In America, sports is king. In small town America, sports and the young athletes that represent the local high school carry of the weight of town on their shoulders.
In Varsity Blues (1999), the high school football Coach Kilmer (Jon Voight) is treated as a g-d in his small town. The young men who play on his team represent the hopes and dreams of those who live in the town. Coach Kilmer is ready to let his star player Lance Harbor (the late Paul Walker) lead the team to their 23rd division title. But his plans are derailed when Lance is injured and second string quarterback John “Mox” Moxon (James Van Der Beek) steps up to the plate, the coach questions if Mox can lead the team to victory.
When you’re a teenager, there seems to be immense pressure from every which way. Parents, teachers, friends are all on your back for something. But in an environment where Varsity Blues takes place, the pressure is on twice as hard. What makes this movie appealing is that Mox is the underdog who is not expected to succeed, but does.
Every generation has their child actors. My generation had Melissa Joan Hart, who is the subject this Flashback Friday Post.
In the 1990’s Melissa Joan Hart was the female child star of the decade.
From 1991-1994 she starred in Clarissa Explains It All. Told from the first person point of view of Clarissa Darling, a teenage girl who guides the viewer through her world. Her best friend Sam (Sean O’Neal) comes through her window. Her hated brother Ferguson (Jason Zimbler) is always looking to undermine his sister. Her parents, Janet and Marshall (Elizabeth Hess and Joe O’Connor), are, well the parents of a teenage girl seen through her eyes.
For the early 90’s, this show was unique. A television program focused on a teenage girl who was the audience’s eyes and ears was not the usual topic of a fictional television program. There was also an honesty about being that age, even with the heightened reality.
Two years after she left the world of Clarissa Darling, Melissa Joan Hart entered the world of another teenager. Sabrina Spellman is the lead character in Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (1996-2003). Based on the comic book of the same name, Sabrina Spellman is a 16 year girl who has a human mother and a witch father. Living her aunts Hilda (Caroline Rhea) and Zelda (Beth Broderick) and their talking cat (voiced by Nick Bakay) who was once a human being, Sabrina tries to balance being a normal teenage girl while learning about her powers.
What stood out about this show was that despite her magical abilities, Sabrina was an ordinary teenage girl. She was also not the most popular girl in school, which also added to appeal of the show.