Today, we look at the bizarre Out of This World episode where Evie turns herself into a teen boy so that she can date her lonely best friend, Lindsay.
In Remember to Forget, we spotlight pop culture stories that I wish I could forget, but I can’t, so I instead share them with you all, so you’re stuck in the same boat as me!
Out of This World was a surprisingly long-running TV series that was part of a unique syndication arrangement that NBC tried called “Prime Time Starts at 7:30” (I just wrote about the failure of that launch here). It was about a girl who discovered at age 13 that she was half-alien. She was given a communication device that would allow her to communicate with her alien father (who was back at his home planet) and she also learned that as she aged into adulthood, she would slowly gain more and more alien-derived abilities that were basically superpowers. When she turned 13, she gained the ability to freeze time, but as the show went on, her powers grew stronger and eventually she had the ability to more or less do anything.
We saw this in the 1989 Season 3 episode, “Stevie/Evie,” where Evie (Maureen Flannigan) feels bad that her best friend, Lindsay (Christina Nigra) was just dumped by her boyfriend. So Evie comes up with the idea of getting Lindsay to feel better about herself by using her powers to transform herself into a boy named Stevie that would ask Lindsay out and make her feel better about herself.
Here’s Evie in front of her bedroom mirror, trying to concentrate and use her powers to change herself…
And here is Stevie!
Honestly, the idea of Evie using her powers to become a boy is not a terrible idea. Obviously, it was fun to dress Flannigan up as a guy and have her try to pass as a guy. It’s obviously very much One Of The Guys and that’s fine, except this show didn’t put in ANY THOUGHT beyond that basic concept.
For instance, Stevie asks Lindsay to the school dance, the same dance that Evie was already attending with her boyfriend, Chris (Steve Burton). Obviously, the whole “two dates at once” routine is a classic sitcom trope, but there usually is some sort of plan to pull that off (that always fails). Here, Evie hasn’t taken anything into consideration.
Plus, when she actually meets Lindsay, she obviously doesn’t want to get physical at all with her friend but, again, what was the point of transforming her into a boy that was interested in Lindsay if she was not even going to dance with her?
Basically, the show posed questions and scenarios that it obviously had no real interest in pursuing due to the boundaries of late 1980s syndicated sitcoms, but then…why do it at all?
“Stevie,” after meeting Lindsay once and keeping her at arm’s length all night, then proposes marriage and Lindsay ACCEPTS! “Stevie” then has to make “his” life sound so unappetizing (“he” runs a lizard farm, for instance) that Lindsay breaks up with him.
It was just so bizarrely ill-conceived as a plot. Like they had, “Evie becomes a boy” and that was as far as they plotted the episode out.
There was one decent recurring gag where Evie complains about how much money she had to spend on her date when she was “Stevie.”
Again, I totally get the constraints that the shoe was working under at the time, but even with them in mind, this was done really poorly.
If anyone else has an idea for a future Remember to Forget, feel free to suggest other topics for future Pop Culture Theme Times to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.