Sarah Jessica Parker hoped everyone could identify with Square Pegs
Image credit: The Everett Collection
Sarah Jessica Parker has had quite a career for more than 40 years in the entertainment industry. You've seen her in everything from Sex and the City (1998) to the 2006 film Failure to Launch and in the Hocus Pocus franchise, but before she grew in fame, she was growing up on television.
Parker was only around 17 years old when she started playing the role of Patty Greene in the 1982 series Square Pegs. The light-hearted comedy series followed the lives of two freshman girls in a suburban high school.
Although Parker's onscreen charm was undeniable, and many loved her character, the series was considered a "loser" in the network ratings. Originally airing on CBS, the short-lived series ended after just one season.
Not only did the negative reviews and ratings bother Parker, but it also didn't sit well with Anne Beatts, who produced and supervised Square Pegs.
Beatts was passionate about Square Pegs and had enough experience to back up her arguments. For example, she won two Emmy Awards for her writing on the original Saturday Night Live, among many other credits.
"I don't think the show is getting such a bad rap except by a few people who work for ad agencies and who are in their late 70s," Beatts said in a 1982 interview with News-Press. "And that has been reprinted in a few places and in trade papers and it's bad because people in the industry read that and they don't particularly check out where it's coming from."
The "pegs" were two best friends: Parker's character and her best friend, Lauren Hutchinson, played by Amy Linker. The two best friends were relatable for many, both old and young, and Parker said she and her character were a lot alike.
In a 1983 interview with Daily Press, Parker said her character represented a nonconformist. Patty was a sweet and intelligent character, but she wasn't willing to change who she was to conform — something Parker had been trying to do for most of her career.
"I wasn't as miserable in school as Patty sometimes is, but I still don't fit in," Parker said. "I was busy with my work, and I didn't spend time with the other kids, and that was like putting up a barrier between us."
Parker said she related to her onscreen character and some moments she faced in her fictional high school, Parker faced in her real one. She wasn't the only one who related to Patty though; kids would send in hundreds of pieces of fan mail each week.
She was the popular girl even though her character was not.
"I get a lot of letters from kids," Parker said. "Many of them say 'If I just had a friend like Patty in high school...' I think she's appealing in that way."
According to the interview, Parker's decision to take the role on the series wasn't an easy one. Where most kids would jump at the chance to play in role in Hollywood, Parker was hesitant.
At the time, her mom didn't want her to leave home, she was finishing school and she wasn't sure if Square Pegs would be the right move for her in order to jumpstart a career in Hollywood. And although the series only lasted one season, it's safe to say Parker was happy with her decision.
"It's not Medea, but it's of social significance in the sense that the kids are real," Parker said. "I see it in the letters I get."