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Series / Strangers with Candy

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"I'm moist like a snack cake down there!"

Strangers With Candy was a darkly comic sitcom that ran from 1999 to 2000 on Comedy Central and created by comedians Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert.

Jerri Blank, a "46-year-old boozer, user, and loser", ran away from home when she was young and spent thirty-two years doing things we'd really, really rather not hear about, no matter how eager she is to tell us about that donkey show in Tijuana. After spending time in the slammer for stealing a TV, Jerri decides to abandon her life of debauchery and go back to exactly where she left off- as a freshman at Flatpoint High.

Of course, seeing as Strangers With Candy is based entirely on Spoof Aesops, Jerri's intentions of leaving her twisted, drug-addled past behind her never come to fruition. In her own words: "Oh, I'm still doin' the wrong things, but at least I'm doing them the right way." This mockery of after-school specials focuses less on the students and more on the adults concerned with nothing but their own selfish needs.

Jerri was based on Florrie Fisher, and many of Jerri's stories about her past are taken directly from Fisher's film The Trip Back, the inspiration for Strangers With Candy. Some comparisons here.

Sample plot: In the first episode, Jerri attempts to befriend a popular girl by supplying her with homemade drugs. The popular girl winds up in a coma, and Jerri spends much of the episode somewhat in guilt. When the girl dies, it seems as though Jerri will finally own up to what she has done — but Jerri throws a memorial party instead, gaining the popularity she's wanted all along.

Oh, and every episode ends with some kind of a dance sequence.

The show starred creators Stephen Colbert (Chuck Noblet), Paul Dinello (Geoffrey Jellineck), and Amy Sedaris (Jerri Blank). (Fourth co-creator Mitch Rouse appeared on the show only once.) It lasted for three seasons on Comedy Central, from 1999 to 2000, and was briefly revived for a movie in 2006.

Provides examples of:

  • Alpha Bitch: Fran from the finale.
  • Animated Credits Opening
  • Anything That Moves: Jerri is frequently being shown as being attracted to men and women, although she rarely does much about the latter. Not to mention her history in Tijuana with Ramone the Donkey.
  • Author Catchphrase: "Think about it - I haven't."
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Chuck and Geoffrey in Hit and Run.
  • Big "NO!": Orlando at the mall when Jerri leaves him to return to the cult. Followed by her flatly delivering a Blunt "Yes" to the camera as she walks away and the episode ends.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: In the last episode, two property developers show up at Flatpoint High and repeatedly deny that they're tearing it down and building a strip mall, even as classrooms are demolished and food outlets built in their place. At the end of the episode, the teachers and students go on a rampage of destruction and burn down the school, with one teacher gloating "They'll never turn it into a strip mall now!" The Reality Subtext: the property developers were based on two Comedy Central network execs. Strangers With Candy was being cancelled, and replaced with a show called Strip Mall (which also didn't last long).
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Jerri addresses the camera at the beginning of the episode, and sometimes mid-show ("Let's read it now"). Winona Ryder also does it when she delivers the aesop in the finale.
  • Catchphrase:
    • "I've got somethin' t' say!"
    • "But I'll be the laughingstock of Flatpoint Hiiiigh!"
    • To a lesser extent, "Where have I heard those words before?" and "I guess we'll never know."
    • Noblet's "Eyes to the back of the room!"
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Episode "The Virgin Jerri".
  • Comically Missing the Point: Often by many characters.
  • Dance Party Ending: Every single episode.
  • Different in Every Episode: The Flatpoint High sign, which may show a message pertaining to the episode's plot, or to its impending "moral."
  • Do Wrong, Right: "Oh, I'm still making the wrong decisions, but I'm doing them the right way."
  • Dysfunction Junction: Flatpoint High has apathetic or incompetent teachers, and insane students...but that's the show's signature humor.
  • Dysfunctional Family: The Blanks, obviously. Jerri is an ex-prostitute and drug addict who is known for her (often, unintentionally) racist remarks, which she seems to have inherited from her father Guy (who owns Klan robes, once called Principal Blackman "an ugly word", and for his funeral, requested "no darkies" to attend). Her stepmother Sara hates her, favors her son Derrick is openly racist, and is having an affair with the meat man. Jerri's half-brother Derrick is an untalented Dumb Jock who believes that he is all that.
  • Eaten Alive: Jerri's daddy in "The Goodbye Guy."
  • Egg Sitting: Spoofed in "A Burden's Burden," in which Jerri and Tammi have to care for a real baby for a school assignment.
  • Egopolis: Flatpoint High is a high school rather than a city, but count the sheer number of images of Principal Blackman in the building, not even counting the loudspeakers coming out of posters of him with flashing eyes.
    • Played up in the two-part "The Blank Stare", in order to indulge in some Hypocritical Humor as Blackman rales about the dangers of cult leaders and how they indoctrinate impressionable minds
  • End-of-Series Awareness: The final episode ends with the school board deciding to tear down the high school and replace it with a strip mall, a meta joke on the new series that Comedy Central was replacing the show with. In the end, the characters decide to violently destroy the high school and become drifters.
  • Fantastic Drug: Glint. You just spread it... on your lips.
  • Fantastic Racism: Against new people to the school
  • Fat Suit: Amy Sedaris wears padding around her middle. It's not as extreme as some examples of the trope, but she appears noticeably thicker than she normally is.
  • Goofy Suit: The high school Mascot, the Concrete Donkey, is seen several times, and is dragged across the stage and left injured following the crowning of the homecoming queen in "Jerri Is Only Skin Deep."
  • High School: The main setting is Flatpoint High, after all.
  • High-School Dance: The plot of "Bogie Nights."
  • Hypocritical Humor: Exaggerated is a staple of the show. Examples include Principal Blackman commanding students to avoid falling in with a cult from a giant portrait with flashing eyes. Also, Noblet and Jellineck, who are having a gay affair, frequently toss around anti-gay slurs. So does omnisexual Jerri.
    • On a similar note: in the movie, Megawatti asks Jerri if she's thinking about entering the science fair, to which Jerri replies, "Nah, I'm thinkin' about pussy. The science fair's for queers."
  • If It Was Funny the First Time...: Dialogue shared with Wigfield:
    • "You can't unfry things."
    • "Think about it - I haven't." (See also Author Catchphrase.)
    • "It was an eye." "It was a mouth." "Look, all I know is that when I tried to feed him there it would wink at me."
  • Jerkass: Everyone gets a opportunity to be one at least once per episode. Jerri herself most often comes across as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold
  • Large Ham: Many of the characters, and moreso most of the faculty, but especially Principal Blackman.
    • "And by audacity I mean huuubris, overweeeening priiiide!"
  • Meaningful Name: Onyx Blackman.
    • Stew the meat-man, Seamus the son of the closeted homosexual... Cassie Pines the grief counselor was meant to evoke "casket" and "pine box." Even Jerri Blank is sort of a retroactive example — originally "Blank" was just the placeholder while they tried to figure out what her name should be, but they grew attached to it, deciding it was "just ugly enough," and it works in light of Jerri's unrelenting ignorance, apathy and naivete, and for double-meaning episode titles like "The Blank Page" and "Behind Blank Eyes." She's also one of the many white students cast as black characters in the school play whose last name suggests her whiteness.
  • The Münchausen: Jerri.
  • Never Learned to Read: Jerri is revealed to be illiterate while trying out for the cheerleading squad in "The Blank Page."
  • Once an Episode: "I GOT SUMPIN' TA SAYY!!" and a Dance Party Ending.
    • Several episodes in the first season feature Jerri keeping an unusual pet on the top shelf of her locker, and the pet meeting an unfortunate death at the episode's end.
  • Pass the Popcorn: As Jerri witnesses her father's death, she yells "Daddyyyyyyy!" and takes a bite of her hotdog.
  • Playing a Tree: When the school put on the play A Raisin in the Sun, the three lead roles were given to the only white people in the drama club. All of the remaining students, who were black, were given roles as trees.
  • Porn Stache: In "Yes You Can't," Noblet has a prominent fake moustache to go with his "secret" dream of being a rock star. Hilariously, when he performs Kansas' "Carry On Wayward Son" in the Dance Party Ending, he rips off the moustache as if it's the badass thing to do.
  • Public Service Announcement: The episode about the fake marriages ends with one of these featuring Bebe Neuwirth: "Sadly, 1/2 of all marriages will end in divorce. That's 75%! The other 25% end in drunk driving accidents. So don't get married and then drink and drive."
  • Pun-Based Title: Several episode titles play on Jerri's last name: "Behind Blank Eyes," "The Blank Page," and "The Blank Stare."
    • "Bogie Nights" takes its title from the theme of the school dance, a play on "Boogie Nights" and the golf term "bogey."
    • Also "The Virgin Jerri," "The Goodbye Guy," and "Jerri's Burning Issue."
  • Punny Name: Dr. Zorders in "Jerri's Burning Issue."
  • Race Lift: Played for Laughs. School production of "A Raisin in the Sun" casts only white people as main characters.
  • Replaced the Theme Tune
  • Sadist Show
  • Science Fair: The plot of The Movie.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Noblet and Jellineck in "There Once Was A Blank From Nantucket".
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: Very much on the silly end of the scale.
  • Sorry, I Left the BGM On: Used throughout one episode in different places with different parts of a song with unlikely yet relevant lyrics ("You are large and quite obese, fat fat fat fat FAT FAT FAT, OINK OINK OINK OI-"), including a particularly heinous example where it mentions the exact actions of the characters in the room by name. At one point Jerri sticks a fork into the speaker, commenting "I can't believe that's the number one song!"
  • Spoof Aesop: Once an Episode, Jerri or another character delivers a twisted, often amoral lesson.
  • Sucky School: Particularly evident in The Movie, in which the school board threatens to defund the school on the basis of its terrible performance.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "What ever happened to Daisy?" "No one really knows, but I know where she wasn't buried: under this shoe store!"
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: In The Movie Orlando is no where to be found. Instead, we have Megawatti, who is exactly like Orlando. Word of God says that Orlando Pabotoy, who played him in the series, had so visibly aged in the interim he could no longer believably play a high school student.
  • Teen Drama: A... no, the parody! Second only to Clone High.
  • Trash the Set: The final episode.
  • Two-Teacher School - Other than Noblet, Jellineck, and Principal Blackman, the only other faculty include a gym teacher, a secretary, and a counselor (played by Janeane Garofalo) who shows up in one episode and the Star Studded Finale.
    • "I've got 3,000 students and nearly a dozen teachers, surely one of them can prove to be exceptional."
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Everyone, but Jerri most of all.
    • Colbert described the process of writing the show as taking basic morality plays and having everyone involved make "the wrongest choice possible."
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The creators described the show as their imagining of what would happen if Florrie Fisher went back to high school.
  • Wicked Stepmother: Sara