Television TV


‘Tonight, on a very special Blossom…’ The most famous recanting of those words doesn’t come, in fact, from the much-loved American 1990’s sitcom but from Chandler, parodying the trope in Friends. The phrase ‘very special episode’ was once a way for US programme makers to explain to the viewers that the following show would contain difficult or hard-hitting topics that may well stray far from the normal laugh-fest and this quite often applied to Blossom.

While, on the surface, Blossom was a humorous programme – the cast regularly found themselves embroiled in a series of much darker subjects. These included alcohol and drug abuse, divorce, inappropriate relationships etc. and would be worked through in a series of life lessons for the teenage girl and her family and friends.

The show centred on the eponymous heroine of the piece, Blossom Russo (Mayim Bialik), the quirky dressing, sensible youngest child of the Russo family, who was named after jazz singer Blossom Dearie. She lived with her dad, Nick and her brothers Anthony and Joey and was clever, imaginative and thoughtful. She liked to record her ideas in the form of a video diary, while also being recurrently visited by celebrities in fantasy sequences. Famous names popping up in these roles included Will Smith, Mr T and Phylicia Rashad (Claire Huxtable from The Cosby Show), who would give her a helping hand with any issues she was having. Her interesting sense of style (dungarees and a lot of floppy hats with flowers on them) led to her becoming a bit of a fashion icon for young girls. 

Nick (Ted Wass) was a caring and responsible dad. Issues that affected his oldest son, Tony, left him somewhat overprotective and his views were often pretty conservative but he always tried to listen to his children’s problems and help them through them. He was a piano playing session musician, who was always ‘between gigs’ when he was seen on screen. Later on he met and married Carol (also inheriting her daughter, Kennedy) and then impregnating her in the penultimate series. 

Anthony (known as Tony, played by Michael Stoyanov) was a recovering addict, who lost four years of his life to drugs and alcohol. Once back on the right road, he was on hand to give sage and practical advice to Blossom, with whom he was very close. He had a fairly long-term relationship with Playboy bunny Rhonda but eventually ended up with Shelly, an illustrator he wed after a drunken night in Las Vegas. While not the best way to start a relationship, the couple decided to stick with it and eventually realised they were in love. They had a child, Nash Metropolitan, who was named in that ridiculous fashion after the car that he was born in.

Middle child Joey (Joey Lawrence) was portrayed mainly as a typical hunky-but-dim sports student with an eye for the ladies but was generally sweet-natured. His frequently uttered catchphrase ‘Whoa’ (it’s quite hard to replicate that written down – think the Fonz but more gormless) was combined with very big hair and a lot of tight t-shirts to create a perfect 90’s teen pin-up. After graduating from high school Joey Russo turned down an offer from Arizona State University to play professional basketball.

Mother, Maddy Russo (Melissa Manchester) was largely absent: she left the Russo home to pursue her dreams of becoming a singer in Paris. She reappeared in episodes later in the show’s run but a lot of the themes underpinning the plots revolved around the siblings’ attempts to deal with growing up without her.  

Another central character was Six Lemeure (Jenna Van Oÿ), Blossom’s best friend. The two shared good and bad times with each other and, despite living with her mother Sharon, Six thought of the Russos as her own family. Nick treated her as another of his offspring. Six experienced tough times 

throughout the show’s run, including her own struggles with alcohol, an affair with an older, married man and a pregnancy scare. She also had a crush on Joey, giving her yet another reason to spend most of her time at Blossom’s house. Two explanations were offered for her unusual name: in the pilot episode Six said it was because her father (who later divorced her mum) had drunk six beers when he got Sharon pregnant but a later account gave the reason that she was actually the sixth out of seven children. Neither is a good reason for naming a child, quite frankly.

(Apparently the role of Six was first offered to Melissa Joan Hart - of Sabrina the Teenage Witch fame – but she turned it down in favour of the lead role in Clarissa Explains it All.)

Blossom had an on/off boyfriend called Vinnie (David Lascher) who Nick was not a big fan of at first, mostly due to Vinnie’s tough guy exterior. Over time, however, Vinnie revealed his softer side and the two develop a grudging sort of respect for each other. 

One other notable member of the supporting cast was the children’s grandad, played by Barnard Hughes (The Lost Boys, Sister Act 2). As Maddie’s dad, Buzz Richman, Hughes joined the cast in the second season and briefly moved into the Russo house, bringing with him his war veteran past, his multiple marriages and vices including alcohol, women and cigars.

The idea behind Blossom came from a party that the creator, Don Rea, attended, where a long-term friend’s attitude to fatherhood inspired him to write a show featuring a ‘hip, with-it musician’ sagely guiding his youngsters through the trials of their adolescence. The main character was originally intended to be a teenage male but network NBC thought differently and urged Reo to rewrite it with an intelligent, sensitive and perceptive girl as the lead. 

The pilot took a fairly different path to the one eventually followed by the series proper. In it, Blossom, Tony and Joey lived with both parents, who were then the conventional Barbara and Terry (who sound more like a 1970’s British sitcom couple). Terry also wasn’t a musician in this, he was an accountant – Reo persuaded NBC to swap him to the divorced performer Nick, with a more stylish persona: this meant that both actors playing the Russo parents were let go after the pilot, with Wass and Manchester brought on board instead. 

The theme music in the pilot, Bobby Brown’s My Prerogative, was also ditched in favour of Dr John’s My Opinionation. The opening titles saw Blossom filming herself dancing along to it, in her bedroom. The theme of Blossom’s self-reflections via video continued to the end: the finale, which aired in the US in May 1995, featured Blossom recording her last diary, using the time to examine how far she had grown up since her first entry.

Five seasons of Blossom were made, with 114 episodes in all. During that time, many teenagers found comfort and advice from the plotlines that mirrored problems in their own lives. And sales of floppy hats went through the roof.


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  • Anonymous user
    I loved Six! It was the fast talk she did! It was the only thing I found amusing.
  • Anonymous user
    Six was played by Jenna von Oÿ.
  • Anonymous user
    Blossom had afriend called six who, if memory serves me correctly, was played by Lisa Loeb who later had a(short) pop career with her band nine stories (who i think were named after a collection of short stories by catcher in the rye author j.d. salinger).