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YMMV / The Facts of Life

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  • Ass Pull: The sudden revelation that Andy Moffett was a foster kid for the sake of turning him into Beverly Ann's adopted son and moving him into the house. For almost three seasons, there was never any mention that his parents were fosters, one episode even focused on his paternal grandmother, Polly Moffett (Season 8's "Write and Wrong"), and in Down Under his trip was funded by his uncle. Suddenly, he had no real family to call his own until Beverly Ann comes along.
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  • Designated Villain: Andy in "Adventures in Baileysitting". It was Blair's job to babysit her sister and take her to a movie, but since she wanted to go to a luncheon for underclassmen, she left Jo and Natalie in charge. Then they had to leave because of a bomb threat at a community center (well, Jo had to leave to pick someone up; Natalie left because it was a good news story and she wanted the scoop) and they leave Andy in charge. This is forgetting that he's just a kid, it was Blair's responsibility to watch her sister and at least one of the girls should have stayed with her. While the former did admit to her bad decision, neither Jo nor Natalie ever admitted that they were wrong.
  • Ear Worm: "You take the good / you take the bad / you take 'em both / and then you have..."
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: George was so popular it ended up working against his character when his actor started getting much better offers.
  • Foe Yay: A good number of fans see this in Jo and Blair due to the... interesting chemistry that sometimes shows up during their fighting.
    • Common opinion seems to be that if FoL was done in modern times, Jo & Blair would be together and no one would bat an eye.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In "Baby in the House", Blair dreamily tells their former classmate's daughter a fairytale about Prince Charles leaving his then-recent marriage to Princess Diana for her. Years later, it would come out that the couple had been unfaithful to each other throughout the marriage and that early in the marriage, the former was still involved in an affair with Camilla Parker-Bowles, who eventually became his second wife.
    • In the second part of "The New Girl" as the four girls are sitting in jail, Natalie stressed about her mother's reaction to her predicament and believing she would have a heart attack and need a coronary. A little over three years later, she really would lose a parent this way, but it was her father who died rather than her mother.
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    • One episode began with Jo coming back from playing field hockey and Blair expressing skepticism towards the sport saying that the physical contact will ruin her bone structure, to which the former jokes that plastic surgery is in her future anyway. A season nine episode, "Less Than Perfect", had Blair get into a car accident due to falling asleep behind the wheel and getting a laceration on her face that will require plastic surgery to fix.
    • "Dearest Mommie" has a teenaged Natalie being given the opportunity to be a columnist for a New York newspaper and she expresses hope that it will elevate her celebrity status and one day to go a New York society party and "dance with Woody Allen". Needless to say, this comment didn't age well.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • The episode "The Secret" has Jo upset that her father's criminal record being exposed and at one point she asks Blair, who is trying to calm her down and convince her to forgive her father, if her father or one of her stepfathers had spent time in prison, to which she said no. In the season eight episode "Where's Poppa?", her real father pleaded guilty to insider trading and is likely to do prison time.
    • "The Interview Show" has Tootie expressing her wish to reunite with the girls after they're all married and with children. This is doubly so, because not only was Jo unable to reunite with them due to her commitments to the police department, but her own husband, Jeff, would die prior to it, leaving her widowed with a young daughter.
    • At the conclusion of "Double Standard", Blair and Jo decide "We just won't tell anyone", regarding Blair's friend Harrison trying to rape Jo. That's right, Jo just became a #Me Too!/#WhyIDidntReport story.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Joan Rivers infamously dubbed the cast members "The Fats of Life" following an appearance at the Emmys one year. This was attributed to having large amounts of snacks on set during frequently long breaks between video-taping.
    • In reality, Lisa Whelchell had gained a bit of weight early in the show, but nothing too out of the ordinary for a teenage girl. Mindy Cohn, on the other hand, was, incidentally, losing weight due to an interest in dance and had to be hidden under baggy clothes.
  • Idiot Plot: The Jo/Blair plot from the Down Under TV movie. The whole plot involved the girls coming into possession of a MacGuffin being chased by four men including two who are either lying about being con artists or being cops. They literally spend several days flirting with the men, lounging at home, or running around like nitwits when the whole thing could have been resolved by going to the actual authorities which they never once consider doing.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Creators Dick Clair and Jenna McMahon also are best known for creating Mama's Family.
    • Co-developers Howard Leeds and Ben Starr are also best known for co-creating Silver Spoons. Leeds is also best known as creator and executive producer of Small Wonder.
    • Paul Haggis wrote 13 episodes and was also a producer and executive producer. Haggis is best known as creator and executive producer of Due South, as co-creator and co-executive producer of The Black Donnellys, and for co-creating Walker, Texas Ranger.
    • Bob Young wrote ten episodes and served as producer. Young is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Melissa & Joey and for co-creating Dinosaurs.
    • Martha Williamson wrote eight episodes. Williamson is best known as creator and executive producer of Signed, Sealed, Delivered.
    • Andy Borowitz wrote five episodes. Borowitz is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.
    • Michael Poryes also wrote five episodes. Poryes is best known as co-creator and executive producer of That's So Raven and Hannah Montana.
    • Jack Elinson wrote three episodes and served as executive producer. Elinson is best known as developer and executive producer of 227.
    • Peter Noah wrote two episodes. Noah is best known as creator and producer of Café Americain.
    • John Markus wrote an episode. Markus is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of Lateline.
    • Jim Geoghan also wrote an episode. Geoghan is best known as co-creator and co-executive producer of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
    • Alan Spencer also wrote an episode. Spencer is best known as creator and executive producer of Sledge Hammer! and Bullet in the Face.
    • Bob Brush also wrote an episode. Brush is best known as developer and executive producer of Early Edition.
    • Sara Finney-Johnson and Vida Spears also wrote an episode. Both are best known as co-creators and co-executive producers of Moesha and The Parkers.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Any regular character outside of Mrs. Garrett and the four girls due to their Cousin Oliver tendencies (save for George.) Though Beverly Ann was the most blatant example. By the time Charlotte Rae left the series, all four girls had graduated high school and no longer needed someone looking out for them thus making a Mrs. Garrett replacement unnecessary, to begin with. Making Beverly Ann a cloudcuckoolander that even the girls thought was weird to the point of annoyance didn't help.
    • Of the four girls themselves, Tootie tends to be the least popular. Even as being the youngest of the quartet (which already limited her on storylines at the time), she occasionally comes off as a selfish troublemaker and her naiveté and immaturity can make her range from irritating to insufferable. Examples include the one time her gossiping almost got Mrs. Garrett fired and it was like pulling teeth to get her to admit what she did, the other time where her older brother drove her, Natalie and Blair home while drunk and even with the evidence staring her in the face, she stubbornly refused to believe he had a problem or after Natalie's father died and she couldn't understand why she wanted to call her mother all the time and didn't want to hang out with her. She didn't exactly get better with age. Around the time the "Over Our Heads" episodes came around, she graduated from nosy and naive to overdramatic motormouth who would hardly let anyone else get in a word in edgewise or delay things unnecessarily just so she could deliver a speech.
  • Special Effects Failure: One episode had a running gag in which Natalie was stacking boxes of merchandise in the store only to have them fall over any time someone slammed the door but it's very obvious that boxes aren't falling over, they're being punched from below creating something of an exploding effect.
  • She Really Can Act: All of the cast had their moments, but when Nancy McKeon cranked on the waterworks, the audience followed suit.
  • Tear Jerker: Many moments. Jo's were especially tear-worthy. The episode "Teacher's Pet" in particular has her angered that her favorite teacher is leaving Eastland only to discover, to her horror, that the woman is terminally ill and is going into hospice care.
    • The sudden death of Natalie's father went beyond the usual Very Special Episode. Its impact on Natalie spanned a couple of episodes.
    • The episode, "Breaking Point", about the suicide of a schoolmate of theirs named Cynthia who had ran against Blair for student council president (and won). Each of the girls' reactions were really sad (especially Tootie's, who at this point was only 11, who found the girl before she ultimately died and went through periods of shock and anger over why she did it.)
    • The sudden reveal of Jeff's death in the reunion movie.
    • Charlotte Rae passed away very shortly after a reboot was announced to be greenlit.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Modern audiences will find it highly unsettling to hear the subject of suicide in "Breaking Point" (like when Jo was talking about a friend of hers who jumped to her death and described the girlfriend as ending up "splattered on the sidewalk") being met with laughter.
    • Similarly, in "Baby in the House" when former student turned teenaged mother, Allison, says that for her 17th birthday she received a playpen. Although the audience laughed, the line was never meant to be funny and looks even less so nowadays (but otherwise it was generally understood by them the gravity of teen parenthood.)
    • In "Different Drummer" where Blair tutors a mentally disabled young man, Mrs. Garrett uses the term "retarded" to describe him. Although considered acceptable back then (the episode first aired in 1982), it would gather quite a bit of controversy if used today.
      • Also in the episode, Blair takes it upon herself to help enhance his talent for art. Fair enough, but her objective is really uncomfortable with her trying to "cure" him of his disability. Back then it was considered awful and these days you have to wonder how this even got on the air (and draws disturbing parallels between her actions and groups like "Autism Speaks").
    • In "Legacy", modern audiences would probably question Mrs. Garrett's insistence that Blair look past her grandfather's horrifying racist acts, including using his power to deny rights to Blacks and joining the KKK, and remember him for the way he treated her.
    • These days, the "Fear Strikes Back" episode, where Natalie is almost raped while coming home from a party, has disturbing shades of Victim Blaming to it, especially in regards to the attitude of the self-defense instructor.
  • Values Resonance: In this #Me Too!/#WhyIDidntReport era, Jo and Blair deciding "we just won't tell anyone", regarding Blair's friend trying to rape Jo is incredibly uncomfortable, especially since it still happens today.


Example of: