Movie Mom

Movie Mom


‘Awesomely Lame’ After-School Specials of the 70′s

posted by Nell Minow

I admit to lingering affection for the cheesy after-school specials of the 1970′s. They started on ABC in 1972 and were known for their flimsy production values, cardboard characters, awkward efforts at social relevance, and stilted acting. ABC owned the “after-school special” title, but it is now applied to any issue-oriented, low-budget show directed at teenagers.

The Huffington Post has a list of their so-bad-they’re-sorta-good after-school-special favorites. One thing I love about these films is the chance to see the early work of future Oscar winners like Helen Hunt and Ben Affleck (both featured in the HuffPo’s clips) and Jodie Foster. You can also see future “Sex and the City” Miranda Cynthia Nixon and “Moon’s” Sam Rockwell along with 80′s TV stars Kristy McNichol, Mayim Bialik, and Kirk Cameron. And I love the innocence and sincerity of the films in crusading against such threats and disturbances as sexism, racism, divorce, loss, disability, teen pregnancy, and many, many forms of substance abuse. Wikipedia has a full list of all of the ABC productions.



  • monkie

    Oh, the horror! LOL
    I think this may have been a memory best left repressed…

  • Wendy

    I will unabashedly admit I loved these in all their cheesy glory!

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Thanks, Wendy and Monkie! As I said, I love these movies!

  • Alicia

    Hi, Nell. I’m not sure if it was an afterschool special or simply a kids-oriented TV movie, but do you remember the awesome TV Christmas movie “JT”? It was about a lonely African-American teenage boy in the inner city who adopts a stray cat. I can’t even think about it without tearing up.

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    I do remember “J.T.,” Alicia! It was a terrific movie, starring Kevin Hooks and Theresa Merritt — and was written by Jane Wagner, who is the writing and life partner of Lily Tomlin. Thanks so much for reminding me of it.

  • Leigh

    Very disturbing. I think watching these would MAKE me do drugs… ;-)

  • http://blog.beliefnet.com/moviemom/ Nell Minow

    Leigh, these shows are trippy enough themselves so that watching them might make you feel like you already have!

Previous Posts

Christopher Orr on the Coen Brothers' "Miller's Crossing"
One of my favorite critics writes about one of his favorite movies in The Atlantic: the highlight of Christopher Orr's outstanding series on the Coen Brothers' films is his essay on Miller's Crossing. Whether you're a fan of the Coens or of this film or not, Orr's essay is a pleasure to read for it

posted 3:53:09pm Sep. 23, 2014 | read full post »

New on ABC: Black-ish
One of the best new shows of the year is Anthony Anderson's "Black-ish."  Anderson plays Andre "Dre" Johnson has a great job, a beautiful mixed-race doctor wife, Rainbow (Tracee Ellis Ross), four kids, and a colonial home in the mostly-white suburbs.  But now that he has given his children a bett

posted 10:20:50pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

The Real Story: Tracks and Robyn Davidson's Long Walk Across Australia
Mia Wasikowska plays real-life adventurer Robyn Davidson in "Tracks," based on the 1980 international best-seller about her 1700-mile walk across Australia with four camels. A thoughtful interview with Davidson in The Australian describes her: Davidson is an enigma. With her patrician air, prim

posted 3:51:08pm Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

Smile of the Week: The Dancing Traffic Light
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SB_0vRnkeOk[/youtube]

posted 8:00:15am Sep. 22, 2014 | read full post »

TrueSpark: Teaching Children and Teens About Character With Quality Films
I am honored to serve on the advisory committee for TrueSpark, which provides quality films and curricula for schools at no cost to use in teaching character. [iframe width="420" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/akEWIRfjnxk?rel=0" frameborder="0"] Parents and teachers who want to lear

posted 8:22:33pm Sep. 21, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.