In “My Opinionation”: Looking Back on Blossom
My interest in Blossom blossomed relatively late, since I discovered the television series well after it stopped airing on NBC. When Blossom premiered in 1990, its title character was thirteen and I was six—more interested in Garfield and Friends than Blossom and Co. Instead, Blossom was “that show” to which older friends and other babysitters made wide-eyed reference. It was that show to which they hitched the nebulous term “very special episode,” one which did little to pique my youthful interest. In short, Blossom and I were not in step.
Nineteen years later, we fell into step. Rather, in spring 2009 I stepped into Half Price Books in search of decently half-priced entertainment and casually stopped my shoes in front of “Blossom: Seasons One and Two.” I contemplated the timing of the DVD as the words “very special episode” flashed across my mind. There was a month and a half left before returning to graduate school and I had a rough interest in a television series with which older, other persons once had some sort of association.
I purchased the DVD that Monday evening, befitting the Monday evenings on which the show ran. Back at my apartment, I dimmed the lights, popped on my pajamas and popped in Blossom.
Several episodes into the first season, I fell in love with the series. To be more precise, I fell in love with the idea of what the series was to a teenage girl in 1990 and with what it was to a twenty-something girl in 2009. Five years later, I remain nostalgically in love with Blossom and with the idea of Mayim Bialik’s Blossom Ruby Russo, who showcases adolescence at a remove; she sashays alongside Full House’s Stephanie Judith Tanner as the other girl I would have wanted to befriend during the similarly precocious 1990s. For this twenty-something, the decade now unfolds to the tune of Jesse and the Rippers and big families and to that of Salt-N-Pepa and big hats. Belatedly, I wish to be Blossom, in a retroactive sense, as one could be before the 2000s.
The show’s heroine arrives onscreen with teenage panache. She fearlessly wiggles, shuffles and shimmies into the first season’s grainy, goofy camera sequence, and prances and dances through subsequent sequences. Clad in a comfortingly large sweater in the second episode, Blossom careens her cart down the aisle after Tampax shrouded in glum grey wrapping. In ensuing episodes, Blossom’s best friend Six, and sometimes she, speaks very, very fast and shrieks, in short succession, in her room. In one episode, Blossom calls up Six to talk, and she’s talking about the big time here—she’s thinking of going to second base with Jimmy! In one episode a month later, Blossom frets over what everyone’s going to think when her friend Dennis claims they went all the way in the balcony at the multiplex! Yet in time Blossom is not shy about the fact that she wants her boyfriend Vinnie and that she wants Vinnie to want her. Mayim’s Blossom repeatedly stresses this ambition to Six in a voice wonderfully inflected with Jewish notes; in the course of episodes, the equally academically ambitious young woman repeatedly stresses over attending Stanford.
I see the bookish and sweetly preoccupied Blossom and I see myself at that age. Blossom and its protagonist confront me with my own adolescence. At thirteen, I, too, was on the cusp of junior fashions and was getting through womanhood with the help of chocolate ice cream. In due course, I, too, would consider Stanford.
As a result, I catch myself with the perverse wish to be an adolescent again. But I wish to be one on a particular day and time, namely, Monday evenings from 1990-1995.
I wish to be the brainy girl who is caught fervently studying her Latin assignment with Vinnie on these Monday evenings, the balanced girl who catches a study break to tune in to a Blossom television episode and to Mayim’s Blossom herself.
I wish to be the wry, witty girl who susses out her Harvard interview and evolving ambitions by visiting with her dotty, but not doddering, grandfather.
I wish to be the fretful girl who valiantly tries to talk to her father about her woes over chocolate chip cookie dough—even if that talk ends with the straight-faced “Good night, good-bye, God bless.”
I wish to be the astute, able girl who lovingly utilizes multisyllabic vocabulary words and who quirks asides in the privacy of her own room, her punch lines unknowingly aided by a laugh track.
Alternatively, I watch the episodic evolution of this girl between emails, via internet connection.
As taken from the show’s title character, this girl is “Blossom Russo, she wrote.”