October 15th: Living Single

Tight, like glue.

Okay, so this seems like an extraordinarily 90s show from the 1990s. I say "seems like" because I have never seen it. That said, it stars Queen Latifah, who is and has always been a legend - I mean, "U.N.I.T.Y."? Get the hell out of here, that song is strong. So, since we know next to nothing about this program, let us use our interpretive skills, combined with the power of some incredibly-light internet browsing, to figure out who these people are and what they're doing for Halloween.

And while I can't tell you much about the show at this point, I can tell you that, ooh, in a 90s kind of world, I'm glad I got my girls. Especially since they're...

Living Single

Premise-wise, we're looking at a Friends scenario, with six attractive singles in their late-20/early-30s, living in close proximity, and probably looking to lay one another. Hey, when in Central Perk, right? Riiight... Let us hope this New York residence is kinder to us than the one in Kate & Allie.

Space: Brooklyn, NY
Time: October 27th, 1994
Episode: "Trick Or Trust" Season 2, Episode 8

We begin with a cold open of Halloween-lovers doing as Halloween-lovers do - scooping pumpkins, baking seeds, and fixing the dumbwaiter. I give tremendous credit here to resident goofball, Obie, who is not quite a Gomer, but definitely the Xander of the group. Witness the depths of his prankery:

He has committed to an ideal set-up, and he's invested in a prop I've never seen before, that being the bloody-stump cap. How long did Obie spend thinking about this moment? It must've been at least a 24 hour lead-time - time enough to concoct such a scheme, purchase the bloody-stump cap, put it in his toolbox, and then wait for the perfect moment, when the whole cast would be there. Sure, maybe he needs a hobby. Or maybe - just maybe - this is his hobby.

Anyway, this is expanded into your B-story, as Obie enlists his girlfriend and future-wife, Synclaire, sister of Latifah's Khadijah, who's dating a fellow named Scooter, to help him successfully prank Max, the forever-grumpy, forever-present non-roommate roommate. Two things: 1.) No fewer than half of the Living Single roommates are currently not living single. This becomes even stickier if you include Max and Kyle's love/hate back-and-forth - they might be technically living as singles, but they've secretly reserved their hearts for each other without even realizing it. 2.) Max is so not impressed by anything, which is a shame, because she's constantly hanging out with some very fun people who do a bang-up job with their decorating.

Right off the bat, we see the ever-present paper products, but we're also seeing some mid-90s "goodie-bags" as I believe they were (are?) known. Yes, plan your trick-or-treating route carefully, and you too can maximize your candy haul by front-loading your itinerary with goodie-bag houses, thereby getting "more bag for your knock."

Elsewhere, resident magazine writer Khadijah has decided to ignore her perpetual deadline and join her beau, Scooter, at Halogen Records' costume party. Regina, Khadijah's BFF, and the one who strikes me as being the most fun, goes with, even joining her in Scooter's apartment, where she has been tasked with retrieving a talking parrot. At first I thought this was going to be an actual parrot, and we'd see the ep devolve into a "try to get the escaped pet back into the house" situation. But no, it was a stuffed animal, and this is going to be a classic misunderstanding (not to be confused with a classic mix-up) involving what would become a saucy email in the 00s, and eventually a saucy text in the 10s - yes, that's right: it's a saucy fax.

A fax! That is so 90s! But as Regina demonstrates, the perils of the saucy fax were nearly identical to the perils of today, when one's sidepiece blows up the phone while it's on the coffee table in front the partner being cheated on - of course they're going to look! And look they do.

It is, of course, appropriately vague in all the right places, but with definite clues between the lines that could change it from "saucy" to "sexy" at any given moment. They decide the best course of action is to sit on this info, play it cool (by which I mean "play it suspiciously over-the-top") with Scooter until new information is brought to the table, and find their scarlet woman. Though isn't it really Scooter who would be the scarlet one here? Ladies, don't worry about who it is, just throw that saucy fax in his face and have him to explain himself before you drop him off at the curb next to the other garbage, right??

Anyway, the Halogen Records Halloween party is clearly booming, laden as it is with quality paper products, but here we can actually see the evolution of one such product:

Here is what I think happened - again, thank you for asking:

Example #1 sees the Living Single '94 version of this sign as a large, plasticky sheet to be hung from the vertical pumpkin plane of your choice (in both cases represented here, the front door was chosen). But here's the deal: Halloween is a holiday based on opening and closing those front doors. I suspect that the size and material of the '94 sign made it the one decoration that was constantly falling down, being caught as it was by billows of door-closing wind and the adhesive of cheap tape reacting poorly to the plastic. By the time of Example #2, the Alex Mack '95 paper product roll-out, this had been course-corrected with a smaller surface area and a sturdier, cardstock makeup. Nobody retro-fits like Big Paper during the Halloween season. Nobody.

Back at the brownstone, these two jokers launch prank after prank at Max, with rubber cockroaches, rubber hands, and rubber eyeballs all making appearances (Big Rubber being a major source of ad-revenue at the time). But nothing tops the exchange between Max and Kyle, who has made mention of a Halloween date, but appears to be flying solo . Max is delighted and asks him about it. Kyle waves her off: "It's not until midnight. Oh, that's when today turns into tomorrow, and you are unemployed for yet another day."

Whoa! That is some dry ice right there, that burn is so cold!

And, back at the party, after a night of suspicious sneers and Regina sniffing every woman in the room in search of the saucy fax-sender, the truth finally comes out and the classic misunderstanding is revealed.

It wasn't a sidepiece - it was just an up-and-coming artist for the label who was thanking him for the nice business dinner. That's all I need to hear - case closed!

Feel relief that that situation resolved itself, because back at the brownstone, tragedy befalls the group. Literally:

The roommates who are still single begin their recalculations regarding who they'll eventually be sleeping with and/or marrying. Stunned by this turn of events, America begins the grieving process over an inert Obie. Max panics at the sight of him sprawled across the landing, most likely dead. Except...

...He's totally fucking with you, me, Max - the entire world! It's a triumph of pranking (I mean, as far as pranks go, which is, admittedly, not very far), one that takes a village to pull off. But pull it off they did.

And Max can't fucking believe it.