Episode artwork by Ian O’Phelan.

“Joey’s First Crush” (January 28, 1987)

Few other shows changed as much as Gimme a Break, which began as a fish-out-of-water sitcom that had Nell Carter playing mom to three white girls in California but ended up with Nell and her best friend, Telma Hopkins’ Addy, co-parenting two white boys in New York. Minus the kids, it’s basically a female-female twist on Perfect Strangers, only they don’t get steady boyfriends. Perhaps in an effort to make the show seem less gay, they tossed in a happily married character… who was played by newcomer Rosie O’Donnell. This episode, which is the second of Gimme a Break’s outings to feature actual gay characters, showcases a lot of how this show ended up pretty damn gay.

… Now that I think about it, maybe the only sitcom that changed as much over its run was Ellen — and that’s pretty notable, right?

Listen to our previous Gimme a Break episodes.

Learn all about Betty and Barney Hill in the Monday Afternoon Movie episode about 1975’s The UFO Incident.