So last week we had Molly Ringwald on the show. She’s got a new novel out, which is great - and you should totally buy it, read it, and talk about it on your Facebook page.
But naturally, it was a little hard to focus with my mind awash in a fog of childhood love. I mean… Claire Standish! Sam Baker! Andie Walsh! I was overcome with the urge to tell her I wasn’t embarrassed to be seen with her, and then sit on a glass table top with a cake full of candles.
And it got me thinking about all of the other great loves of my life. The women (and girls) I loved before I was a man. Names and faces that remain seared into my adolescent soul, even if we’re all grown up now, and I can only visit you briefly in re-runs and movie channels.
You have to understand, I’m a 80’s baby, but the 90’s raised me. I grew up on the best era of family television ever. So here is a comprehensive and super-realistic list of the girls that at some point were my soulmates, and definitely would have wanted to date me. And for the record, just in case any of you stumble across this list, these are not in any kind of order, I was equally in love with all of you.
OK, let’s get started.
Kelly Kapowski: This one pretty much goes without explanation, right? It’s cliche and I’m a little bit embarrassed. But c’mon, Kelly was the girl you wanted to date in high school when you thought high schools only had one classroom, a principal’s office, a breeze-way like hall with stairs and lockers, and a zany diner where nobody ever seemed to eat the food. She eventually graduated and moved to California, and met a new group of friends that basically lived at a different diner, and everyone looked 20 years older than they were supposed to.
Alex Mack: Hot. Outcast. Mutant powers. Backwards denim hats. Just thinking about her makes my skin glow with a strange orange hue. She was the first girl from Nickelodeon that I fell fully in love with, because let’s be honest, Clarissa was a little to high-maintenence. The Secret Life of Alex Mack had everything a young boy could want, awkward middle school hijinks, loyal friends that keep your secrets, and government agents ruthlessly hunting down tweens. I was in the 4th grade when that toxic sludge brought Alex into my life, and I never quite got over her. Plus, it was one of the first shows I can remember that used high-end CGI. Do you know how awesome Alex Mack was? Jessica Alba was in this show, and you had no idea. Yeah. Look it up.
Aunt Becky: Have mercy. It was a show centered around six characters. Danny, Joey, Uncle Jesse, D.J., Steph,and Michelle. But for me, the world revolved around Aunt Becky. Rebecca Donaldson. Kick-ass reporter-slash-morning host. Wife responsible for constantly reigning in Jesse’s various mid-life crises. Get it together, bro. You can’t be riding your motorcycle on rooftop ledges, and running around trying to be in a band. You have a beautiful wife at home, grow up! That’s what the 11 year old version of me spent the better part of 8 seasons yelling at my TV. I don’t know why she put up with him, but I’m sure it had something to do with the rent-free palace they were living in on the top of the Tanner home. That place had like 6 rooms and a tennis court. How were the basement and attic so big? Housing bubble?
Denise Frazer: Who? Yeah, there was actually one other girl from Full House that I was smitten with, and it definitely wasn’t Gibbler. It was Michelle’s friend Denise. She was about two years younger than me, and had a penchant for delivering lines like her parents sent her to school after 3 gravity-bong hits. But she was ADORABLE, and I was in love. She also turned out to be Vince’s girlfriend Jess, from Friday Night Lights - which didn’t hurt. I actually loved the friends of the main cast on Full House, more than the real cast… Do you remember Steph’s friend that was always smoking and making out? I had a thing for her too, but that was lust. It wasn’t pure like what I had with Denise and Becky.
Winnie Cooper: Classic middle school crush. Innocent, cute, and as it turns out - Danica McKellar was a complete genius. What was she doing with a dweeb like Kevin? Wayne was right, what a doofus. Kevin was constantly tripping over himself, chasing overly-curling-ironed flavors of the week, and repeatedly breaking Winnie’s heart. Winnie was the perfect middle school sweetheart: loyal, pretty, smart, and LITERALLY next door. I think we can all agree that Fred Savage’s life would have ended up in a much better place if he would have just married Winnie. But she was out of his league, that’s why she ended up necking with that hot lifeguard. I don’t know how Kevin blew it, what an idiot.
Lisa Turtle: Eventually, my crush on Kelly waned. I mean, she was cool. But all that drama, you know? Pass. I needed a sugar-mama, and Lisa was the girl for me. I mean, as far as I could tell, my only competition was Screech. How was this possible, by the way? How could preachy-ass Jessie be doping up on speed, bossing everyone around, telling guys they were stupid - and always have at least 5 suitors? And Lisa is in a perfectly-coordinated outfit, with underrated comedic timing, and she has to go dumpster diving for a date with Dustin Diamond? Was it because there weren’t any other minorities at Bayside? Wait, was Bayside racist? Did I just ruin that part of my childhood? Nevermind, they can’t be racist. They did a season in Hawaii. Anyway, I loved Lisa, she quietly finished as the hottest girl on the show - and I think we can all agree that Screech was the worst.
Karen Foster & Al Lambert: Two of the sisters from Step by Step. One was the put-together accessorizer, the kind of older sister you always wish your friends had. The other was the classic tomboy, who we all wished lived next door. Their dad seemed pretty cool, and they lived in Wisconsin. I mean, seriously - is there anything more 90’s than a sitcom based in Wisconsin? How great was TGIF? Where else could you watch a show where some burnout lives in a van in somebody’s backyard, and it’s just chalked up to familial zaniness. I wanted to put all the daughters on this list, but Dana was just too much, all the time. Everything isn’t always about feminism, Barky! (Shout out to J.T.)
Topanga Lawrence: Another girl I was madly in love with, that some lame-ass Savage brother lucks into. Topanga went from crush to “Oh my god I love her” over the course of one summer in the late 90’s. She went from geeky hippie weirdo in the first season, to cute, funny nerd in the following seasons. And the whole way, I had to sit and wonder what on earth she could possibly see in Cory - who grew progressively more annoying in every subsequent season. Topanga was different than a lot of girls on this list, she had to grow on you. How did Shawn Hunter not land Topanga? He was the sly one, he should have seen it coming… Though he was tied up with another girl I loved on this show: Angela. Angela was graceful, beautiful, and saw through everyone’s BS. Maybe it’s because she didn’t go to middle school with the rest of these guys, or maybe it’s because she was the only black character we ever met. Either way, it seems outrageously inappropriate that they made her middle name “Shanaynay.” I’d have never done that to you, Angela. Man, you know what? Cory’s mom was kinda mom-sexy too, now that I think about it. But that was Allen’s girl, and he’s one of the most underrated TV dads of all time, so I’m not going to step on his turf. Where was I? Oh yeah, Topanga! It was a short-lived romance, but while it was there, it burned brightly. I’m not sure a TV character has ever deserved his girlfriend LESS than Cory Matthews. Feeney should have told her to AT LEAST get with Eric, her old weirdo persona would have loved the Plays with Squirrels era.
Ashley Banks: A couple of things you have to remember - 1. The Fresh Prince is one of the greatest shows of all time. 2. Will Smith was one of the coolest TV characters of all time. 3. Ashley was smoking hot. I loved her. She was a little bit older than me, and through her association with Will (and his influence on her) - a LOT cooler than me. They lived in a mansion in Beverly Hills, which means she could provide for me, and the only drawback would be my relations to Carlton. Think about what she had to overcome! Her sister is the worst daytime TV host of all time, her butler was constantly demeaning her family to their faces, her cousin gets dropped right into her central family over some cross-town beef in Philly (alright, it was just one lil’ fight, but still), her dad is the most irritable TV dad ever, her mom gets pregnant, and then replaced by a lighter-skinned intruder in her most formative years - and nobody even notices! - her brother almost dies of a drug overdose, Will gets shot, they were obviously hiding money problems, because even though they lived in a mansion, they could only afford two rooms, she had to work at Dippity Do Dog after Will and Carlton got her fired, her baby brother goes from an infant to fully walking and talking in like 6 months… I mean talk about trauma! And yet, somehow she still manages to turn out well-adjusted and launch a modeling/music career. Ashley was cute, funny, and a little rebellious. Though I’d have to reconcile her letting that boy blow in her ear, yuck.
So that’s the list - thanks for joining me as I cruised down memory lane on my neon-splashed huffy. And please don’t for a moment think I’m disrespecting these Goddesses with my language and descriptions, I worshiped them - some I’m still in love with. Who did I forget? Who deserved to be on the list? Let me know in the comment section or on Twitter: @thecyclemsnbc, @Nick_NoHeart, #thecyclenick.