Strangers with Candy

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

"I'm moist like a snack cake down there!"

Strangers with Candy was a darkly comic sitcom that ran from 1999 to 2000 on Comedy Central and created by comedians Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert.

Jerri Blank, a "46-year-old boozer, user, and loser", ran away from home when she was young and spent thirty-two years doing things we'd really, really rather not hear about, no matter how eager she is to tell us about that donkey show in Tijuana. After spending time in the slammer, Jerri decides to abandon her life of debauchery and go back to exactly where she left off- as a freshman at Flatpoint High.

Of course, seeing as Strangers with Candy is based entirely on Spoof Aesops, Jerri's intentions of leaving her twisted, drug-addled past behind her never come to fruition. In her own words: "Oh, I'm still doin' the wrong things, but at least I'm doing them the right way." This mockery of after-school specials focuses less on the students and more on the adults concerned with nothing but their own selfish needs.

Jerri was based on Florrie Fisher, and many of Jerri's stories about her past are taken directly from Fisher's film The Trip Back, the inspiration for Strangers with Candy. Some comparisons here.

Sample plot: In the first episode, Jerri attempts to befriend a popular girl by supplying her with homemade drugs. The popular girl winds up in a coma, and Jerri spends much of the episode somewhat in guilt. When the girl dies, it seems as though Jerri will finally own up to what she has done -- but Jerri throws a memorial party instead, gaining the popularity she's wanted all along.

Oh, and every episode ends with a dance sequence.

The show starred creators Stephen Colbert (Chuck Noblet), Paul Dinello (Geoffrey Jellineck), and Amy Sedaris (Jerri Blank). (Fourth co-creator Mitch Rouse appeared on the show only once.) It lasted for three seasons on Comedy Central, from 1999 to 2000, and was briefly revived for a movie in 2006.

Tropes used in Strangers with Candy include:
  • Alpha Bitch: Fran from the finale.
  • Anything That Moves - Jerri is frequently being shown as being attracted to men and women, although she rarely does much about the latter. Not to mention her history in Tijuana with Ramone the Donkey.
  • Author Catchphrase - "Think about it - I haven't."
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other - Chuck and Geoffrey in Hit and Run; also one of the very few times this troper actually awww'ed the show.
  • Big No - Orlando at the mall when Jerri leaves him to return to the cult.
  • Biting the Hand Humor - the last episode.
    • Two property developers show up at Flatpoint High and repeatedly deny that they're tearing it down and building a strip mall, even as classrooms are demolished and food outlets built in their place. At the end of the episode, the teachers and students go on a rampage of destruction and burn down the school, with one teacher gloating "They'll never turn it into a strip mall now!" The Reality Subtext: the property developers were based on two Comedy Central network execs. Strangers with Candy was being cancelled, and replaced with a show called Strip Mall.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall - Jerri addresses the camera at the beginning of the episode, and sometimes mid-show ("Let's read it now"). Winona Ryder also does it when she delivers the aesop in the finale.
  • But You Screw One Donkey: "Oh, Ramone~"
  • Catch Phrase - "I've got somethin' t' say!"
    • Also "But I'll be the laughingstock of Flatpoint Hiiiigh!"
    • To a lesser extent, "Where have I heard those words before?"
  • Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere - episode "The Virgin Jerri".
  • Comically Missing the Point -- often by many characters.
  • Dance Party Ending - Every single episode.
  • Dawson Casting - There is absolutely no effort to make any of the actors playing "high-school age" characters look like they're anywhere close to their supposed ages.
  • Do Wrong Right - "Oh I'm still making the wrong decisions, but I'm doing them the right way."
  • Egopolis - Flat Point High is a high school rather than a city, but count the sheer number of images of Principal Blackman in the building, not even counting the loudspeakers coming out of posters of him with flashing eyes
  • Fantastic Drug: Glint. You just spread it... on your lips.
  • Fantastic Racism: against new people to the school
  • Dysfunction Junction
  • High School
  • Hey, It's That Guy! - Lots of them. I spy Meredith Grey!
  • Hypocritical Humor - Taking this Up to Eleven is a staple of the show. Examples include Principal Blackman commanding students to avoid falling in with a cult from a giant portrait with flashing eyes. Also, Noblet and Jellineck, who are having a gay affair, frequently toss around anti-gay slurs. So does omnisexual Jerri.
    • On a similar note: in the movie, Megawatti asks Jerri if she's thinking about entering the science fair, to which Jerri replies, "Nah, I'm thinkin' about pussy. The science fair's for queers."
  • If It Was Funny the First Time - Dialogue shared with Wigfield:
    • "You can't unfry things."
    • "Think about it - I haven't." (See also Author Catchphrase.)
    • "It was an eye." "It was a mouth." "Look, all I know is that when I tried to feed him there it would wink at me."
  • Large Ham - Many of the characters, and moreso most of the faculty, but especially Principal Blackman.
    • "And by audacity I mean huuubris, overweeeening priiiide!"
  • Jerkass: Everyone gets a opportunity to be one at least once per episode. Jerri herself most often comes across as a Jerk with a Heart of Gold
  • Meaningful Name - Onyx Blackman.
    • Stew the meat-man, Seamus the son of the closeted homosexual... Cassie Pines the grief counselor was meant to evoke "casket" and "pine box." Even Jerri Blank is sort of a retroactive example -- originally "Blank" was just the placeholder while they tried to figure out what her name should be, but they grew attached to it, deciding it was "just ugly enough," and it works in light of Jerri's unrelenting ignorance, apathy and naivete, and for double-meaning episode titles like "The Blank Page" and "Behind Blank Eyes." She's also one of the many white students cast as black characters in the school play whose last name suggests her whiteness.
  • Tear Jerker - The ending to 'The Blank Stare', for some.
  • The Munchausen: Jerri.
  • Once an Episode - "I GOT SUMPIN' TA SAYY!!" followed by a dance party in the end.
  • The Other Darrin - They had to replace Jerri's brother in The Movie because he "looked like a lumberjack". Also Jerri's dad bares no resemblance to his actor in the show whatsoever.
  • Pass the Popcorn - As Jerri witnesses her father's death, she yells "Daddyyyyyyy!" and takes a bite of her hotdog.
  • Playing a Tree: When the school put on the play A Raisin in the Sun, the three lead roles were given to the only white people in the drama club. All of the remaining students, who were black, were given roles as trees.
  • Porn Stache: In "Yes You Can't," Noblet has a prominent fake moustache to go with his "secret" dream of being a rock star. Hilariously, when he performs "Carry On Wayward Son" in the Dance Party Ending, he rips off the moustache as if it's the badass thing to do.
  • Public Service Announcement: the episode about the fake marriages ends with one of these featuring Bebe Neuwirth: "Sadly, 1/2 of all marriages will end in divorce. That's 75%! The other 25% end in drunk driving accidents. So don't get married and then drink and drive."
  • Race Lift - Played for Laughs. School production of "A Raisin in the Sun" casts only white people as main characters.
  • Refuge in Audacity
  • Sadist Show
  • Science Fair: The plot of The Movie.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch - Noblet and Jellineck in "There Once Was A Blank From Nantucket".
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus Seriousness - Very much on the silly end of the scale.
  • Sorry I Left the BGM On - Used throughout one episode in different places with different parts of a song with unlikely yet relevant lyrics ("You are large and quite obese, fat fat fat fat FAT FAT FAT, OINK OINK OINK OI-"), including a particularly heinous example where it mentions the exact actions of the characters in the room by name. At one point Jerri sticks a fork into the speaker, commenting "I can't believe that's the number one song!"
  • Spoof Aesop - Once an Episode
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "What ever happened to Daisy?" "No one really knows, but I know where she wasn't buried: under this shoe store!"
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute - In The Movie Orlando is no where to be found. Instead, we have Megawatti, who is exactly like Orlando. Apparently Orlando's actor didn't want to continue being the butt of race jokes.
  • Teen Drama - a parody. The parody.
  • Throw It In: "I stole the TV."
    • Script typos such as "I'll be back in a shortly" and "This was this one time..."
  • Trash the Set - the final episode
  • Two-Teacher School - Other than Noblet, Jellineck, and Principal Blackman, the only other faculty include a gym teacher, a secretary, and a counselor (played by Janeane Garofalo) who shows up in one episode and the Star Studded Finale.
    • "I've got 3,000 students and nearly a dozen teachers, surely one of them can prove to be exceptional."
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist -- Everyone, but Jerri most of all.
    • Colbert described the process of writing the show as taking basic morality plays and having everyone involved make "the wrongest choice possible."
  • You Look Familiar: Virginia Williams played four different characters throughout the series. It would seem at first that Delores Duffy did this, too, playing the school secretary Iris Puffybush, a nurse, and the owner of an artificial flower factory in various episodes, but it looks like she's really supposed to be all those things at the same time.