Recently it was announced that The Facts of Life stars Kim Fields, Mindy Cohn, Lisa Whelchel, and Nancy McKeon are reuniting in Light Up My Christmas airing Dec. 1. Fields, who serves as the film’s executive producer, is behind the reunion of the former child stars who she calls “her sisters.”
I figured that was a sign. I needed to revisit the show we thought was gay.
It should have been gay!
Last year I wrote about the top ten times The Facts of Life was gay, but I only concentrated on the high school years. Since then, my friend Chris sent me the DVDs of the whole series (including tv movies) so I began the great binge from the beginning and finally made it to … the college years.
Of note: In season five, there was a new character who was upper-middle-class and worshiped Jo, so she tried to be a thug like Jo. While she was in the opening credits (and thus main cast), you’d think she’d be the gayest thing. Sadly, she was barely used.
- In the Closet
In the first episode of season five, Jo has money trouble and has to move in with Blair (illegally, it’s a single dorm). This results in Blair being kicked out of the dorms, but it also had a great series of scenes including a number of people seeing Jo’s multiple flannel shirts hung up in Blair’s room, the tool sets, and everything else, and not thinking it to be out of place. And of course, there’s a requisite hiding in the closet scene.
That’s a lot of chiffon, Blair.
- Merry Christmas
It’s their first Christmas living at Mrs. Garrett’s and everyone’s going home except for Mrs. G and Jo. After Jo’s mother goes to Miami for work and her father is busy, she decides to stay. Blair and Tootie concoct a plan to buy her a plane to Miami, but Jo (of course) doesn’t want charity. So everyone leaves and Jo and Mrs. G plan a merry holiday together when there’s a surprise guest.
Nothing says Merry Christmas
- Men in Underwear
Blair’s taking the gang to the ballet (to see Baryshnikov in Swan Lake) and Jo has opinions.
Let’s get ready to rumble!
- Insecure Blair
As their first year at Langley continues, Blair struggles with being the little fish in a bigger ocean. She was the queen at Eastland, but Langley? Huge. And outgoing Jo is more popular now. But when Jo throws a party her own way, she doesn’t forget Blair and tells to join the fun and stop being so stuck up.
So Blair comes downstairs and shows a hidden talent.
Ventriloquism. The latest excuse to get your girl on your lap.
- Jo’s Closet
It’s time for another closet joke! This time, Blair needs some clothes to do something and asks Jo to borrow hers.
Is ‘dipping into the closet’ an old euphemism I didn’t know? It sure feel like it based on how Tootie’s mom is laughing back there.
- Peach Organza
At the end of season five, the girls had their normal ‘we must all break up!’ fight. This one happens when Blair knocks over Jo’s disassembled engine, and Natalie ‘loses’ Tootie’s cat. But before that, Jo and Blair have to wear matching outfits and Blair loans Jo her car to run errands.
Yes, Blair’s in Jo’s plaid shirt. The jean skirt is her own.
- That Lovin’ Feelin’
One of the early episodes of season 6 has the gang taking a night on the town together in Blair’s car. Of note, Jo is driving Blair’s caddy. After some shenanigans, they end up parked and listening to the radio, which results in Blair and Jo singing “You’ve lost that lovin’ feeling” to each other, while Natalie and Tootie sing backup.
There’s no heterosexual explanation for that.
- Dear Apple
This is one of my favourite episodes ever. The entire episode is about Jo using a computer to figure out if she and Blair should be friends. The plot starts when Jo forgets to tell Blair that the Helen of Troy contest was moved and a war between the two starts after Blair’s humiliated. Jo talks to the computer who, after listening to everything, comes to the logical conclusion.
After reading the results, Jo looks at Blair and crumples up the paper, throwing it away.
- The Watch
The girls are always borrowing each other’s things. Jo needs a watch with a stop-watch so she can pace herself for a test. Naturally she borrows one of Blair’s 12 watches. After the test, Jo plays some pick-up basketball and breaks the watch. When Blair feels disrespected, they end up in court and end up having a bit of a heart to heart.
I do hope someone told the judge they settled.
- The Interview
The end of season five is a weirdly formatted interview episode. As season five got on, it was clear that Mrs. G was being phased out, and in fact she’ll leave at the end of the next season. The concept of this episode is someone’s writing a book about Women of Eastland, which leads to interviews with all the girls and Mrs. G.
Blair ends up talking about her best friend, Jo, who is brave and knows who she is.
And Jo talks about Blair, who always surprises her.
I’m just going to be forever smiling about the idea of Blair, bowling.
There’s a little more gay to be had, so there’ll be one more round of this. Weirdly it has nothing to do with George Clooney.