meet danny: america’s love child

23 Jan

Side note before reading: I’ve decided not to edit the posts depending on if some of the information will seem irrelevant to this post. I just don’t have the energy, and we all have imaginations that we can use to fill in the blanks.

Television in the 1980’s was all about the “very special episode”. For example, Gary Coleman’s young friend gets given alcohol and molested on “Diff’rent Strokes”, “Saved By The Bell” introduced us to that homeless chick and her dad that shaved in the bathroom at the mall to explain to viewers that homelessness was alive and well, and there was that time on “Full House” when Michelle’s fish died and it was supposed to be a big deal for some reason. Wikipedia actually has an entire page to describe the “very special episode”. The 80’s were all about that shit.

Most people looking at this page are probably wondering who the handsome devil decorating the background is. That, my friends, is little Danny, a character used once on the hit show “Mr. Belvedere” back in, you guessed it, the glorious 1980’s, in order to create a VERY special episode. He was only on the show once, but damn, did he leave a lasting impression. Now, I’ve never actually watched an episode of “Mr. Belvedere”. The reason is mainly because this episode involving Danny is the only one I’ve ever cared to see and it is absolutely nowhere to be found online. I don’t get why, but it’s depressing, and you’ll understand why it upsets me so much in mere moments, once I explain what the hell this episode is about. Or you could just watch the clip and figure it out, whatever. Either one works.

But yeah, so I’ve never watched an episode of “Mr. Belvedere”, but what I have learned from watching various YouTube clips of it is that it is weird as fuck. Practically every clip I saw had some weird dialogue either having to do with pedophilia, molestation, or bondage. That’s pretty weird considering this is a family show. Apparently “Mr. Belvedere” was really trying to cover every single possible topic of a “very special episode”. I hope this show won some awards.

Specifically, I hope the episode this clip is from won some awards. More importantly, I hope this clip itself won awards. Several, actually. I hope it won every award it was nominated for. That’s how much I love this clip.

So, everyone, meet Danny. He’s just a little kid, going to visit his friend. He looks the way he does, speaks the way he does, and he’s got AIDS, but other than that he’s doing pretty good. Yes, that sentence was just written. And I didn’t write it as some cruel joke or offensive statement, I’m literally quoting the scene. That weird little kid actually just said “well, I got AIDS, but other than that I’m doing pretty good”. What the fuck is that? Seriously, what is that? Who wrote that dialogue? Why did they write it? Why did no one stop them? I feel like that sentence should never be spoken.

Now, if that statement alone wasn’t mind-boggling enough, there’s so much more going on in the scene to dissect. First of all, look at that kid. Just take a good look. His glasses take up half of his face. I understand that the 80’s were a weird time, but that poor kid doesn’t stand a chance. Secondly, the way he speaks makes me really sad. I believe that the family name on the show is “Owens”, but if you listen to little Danny speak, it sounds like he is saying “Owns”, as in “Hi Mr. Owns, Mrs. Owns”. If it wasn’t bad enough that kid has those glasses, he has to also not know how to speak. Then add AIDS to it and I just don’t even know what to make of what’s going on. While he’s saying the line, it is also apparent that Danny is in fact cross-eyed. This poor kid can in no way catch a break. I don’t know what the writers had against him, but he must have done something really wrong to them.

What makes this scene so awkward though is not Danny himself, but the reaction of the parents and the audience after Danny says he has AIDS (but other than that, he’s doing pretty good). Mrs. Owens looks pretty disturbed. She kind of looks like if you’re at a dinner party and someone asks how the meat is and she thinks it’s a little dry. She’s uncomfortable fully saying it, but you can tell she feels that way. Mr. Owens looks like he smelled something bad and he wants to ignore it immediately, or that he is severely disappointed in one of his children after learning they drank after the big dance (“Full House” did a great job with that storyline). I have no idea who that girl in the background is, but she isn’t helping out the situation. But then there’s the audience. You can tell the audience has no idea how to react. There’s some laughter, but mostly, even though I’m watching this scene probably 30 years later and on a laptop, you can tell that everyone in that studio audience is uncomfortable. This would have been an awesome time for the bigwigs at “Mr. Belvedere” to use a laugh track rather than a real audience, but I guess they were going for authenticity. They wanted to make everyone uncomfortable. That’s what the “very special episode” is all about.

So yeah, this clip exists. This actually happened on a television show. I won’t lie, I think this is my favorite clip to ever exist on YouTube. I wrote this entire post without watching the video once because it is forever burned into my memory. I could watch it over and over without stopping and still be amused. I just love little Danny that much.

Oh, and for anyone who was wondering, I know how Danny got AIDS. Trust me, I looked up the information on this episode in my failed attempt to watch the full thing. Apparently, Danny was playing Abraham Lincoln in the President’s Day play. Suddenly, Danny stopped coming to school and they needed someone else to play Abraham Lincoln. It is soon discovered that Danny became infected with AIDS through a blood transfusion. I realize that I wrote that whole synopsis out before actually explaining how Danny got AIDS, and I’m glad I did. For some reason, I really love the idea that the episode revolved around the President’s Day play, and that Danny had a lead role. I think that makes his plight even more devastating.

Also, please note that I’m not trying to downplay AIDS. I’m just genuinely so confused by this clip and storyline that I endlessly need to discuss and share it with people. Everything about it baffles me, and I think that’s why I love it so much.

As an added bonus, here’s a preview from another “very special episode” of “Mr. Belvedere” followed by an extremely inappropriate ad for another t.v. show right after it. “Mr. Belvedere” and the 80’s really knew what they were doing in our society.

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