We continue our countdown of my favorite 1970s Christmas TV episodes with 1978’s “Girl Talk” from One Day at a Time.
One Day at a Time was about a newly divorced single mother, Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) raising her two teenage daughters, rebellious Julie (Mackenzie Phillips) and adorable people pleaser Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli). The series tried to really get “real” as much as it could for a late 1970s TV series, and one of the “realest” it got was in the Season 4 episode, “Girl Talk.”
The Romano women all have different plans for Christmas. Barbara is visiting her father, Ann is visiting HER parents and while Julie is supposed to go to see her dad with Barbara, she instead plans on traveling with a group of friends to Florida. Their building super (and oddly enough, their legit friend), Dwayne Schneider is shocked to learn that they aren’t spending Christmas together. After Ann’s parents surprise her by revealing that they are actually going to be away for Christmas on a Christmas Cruise, Barbara and Julie suddenly feel REALLY guilty about leaving their mother alone, so they both cancel their plans to spend Christmas with their mom.
They reminisce about the time they used to rent a cabin as a family, and on cue, Schneider, not knowing that they have already decided to spend Christmas together, pleas with them to borrow the cabin that he and his lodge buddies purchased a while back. They accept.
Once they arrive at the cabin, though, they discover that it is little more than a love shack, with a frozen water bed, a refrigerator filled with beer and records like “music to make out to.” There is also no heat!
So the three women all bundled together on the coach with a shared blanket, and try to sleep on Christmas Eve. They can’t sleep, though, so instead start to have a serious talk with each other, and they tell some things they’d never say before, like admitting how much they miss their parents being married, for instance…
It’s really well written, well acted stuff. Of course, the twist at the end is that they simply missed the thermostat in the cabin!
But boy, those scenes together on the bed were just excellent. While the episode is Christmasy ENOUGH for me to rank it high, I would have ranked it even higher if it was a bit more festive. I think, once you get down to the nitty gritty “girl talk,” this episode could have been set at any time of the year.
Still, it’s really well done, so I had to rank it pretty high.