Friday, January 6, 2017

"Facts of Life": Remembering Over Our Heads

I finished binge-watching my DVD collection of "The Facts of Life: Season Eight" last week and quickly ordered "The Facts of Life: The Final Season." It's arrived and I'm now about halfway through that collection. This is the season that introduced an Australian teenage girl named Pippa (played by Sherrie Krenn) to the cast for some reason and then sent Blair, Natalie, Tootie, and Jo onto separate directions in life. It's also the episode where Natalie became the first "Facts of Life" girl to have sex in a very special episode that Blair-actress Lisa Whelchel opted out of because she disagrees with premarital sex.

But this post is about Over Our Heads. Back in 1985, a fire destroyed Edna's Edibles and caused massive smoke damage to the residential part of the building. Mrs. Garrett and the girls decided to pool their insurance checks together and start their own novelty shop -- complete with records, flashy t-shirts, greeting cards, gadgets, and inflatable penguins. They called their new store Over Our Heads, because they were in over their heads.


OOH was a great business idea. All five of the women were equal partners. This was an opportunity for them to make money while they attended college. They hired young Andy to help out in the store and eventually Beverly Ann Stickle joined the cast to take over as manager for the store.


But OOH gradually faded into the background. The girls would take off on random road trips to New York City or to go skiing. They overloaded with classes. Jo became a social worker at a local community center. Blair began law school and then began a heavy-duty legal internship. Natalie fretted over various jobs such as a construction road crew and managing a Mexican fastfood restaurant. Tootie disappeared for weeks at a time to do various acting gigs. And everyone seemed to disappear each summer on vacations.

And I was left wondering who was watching the store??

Which brings me to "Something In Common" from the ninth and final season of "The Facts of Life." This episode was primarily about Jo trying to smooth over the rocky relationship between her father and her new boyfriend Rick. But there was a secondary story line where the fate of Over Our Heads was finally sealed.

We already knew that Andy was sleeping in the basement. But then the girls brought Pippa into the household at the beginning of the season and -- instead asking her to share one of the two large bedrooms with Blair, Jo, Tootie, and Natalie -- had her sleep for months on the couch. I have no idea where Pippa stored her clothing or other personal items. Occasionally, when the living room was busy, Pippa would be allowed to take naps in someone else's bedroom. Which makes me wonder why they didn't send her to the dorms at Eastland School!


And then we find out what I've already noted before. None of the girls -- Blair, Jo, Nat, or Tootie -- are taking their business seriously. All four of these women should be invested in the financial success of Over Our Heads. Instead, they are ignoring their shifts and relying on Beverly Ann to keep the store in operations. We learn in this episode that the girls are ignoring inventory checks and not stocking enough merchandise to be marketable.


Finally, Beverly Ann tells the girls that Over Our Heads just isn't profitable anymore and makes the suggestion that they close Over Our Heads and convert the space into bedrooms for Andy and Pippa. The girls agree and Over Our Heads closed for good!

It just seems like a waste. They could have redoubled their efforts to improve inventory and shift attendance. They could have sweetened the deal a bit so that Beverly Ann felt better about running the store more independently. They could have kept things going in order to bolster their individual incomes. But they unceremoniously shuttered Over Our Heads over the course of one conversation.

At least it got Pippa off of the couch!

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