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In Memoriam: ‘Square Pegs’ Creator, 'SNL' and Screenwriting Pioneer Anne Beatts

April 21, 2021
2 min read time

I didn’t know Anne Beatts by name, but I mourn her passing

"Yeah, you know, cliques; little in-groups of different kids. All we have to do is click with the right clique and we can finally have a social life that’s worthy of us." ~Lauren Hutchinson, Square Pegs

I was a weird girl in Iowa that stuck out like a sore thumb. I never fit in with any of the cliques at school (sporty kids, theatre kids, popular kids, the bad kids, goths, etc.), making me that weird wallflower always on the periphery but just within earshot of everyone talking. I’d go home after school to find solace on television, and when I came across Square Pegs, I immediately fell in love. It was my life: Not fitting in, but still wanting to join in. The show about two weird teenage girls that were trying to navigate high school and make friends.

I loved how Patty Green (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Lauren Hutchinson (Amy Linker) spoke like my friends and I (the ones that I did have). We were always trying to finagle our way to sit at the cool table, get invited to parties, asked to dances, and get to kiss cute boys (or girls). It was like watching my life, but at the end of every episode, they were always OK with themselves and wanted the other kids to like them as they were. It’s what made Square Pegs unlike any show or movie I’d seen: It was centered on girls being themselves.

The woman that created that life-changing series was Anne Beatts. She was a comedy writer who wrote for National Lampoon Magazine and made VW sue for the joke ad, a breakout writer for the original cast of SNL, wrote for the Cosby Show spinoff A Different World, and was a professor at the University of Southern California. Anne Beatts' writing did something that rarely happens on TV or in movies for women and girls. She didn’t have us conform to beauty norms and center the female universe around being picked by a boy. She made a conscious decision to have a mostly female writers’ room for the show and stood up for her vision to have writers who could speak from personal experience of being a girl in high school.

When I saw Anne Beatts had passed, I didn’t realize at first that she had created a beloved show from my childhood. I haven’t thought about Square Pegs in years. I’m sad that a show I loved so much as a kid, and living in LA as I do, that it never occurred to me to look up the show’s creator on IMDb. Especially realizing that she worked at USC, so our paths may have crossed while I was working there, too. I wish I had looked her up so that I could have told her what the show meant to me. That I saw myself reflected as a socially awkward weird girl who worked hard to be OK with what she saw in the mirror. That like Patty and Lauren, I’d hang out with my friend when we didn’t get invited to parties or asked out to the dances. I never had that movie ugly duckling moment where I took off my glasses, fluffed my hair, and voilà, I was beautiful.

But I’m OK with being a square peg that doesn’t fit in a round hole. Thank you, Anne.

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