Byrds of Paradise

For a little while this week I was worried that I was the only person who remembered the abysmal one-season flop from 1993, Byrds of Paradise.

It only got 12 episodes, and every single moment made you wish you were able to tear your own throat out with your teeth. But it had one redeeming quality. The 14 year old Jennifer Love Hewitt, back when she was clean and pure and didn’t look like a refugee from Dachau with big boobs. The show, probably knowing that it was horrible, took every moment to skeeve over her body. For those of us watching at the time, we were grateful.

The show was a strangely insulting and idealized look at Hawaii that tried to pull a Northern Exposure with the natives vs. the fish out of water anglos but failed miserably at every single turn. The native Hawaiians were little better than the Hollywood Indians from old westerns, and the feeble attempts to ape Hawaiian dialect were cringeworthy even to people whose main exposure to Hawaii consisted of reruns of Magnum PI (which did actually strive for authenticity every once in a while).

The story follows single dad Timothy Busfield (playing Sam Byrd, thus Byrds of Hawaii, ha ha) who becomes headmaster at a private school. Attending the same school are his three children — two I don’t remember because fuck them and 14 year old Jennifer Love Hewitt who mentioned her struggle with her gigantic tits every time anyone interviewed her.

My worry this week wasn’t that I was the only one who remembered this show but, rather, I was the only one who, 22 years later, was still thinking really hard about 14 year old Jennifer Love Hewitt.

Oh, but Dear Internet, you corrected me once again. We skeevy guys are legion! In fact, there are so many lovingly preserved clips of underage Hewitt on Youtube, it scares me. It also scares me that the people behind Byrds of Paradise got away with what is, essentially, the ruthless exploitation of a minor.

Here’s the “cheerleader tryout scene,” which is inexcusably exploitative.

From there you fall into a dreadful hole of Hewitt obsession, and it’s terrible what this show did to her. Long, lingering shots of her in a bikini, whole scenes where she had to act dramatically while wearing only a bra and Daisy Dukes. It’s ridiculous. We should bring the makers of this show up on charges. Um…once I’m done watching all these clips over and over…