Recap: Natalie and Jo enter the cafeteria, and Natalie is grumbling about how Blair won the Fine Arts Festival for the third year in a row. Mrs. Garrett says that that comes as no surprise, since she's a very talented artist. She asks Natalie where Blair is, and Natalie rolls her eyes and says she purposely hung back in order to make a grand entrance. A few seconds later, Blair sweeps into the cafeteria looking smug and wide-eyed, then breezily asks no one in particular, "What's new?" Mrs. Garrett congratulates her on winning the arts festival again, and Blair waves her hand as if she's so over it, and goes, "Oh that." She says she used to get excited about "those little awards", but has since gotten older and wiser. Mrs. Garrett tells Blair she's going to organize a special awards dinner in her honor this evening, then informs her that her mother called to let her know that one of her cousins will be dropping by Eastland for a visit. Blair's like, "Could you be more specific?" then says she has a lot of cousins from various branches of the well to-do Warner family. Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face as she recalls that Blair's mom said something about this cousin being a comedian...and Blair's face goes ashen as she asks, "Cousin Geri?" Mrs. Garrett exclaims, "That's it!" and tells Blair that Cousin Geri is coming to town 'cause she's slated to perform at the Peekskill Moose Lodge tomorrow night. The girls look impressed that Blair has a cousin in showbiz and ask her if Geri is funny, and Blair replies, "Yeah" in a really flat voice. [Spoiler: Cousin Geri - ugh - really stinks it up as a comedian.] Mrs. Garrett informs Blair that she invited Geri to attend her awards dinner and then stay the night, and Blair wails, "Why did you do that?!" Mrs. Garrett gives her a funny look and replies, "To be nice" and a queasy looking Blair says she'd better get on the horn with her mom to get the deets of Geri's arrival.
Natalie remarks that Blair is acting very weird, and Tootie makes a beeline over to the lounge area so she can eavesdrop on Blair's conversation. Blair's on the pay phone, whining, "But why does she have to come now?" She explains to her mom that she just won an arts award and that the entire student body is gathering together for an impromptu celebration dinner for her. By now, Tootie has perched herself on a chair right beside Blair, her head cocked as she brazenly eavesdrops. Standing discreetly in the doorway would have gotten the job done too, Tootie. Blair finally notices her and snaps, "Do you mind? I'm on the phone" then tells her to beat it. Blair asks her mom if she told Mrs. Garrett about Geri, then wails, "How am I supposed to explain it?"
Tootie scampers back to the cafeteria and reports that Blair is very upset, and Mrs. Garrett admonishes her for being such a shameless snoop. Suddenly, a young disabled woman enters the cafeteria and introduces herself, and Mrs. Garrett smiles at her warmly and says, "You must be Blair's cousin, Geri." Jo, Tootie, and Natalie just gawk at her like idiots, so she quips, "Don't worry, I'm not drunk. I have cerebral palsy. When I'm drunk, I walk perfectly straight." Badoom bah! The girls fake laugh - but Natalie isn't sure if she was really supposed to laugh, so she elbows Tootie, and Tootie just shrugs and says, "Hey - it was funny!" Natalie comes right out and asks Geri to clarify if that was, indeed, a joke they were supposed to laugh at (LOL), and Geri explains that relentlessly barraging the audience with self deprecating zingers about her disability is pretty much her act. That sounds super fun. Geri dramatically rips open her blazer to reveal the t-shirt she's wearing underneath, which reads: I don't have cerebral palsy. I'm drunk. (Already overplayed, Geri.) Blair enters the room and awkwardly greets her cousin, then stumbles over the words she's mumbling as though Geri's presence makes her nervous, and Geri looks over her shoulder and quips, "And I thought I talked funny." Blair introduces her to each of the girls, and Natalie needlessly tells her that her mother has a touch of arthritis. Tootie asks Geri if having cerebral palsy hurts, and she jokes, "Only when I spill coffee on myself." The girls look far too impressed that someone with cerebral palsy is actually capable of making coffee, and Mrs. Garrett makes me cringe even further when she offers Geri a cup of coffee and shrieks, "It's mountain growwwwwn!!" Easy there, Edna.
Blair asks Geri how the bus ride to Peekskill was, and Geri tells her she drove. Jo goes, "A car?" and Geri replies, "No, a lemon" and the laugh track hoots and hollers and would probably smack its forehead if it had one. Tootie asks her how it's possible for her to drive when she's...and when her voice just kind of tapers off, Geri stares back at her solemnly and says, "Handicapped" and assures her that it's A-OK to say handicapped in front of a handicapped person. Tootie asks her how she got cerebral palsy, and Blair looks irked and goes, "Tootie...please." Geri ignores Blair's bitchitude and tells Tootie that cerebral palsy is an injury to the motor part of the brain, and when Tootie asks her if she was born with it, Blair bitchily interjects, "Yes. She was" and then tells her to stop bothering Geri with her many questions, since she must be exhausted from her trip. Geri sullenly says she's not exhausted and pronounces, "Questions don't hurt. Ignorance does." The studio audience claps for what seems like a really loooong time, and Mrs. Garrett stands in front of Geri, awkwardly waiting until the clapping finally dies down. She nods and says, "That's so true" and tells Geri she always learns so much from Jerry Lewis' telethon every year...and Geri's like, "Uh, that telethon is for muscular dystrophy." Bwahaha! Blair abruptly declares that she needs to go upstairs and write her acceptance speech for the awards dinner, and Mrs. Garrett scrunches her face in disapproval and reminds her that Geri came a long way to see her...but Blair just shrugs and continues to beat a hasty retreat upstairs. The girls ask Geri if she's staying for tonight's dinner, and she says she doesn't know if she should, but Tootie tells her not to let Blair's crummy mood ruin her stay.
Howard the Cook comes out to order the girls to start preparing dinner. Mrs. Garrett introduces him to Geri, and he informs her that he's "a Moose" and plans to be at the Moose Lodge for her stand-up show tomorrow night. He then rattles off a few horrible jokes and offers to share them with Geri, but she says if they're not designed to beat people over the head with her challenges as a disabled woman, she ain't interested. She heads into the kitchen to get more coffee, and Mrs. Garrett tells a disinterested Howard that Blair has been visibly uncomfortable ever since Geri arrived. She looks deeply contemplative and deduces that Blair is a heartless bitch who's embarrassed by her cousin's handicap.
Natalie emerges from the kitchen to gleefully announce that they talked Geri into performing her act during Blair's awards dinner. Oh joy. Mrs. Garrett's like, "Wuh?" and scrunches her face with concern. Meanwhile, Blair is upstairs - twitching on her bed and anxiously muttering, "Why did she have to come? Whyyyyy?!"
Blair's working on a new painting at her easel, and Jo is chiding her for giving her cousin the brush-off and says that walking out on her was a shitty thing to do. Blair says she doesn't want to discuss it and snaps, "Drop it." Mrs. Garrett enters the bedroom and asks Blair whassup, and Blair says she just wants to be left alone. Mrs. Garrett admonishes her for her rudeness - and Blair says she doesn't care and just wants to stay in her room and paint. Mrs. Garrett tells her she gets that dealing with a handicapped person is difficult for her...and Jo snidely interjects and accuses Blair of being embarrassed that there's a Warner out there who isn't perfect. Blair hotly denies that, and Mrs. Garrett asks Jo to leave the room so they can talk privately. Once they're alone, she looks at Blair in dismay and says, "I've never seen you act this way before" and Blair admits that, yeah, she was probably a little rude. Mrs. Garrett says it's more than just rudeness, which she's seen from Blair plenty of times - she's more shocked by the running away part. Blair wails, "What do you want from me?" and Mrs. Garrett retorts, "Someone who's mature enough to want to deal with her problems." She suggests that Geri's disability embarrasses her, but Blair denies it and then starts whining about how Geri is always the center of attention during family get-togethers. Mrs. Garrett's all, "Wuh?" and suddenly twigs onto the fact that Blair isn't so much embarrassed by her cousin than she is jealous of her. Blair complains that when she makes her special dish for the family's big Thanksgiving dinner, nobody really gives a rat's ass...but if Geri pours a glass of water without spilling it, everyone applauds. That's...a pretty dickish thing to resent. But hold on - 'cause Blair is just now abruptly shifting the root cause of her displeasure with Geri by earnestly gushing to Mrs. Garrett about how Geri is winning important battles every day...and all she ever wins are stupid art awards. Er...OK? She says that having Geri in attendance at her awards dinner makes everything she's worked so hard for seem silly. Mrs. Garrett smiles at her, visibly relieved that Blair's nowhere near as cunty and hard-hearted as was initially feared, and assures her that what she's achieved is wonderful...and Geri's presence at Eastland can't change that. Blair suddenly realizes she is, in fact, jealous of her cousin, then says she doesn't want to talk about it anymore. Mrs. Garrett backs off, then tells Blair she hopes she'll still join them for dinner...which would be nice considering it's being held in her honor - and not showing up would make her an ungrateful turd.
The awards dinner is set up (in the cafeteria - due to lack of other sets) and ready to go. Natalie's eager for Geri to start performing her act (shut up, Natalie), but Geri looks uncertain and says she doesn't want to steal the spotlight from Blair. The girls mercilessly guilt her into performing her grisly act (shut up, everyone), so she finally gives in and agrees to perform (fuuuccckkk). She gives the nod to Mrs. Garrett, who bounds on the stage and introduces her by screeching, "Here's Gerrrrrri!!" and Geri takes the stage and unleashes a painful slew of self deprecating jokes about what it's like to have cerebral palsy (snore, sigh, wince)...and the Eastlanders clap and pretend to bust a gut laughing.
Blair peeps into the cafeteria from the kitchen door. She smiles fondly as she listens to Geri tell the audience about the comedy skits they used to do together as kids. Geri jokes that she doesn't mind doing her act alone, since performing with Blair "is like double dating with Loni Anderson"...and Blair hangs her head shamefully. Geri then launches into another mind-numbing joke, and Blair interjects to deliver the punchline - which gets awkward when everyone turns to quietly stare at her. Geri mumbles, "Everybody has to get in the act" and Blair climbs on stage and looks solemnly at Geri, who urges, "Hit it, partner." Blair grins, and the two link arms and start singing Tea for Two. They tag-team on a few wretchedly unfunny jokes - but suddenly Blair goes off-script and blurts out, "Hey - did I ever tell you about the girl who never told her cousin how great she is?!" and Geri just stares at her, unsure how to retort. Blair looks contrite and tells her she's terrific, and Geri replies with, "I love you, Blair" and the two hug it out while everyone in the audience coos, "Awwww..." Mrs. Garrett jumps to her feet and for some reason starts shriek-singing...and everyone sings along and claps, mercifully ending this torturous episode.
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7/29/2021 06:53:32 pm
I had to rewatch this episode after reading this. I always remember thinking it was cute & funny. I was wrong. What a horribly unfunny cringefest. I suppose it was the norms of the time, but how the fuck was this ever considered funny? Much less a "very special episode" about accepting people with disabilities? Big yikes.
11/23/2022 08:34:20 am
I always hated the Geri episodes too - glad someone finally said it. It was an 80s thing. Diff’rent Strokes used that tiny girl in the wheelchair too.
2/10/2023 02:00:42 am
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