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

Smile of the Week: Uptown Funk from Alex Boye and the Dancing Grannies
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/rjRlJvOxIY0?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Uptown Funk," from Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, is covered in a sensational new video from longtime Mormon Tabernacle Choir member Alex Boyé and back-up performers ranging in age from 65-92.

posted 9:16:46am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Like Sunday, Like Rain with Debra Messing and Leighton Meester
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/B28IHhaQXCE?rel=0" frameborder="0"]

posted 8:00:29am Feb. 27, 2015 | read full post »

List: The Best Movie Con Games and Grifters
In honor of this week's release of "Focus," here are some of my favorite movies about con games and grifters. Remember that "con" comes from "confidence." A con man (or woman) makes you believe in them and have confidence in their schemes. And cons make great movies. If you haven't seen these, crank

posted 3:45:21pm Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Trailer: Love & Mercy with Paul Dano and John Cusack as Brian Wilson
[iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/VUhFpFQeilM?rel=0" frameborder="0"] "Love & Mercy" tells the story of Brian Wilson, the brilliant but troubled member of the Beach Boys.

posted 8:14:21am Feb. 26, 2015 | read full post »

Contest: Win an Insurgent T-Shirt
Getting ready for the second film in the "Divergent" series? Not sure you have just the right thing to wear? I'm here to solve your problem! I have an "Insurgent" t-shirt (Size L) to give away!

posted 3:55:04pm Feb. 25, 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.