Warner Home Video
Not rated
650 minutes

The Pitch

The goings-on of four girls and their dietitian at a private all-girl school in update New York…with a disturbing lack of sex and drugs.

The Humans

Charlotte Rae, Kim Fields, Nancy McKeon, Lisa Welchel, Mindy Cohn.

The Nutshell

The Facts of Life is the sitcom adventures of four teenage girls who go to a posh private school in update New York and their mentor.  The girls are Blair (Welchel), the snobbish, pretty rich girl, Jo (McKeon), the street-tough kid from the Bronx, Tootie (Fields), the youngest and the only black kid on the show, and Natalie (Cohn) the upbeat fatso.  Together with Mrs. Garrett (Rae), they get into all of the stuff that high school girls get into, except for coitus of course.

The Lowdown

With beginnings as a spinoff of Diff’rent Strokes, The Facts of Life
was a consistent ratings performer throughout much of the 1980s.  After
a cast shakeup at the beginning of the second season, the core group of
Mrs. Garrett, Blair, Tootie, Natalie
and newcomer Jo would go on together for seven more seasons, through
teen trials and tribulations including drugs, teen pregnancy, date
rape, love, graduations, new business ventures and other wholesome,
life-lesson-teaching crap the producers threw their way.  Season 4 was
building to Jo and Blair’s graduation.

Notable Season 4 episodes include the season premiere, “Ain’t Miss Beholden” when Jo finds out that her scholarship funds are running out and the only one who might be able to help her is Blair.  “Dearest Mommie” has Natalie, who was adopted, finally learn the name of her biological mother.  “A Woman’s Place” finds Jo getting a new job and a new man, until she gets promoted over him at said job.  “Teacher’s Pet” centers on Jo finding out that her favorite teacher at Eastland is terminally ill.  The two-parter, “Best Sister” has Blair’s sister (Eve Plumb), inspiring Jo to want to become a nun.  And the two-part season finale, “Graduation” sees the girls and Mrs Garrett neck deep in preparations and hysteria for Jo and Blair’s graduation.

The Facts of Life is a watchable sitcom, although very middle of the road and boilerplate.  I just don’t buy, among other things, that all the girls remain virgins
until, Natalie of all people,
is the first one to give it up sometime in one of the later seasons.  Little too much belief to suspend there.  Still, the girls, most notably McKeon and Welchel, were pretty good in their roles. The Facts of Life didn’t make me want to commit seppuku like many other sitcoms, butit’s not one I’d bother DVRing either.

The Package

The episodes look fine, although they were shot in tape in TV standard.  Audio is also suitably fine.  No special features worth mentioning.

6.1 out of 10