An Oral History Of ‘Blossom’ With Mayim Bialik And Her TV Family

and 01.05.16 11 months ago 13 Comments
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Before she would become a role model and fashion icon for teenage girls all over America, Blossom Russo was just a kid sister and a secondary character. Blossom creator Don Reo’s original vision for a coming of age sitcom revolved around a teenage boy named Richie, with an older brother named Anthony and a kid sister named Blossom, being raised by a single dad. But since there were already several series focusing on teenage boys at the time, including The Wonder Years, an NBC executive named Leslie Lurie offered Reo a suggestion: “Why don’t you make it about the girl?”

Reo liked the idea and decided to use it, as he jokes today that it meant he “could steal all the stories The Wonder Years did and no one would ever know.” However, that wasn’t the only change that would be made to Reo’s Blossom pilot that aired on July 5, 1990. Instead of a hip single dad raising three kids — inspired by a visit to the home of legendary singer Dion DiMucci — the network requested that the family have a mom and dad in the picture, and the dad not be a cool musician. Instead, Terry Russo was an accountant and Barbara Russo worked in finance, and the young Blossom had to cope with the fact that her parents were considering a divorce.

Had the pilot worked, Blossom might have been an entirely different series when the first season began as a midseason replacement on January 3, 1991. Fortunately for everyone involved, the pilot didn’t work. To tell the story of how Blossom became a show about a rockin’ single dad raising his iconic teenage daughter, we caught up with Reo, Mayim Bialik, Ted Wass, Mike Stoyanov, and Jenna von Oÿ.

(Sadly, Joey Lawrence was unavailable. To that, we offer the saddest “Woah” imaginable.)