That Zack Morris Swagger

1989It was the late ’80s. Every guy was trying to affect the Don Johnson look, every girl had hair bigger than life, and I was dealing with some serious acne and an identity crisis of my own. As a boy coming of age at the end of that glorious decade it was easy to find role models. They were everywhere: from the graffitied billboards, to the movie stars, to pretty much everyone I came in contact with.

But the ones who were always there for me were those on the small screen, where I could find them once a week when I needed them. Stars from shows like Who’s the Boss, Family Ties, and The Cosby Show showed me exactly what I needed to do, how I should behave, and what advice to follow so I could be a well-rounded human being. And they all did it in just a half hour every week.

The best part was that they weren’t real, but they were at the same time. I could imagine how it would be if I was friends with them, yet I never had to deal with their rejection. I could look up to them, but also judge them from afar, because they were royalty in a kingdom I would never visit.

savedcastMy favorite show back then was Saved By the Bell. It was so overwrought with stock characters and predictable storylines, but it was fun.. Saved By the Bell had it all:

  • The Jock
  • The Cheerleader
  • The Nerd
  • The Fashionista (who doubled as the token black character)
  • The Student Body President
  • Zack Morris

I really wanted to be Zack Morris (and not just because of his bitchin’ cell phone either). He could stop time at any point and offer commentary on his fellow characters. He had amazing blonde hair. He was the cool kid without being too cool, because he made a ton of mistakes and was forced to grow as a character in order to fix them. And the best thing about Zack Morris was the glint in his eye when he had just come up with one of his dastardly plans.

Zack was the king of the swagger, and to a pubescent boy in the late ’80s it was easy to try and imitate that. There was nothing Zack couldn’t do, no lengths to which Zack wouldn’t go, in order to get what he wanted. And yet he was still likeable. Yet he still had a group of friends who were loyal to him even after he had humiliated each and everyone of them at some point. He was redeemable because he was real, because his swagger didn’t make him a villain.

It made him one of us.




Scandal-season-3-photo-kerry-washington-olivia-pope-Columbus-Short-Harrison-Wright1“We’re gladiators… in suits.”

Okay, I made it this far, I guess it’s okay to go all the way. My name is Sam. And I’m addicted to Scandal.

Now, before you judge me let me tell you the whole story. For years I declared the show too frivolous for me to pursue, while I watched other programs more geared to using my brain, shows like Fringe and Elementary. But somehow, written across the margins when I was watching other programs on Netflix, or on commercial teasers, I couldn’t help but still be inundated with the show I had sworn not to watch.

Then a friend of mine started watching it and dared me to give it a shot. If you don’t know me very well, let me tell you I’m a bit like Marty McFly. I’ve never met a dare I didn’t think was worth the effort to take on. So I signed into Netflix and I watched the first episode. From the outset I was hooked, like a junkie taking his first hit. That initial episode blended into the next, and before I knew it the first season was over, and I found myself arguing with the TV. “Are you serious?” I asked the oblivious characters when they made stupid mistake after stupid mistake.

6d51a5e86acb8bef9c30bcfe420dd744Yes, I know it’s all just smoke and mirrors, what passes for this decade’s nighttime soap opera, like Dynasty and Falcon’s Crest before it, but that doesn’t stop me getting invested. I marvel at the characters who look the other way when things are happening right in front of their faces, at the ones who continue their patterns of behavior that I know will lead them into trouble later in the season, and at the ones who need redemption more than anything else but who will probably never get it. I watch because I know these characters.

The characters on Scandal are people I’ve gone to school with. They’re co-workers and former bosses. They’re family members and acquaintances. They’re people I’ve been before, and people I have the possibility of being before all is said and done. They live and breathe just like people in my life. They have their own issues and problems like real people do. I can just follow the plotline better with them, and for that I’m grateful. Somehow these characters and this fictitious world has captured the zeitgeist of what the real world might truly be in the shadows, and that’s its appeal right there.

So yes, I watch in bunches, quite voraciously when I get the chance. But don’t judge me because we all have our guilty pleasures, don’t we? Well, don’t we?


We Were On a Break: Friends After 10 Years

Has it truly been 10 years?

10 years ago, to the day, my favorite television show ever, Friends, ended in grand style with a two-part finale that wrapped everything up much better than a lot of finales have before or since. Of course, being such a huge fan, I wanted several certain things to happen, and I had my fingers crossed for:

  • Rachel and Ross to end up together
  • Monica and Chandler to have their kids
  • Joey to not be left behind
  • Closure on this part of their lives
  • Hope for good things to happen in their future

attachment-4669In fact, 10 years later I imagine Ross and Rachel have two more beautiful children, and Ben is a good big brother to them all, even though he’s in college in Rhode Island so he doesn’t see them nearly as much as he would wish. Joey’s attempt at restarting his acting career gave him a chance to reconnect with his sister and his nephew in Los Angeles, then he lands an amazing part in a new sitcom as the headmaster of a school for young boys. The show is still a huge international hit. Monica and Chandler raised the twins well, and then 3 years after their birth Monica got pregnant despite the odds and ironically had another set of twins they called Joey and Phoebe.

Their kids are good friends with Rachel and Ross’s kids. In fact, their parents joked that they might end up living across the hall from each other in New York City someday. Continue reading “We Were On a Break: Friends After 10 Years”

Sam’s Friday Top 5: “Friends” Quotes

I’ve been in a “Friends” mood lately, what with my analysis of the friend attraction rate, my ode to “Friends,” the television show, in my latest Water Cooler Musings, and my watching of the first half of the final season’s episodes in the past week. So I thought: what better way to end off my week than to share my top five quotes from the show? So, here they are…

5. From Joey

“It’s a moo point. You know, a cow’s opinion. It doesn’t matter. It’s moo.”

4. From Phoebe (upon hearing Rachel call her Phebes)

“That’s short for Phoebe? I thought that was just what we called each other.”

3. From Chandler (to Joey, who has stolen his chair)

“You will notice that I am fully dressed. I, in turn, have noticed that you are not. So, in the words of A.A. Milne, ‘Get out of my chair, dillhole!'”

2. From Phoebe (upon seeing Monica dressed provocatively)

“I almost wore MY threadbare robe that barely contains MY breasts.”

1. From Ross (upon finding out the hot girl at his job has a disgusting apartment)

“You know how at the end of the day you throw your jacket over a chair? …Well, at her place, instead of a jacket, it’s a pile of garbage. And instead of a chair, it’s a pile of garbage. And instead of the end of the day, it’s the end of time, and garbage is all that has survived.”


Bonus quotes (because I can):

“We were on a break!” (from Ross)

“They don’t know that we know they know we know.” (from Phoebe)

“MY SANDWICH!” (from Ross)

Sam’s Friday Top 5 Archive

Follow That Guy!

Isn’t it funny how in so many TV shows, when the main character wants to chase a suspicious individual in a cab, the cabbie never wonders what’s going on? Just tip the guy a hundred bucks and he asks no questions. Have you ever thought about doing that in real life. I mean, not really follow someone, but see if a cabbie would be game for it for a couple extra bucks.

Or how about when the lead actor in a series breaks several laws, but he’s friends with the sheriff so he gets off? And when it’s discovered by someone else the sheriff always gets in trouble, but the lead actor rides off into the sunset with no repercussions.

Then, there’s the two people who seem to hate each other at the beginning of the show, but within an hour they are madly in love. Amazingly, though, by the very next episode the one character has moved on and the other one is nowhere to be found. In fact, if you asked about her, I’m sure he would tell you he has no idea who you mean. People in TV shows have a surprisingly short memory.

And yet as adults we make fun of cartoon characters who die in one episode and are alive again by the next. Or the imaginary friends our kids make up who have to have their own seat in the car. We constantly suspend our beliefs, but our kids can’t?

It’s all about imagination. We all have one. Some of us more than others. And we use those to make things fit that don’t really fit, in TV shows, in movies, and in real life. That’s why we delude ourselves into thinking someone is right for you when everyone else knows they aren’t. It’s also why we take so long to admit to ourselves our issues.

Imagine if we didn’t allow ourselves to believe those things, though. We wouldn’t have any fun. We would constantly be worried and stressed out about the world and our place in it. We would be self-conscious all the time, so what’s the harm in a little self-delusion?

So, next time that cabbie follows someone without question, don’t feel bad about believing it. I’m sure they will end up somewhere interesting in the end.


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