Down the Rabbit Hole: Beyond ‘Bitchcakes’
I recently began working on a passion project, Possible Girls, a geek culture website about possibilities, dedicated to women and trans women, geeks and nerds and fangirls of all ages and all backgrounds. As I ponder, how I when to roll this site out, I figured I’d share some of the articles I’ve written for launch.
Newsradio was arguably one of the sharpest comedies ever produced, airing on NBC from 1995 to 1999. Based in a dysfunctional New York City radio newsroom, the show boasted one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled, including Dave Foley, Phil Hartman, Maura Tierney, Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, Khandi Alexander and the fabulous Vicki Lewis as the quirky receptionist Beth.
I could go on about how brilliant the show was, and why you might not have heard of it, but that’s not what I’m obsessed about, at least today. This particular rabbit hole is focused on one specific episode from season two that has stuck with me for over 20 years. The episode in question,”Physical Graffiti,” written by Josh Lieb and series creator Paul Simms, featured a brilliant B storyline wherein the utterly eccentric receptionist Beth decides to invent new words to see how long it will take before they catch on. Or better yet, watch the bit for yourself:
And while “bitchcakes” never did make an appearance on Melrose Place, it did find some traction as evidenced by Urban Dictionary:
Bitchcakes: Not British slang…it is from the 90’s TV show “Newsradio”. Secretary Beth decides to make up a word and see if she can get others to use it by dropping into every conversation. By the end of the day, everyone is using it. Has become popular in Britain due to the popularity of the show.
Even more intriguing is that I actually know someone who claimed to be part of a group with the very same idea well before Newsradio was ever on the air. The word they attempted to introduce into pop culture? You guessed it, Bitchcakes! True or not, it does seem it would be poetic justice for their effort to succeed and their very intent coopted.
But that got me to thinking. What word can I create and infest the world with?
Let’s just say my first several attempts were not as successful as I had hoped.
Brills. Fantazing. Traveshamockery.
Who’d have thunk Bob Odenkirk would beat me to the punch back in 2004, well before Saul Goodman?
But undaunted, I finally stumbled upon an entirely new word. Never before uttered, at least on the interwebs. Not even a Twitter hashtag.
For a moment, I thought I was sunk when I found a variation, possi-tastic, in the august pages of the Jacksonville Daily Journal, as in Jacksonville, Illinois, on April 25, 1969. But upon perusal of the actual page on newspapers.com, I discovered it was actually a mashup of two separate articles, back when words got hyphenated. Possi for Possi-ble and tastic for fan-tastic.
Don’t believe me? Let me present Exhibit A.
So there you go. Possitastic is officially created on June 29, 2016. So let it be written, so let it be done.
Now all I have to do is dust off my fax and wait for the reboot of Melrose Place.
Image via Newspapers.com/Newspapers.com