Monday, August 10, 2009

Using "Busy" as a nickname for "Elizabeth"

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

I've never heard of this shortening name before, although maybe it was common in a certain place in a certain time. But, that's what Amanda Zimm's best friend went by in the mid-nineties teen series Ready or Not. Amanda was a non-practicing Jew from a divorced household, and Busy Ramone was the only daughter in an Italian family (who ran a butcher shop).

Apparently it ran on Showtime originally, but anyone I know who has ever seen the show watched it on Disney in the late nineties. For not being a Disney show, it sure fit their normal standards... 65 episodes were made, but at least it was over a period of five years (although the girls don't age appropriately... they go from the start of 6th grade to the end of 9th grade).

The first season was very much a conglomeration of "special episodes," and spent one episode dealing with each: bras, periods, smoking, negative body image, drinking, shoplifting, homosexuality, miscarriage, racism, wet dreams, and severe parental arguments. The only episode even in the first season that covers a fairly-common topic is about a garage band. The later seasons are more typical, dealing with dating, school sports, teacher's pets, and parents dating.

What made it a good show? Well, for teens, it was neat to see a show that only feature two (pre)teen girls in the opening... it was definitely a show that dealt with teen issues without dealing with major family drama every episode (like Family Matters or Full House), yet it didn't make things out to be completely unrealistic or only apply to certain sects of youth (think Beverly Hills, 90210 and Saved by the Bell). Yeah, it was a little heavy at times (I can't think of a single other show for teens in the 90s that featured miscarriage!), the boy-crazed Amanda got annoying, and we all questioned whether Busy was gay (she had boys all over her all the time and didn't really have real interest in any of them), but it offered some fresh views on topics that certainly need more attention.

The show came to an end as Amanda has to move across the country (mom remarried), and I can't seem to find a definitive answer as to why the show was canceled. :-/ The entire first season is on YouTube, and there's also a few episodes from other seasons as well.
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