You made nearly 100 separate nominations for our TV Roundtable Readers’ Choice award, but we’ve narrowed it down to these 10. Since there were so many picks, we had the luxury of the following: We cut any episode where we’ll get to it eventually in a currently existing TV Club Classic series. (So goodbye to The Simpsons and South Park.) We cut any episode where we know we’ll cover that show at some point in the very near future of TV Club Classic. (So goodbye to Home Movies and Freaks And Geeks.) And then we just made some very, very hard cuts to get down to these 10, which represent a broad variety of TV genres and a good deal of the medium’s history (well, since 1990 or so).
Your nominees are…
Everybody Hates Chris, “Everybody Hates Drew” (season 1, episode 19; originally aired 4/20/2006): Everybody Hates Chris took as one of its central conceits that Chris’ slightly younger brother, Drew, hit puberty before his older brother, making him physically superior to Chris. It was an often hilarious idea, and the series made much of Chris’ jealousy of his brother in this episode.
Friday Night Lights, “I Think We Should Have Sex” (season 1, episode 17; originally aired 2/21/2007): Surprisingly, this series hasn’t dealt much with losing one’s virginity, an adolescent rite of passage. Also surprisingly, TV Club has never covered the first season of this series. In this episode, young couple Julie Taylor and Matt Saracen consider having sex… until her parents find out.
The Golden Girls, “On Golden Girls” (season 1, episode 6; originally aired 10/26/1985): We told you if you could come up with a Golden Girls episode, we’d be very impressed… and then you did. In this one, Blanche spends time with her 14-year-old grandson, who’s disruptive and unruly, and reminds her of her own sadness connected to her children. Sounds like a day brightener!
Happy Days, “Richie’s Cup Runneth Over” (season 1, episode 3; originally aired 1/29/1974): Teenagers experimenting with drugs and alcohol is another classic adolescent theme we didn’t really touch on in this series, so we were thrilled to see one of you nominate this episode, from when the series was a somewhat thoughtful reflection on being young, in which Richie gets drunk at a party.
Hey Arnold, “Helga On The Couch” (season 4, episode 9; originally aired 12/4/1999): On this series, Helga was often the most difficult character for the other characters to get along with, and this episode sent her to a psychiatrist, who learned more about her home life and other issues. The kids on the show are a bit young to be teenagers, but there are definite adolescent themes here.
King Of The Hill, “I Don’t Want To Wait For Our Lives To Be Over…” (season 5, episode 3; originally aired 11/12/2000): Bobby Hill’s best friend Joseph comes home from a trip… and he’s six inches taller and well into puberty. It’s a warm, funny look at how weird it can be when one of your friends starts the voyage into adulthood and you’re left behind.
Malcolm In The Middle, “Bowling” (season 2, episode 20; originally aired 4/1/2001): This one has a bit to do with adolescence—in that Malcolm and his older brother, Reese, are adolescents—but we mostly picked it because it’s so cool. Find out what happens in two alternate timelines, as Malcolm and his brothers go bowling with his mom in one and his dad in the other. Plus, Bryan Cranston!
Moral Orel, “Nature” (season 2, episodes 19 and 20; originally aired 7/9 and 7/16/2007): Another major part of adolescence is realizing your parents are human beings with hopes and frustrations and failed dreams—just like you. This Moral Orel two-parter makes that a harrowing ordeal, as Orel heads into the forest with his father on a hunting trip and finds himself in a dangerous situation.
The O.C., “The Heartbreak” (season 1, episode 19; originally aired 2/14/2004): Seth’s chosen the girl he wants to be with, and the two decide to take the plunge and sleep together in this one, but, like most of us, Seth has no idea what he’s doing, and everything ends up less exciting than he’d hoped. He also has the “talk” with his dad, another one of those rites of passage we have yet to touch on.
Roseanne, “Brain Dead Poet’s Society” (season 2, episode 10; originally aired 11/28/1989): Middle child Darlene’s growth from generic cute kid to troubled adolescent to capable adult is one of the great character arcs in American television history, and this episode—written by Joss Whedon!—portrays one of its earliest moments, as Darlene is forced to be honest about her emotions.
Vote below! And make your case for your pick in comments! The winner will be announced Thursday!