The Facts of Life—Season 1

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7.0 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 7/10
Visuals: 7/10

Cheesy late '70s/'80s fun

Typical sitcom material

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Welcome to Eastland!

Eastbrook Girls’ School has a new house mother in Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae).  Having left New York City for Upstate New York, Mrs. Garrett finds watching a house full of girls can even be more difficult than watching over the Drummonds.  With growing teenagers, Mrs. Garrett is facing some of the biggest challenges of her life and finds herself butting heads with new headmaster Mr. Bradley (John Lawlor) who has different ideas on how to raise girls.

The Facts of Life—Season 1 ran a partial season from aired from August 8, 1979 to June 11, 1980.  The series spun-off Diff’rent Strokes and gave Charlotte Rae the starring role.  The first season is generally collected with The Facts of Life—Season 2.

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RIP Sue Ann, Molly, Nancy, Cindy, and Mr. Bradley

Eastbrook and The Facts of Life cast first appeared on Diff’rent Strokes—Season 1 episode 22 entitled “The Girls School” on May 4, 1979.  The episode was obviously a pilot for this series and had Mrs. Garrett leaving the Drummonds to take over as housemother (and Kimberly not leaving Diff’rent Strokes).

The show was radically different from what it became.  As an ensemble cast of all women (a first for TV), the first season boasts a much larger cast of girls which included tomboy Cindy (Julie Ann Haddock), promiscuous girl Nancy (Felice Schachter), country girl Sue Ann (Julie Piekarski), and future ’80s star Molly (Molly Ringwald) with headmaster Mr. Bradley (John Lawlor) and assistant Ms. Mahoney (Jenny O’Hara) who didn’t even make it the whole short season.  These girl made some cameos in later seasons but mostly faded away due to Natalie (Mindy Cohn), Blair (Lisa Whelchel), and Tootie (Kim Fields) becoming the focus second season along with a new student Jo (Nancy McKeon).  Plus, the classic theme song became the popular version at the start of the second season.

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We’re here for our obligatory appearance

The show played the typical sitcom role with typical sitcom plots mixed with “issue” episodes (which today would be referred to as “very special episodes”).  These episodes dealt with adoption, drug use, and the first episode of series even dealt with the potential of a lesbian character (of course it wasn’t said at that time in a family show).

The Facts of Life is just cheesy fun.  It isn’t serious or very good.  All the characters overact, but I still could watch it all day long.  I think it is having grown up with the series, and there is nostalgia, but it still seems better than later sitcoms like Saved by the Bell and Full House which had similar plots and acting styles.  If you grew up “learning the Facts of Life”, you should revisit it someday…especially this weird first season.

The Facts of Life—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:

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“Rough Housing”

1.1       Rough Housing Airdate:  08/24/79

It is the Harvest Festival, and Eastland is getting ready for the party and dance.  With a visit from the Drummonds (Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Dana Plato, Conrad Bain), Mrs. Garrett (Charlotte Rae) tries to keep the girls under control when tomboy Cindy (Julie Anne Haddock) finds herself running against Blair (Lisa Whelchel) for Harvest Queen…and Blair questions if there is something wrong with Cindy.  Ms. Mahoney (Jenny O’Hara) finds herself at odds with new headmaster Mr. Bradley (John Lawlor).

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“Like Mother, Like Daughter”

1.2       Like Mother, Like Daughter Airdate:  08/31/79

It is Parents’ Night at Eastland and Blair’s mother (Pam Huntington) is visiting.  When Mr. Bradley finds himself attracted to Monica Warner, but Mrs. Garrett learns that Blair’s mother is having an affair with another student’s father Mr. Branch (Donald May)…when the other girls find out, the word gets back to Blair.

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“The Return of Mr. Garrett”

1.3       The Return of Mr. Garrett Airdate:  09/07/79

Mrs. Garrett’s ex-husband Robert (Robert Alda) has returned and is romancing Mrs. Garrett again.  Unfortunately, Mr. Garrett is back to his old tricks and teaching the girls to gamble…leading to problems at the school.

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“I.Q.”

1.4       I.Q. Airdate:  09/14/79

Mr. Bradley accidentally leaves Eastland’s IQ test scores where Tootie (Kim Fields) finds them and stirs up problems when Nancy Olson (Felice Schachter) learns that she’s the smartest girl in school instead of Sue Ann Weaver (Julie Piekarski) who has the lowest IQ.

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“Overachieving”

1.5       Overachieving Airdate:  03/12/80

When Tootie’s father Mr. Ramsey (Robert Hooks) visits the school, he decides Tootie’s future isn’t looking good as a student of Eastbrook and Mrs. Garrett could be the problem.

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“Emily Dickinson”

1.6       Emily Dickinson Airdate:  03/14/80

When Blair goes out late on a date, she doesn’t get to her poetry homework finished.  Blair plagiarizes Emily Dickinson…leading the other girls to get lower grades.

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“Dieting”

1.7       Dieting Airdate:  03/21/80

The girls are all going on a diet with Mrs. Garrett.  When Sue Ann decides she needs to go on a crash diet, she secretly stops eating.

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“The Facts of Love”

1.8       The Facts of Love Airdate:  04/04/80

Mrs. Garrett is recruited to teach a sex education class.  Unfortunately Blair puts it to the test when she goes on a secret date with the delivery boy Steve (Greg Bradford).

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“Flash Flood”

1.9       Flash Flood Airdate:  04/11/80

A major storm is hitting the area and Eastland is threatened when a dam threatens to break.  When Blair and Tootie break the rules to empty the stable, it could be more dangerous than they though.  When Mr. Bradley comes to save Tootie and Blair, Blair finds that she has a crush on him.

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“Adoption”

1.10     Adoption Airdate:  04/25/80

A project on family trees leads to problems when Natalie (Mindy Cohn) reveals she is adopted.  When Blair gets a judge dating her mother to look into Natalie’s adoption records, Natalie must decide if she’s ready for the truth.

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“Running”

1.11     Running Airdate:  05/02/80

Mr. Bradley finds his hopes at getting a school trophy might be dashed when Sue Ann decides not to run for Eastland and encourages Cindy to do it…leading to jealousy when Cindy does better than Sue Ann in practice.

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“Molly’s Holiday”

1.12     Molly’s Holiday Airdate:  06/04/80

The girls are preparing for vacation but learn that Molly (Molly Ringwald) doesn’t want to go because her parents are getting a divorce.  Molly decides to pretend to be sick in an attempt to get her parents back together…but doesn’t know that her father (William Bogert) has a new girlfriend (Lee Crawford).

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“Dope”

1.13     Dope Airdate:  06/11/80

Blair gets Sue Ann in with Blair’s clique…but learns that being part of the group means smoking marijuana with Tumpy (Hillary Horan) and Emily (Helen Hunt).

Related Links:

The Facts of Life—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

The Facts of Life—Season 3 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

2 Comments on "The Facts of Life—Season 1"

  1. Davan S. Mani September 28, 2018 at 10:06 am - Reply

    Most shows, the first season are my favorite simply because it’s new, unknown, and mind cramping. Once Jo (Nancy McKeon) came in and became feminine, I lost interest. I know Charlotte Rae said she never told the director or producer to let certain actresses go but she certainly bitched enough that they got the message. LOL

    • JPRoscoe September 28, 2018 at 11:05 am - Reply

      I think the series is a bit bloated this season…the number was too high, but they could have had a bigger cast than second season if they had cut down the cast for the initial season…I think season 1 is interesting due to the changes, but I do like the core four established in season 2 since they work well together (plus I did like the cameos of other previous students for a bit).

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