Analysis of the "Very Special Episode"

In past decades, situation comedies and dramas were often known for their "very special episodes." These stories took a break from more lighthearted fare to discuss serious topics or issues, often those facing young audiences of the day. Special episodes could often be categorized thus:
-Featuring "special" characters (often disabled), who rarely if ever appeared again but existed to educate audiences and teach the main characters lessons about compassion and tolerance
-Analyzing the dangers of teen life (peer pressure, drugs, drunk driving, child/teen molestation)
-Focusing on particular current events (the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle, the AIDS epidemic, 9/11, etc.)
-Teaching young audiences when and how to give or seek help in serious situations (eating disorders, abuse, CPR, etc.)

Pick a few "very special episodes" to focus on from sitcoms or sitcom/dramas (Diff’rent Strokes, Punky Brewster, Seventh Heaven, Full House…) How has the "very special episode" evolved? Why are they often mocked, even by those who enjoyed their affiliated shows? Is the "very special episode" still around now, and what does it look like?

  • I think that this topic can be a very interesting one. However, I think that in some ways it is too broad. I think perhaps narrowing down the focus, on one specific type of episode will help someone want to write it more. – RheaRG 2 years ago
  • Good idea. I'd lean toward drug-centric ones since drugs and drinking were so publicized in the '80s and '90s (not that they aren't now, but back then we had Nancy Reagan's campaign, the advent of DARE, etc.) I personally also love focusing on disability-centric episodes as a compare/contrast to how characters with disabilities should be portrayed and treated, but I'd leave that to someone else to write. – Stephanie M. 2 years ago
  • Do very special episodes on cartoons count? – kitty22 10 months ago

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