Tina Yothers of N.B.C.’s Family Ties knows all about the problems you face today.
I know, I know- this is like 8 weeks in a row that I’ve “No, seriously, guys, THIS is the weirdest book intended for a teenage audience!!!”
But starting with the weird grammatical choices (the plural-possessive of “Yothers”, the odd insistence on punctuating “NBC”) this one is pretty weird.
Background: Tina Yothers played the younger daughter, Jennifer, on “Family Ties”, which started with the premise that two idealistic flower children were unprepared to raise teenagers in the go-go 80s, and fairly quickly turned into the Michael J. Fox juggernaut, which is fine because he is literally the only part of that show that is watchable 30 years on.
Jennifer started out as the adorable, wisecracking youngest sibling, but as the series wore on, she was replaced in that role, Cousin Oliver-style, by a baby brother.
While there is an adult co-author credited, it pretty much reads like a 13 year old girl was allowed to publish a self-help book without the benefit of medical supervision or editorial oversight.
Some Highlights: The tone is struck early on…
You might ask, why is Tina Yothers writing this book?
I get so much mail because I am not too pretty and don’t have the best shape.
I think my nose is too big, or that my whole body is too big.
My most special quality is that I am easy to get along with.
I sort of feel like in attempting to package Tina Yothers as a typical 13 year old girl, they’ve gone too far in the other direction, making Tina a sad-sack with dangerously low self-esteem and body dysmorphia.
It doesn’t help that the Tinactivities (!!!!) work-out program is illustrated with photos of her in full hair and make-up, wearing an extremely unflattering Jazzertard:
The “My Diet” chapter is equally depressing, and also confusing and includes a lot of that diet food-of-the-moment, the baked potato.
I usually eat lunch at the commissary at Paramount Studios, where “Family Ties” is filmed. I try to eat a salad or a cucumber.
But make no mistake, being Tina Yothers is a dangerous job, evidenced by this sub-heading:
Should You Ever Fist-Fight with Somebody?
You would not believe how many kids give me a punch just to be able to say they hit Tina Yothers.
Was that… a thing? Oh, the 80s. That crazy, coked-up, Tina Yothers-punching decade!
We also learn that in addition to an older sister and two older brothers, Tina Yothers has a foster sister, also named Tina, and they don’t always get along. However, Tina Yothers provides a list of ways to “do something really special for a sister or brother once in a while”, including making them this…
Peanut Butter Pizza. That’s right! Buy a prepared pizza crust or make your own from scratch.
Spread a mixture of peanut butter and honey on the crust
Sprinkle coconut flakes, raisins, nuts and fruit chunks on top
Spread mozzarella cheese over the top
Bake about 8-10 minutes
Eat it together!
…which sounds halfway between an eating disorder and revenge on Evil Tina.
There is a chapter about what happens when your parents get divorced, which is only slightly more reassuring than Richard A. Gardner, MD is on the subject:
Divorce isn’t fun for anybody. Everybody’s angry, sad, and there is lots of yelling and sulking. Worst of all, everybody has to get used to it, whether they like it or not.
It’s too bad that many Moms and Dads fight over who will have the kids and when. They want to hurt each other a little more- and they end up hurting the kids.
When you’re staying with your dad, he may not be able to entertain you and take you places, because he has money worries. Sometimes he lives in a hotel or tiny apartment.
If your parents remarry, you’ll have step-siblings who will obviously be a total nightmare, but she reminds you that it’s not the worst thing that could happen, by following it up with a chapter about your parents dying entitled THEY’RE NEVER COMING BACK.
Let’s move on to lighter subjects, such as maintaining Howard Hughes-levels of personal hygiene.
Being clean means a lot to me.
I am really surprised by all the girls who don’t shower often and don’t ever use deodorant. Maybe you are one of these girls.
She does provide a fairly extensive list of places on your body to give a wash, so I guess the reader isn’t doomed to be smelly forever.
And it clouds the issue when the very next chapter is about how to know if you’re being abused and one of the symptoms is “If you take lots and lots of baths”. I am really getting concerned that this whole book might be a cry for help.
Her advice on growing up is also somewhat less than reassuring:
What is a period? This is important to know. It’s very weird.
The Best Part Of This Book: She reassures the reader that Michael J. Fox is like soooooooo nice! No really, guys, he’s like super-nice.
I wonder if the punching reference comes from this:
OR IF THEY DREW THIS PLOT FROM TINA YOTHERS’S REAL LIFE!!!
Oh, indeed that could be true!!! Will we ever know 😉 ?