Today’s Great Job, Internet! is taking time away from posting mashups and funny cat photos to deal with a very sensitive topic: very special episodes of TV shows. Those were the awkwardly earnest episodes of sitcoms seen mostly in the ’80s and ’90s that highlighted important social issues in a somber way while still trying to cram in a few ill-advised jokes throughout. It’s also a topic close to the heart of The A.V. Club as more than a few have been highlighted over the years in the A Very Special Episode feature.
The latest look into very special episodes comes from Vulture and its ongoing “Secret History Of Television” series. Previously, Vulture covered the history and importance of Bottle Episodes. And now it has turned its sights to the genesis, widespread use, and ultimate downfall of the very special episode. Some highlights are examined, including the apotheosis of the subgenre, Blossom and its never ending tide of very special episodes in which Blossom must deal with her period, sex, an addict brother, and a host of other very serious (and seriously special) topics. It’s worth a look to revisit the history and see why this format slowly died out as audiences became too cynical and TV became more savvy with how it told stories. So enjoy the video, maybe bring parents in to watch along and answer any questions that pop up, and let’s learn something very important together.