasn’t going anywhere and anyone who didn’t like their brand of music was jealous…but it wasn’t meant to last. Chris, Lance, JC, Joey and Justin went on a break and although fans assumed it was in preparation for a new album after a successful tour, those rumored plans never came to fruition.

In August 2013, *NSYNC reformed as part of the opening medley performed by Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award recipient and band mate Justin Timberlake on the occasion of the MTV Video Music Awards. After a few moments of the 15-minute set, the eight- year-old who first fell in love with pop music was back and squealing louder than ever!

Even after 14 years, I can still listen to *NSYNC’s albums and not feel one bit badly that I’m a (sometimes) grown-up who jams out to the bubblegum music that made up her childhood. After all this time I still know all the words and can vividly picture myself rocking out in my mom’s green Oldsmobile or watching Disney Channel for a second’s glance at the guy who is still the man of my dreams.

So here’s to my first favorite band and my first favorite boy band and the band that started this unending obsession with slick dance moves and multi-part harmonies. “Do Your Thing.”

The Ones With Relationship Advice: 10 Friends Episodes with Dating Tips for Millennials

Author: Brett Pucino, The Dating Game

Even though a good chunk of millennials were adolescents when Friends debuted in 1994, it’s a show that holds a special place in millennial hearts and minds. As someone who grew up within Manhattan’s sphere of influence, I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I fantasized that’s what Twentysomething life would be like.

As I rewatched the series as an actual Twentysomething, I realized that it’s packed with all types of advice for life. Here are ten episodes (one from each season) containing dating advice which millennials can relate to.

Season 1, Episode 7: The One With the Blackout
In this episode, Ross finally commits to telling Rachel how he feels about her. Unfortunately, thanks to a chance circumstance, Rachel meets and hooks up with an attractive foreigner named Paolo.

The advice? Don’t wait to express your feelings, or you might end up having to watch the person you have feelings for be with someone else.

Season 2, Episode 7: The One Where Ross Finds Out
This is the episode in which Rachel gets drunk and leaves a voicemail on Ross’ answering machine, confessing she still loves him. Ross eventually hears the message—and then faces the choice between getting back together with his ex or moving on with his new girlfriend, Julie.

The advice? There are exes, and then there is your Ross/Rachel ex. The ex who will always have a small space in your heart, whether you like it or not. If you just got out of that type of relationship, take a break from dating. There’s a good chance that your rebound relationship will burst into flames.

Season 3, Episode 12: The One With All the Jealousy
In this episode, Ross gets jealous because he believes one of Rachel’s new coworkers is flirting with her. He assumes something romantic may be going on between them.

The advice? The reality of today’s young professional is long hours. We typically spend more time with our work family than our real family. There are bound to be attractive people amongst your significant other’s coworkers. If you don’t trust your S/O with a particular colleague, this thinking may be a sign you are insecure in your relationship.

Season 4, Episode 7: The One Where Chandler Crosses the Line
Joey is dating a girl who Chandler falls in love with. He tries to deny it by avoiding her, but he eventually ends up kissing her.

The advice? The moment a girl or guy starts dating your best friend, your brain should consider that person a relative. Even if you’re highly attracted to said person, is it really worth a friendship?

Season 5, Episode 5: The One With the Kips
In this episode, Ross’ new wife Emily tells him she is willing to give their marriage a second shot, but with a catch: he can never talk to Rachel again.

The advice? This is a no-brainer if we’re talking about ditching a regular ex. It’s a different story when your ex is in your inner circle of friends. I think having to choose between your friends and your significant other is always a recipe for unhappiness.

Season 6, Episode 2: The One Where Ross Hugs Rachel
This episode is a doozy. There are two plots going on. One plot involves the fact that Ross has to tell Rachel they’re still married after their wild night in Vegas. The other revolves around Chandler moving in with Monica, and Rachel mistakenly assumes she will be living with them.

The advice? Well, there really is no advice on the Vegas situation. The moving scenario, on the other hand, is an inevitable thing if you live with roommates long enough. If I found myself in this situation, I’d be proactive and let my roommates know I’m looking for a place, and that I am amazingly happy for both of them.

Season 7, Episode 23: The One With Chandler and Monica’s Wedding
This iconic episode is the first of the two-part season seven finale. In this episode, Chandler freaks out in true Chandler fashion regarding marital commitment.

The advice? For millennials getting ready to tie the knot, why not have a talk about these types of feelings? It’s only natural that you both have them, and when you talk about them openly, they dissipate. Otherwise, they fester and can kill your relationship.

Season 8, Episode 16: The One Where Joey Tells Rachel
In this episode, Joey’s growing romantic feelings for Rachel are finally brought out into the open.

The advice? I’ve never been comfortable with this plot line. Probably because I am 100% against friend-hopping. My advice here is the same as I gave relating to The One Where Chandler Crosses The Line: is it really worth jeopardizing a friendship when there are millions of other fish in the sea?

Season 9, Episode 21: The One With the Fertility Test
Ross realizes he has a crush on Charlie, who happens to be Joey’s girlfriend.

The advice? Ross eventually dates Charlie after Joey realizes that Charlie has much more in common with Ross. This type of neat resolution rarely happens in the real world. Just avoid these types of situations.

Season 10, Episode 16: The One With the Going Away Party
I was going to write about the final episode, but it is still too much of an emotional roller coaster. In this penultimate episode, Rachel says goodbye to each of the friends at her going away party — except Ross. Ross is obviously upset, and he goes to tell Rachel how he feels.

The advice? If you have a significant other whom you’ve been on-and-off again with for a significant amount of time, there will come a point when you’re either all-in or all-out. Millennial couples have to deal with similar realities, such as job relocation opportunities, on a daily basis. It’s these moments that test our love for our significant others and ultimately show us whether or not we are meant for marriage.

What are your favorite relationship-based “Friends” episodes? Are they not on the list? Let’s discuss them in the comments below or on Twitter! (@BPucino)