There are many teen-oriented sitcoms floating around, but Square Pegs was truly one of a kind. It holds a special place in the hearts of many viewers as one of the most on-target depictions of high-school life to ever grace the small screen.
The show was created by Anne Beatts, one of the original writers for Saturday Night Live, who modeled the show on her own high school experiences. The storylines focused on the lives of Patty and Lauren, two best friends struggling to make the difficult transition to high school life as freshmen.
The two girls yearned to become members of the ‘popular’ crowd but discovered how tricky this is when you’re not rich, never up on the latest fashion, and don’t look cool (Patty wore glasses and was skinny, Lauren had braces and was slightly overweight). The coveted “in-crowd” included vicious preppie pep squad captain Muffy Tepperman, valley-girl Jennifer DiNuccio, big man on campus Vinnie Pasetta, and the bigoted black best friend of Jennifer, LaDonna Fredericks.
Patty and Lauren schemed to become cool in the eyes of the popular crowd, often going through elaborate plans dreamt up by Lauren to achieve ‘cool’ status. However, these plans usually backfired, and they ended up taking comfort in the company of their fellow outcasts, new wave enthusiast John “Johnny Slash” Ulasewicz and aspiring comedian Marshall Blechtman. The School staff included Principal Dingleman, health teacher Ms. Loomis, and former-radical-turned-political-science-teacher Rob Donovan.
The show earned a devoted cult following, winning over viewers with its unfailing accuracy in detailing the behavior and habits of high school students circa the early 80’s. Another plus for the show was the carefully-selected new wave music used on the soundtrack, which led to cameos on the show by the Waitresses (who also performed the show’s theme song) and Devo.
Sadly, the show did not perform to expectations for CBS and was cancelled after one season. Despite its short run, Square Pegs left its mark on many a young viewer and paved the way for more realistic teen-oriented programming. The show is also notable giving a start to a lot of memorable talent: Sarah Jessica Parker, Jami Gertz and Tracy Nelson all went on to long-lived careers in film and television.
“I’d like it if they liked us but I don’t think they like us…”
USA / CBS / x25 minute episodes / Broadcast 27 September 1982 – 12 September 1983
Sarah Jessica Parker as Patty Greene
Amy Linker as Lauren Hutchison
John Femia as Marshall Blechtman
Merritt Butrick as John “Johnny Slash” Ulasewicz
Tracy Nelson as Jennifer DeNuccio
Claudette Wells as LaDonna Fredericks
Jon Caliri as Vinnie Pasetta
Jami Gertz as Muffy Tupperman
Catlin Adams as Ms. Loomis
Basil Hoffman as Principal Dingleman
Steven Peterman as Mr. Donovan