Strangers With Candy aired on Comedy Central for an exhilarating but brief bout at the turn of the millennium. The show was your typical high school melodrama, only starlet Amy Sedaris played a 46 year old recovered drug addict returning to school as a freshman. Sedaris intoxicated us as Jerri Blank with her fluttering lazy eye, underbite, turtleneck, and “fatty suit” induced F.U.P.A. She co-created and starred in the show alongside Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert, and together they made a cult classic T.V. program full of raunchy humor and taboo subjects.
The show walked a fine line between humorous and totally politically incorrect, and that’s what made it so special. Sedaris and her co-stars constantly caricatured race, class, and sexual identity, but it was never unconscious. Strangers is a mockery of American culture, our shame, and our often terribly offensive beliefs. The show somehow passed under the radar of mainstream pop-culture, but it was also a year when TLC released two top singles and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets came out... Needless to say, some of us were busy.
Luckily, Esquire recently revisited some of our favorite too-soon cancelled TV shows, and we're pleased to say Strangers made the cut. How many geniuses do you need to make a show like this? A couple, and here are some of our favorite moments from Esquire’s exclusive interview with two of those Geniuses.
1. Amy Sedaris in response to the popularity of the show… “We didn't know we had an audience for Strangers until we did the book Wigfield [in 2003]. And then we saw all these ugly people and we were like, 'Oh my God, who are all these people?' God, we had an audience for Strangers and we had no idea."
2. Paul Dinello in reference to Sedaris’ character Jerri Blank… “She lives like an animal. She lives in the moment. She's only worried about where her next meal is going to come from and maybe her next sexual conquest.”
3. Paul Dinello on how they got away with the show’s lunacy… "I think in those days nobody was watching the store. There weren't a lot of grown-ups around."
4. Sedaris speaking on Jerri’s fashion and styling… “Vicki Farrell did the wardrobe for her, and the only thing I can think of that I told Vicki was, 'I want to look like I own a snake.' And she just nailed it. She was very put-together, just like Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. She had a really distinct style. I like opposites. I like it when unattractive people try to be attractive. You know, with the makeup and the hair off the neck and coordinated outfits. She always looked presentable.”
5. Sedaris in reference to Strangers script and writing… “Paul and Stephen were great with words and jokes and stuff, but for me, I'm very clownish. So I like to watch the series and be like, 'Okay, if I couldn't hear or understand anything, could I still find the show entertaining?' And I did. 'Cause everyone was so interesting to look at.”
Images via Gifwiffle & Strangers with Candy
Bee Gray is a creative writer and essayist living in Oakland, California. She loves studying contemporary culture, media, and human behavior. She thinks life is art, she thinks women are art, she surrounds herself in goddesses, she can't stop talking. Follow her on Instagram @beesuschrist.