Room 222 was a comedy-drama series created by James L. Brooks and airing on ABC from 196974, focusing on life at a typical American High School in Los Angeles and set primarily in the American history class taught in the eponymous Room 222 by African-American teacher Pete Dixon (Lloyd Haynes).
Many serious topics facing teen-agers were addressed, some relevant today: bullying, depression, suicide, teen pregnancy, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, cheating, teacher-student relationships and so forth. Despite this, most episodes had at least one lighter-hearted subplot to provide balance.
In addition to being the first major success for Brooks (who would go on to develop many popular TV shows and films), and one of the first successful series set at a high school to appeal directly to teenagers, Room 222 is best remembered today for two things:
- Karen Valentine, who starred as Dixon's student teacher (and later English teacher) Alice Johnson and became a major heartthrob of the era.
- Being part of ABC's memorable Friday night lineup that also included The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, The Odd Couple and Love, American Style.
This series features examples of:
- Angry Black Man: Jason Allen, the deep-voiced, scowling kid who sits in the back of Mr. Dixon's class.
- Consummate Liar: In the Season 1 episode "The New Boy," a new student named Dennis Joplin transfers to Whitman High, upon which he establishes himself as a former star basketball player who acted out, got bad grades, and was expelled from his old school due to his unhappy family life. He also promises to buy tickets to the upcoming Rolling Stones concert for anyone who wants them, as his dad and Mick Jagger's dad were supposedly fought together in the Second World War. Turns out he can't play a lick of basketball, has a happy family life, has no way of procuring the Stones tickets as they're all sold out, and his dad hasn't even heard of Mick Jagger. His name might not even be Dennis, as Principal Kaufman tells Mr. Dixon that he had used the name Fred while at his previous school. Needless to say, Richie and the gang are pretty upset when Dennis fesses up, after initially being called out on his lies by Mr. Dixon.
- Sad Clown: The episode "Funny Boy" introduces us to Harvey Butcher, an overweight kid who's always on always cracking wise in and out of class. Eventually, it's revealed that he's not a very happy person inside he uses his knack for humor to cover up his insecurities over his weight, and his unhappiness at not being too popular with the girls.
- Very Special Episode: A possible Ur-Example of the trope; as mentioned above, the show dealt with a lot of hot-button issues at a time when most TV shows, especially sitcoms, avoided such topics.