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

How Did Ca Plane Pour Moi End Up in So Many Movies?
How did a 1977 song in French by the Belgian singer Plastic Bertrand become a go-to for 21st century American movie soundtracks, from big studio films to quirky indies? "Ça Plane Pour Moi" has appeared in Martin Scorsese's "The Wolf of Wall Street" and last week's "We'll Never Have Paris," from

posted 3:40:03pm Jan. 30, 2015 | read full post »

The Kitten Bowl 2015: You Can Win A Set of Kitten Cards
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/5sO4NoaF89Y?rel=0" frameborder="0"] The most-anticipated sporting event of the weekend -- in some circles anyway, is this year's Kitten Bowl, Su-Purr Sunday, February 1 (12/11c) only on Hallmark Channel! [caption id="attachment_3263

posted 12:00:45pm Jan. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Una Gran Noticia! Disney's First Latina Princess
The Disney princesses have their first Latina member! Princess Elena of Avalor will make her debut in the Disney Channel series "Sofia the First" before starring in her own series on the Disney channel.

posted 9:19:37am Jan. 30, 2015 | read full post »

Black or White
Writer-director Mike Binder sure likes to get Kevin Costner drunk. As in his uneven but impressive "The Upside of Anger," Binder once again has Costner playing a man who is a little lost and usually

posted 5:58:45pm Jan. 29, 2015 | read full post »

Black Sea
Two comments made by characters in this film summarize what it is that makes submarine stories so instantly compelling. "Outside is just dark, cold, and death," says one. "We all live together or

posted 3:51:06pm Jan. 29, 2015 | 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.