Pardon me while I rehash some ongoing thoughts about Blossom and Urkel.
Both were quirky teenagers featured on 80s TV shows. Mayim Bialik is now a PhD, mother (just wrote a book on parenting), actor (Big Bang theory), and appears to be a Modern Orthodox Jew (problematically sidestepped on What Not To Wear**, I think).
Jaleel White continues to act, write, and produce. He won a bunch of NAACP Image Awards, although there was some recent controversy regarding partner violence.
Would it be fair to say that these kids played squeaky-clean dorks who made their road by walking? Sure. Might there have been overlap with their real life selves? Not sure that's relevant.
My poorly-articulated issue here is actually my increasing identification with Urkel. While we are both Chicagoans and have very snappy fashion sense (meeting around the giant glasses, highwaters, and suspenders, which all RULE), I am not totally sure what is going on here. You don't have to psychoanalyze me (although you are welcome to do so in comments), but it's troubling that I seem to be unable to think about Blossom, Mayim, Urkel, or Jaleel separately. Why do I place them in a (false) binary?
In the other corner, we have a black nerd, a phrase now gaining media traction in, you know, indie rock, TV, and comedy.
Herein the problem begins to show.
Intersectional identities matter here. The question remains whether we are documenting, reproducing, transforming, or doing something else with stereotypes and social expectations.
Do I have to unpack that thought? Maybe I'll come back later.
A big plus, for me, in my recent learning about Urkel is that he had a catchphrase about cheese:
GOT ANY CHEESE?
I think about that a lot.
Because I want cheese, like, all the time.
Which is also problematic. Ask our mother, the cow.
What do you think? Lay it out in comments, please.
*Yep, a reference to a killer God Is My Co-Pilot song. Sure, it doesn't necessarily fit with the 80s sit-com teen dork theme, but arguments can be made for intertextual relevance and stuff.
**Mayim was on a recent-ish "What Not To Wear," the TV show that is kind of inspirational and appealing (I WANT A THOUSAND BUCKS TO GO BUY NEW CLOTHES!) but also shaming and promotes the cult of monoculture (EVERYONE IN BOOT CUT JEANS, YALL).