Rembert Explains the ’80s: ALF

Editor’s Note: Welcome to our series, “Rembert Tries to Explain the ’80s.” Every so often, we’ll e-mail 24-year-old Rembert Browne a video from the 1980s that he hasn’t seen. Rembert will write down his thoughts as he’s watching it, then we’ll post those thoughts here. The third assignment was given by editor Mike Philbrick: Any episode of ALF from Season 2. If you have an idea for a future episode of “Rembert Tries to Explain the ’80s,” e-mail us at

Rembert Note: I sort of remember what ALF looks like, but haven’t the slightest clue what the premise of the show is. Given the freedom to pick any episode from Season 2, I picked Episode 24, “Tequila,” which aired March 28, 1988, or more popularly known as the date of my first birthday party.

Initial notes:

  • ALF has its own YouTube channel, complete with every episode. Sounds popular.
  • This episode has 108 likes and 4 dislikes. Must be a great show.
  • “Tequila” has 19,605 views. Not too shabby for a 23-year-old episode.

0:01: Good LORD that thing is ugly. Ewww. What in the name of feces is that?

0:08: Wait, ALF just kicks it with humans? What?

0:15: Shut up. It talks? What is that accent? Is he from Staten Island?

0:24: Is he a stand-up comedian? That’s two one-liners in 7 seconds. Neither time did I laugh. The studio audience, on the other hand, thought it was hilarious.

0:34: He’s an alien. A furry, talking brown alien. Are we supposed to just let that slide?

0:45: Okay, so ALF is an alien with an opening-act comedy-routine style. This will get old, so quick.

0:51: A lot of gingers in this family. Respect.

0:58: ALF painted something rude on the wall. Mom isn’t happy.

1:04: Oh my, this theme music is majestic. It sounds like the last three minutes of “Layla,” if Culture Club somehow got their hands on it, post-acid trip.

1:17: This opening couldn’t be creepier. ALF is just walking around these humans’ house, sneaking up on them with a video camera. Whose idea was this? ALF’s? That has to be the weirdest way to introduce characters in television history.

1:33: I’ve never heard of any of these actors. I’m starting to get the feeling that this show was a career-killer.

1:48: Okay, he seems to be part of their family. Interesting. Why? Is he good at something? Is this in any way like The Blind Side?

2:07: ALF is now 7-for-7 at comments-to-audience laughter. They must have stolen the laugh track from What’s Happening!! and layered it over this show (I have no idea what that means).

2:35: So this nice, yet apparently foolish family has taken ALF in and is hiding him, but I get the sense that outsiders aren’t supposed to know that this innocent, nuclear family is harboring a rude, wisecracking alien. How long has this been going on? Shockingly confused.

2:53: The husband looks like the mom’s dad. Why did they settle for a grandpa when they could have hired a hot, middle-aged father type? Who would turn down the role of a father to a family of redheads and a jerk alien? I most certainly wouldn’t.

3:11: ALF went 9-for-9 with this line: “Beige. Now there’s a commitment to color.” Come again? I’m going to use that line out in public tonight, and if no one laughs, I’m suing Lionsgate.


So let me get this straight. ALF was somehow taken in by this family. They are risking their reputations to hide him and the way he repays them is to talk back and ruin their house. And they just let him get away with it? Are you serious? Do they at least beat him? Or at least ethnically slur him? Joe Jackson never would have let this slide.

3:35: Girls. Night. Out.

3:40: Look at one of these lady’s shoulder pads. Looking like Dwight Howard …

3:48: Another one of them is wearing a silk-collared blouse with a silk tie. Where can I buy an outfit like that? I have a gala event to attend next week and I’m trying to look wealthy.

4:37: Shoulder Pads is going to town on that margarita.

5:19: Oh no. Shoulder Pads is crying.

5:30: Oh NO. Shoulder Pads is fighting with husband.


6:00: Mom is calling home. I’m guessing this has to do with the fact that they’re harboring a horribly rude alien in their home. Do they not have a system for this, or have they just been avoiding the human race for years now?

6:15: Dad takes phone, tells ALF not to paint anything bad. ALF makes two jokes. Yes, he’s 11-for-11.
6:40: Really, ALF. You’re just gonna paint after he told you not to? I hate him.

6:50: Oh, and then he spilled paint all over the couch. What’s wrong with this family? Throw him off the roof and turn him into a rug.

8:19: Uh-oh. Shoulder Pads is an alkie. She’s drinking straight tequila alone at night.

8:50: ALF just wandered into the kitchen with Shoulder Pads. She’s so drunk, she doesn’t realize she’s chatting with an alien. Alcohol’s hilarious.

9:31: Interesting. Shoulder Pads has a drinking problem where she sees and converses with a strange creature after her third drink. How convenient.

10:21: ALF just took a sip of tequila. He’s not a fan. Also, 16-for-16. He’s putting up Dirk numbers right now.

11:08: ALF is hungover.

11:56: Dad to ALF: “You shouldn’t be drinking.” Cute.

12:20: ALF just called Shoulder Pads a “booze hag.” Hahahaha. He’s the worst.

12:45: Dad to ALF: “Drinking. It’s not good.” What a swell guy.

12:52: Alf just called Shoulder Pads a “hoochmonger.” He’s Snooki-belligerent right now.

13:17: Audience just laughed at one of the worst jokes I’ve ever heard. I’m insulted. I’m not typing it out. It’s about Purdue. I can’t.

13:45: ALF is about to throw up.

13:52: ALF is throwing up. There is no sympathy in my heart for him.

14:20: Mom doesn’t believe Shoulder Pads is an alcoholic. Grounds: “She’s so successful.” Good one, mom. First good joke of the show.

14:41: You’ve got to be kidding me. I had my choice of ALF episodes to choose from and I stumbled on a Very Special Episode about alcoholism. Unreal. I can’t avoid them. This is my gift. This is my curse.

16:03 Intervention time. Mom vs. Shoulder Pads.

16:42: Wow. ALF just walked in. Shoulder Pads freaks out because she only sees the furry creature when she’s drunk. Mom plays along like she can’t see ALF. As much as I hate that alien, this is the most genius intervention tactic of all time. Does Betty Ford know about this?

18:30: And like that, a Betty Ford joke. I win/lose.

19:01: ALF just delivered a serious line. I’m impressed. The streak is OVER at 26.

19:24: NEVER MIND. Cracked one before he walked out the door. 27-for-27. This has to be a TV record.

20:22: You have to be kidding me. Family is thanking ALF for all he did for Shoulder Pads. Have they forgotten that he’s the worst entity ever?

20:20: They’re letting him pick out a $100 cheese platter. I’m furious. That’s all I ever want, and I’m a decently nice person.

20:54: ALF’s last line (31-for-31): “That’s a lot of cheese. Be thankful I didn’t order the ‘Nell Carter ball.'”


I’ve put up with a lot from ALF and this show, but how dare you end it with a Nell Carter fat joke. Not only do I have a zero-tolerance policy for making fun of Nell, but you’re going to do it the year after her show, Gimme a Break!, gets canceled? That’s cold, ALF. If I hadn’t been 365 days old when this episode aired, I would have flown to wherever this horrible show was filmed, brought Jason Statham with me, and instructed him to beat down every single member of this production. Then I would have taken a Polaroid of the carnage, hopped on Jason’s back, and told him to find Nell so we could deliver her the good news.

So yeah. That’s that. This is the worst show I’ve ever seen in my entire life. It doesn’t get an “’80s pass.” It’s just deplorable. I’m going to “thumbs-down” this episode on a new computer every day until there are double the amount of dislikes than likes. And I will find the people who liked it, introduce them to Jason. This is my new life mission. Can’t stop. Won’t stop.

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Filed Under: Rembert Browne, Rembert Tries to Explain the Eighties, TV

Rembert Browne is a staff writer for Grantland.

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