These kids today! Things would be a lot better if they had those preachy ABC Afterschool Specials to give them a moral compass. Okay, none of that is true, but here are some of silliest, most over-the-top Afterschool Specials from the ‘70s, ’80, and ‘90s.
In this very dark take on It’s a Wonderful Life, a teen experimenting with alcohol gets a glimpse into his future, if he keeps on drinking. The good news: He grows up into Gerald McRaney, from TV’s Simon & Simon. The bad news: He also becomes a homeless alcoholic.
This one might have geared more toward the parents of teens than the usual teen audience. The plot: a couple of overprotective parents are so worried about their teenage daughter’s comings and goings that they hire a private detective to follow her around and report on her activities. (They ultimately learn to trust their daughter and give her some space.)
Plucky teenager Becky is really looking forward to her high school prom. But then, guess what happens? She gets stood up—her date cruelly cancels on her at the last minute. She missed all the fun of what was supposed to be a big night. What’s a plucky teenager to do? Becky takes the guy to court is what.
Daddy Can’t Read
A teenager named Alison takes it upon herself to increase the literacy rates among those who work at a factory with her father. Dad is mysteriously dead set against Allison’s efforts. (That reason? Read the title—he’s secretly illiterate, too.) For some reason, Daddy Can’t Read also features a cameo from pop superstar Michael Jackson as himself.
The Day My Kid Went Punk
In this dramedy about exploring one’s identity, a teenage musician tries to differentiate himself from his peers by adopting the “punk rocker” look. It’s worth noting that this special was made in 1987, a good decade after people stopped dressing like punk rockers.