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Try Some “Candy”

March 20th, 2009 by Damon van Deusen Video Production

If you still haven’t seen Strangers with Candy, consider this your second chance to correct your mistake. That’s what lead character Jerri Blank (Amy Sedaris) is doing as the self-proclaimed 46-year-old high-school dropout who returns to Flatpoint High with her libidinal, middle-aged camel toe and debilitating overbite after 32 years of prostitution and drug addiction. In her words, “I’m still making the wrong choices, but at least I’m doing it for the right reasons.”

This series is the mother lode of parody gold: a big glistening nugget that sparkles with irony and veins of satire. When I found out I’d be clipping this treat as part of my job for Hulu, I immediately packed a spare set of underwear just to stay dry. It didn’t work.

Spoofing the simplistic life-lessons of the 1970s and 80s Afterschool Specials, Strangers showcased the early writing/acting talents of Stephen Colbert and Paul Dinello, who played the dogmatic history teacher Chuck Noblet and his sensitive art teacher friend (and secret lover), Geoffrey Jellineck, respectively. They both dispense spoonfuls of oxymoronic advice, and the show is riddled with quotable lines like Noblet’s “You can’t un-fry things, Jerri” or the infamous “Retardation a Celebration” library filmstrip narrated by Wilford Brimley, or the “Go with what you know” line that precedes Jerri cooking up a batch of drugs to make friends.

Guest stars include Steve Carell (The Office), Paul Rudd, Will Ferrell, Winona Ryder, Janeane Garofalo, Cheri Oteri and many more. Awesome.

My personal favorite episodes include “A Burden’s Burden” where Coach Wolf (Sarah Thyre) gives Jerri a ten-pound baby in health class — which she promptly abandons — and “Bogie Nights,” where Jerri has an oedipal love-affair with new student Ricky. The list goes on and on. Take it from this Hulu video editor, the show is pure genius. But don’t let me peer pressure you into it.

In the stern, sobering words of advice from Geoffrey Jellineck to Jerri Blank, “If you’re going to smoke marijuana, be prepared to spend a lot of time laughing with your friends.” This must apply to “Strangers” too. Come on, don’t be afraid. Take the candy. “Good times” lie ahead.

Damon Van Deusen ()
Video Editor