Entertainment Weekly's writers reveal this year's list of the embarrassing things they love, from ''Flowers in the Attic'' to Bronson ''Balki'' Pinchot

By EW Staff
Updated July 20, 2004 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: Perfect Strangers: Everett Collection

Image credit: Heathers: ScreenScenes

Snotty Witches in Teen Movies

We admit it: We love snotty witches in teen movies

I like my noses button, my hearts twisted, and my ladies alpha; and when it comes to teen movies, I root for the bitchy popular girls. For starters, they’re pretty. And I enjoy watching them move in packs, like malevolent deer. The high school catwalking of Regina George’s clique in ”Mean Girls” is much more rousing than all that slo-mo ”Reservoir Dogs” man-strutting. And it makes me want to apply lip gloss, a feat thus far unmatched by Quentin Tarantino’s oeuvre.

I also appreciate their ruthless efficiency, no doubt inspired by that haunting cheerleading haiku — ”Be Aggressive, Be-Be Aggressive!” In ”Sixteen Candles,” it was minidressed queen bee Caroline Mulford who kick-started a supercool house party, while that mouthbreather Samantha whined her night away with a dork in a broken car. (And she was wearing a vest. Ew.) Nasty, hot girls are also guardians of conformity — the linchpin of the sheeplike consumerism that fuels America’s economy! Ponder this ”Pretty in Pink” equation: ”Artsy” Andie individualizes her gym-class uniform with a jaunty handkerchief. The cool chicks pick on her until she gets in trouble. Unique accessorizing = downfall. The Gap rejoices.

Everybody also knows that popular bitches rule — literally! Smelling of cotton candy and fresh blood, they are the true girl-power players in any school. As Miss Chandler (a.k.a. Kim Walker, pictured center with Lisanne Falk and Shannen Doherty), head of the Heathers, put it: ”They all want me as a friend or a f—. I’m worshipped at Westerburg and I’m only a junior.”

Still backing the underdog? Well, chew on this: Popular girls are actually the real losers in any teen movie. Sadly, the ”nice” wallflower always scores the guy. Meanwhile, poor Mean Regina got fat and hit by a bus, a Heather gets murdered, and while nerdy Samantha was chilling her freckled ass on that glass table and smooching Jake Ryan, popular Caroline was left hungover, poorly coiffed…and sticky with Anthony Michael Hall’s dried saliva.

Image credit: Mama: MPTV.net


We admit it: We love Mama from ”Mama’s Family”

Declare your undying love for ”Mama’s Family” reruns at a dinner party — or anywhere, for that matter — and you’ll be kicked to the curb faster than you can scream ”VINTON!!!” So consider this, all ye Mama haters: 30 years after she created Thelma ”Mama” Harper for ”The Carol Burnett Show,” Vicki Lawrence still travels the casino circuit portraying the brash, beer-drinking hausfrau in a one-woman show. In Lawrence’s deft hands, Mama is both begirdled nightmare and bewigged provider, stomping around in frumpy Jo-Ann Stores housedresses as she delivers decibel-shattering insults to any friend or neighbor at close range. But she’s not without heart: Mama remains a fierce defender of her nincompoop-infested family, and when she’s forced to reveal her true feelings, the lips quiver, the voice cracks, and the dollops of down-home wisdom come spilling forth. Now, good Lord, pick up your damn room before she breaks out the paddle!

Image credit: Perfect Strangers: Everett Collection

Bronson Pinchot

We admit it: We love Bronson Pinchot

In the Reagan era, fans of comedians with funny accents (and who isn’t a fan?) rallied around Pinchot, creator of two of the decade’s greatest hard-to-place voices: espresso-obsessed art gallery lackey Serge in Beverly Hills Cop, and Balki Bartokomous, the lovable immigrant from the mythical isle of Mypos on the ’80s sitcom ”Perfect Strangers.” These days, Pinchot is accent-free and, amazingly, still pals around with his old roomie, Cousin Larry (a.k.a. actor Mark Linn-Baker, left).

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’s it feel to be a guilty pleasure?
BRONSON PINCHOT Does that mean I’m like Häagen-Dazs ice cream or something?

It just means we really like ”Perfect Strangers,” but it’s not, you know, Shakespeare.
Okay, I get it. But I always thought I was more of a main course, not just dessert.

What’s the genesis of Balki’s accent?
Maybe about 70 percent Northern Greek, and then the rest is a mix of Russian and me at 6 years old.

Are people still offering you espresso with a twist of lemon?
Not anymore. They used to back in the ’80s, or they’d ask me to do [Balki’s] Dance of Joy, or mispronounce something for them.

What would it take for you to bring back Balki Bartokomous?
I was actually just talking to Mark about it. Ten years ago, I thought I was too awesome, that I would never do Balki again. But now I think it’d be fun.

In the battle of thick-accented ’80s comics, who wins: you or Yakov Smirnoff?
I’m not even gonna answer that. I was an actor creating a character and accent. C’mon, he was a Russian imitating his own accent. Give me a break! My s— was syndicated!

Image credit: Nikki Cox: Chris Haston/NBC

In the Cups With Nikki Cox

We admit it: We love Nikki Cox

Dear Nikki:

Hey, how’s it going? I’m not sure you know this, but your portrayal of Mary Connell on NBC’s ”Las Vegas” has a pretty dedicated following among young, sophisticated women. Actually, it’s more like one woman who’s not so young and wears underwear from Costco. And it’s not so much a following, really, as it is an appreciation of your…um…oh, who am I kidding? It’s your boobs, Nikki; I just think they’re swell. Pretty huge, too. I mean, seriously, wow.

That’s all I have to say, really — other than I hope you have a nice summer. And hey, great work there.

Best wishes,
Lynette Rice

Keanu Reeves in Paula Abdul’s ”Rush, Rush” Video

We admit it: We love Keanu Reeves in Paula Abdul’s ”Rush, Rush” video

Ostensibly inspired by ”Rebel Without a Cause,” this soft-focus masterwork showcases Keanu’s pre-”Matrix” emotional spectrum: that look of longing as he pines for Paula in the planetarium! The grimace of pain as he presses a cold milk bottle to his bruised cheek! His heartfelt response to whether he’s ever been in love! (”If I was, I didn’t know it.”) It’s almost enough to make us forget that Keanu and Paula are making out in an abandoned mansion minutes after her boyfriend DRIVES OFF A CLIFF.

Image credit: LeVar Burton: Everett Collection

LeVar Burton

We admit it: We love LeVar Burton

If your fondest youthful memories orbit a 24th-century spaceman permanently decked out in ’80s-style sunglasses or a grown man deferring to precocious kids about books, chances are you’re a LeVar Burton fan. So what if neither his 20-year stint (and counting) as the host of PBS’ ”Reading Rainbow” nor his seven-year run as Geordi La Forge on ”Star Trek: The Next Generation” quite equaled the gravitas of his breakout role in 1977’s ”Roots.” Burton remains a bold visionary. But as the man always says on ”Rainbow,” you don’t have to take our word for it.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How’s it feel to be a guilty pleasure?
LeVAR BURTON I know adults who don’t have children for whom ”Reading Rainbow” is a guilty pleasure. And while it was on the air, ”Star Trek” was one of the best shows on TV. We kicked ass.

What’s your favorite ”Trek” episode?
The ones where we’re in the holodeck dressing up as Robin Hood or Holmes and Watson. After seven years, when you wear the same spacesuit to work every day, any variety is welcome. It was like a holiday. I was still in the visor, but…

Speaking of the visor, eyes are windows to the soul. How’d you act in that thing?
The producers maintained it was a way to highlight the technological sophistication of the 24th century. It was a pain in the ass, but I cashed the check every week.

Was it embarrassing to play a character whose first love interest was a hologram?
Yeah, that was bulls—. The producers enjoyed that Geordi was inept around women. I don’t want to cast aspersions, but, y’know, I find it suspect that the only — Worf aside, being a Klingon — black male was emasculated by white male writers.

You piloted a plane in an episode of ”Rainbow.” C’mon, you had a stunt double, right?
I flew that airplane. I landed the plane. Life is about experience, man. Drink it up!

Image credit: James Spader: Everett Collection

1980s James Spader

We admit it: We love 1980s James Spader

Before Spader revitalized his career as a yuppie from hell on TV’s ”The Practice,” he lit up the silver screen in the 1980s as…well, a yuppie from hell. Whether he was trying to stop Andrew McCarthy from hooking up with a doll in ”Mannequin,” or trying to stop Andrew McCarthy from hooking up with a Ringwald in ”Pretty in Pink,” or trying to stop Andrew McCarthy from beating the crap out of him in ”Less Than Zero,” Spader was always up to no good, and more often than not sporting an unbuttoned shirt and lots of awesome hair-care products. The man made sleazy look easy, and it was never easier or sleazier than when he busted out the white suit and dangling cigarette in ”Pink,” advising his pal (McCarthy, of course) that ”the girl was, is, and will always be nada.” One hit of such pure, uncut Spader, and you’re hooked for life.

”Flowers in the Attic”

We admit it: We love ”Flowers in the Attic”

Freud, Shakespeare, and the brothers Grimm were wusses compared with V. C. Andrews, author of the 1979 oh-my-God-no-way-eww-they’re-doin’-it! tale of sibling love, ”Flowers in the Attic.” In one swift read (why linger over the language when Andrews clearly didn’t?), you get a dead father, a glamorous sociopath of a mother, an evil grandmother, and — ta-da! — a brother and sister growing up in one room with nothing to do but stare at each other. Faster than you can say ”puberty,” things start getting pretty funky. ”Flowers” falls into the grand tradition of smutty ”literature” like ”The Story of O” and Judy Blume’s ”Forever.” In other words, skip the blah-blah ”character development” nonsense and head right for the naughty bits.

Image credit: A Night at the Roxbury: Everett Collection

”A Night at the Roxbury” Music

We admit it: We love ”A Night at the Roxbury” music

Songs by artists like Amber and Ace of Base got a bad rap in the flimsy ”SNL” flick ”A Night at the Roxbury.” Just as film fans have come to worship Will Ferrell’s genius years later, so music lovers will one day understand what rayon-shirted Long Island mooks have always known: Those simple synths and rigid rhythms couldn’t be easier to sweat to. Throw in a diva belting something catchy and even the most hapless hoofer is guaranteed a little bit of dance-floor ecstasy.

”Starting Over”

We admit it: We love ”Starting Over”

Have you already grown tired of ”America’s Next Top Model”? Are you a closet ”Oprah” junkie? Then get yourself hooked on the syndicated reality soap opera ”Starting Over.” Yeah, it’s six women living in a house together. But instead of drinking themselves sick, these gals (each with a two-hankie history) rely on dorky self-improvement exercises and relentlessly cheery life coaches to claw their way back to a better life. It’s got all of ”The Real World: San Diego”’s crying, cursing, and PMS-related hysteria — with a welcome chaser of warm fuzziness.