'Facts of Life' Top Mistakes Eagle-Eyed Fans Might Have Missed
From 1979 to 1988, Facts of Life took us into the life of Mrs. Edna Garrett, who was the Drummonds' first housekeeper on the NBC series Diff'rent Strokes. Played by Charlotte Rae, she is a new housemother and dietician for the fictional all-girls boarding school. Check out these 10 mistakes you probably missed while watching the spin-off series!
#10 THE FLOWER VASE THAT DOESN'T STOP MOVING
If you watched the series, you know that the first season was quite different from the following years. The pilot of the series was aired as the first season's finale episode of Diff'rent Strokes and initially aired on NBC as The Girls School, or Garrett's Girls. Originally there were seven characters, but given the show's 30-minute timeslot, there just wasn't enough time for everyone.
In season 2 of Facts of Life, we are introduced to Jo, played by Nancy McKeon, who constantly butts head with her roommate Blair Warner. In the first episode, there is an argument scene in Mrs. Garrett's bedroom and in each scene, the flower vase on the table is in a different spot and the flowers are arranged differently.
#9 CONTINUITY MISTAKE IN A CAMERA SHOT
Continuity mistakes are bound to happen in a series and at this point, it's like a signature for every popular sitcom. Friends had cut scenes with extras randomly replacing the Friends, How I Met Your Mother had several bloops, and Malcolm in the Middle gave us a glimpse of who actually ruined the red dress: a production assistant.
In the scene where Blair is talking on the phone with her mom, Tootie pretends to "wash" the wall in order to hear her conversation. Her hand is raised up in one shot and after Blair said, "Will you know it off," Tootie's hands are immediately by her side. Who knows, maybe Blair had magical powers?
#8 NATALIE IS EITHER A VIRGO OR A TAURUS
Blair is one of the main protagonists of the series and is always making references to her zodiac sign, which is Gemini. For example, in the first episode of the series when she finds out that she'd be living with Jo, she cries out, "this must be an unlucky day for Geminis!"
Throughout the show, there are several references to the girls’ zodiac signs. In the "Adoption" episode, Blair announces that Natalie's birthday is on November 2nd. According to the zodiac, her birthday would make her a Virgo. However, in the "Free Spirit" episode, Natalie tells Mrs. Garret’s son Alex that she is a Taurus.
#7 NATALIE'S PARENTS DON'T HAVE RED HAIR
Many teen sitcoms are obviously more focused on the main characters, but every so often we get a glimpse of their parents. Sometimes, they're played by the same actor, and sometimes the parents look completely different with every appearance. For example, Topanga in Boy Meets World had three actors play her dad!
Another mistake in the "Adoption" episode is when Natalie is showing Blair photos of her parents and says that they both have red hair. Well, later in the episode, neither one of them are redheads. What are the chances that both parents dyed their hair to switch up a hairstyle?
#6 DIFFERENT SHOES FROM THE REST
The Facts of Life actually shares a similar shoe mistake with How I Met Your Mother. In the iconic "Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit" musical number on HIMYM, there is someone wearing different sneakers while everyone is wearing loafers. It's safe to say someone decided to get a little more comfortable for the final scene of the episode.
In "The New Girl", the girls hotwire the school van and make their way to the Chugalug bar to find older men. When Jo first enters the bar, she's wearing white open-toed shoes. When they meet some guys, they find out that one of them is actually an undercover cop who ends up taking them to jail. In the cell, Jo is wearing close-toed black shoes.
#5 FROM STRAIGHT TO CURLY HAIR IN ONE SHOT
In the 12th episode of season 2, Jo wins the Best New Student of the Year award. While she's initially very excited about her accomplishment, her father sends her a letter from prison and it brings back a lot of inner turmoil for the character. Throughout the episode, it's revealed that he was sent to prison for burgling the warehouse.
There is a scene in "The Secret" where Blair and Tootie sit down with her father who visits the school for Jo's award ceremony. They have a conversation with Jo's dad about the stock market and his trucking job. In one instance, she has straight hair and in the next shot, her hair is curled!
#4 THE DISAPPEARING LOCK ON THE WINDOW
In the season 3 premiere episode "Growing Pains", the girls return from summer vacation and all come back with souvenirs from their trips. Blair brings back a bottle of spirits from her trip to Europe but keeps it away from Tootie since she is the youngest of the dorm but was just hired as the dorm monitor.
Blair, Natalie, and Jo have a party without Tootie who eventually discovers them in the middle of their festivities. When the girls leave, Tootie tries to prove them wrong which happens to be around the same time the headmaster visits the dorm. Mrs. Garrett closes and locks the window but in the next shot, the lock is completely gone!
#3 JO'S GRANDFATHER IS ALIVE
In the season 3 episode "From Russia With Love", Natalie's grandmother Mona, who is a Russian Jewish immigrant, stays with the girls for the weekend. The visit ruins her date plans with her crush Chip which disgruntles her the whole visit. Jo gets annoyed with Natalie’s negativity and mentions that her grandparents are not alive.
In "Rites of Passage: Part 1" when both Jo and Blair are graduating from college, each of their family members is in attendance, including Jo's grandfather! Jo is originally chosen to give a commencement speech but turns it down when her first draft is rejected. However, she feels bad when she finds out her grandfather flew from Poland to see the speech.
#2 THE VISIBLE BOOM MIC
The boom operator's job requires major concentration to pull off successfully. The boom microphone hangs off a pole (like a fishing rod) and the operator has the big job of following the speaking actor while also making sure that the microphone doesn't appear in the camera's shot. It's quite a balancing act so you've probably seen one creep its way into a scene.
If you've watched any blooper reel for any film or sitcom, you've probably seen the boom mic slowly dropping into the shot after a scene is "cut". In the first episode of season 2, you can see the shadow of a boom mic on the wall when Arnold and Tootie join Blair and Jo in the room.
#1 PLENTY OF LAUGHS ON THE SET
Some of the scenes for the show were so funny that the young actresses could not control their laughter. For example in the "New York, New York" episode, Jo puts a suitcase strap around Blair's neck and you can see Natalie trying to hold back laughter. Another giggle fit came in "Dearest Mommie" when Blair loses control of the yo-yo.
The episode "The Four Musketeers" was the big paint fight between the four girls. As you can imagine, this was just plain entertainment for the girls! When Blair shakes the paint roller instead of Jo's hand, you can see Natalie laughing in the background. Also, when Blair takes a seat onto the paint, she can't hold back a smile.
GETTING BACK TO THE FACTS OF LIFE
For years, people were wondering if they'd ever get a reboot or reunion show for the series since it was so popular and fans got exactly what they wanted! ABC aired the two-hour movie reunion on November 18, 2001. In the reunion, the girls get back together with Mrs. Garrett at Peekskill, New York and spend the Thanksgiving holiday together.
On September 15, 2014, the cast reunited again at The Paley Center for Media's PaleyFest Fall TV Previews. "I really didn't realize at the time, I don't think any of us really realized, how much impact it made on people. But, we're getting the message now," said Charlotte Rae about the show's fanbase.
LIFETIME'S YOU LIGHT UP MY CHRISTMAS
In December 2019, Lifetime aired the most recent reunion of The Facts of Life cast with their Christmas special, You Light Up My Christmas. The reunion brought back Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn, and Kim Fields together to celebrate and brighten up the holidays in the city.
All the minor mistakes and bloopers definitely didn't take away the greatness of this show: it was one of the longest-running sitcoms of the 80s and is considered an NBC classic. Who was your favorite character on the show? Were there any mistakes that we missed? Share your findings in the comments below!