Because I watched a lot of TV in the years after single digits and before college, I often find myself explaining or even justifying the strange programming that aired in the mid- to late 90s — often to people that missed it by virtue of not being the in U.S. at the time or simply by virtue of having had something better to do. While driving today, I remembered a staple of the daytime talk shows of era: those episodes where parents would complain that their underage daughters dressed too sexy. (Even though they presumably would have had to be the ones supplying the thongs and assorted other thong-like clothing items. To paraphrase The Simpsons, “I’ve tried everything but talking to her. Help me, TV show!”) The daughters would gyrate. Eventually, a black man wearing camouflage would come out yell at the girls until they cried. And that was the end of the show. I can distinctly recall variations on this premise airing on both Maury Povich and Sally Jesse Raphael, and I can’t imagine that every other Jenny and Ricki and So and So wouldn’t have run with the idea as well. It was at least pervasive enough to inspire that South Park episode. I just want to know who thought up the idea in the first place. “Do you people would be into it if we had this fake military guy treating scantily clad 13-year-olds like prison inmates? And maybe he could rough them up a little? Oh? Not that last part? Okay, how about just make them cry and then the audience can yell things too? Yeah? Good?”
It also occurs to me that a lot of the too-sexy teens could have kids of their own by now. (I mean, if their brief moments of fame are any indication of the years that followed, how could they not?) And they could at this very moment be telling the second-generation strumpetettes that thought it is, in fact, their body, they cannot actually do whatever they want. Then again, I suppose there’s always the chance that the spawn of too-sexy would rebel by going frumpy. And unless I’m mistaken, there were a good share of “Help Me Sex Up My Dowdy Daughter” and thereabouts.