Short Synopsis: In this much loved and long running series, four girls, each with their own divergent backgrounds and personalities, become inseparable friends when they are brought together at the prestigious Eastland School for Girls. Under the gentle guidance of housemother Mrs. Garrett, the girls face the trials and tribulations of adolescence as they hurry their way towards young adulthood. Long Synopsis: You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have THE FACTS OF LIFE! A spin-off of the tremendously popular "Diff'rent Strokes," THE FACTS OF LIFE is the hilarious series that follows Mrs. Edna Garrett (Charlotte Rae) and her mission as housemother to instill values in the girls of Eastland School. The large cast for the first two seasons included John Lawlor, Jenny O’Hara, Lisa Whelchel, Felice Schachter, Julie Piekarski, Kim Fields, Molly Ringwald, Julie Anne Haddock, Mindy Cohn and Nancy McKeon. By the second season, the show focused on Mrs. Garrett
Before Degrassi Junior High
and Seventh Heaven
, there was The Facts of Life
--a feel-good sitcom where a lesson was learned at the end of each episode. Set in an all-girl boarding school, the series spanned nine seasons, countless hairdos, and an array of cast members and guest stars--some of whom (George Clooney, Helen Hunt, Molly Ringwald) would become very, very famous in the future. But in the 29 episodes that cover the first two seasons, the series introduces TV viewers to characters that represent girls everyone knows--Blair, the rich, spoiled girl; Natalie, the chubby smart aleck; Jo, the rebellious tomboy; and Tootie, the rollerskating tattletale.
A spin-off of Diff'rent Strokes, The Facts of Life was designed as a showcase for Charlotte Rae, who played jack-of-all-trades den mother Edna Garrett. But the show's central plots all revolved around the girls. Back in 1979, certain words weren't common on television. So when Blair tries to make a schoolmate feel bad, insinuating that the girl is a lesbian, she uses the word "strange" instead of the "L" word. The series is a coming-of-age story that plays to its target audience of teenage girls. While much of the humor isn't very sophisticated, the homespun messages the show spread are right on target, whether it's dealing with eating disorders, sexual promiscuity, or acknowledging that handicapped people are people, too. From 1979 to 1988, the girls would grow into young women who go to college, get jobs, and lose their virginity (not necessarily in that order). But in the early seasons, there's a sweet innocence that still rings true today. --Jae-Ha Kim