Beyond The Bitch
by Caitlin Tegart
Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead
I mean, who hasn’t been in this situation: your mom leaves you and your four siblings in the care of a neo-Nazi octogenarian for the summer while she’s Australia with her new boyfriend. And, as is so typical, the babysitter dies as soon as you work up the courage to confront her! You could call the police or your mom, but, like that would be lame and ruin the summer. So you leave the old lady at the morgue stuffed in a trunk with a note that reads “Nice old lady inside. Died of natural causes.” You do this.
The 1991 classic Don’t Tell Mom, The Babysitter’s Dead stars Christina Applegate as a smart, capable, fashionable Sue Ellen Crandall who finds self-fulfillment by taking a chance and being creative and supports her family in the process. Sue Ellen pretends to be 28 and wins a position as an assistant (to VP Rose) at General Apparel West. Sue Ellen’s down fall, we learn, is petty cash, which, OK, she likes to steal – always with the intention of returning the money when she gets her paycheck. Only, oops, they take taxes out of paychecks, which Sue Ellen didn’t anticipate. Guys, she’s 17.
Another issue: General Apparel West is failing because their school uniform designs are the worst. If only they had the advice of a young, hip, high school student. As Eddie Murphy as the white guy says in Coming to America: “Ah-ha!” Sue Ellen takes a chance on designing herself and Rose is over the moon about the designs, which, as they’re from 1991, are mainly different pairings of teal and fuchsia. Now, Sue Ellen just has to use the petty cash to put on the runway show, but, alas she already spent that money, so she and her siblings have to clean up their house to host it themselves. While this is a kooky lady movie, to be sure, Sue Ellen’s brother, Kenny, might steal the movie with his neglected wife routine. (The actor, Keith Coogan, sadly seems to have quit acting, despite starring roles in both Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead AND Adventures in Babysitting, which is sad, but if I had that resume , I’d probably drop the mic and make my exit too. What’s left to prove?)
The fashion show is a huge success, but Sue Ellen’s mom returns right as the show finishes which prompts Sue Ellen to admit her lies. Instead of punishing her, both Rose and Sue Ellen’s mom are impressed with her maturity and her work. This is also a winning kookly lady movie because it shows an awesome relationship between a mentor, Rose, and mentee, Sue Ellen. Neither the young upstart or the seasoned veteran are vilified and they support each other through the whole movie. And David Duchovny doesn’t like either of them.
Here are some quotes from Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead you should be using daily as part of a balanced diet:
– “I’m right on top of that, Rose.”
– “The dishes are done, man.”
– “It needed it!”
– “No, I’ve never been to Santa Barbara.”
– “Mouse brown hair, gives you a headache? Talks like she’s chewing her face?”
– “T.V. rots your brains.” (use twice a day for maximum effectiveness)
Caitlin Tegart is a comedian, writer and director often sighted at the Upright Citizen Brigade Theatre and CaitlinTegart.com.