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SNL Pioneer Created Square Pegs

Anne Beatts used her experience as an outsider in high school
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 8, 2021 5:45 PM CDT

(Newser) – Anne Beatts, a groundbreaking comedy writer who was on the original staff of Saturday Night Live and later created the cult sitcom Square Pegs, has died. She was 74, the AP reports. Beatts died Wednesday at her home in West Hollywood, California, said her friend Rona Kennedy, who did not know the cause of death. Starting in 1975, Beatts was among a team of gifted writers that included Rosie Shuster, Alan Zweibel, Marilyn Suzanne Miller, and such cast members as Dan Aykroyd and Chevy Chase who helped make Saturday Night Live a cultural phenomenon. With Shuster, she would help develop the beloved family of nerds, the Loopners, and Beatts would later draw upon her background as an outsider in high school for her own series Square Pegs. "Anne was a throwback to a time when words were weapons. R.I.P. Anne," Zweibel wrote on Twitter.

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Premiering in 1982, Square Pegs was then a rare sitcom centering on teenage girls and starring Sarah Jessica Parker as a first-year high school student trying to fit in. The show lasted just one season but was praised for anticipating—and even topping—the teen comedies John Hughes would soon become famous for. "The show was also just plain cool, speaking to teens with a shared interest in their interests that made young people feel seen before the Hughes movies would have a similar effect," New York magazine's Jen Chaney wrote in 2020. "No other show on TV back then would have focused an entire episode on a Pac-Man addiction or a New Wave-themed bat mitzvah that featured the actual band Devo performing 'That's Good.'" Beatts got an early break writing comedy for National Lampoon, where numerous future Saturday Night Live performers and writers worked.

(Read more obituary stories.)

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