Saturday, January 11, 2020

SQUARE PEGS: "Out of Control" Jewish Teens, Drugs, & DEVO Musicians

We read about Anne Beatts in Jen Chaney's New York Magazine (January 6-19, 2020) piece "Anne Beatts Was Always More Interesting Than John Hughes". Chaney related that "Beatts got her start by working at National Lampoon [...]" And "[s]he was also a member of the original writing staff of Saturday Night Live (SNL)  [...]" Eventually, Beatts left SNL and created and produced Square Pegs - a CBS teen situation-comedy starring 17-yea-old Sarah Jessica Parker. 

Chaney made two relevant reverences: "[...] a New Wave-themed bat mitzvah [episode] that featured the actual band Devo performing "That's Good." and "[...] a 1984 TV Guide expose titled "Anatomy of a Failure: How Drugs, Ego, and Chaos Helped Kill Square Pegs" [...] [after one season (1982-1983)]."

The Cast of Square Pegs & Devo
Those references led us to Gwen Ihnat's AV Club article "Behind-the-scenes chaos derailed Square Pegs’ new-wave promise" where she shared that: "[...] Square Pegs was billed as a show “about the problems, joys, and experiences of being young and in [Weemawee] high school” (Beatts based the series on her own adolescence) [...]"

Ihnat reported that Unlike Happy Days, Square Pegs' actors were actual teens and Ihnat opined that the bat mitzvah episode where Devo performed "That's Good" was "downright Shakespearean".

Ihnat linked to a Heeb magazine article that connected the show's teens, drugs and Devo:

When DEVO appeared on ’80s sitcom, Square Pegs (which starred Sarah Jessica Parker), they whipped everyone—from the censors to the actresses—into a frenzy. On the episode, the band headlines a “New Wave Bat Mitzvah.” Tame stuff, but behind the scenes—safe from the gaze of its teeny-boppin’ following—it was pretty wild.

“The girls were out of control—they were doing drugs and they were making out and they were coming on to us in a big way,” says Gerald V. Casale, DEVO bassist/synthesizer player. The musician vaguely recalls doing coke with Jami Gertz and SJP in the talent trailers. 

“They might have been 15 or 16, but in their heads they were already 40. I don’t think there was a virgin on the set, except maybe a couple of the guys,” he adds.

He [34-year-old Casale] had the hots for [17-year-old] Jami Gertz, who played [14-year-old] Bat Mitzvah girl Muffy Tepperman. “Why didn’t I do something about that?” he says.

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