Today is Soleil Moon Frye’s birthday. If that name doesn’t mean anything to you, you probably hate happiness, sunshine and bright colors. Otherwise, there is no excuse for not knowing/worshiping her. After all, we have Soleil to thank for the most joyous show of all time, Punky Brewster, in which she played the titular character. Yes, she was the girl who put the “Punky” in “spunky” and pretty much invented the P.D.P. (private dance party), memorialized forever in the opening credits. In honor of Soleil’s birthday and Punky Brewster fan-girls everywhere, I present to you five of my favorite episodes:
‘Punky Brewster’s Workout’
This is the episode where Henry buys a brand new fancy camcorder and forbids Punky to play with it. Of course, Punky and her friends use it to make an amazingly ’80s exercise video instead (fish mouth, anyone?), after which they accidentally drop the camera and break the lens. Henry later trips over it and assumes he was the one who broke it. Of course, Punky eventually tells him the truth and in a gigantic twist it turns out he already knew and had watched the video. I love this episode because the video is exactly something I would have made with my friends and I also remember relating to Punky’s adorably guilty conscience.
‘Just Say No’
Punky gets asked to join a super-exclusive clique, The Chicklets, because they like her fashion sense and her awesome treehouse. (Who wouldn’t?!) Unfortunately, this is a clique that likes to do “drugs” to have a good time. Punky is conflicted until she finds out about the “Just Say No” club. She bravely stands up to the Chicklets and even convinces one of them to join her in the anti-drug movement. This was a very hard-hitting episode that demonstrated to me that you could still be cool, colorful and fun without doing “drugs” – they were never very clear on what drugs these middle schoolers were actually using but I assume the bad kind!
I’m pretty sure you all remember this one. Punky and her friends are playing hide-and-seek but at the end of the day, they still can’t find Cherie. Turns out, she’s trapped in an old unplugged refrigerator. Punky rescues her and performs CPR, saving her life. This is one of the all-time most dramatic episodes of Punky Brewster and I’m pretty sure it scared me into learning mouth-to-mouth, a concept that has always grossed me out nonetheless.
My all-time favorite episode. This is the one where Punky needs a bra or, as the embarrassing saleswoman calls it, “an over-the-shoulder boulder holder”. Like any little girl, I was obsessed with bras, periods and my disappointing lack of underarm hair, so I probably watched this episode a hundred times, seething with jealousy that Punky actually needed a bra instead of just wishing to need one.
Much like ‘Just Say No’, this episode dealt with some very serious issues. Henry admits that he has a dangerous addiction… to sleeping pills. He has been taking them six months longer than he should have been. Very dramatically but unsurprisingly, Punky is the one who finally pulls him out of it, staying awake with him for two whole days and eventually convincing him to pour all the pills down the drain. That’s our Punky!
These televisionary gems are just a sampling of the kind of genius Punky delivered on a weekly basis. We all wanted to be her but Soleil Moon Frye actually was her. Happy Birthday, Soleil! Thanks for the multicolored memories!