There was a lot to like about Blossom, the 1990s sitcom that averaged about 12 million viewers per week during its five-season run and briefly turned Mayim Bialik into a fashion icon. The show was more than The Show That Was On After The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air On Monday Nights; it dealt with all of the occasionally serious problems one would expect from a single dad raising a precocious teenage daughter and a recovering drug addict older son. There was also plenty of lightness to counter the dark moments, courtesy of Joey Lawrence’s dumb jock son character, Six’s verbal torrents, and Blossom’s dream sequences with '90s celebrities (like ALF!).
With it being 20 years now since the show’s end, here are some Blossom truths discovered at the end of Ms. Russo’s video diary.
1. DION DIMUCCI WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR NICK RUSSO.
Series creator Don Reo was an invited guest to DiMucci’s 50th birthday party in Florida. Though he was a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, DiMucci acted like a normal parent with his three daughters, giving the former M*A*S*H, Rhoda, and The Golden Girls writer the idea for a family sitcom about a cool dad.
2. THE STAR OF THE SHOW WAS ORIGINALLY GOING TO BE A MALE.
Reo also wanted to make a show with a Holden Caulfield-type protagonist, so he combined that with the hip father idea and wrote a pilot for NBC. Blossom was just the younger sister in the script, until a female network executive suggested to Reo that she become the star.
3. IN THE PILOT JOEY’S NAME WAS DONNY, AND BLOSSOM’S PARENTS WERE STILL TOGETHER.
NBC aired the Blossom pilot as a one-off special on July 5, 1990—exactly one year to the day that they did the same for the Seinfeld pilot. There were notable differences between the pilot presentation and the eventual series: an accountant named Terry and a stay-at-home mom named Barbara were Blossom’s parents (the two have marital troubles), Joey’s name was Donny, and the theme song was Bobby Brown’s “My Prerogative” (changed to its eventual version in syndication and DVDs.) When NBC picked up the series, Don Reo convinced the network it was okay to have both a "hip" musician and a cool teen on the same show.
4. DR. JOHN SANG THE THEME SONG.
Written by Mike Post and Steve Geyer, it was titled “My Opinionation.”
5. MELISSA JOAN HART WAS OFFERED THE ROLE OF SIX.
She decided to take the other role she was offered at the same time: the title role in Clarissa Explains It All.
6. JENNA VON Oÿ HAD A SPECIAL MORNING COCKTAIL TO GET INTO CHARACTER.
To help get into character as the energetic Six LeMeure, "Jenna would mash up all this candy—malted milk balls, M&Ms—in a coffee cup, then fill it with Coke or hot coffee," Ted Wass (who played Blossom's dad) recalled to People.
7. THERE WERE TWO CANON EXPLANATIONS FOR WHY VON Oÿ's NAME WAS SIX.
In the pilot, six was the number of beers her parents drank the night she was conceived. In another episode, it was because she was the sixth child in her family.
8. BLOSSOM’S DREAM SEQUENCE WITH PHYLICIA RASHāD WAS ALMOST CUT.
“Blossom Blossoms” was the first episode to air after the pilot, now with Ted Wass as the piano-playing single dad Nick. Rashad drawing fallopian tubes on a birthday cake made censors nervous, but the network didn’t see any upside to cutting Clair Huxtable out of a heavily promoted episode slated to air right after The Cosby Show.
9. NBC MANAGED TO GET DRUG JOKES CHANGED BEFORE BROADCAST.
Anthony Russo’s description of a boring date was changed from “I've known people on Thorazine who were more fun than this girl” to “I've known people who were unconscious who were more fun than this girl" at the request of the network. A mention of mushrooms was taken out entirely.
10. THE INCREDIBLE HULK DIRECTED 30 EPISODES.
In addition to being an actor—and star of The Incredible Hulk—Bill Bixby was a prolific television director. After being behind the camera for most of Blossom's third season and the first half of season four, Bixby sadly passed away at the age of 59 after a long battle with prostate cancer. Five weeks later, Ted Wass’ wife passed away from ovarian cancer.
11. IT WAS THE LAST SHOW TED WASS ACTED IN.
But it was the first show that he directed, which is where he focuses his creative efforts nowadays. Wass has worked on a number of multi-camera comedies including 2 Broke Girls, Last Man Standing, and Melissa & Joey (which reunited Wass with his former “son” Joey Lawrence).
12. A LOT OF THOUGHT WENT INTO BLOSSOM’S OUTFITS.
Before each wardrobe fitting, costume designer Sherry Thompson and costume supervisor Marion Kirk would spend three hours checking out clothes in Melrose Avenue boutiques and chain stores to find outfits for Blossom and Six. Then Bialik, Bialik’s mother, Thompson, Kirk, a seamstress, and a milliner would figure out what would work and what wouldn’t.
13. THERE WAS AN OFFICIAL BLOSSOM FASHION COLLECTION.
Burdines, Dillard’s and Jacobson’s were three stores that sold the line in the summer of 1993.
14. JOEY LAWRENCE RECEIVED A LOT OF FAN MAIL.
A 1991 MediaWeek survey rated Blossom as the most popular show for viewers aged 12 to 17, and some of that was thanks to Lawrence. One estimate had him receiving 4000 to 7000 letters a day, while another claimed he received 15,000 a week. In either case, that's a lot of fan mail.
15. THE ACTRESS WHO PLAYED ANTHONY’S WIFE WASN’T THRILLED ABOUT THE ROLE.
Samaria Graham won the role of Shelly, and kept it despite her unenthusiastic response to the news. "I'm not really excited about it," she told the Los Angeles Times in 1994. "It's just another job. I mean, I'm happy, but I'm not thrilled or anything."
16. MICHAEL STOYANOV LEFT THE SHOW IN ITS FINAL SEASON TO WRITE FOR CONAN O'BRIEN.
Stoyanov forced production to write Anthony off the show toward the end of the fifth and final season when he accepted a job writing for Late Night with Conan O’Brien. Though he went on to write for Mad TV and Mr. Show with Bob and David, Stoyanov eventually regretted leaving the series. "I didn't fully appreciate the position I was in," he told People in 2000. "I've learned not to take anything for granted."
17. INITIALLY, NO ONE FOUND LAWRENCE'S "WHOA!" VERY FUNNY.
Twenty-five years after Blossom first aired, Lawrence's "Whoa!" catchphrase remains one of the show's lasting legacies. But originally, no one found the line (which was intended to be delivered in more of a surfer dude fashion) very funny. "The executive producer came up to me and said, ‘Can you try something else? … People aren’t finding it humorous," Lawrence recalled earlier this year. "I don’t know where that came from! I just tried it once and did this weird thing and people laughed. They laughed tremendously long. We did a second take and they laughed again ... It’s so weird that word has transcended 20 years. I can only imagine what that word would have been had social media been what it is today. It took off in the course of one night once it hit the airwaves, but with social media, it probably would have been twice as fast.”