1. Use caution when blowing bubble gum.
Seriously, Gus? Seriously?
2. Sometimes you just need to let go of your insecurities and have a little fun.
If Spinelli can find a way to enjoy a weekend at Finster’s, clearly there’s hope for all of us.
3. Love people for who they are, not who you want them to be.
Even though everyone else thought Chad was a nerd, Vince decided that no matter what other people thought of his brother, Chad would always be cool in his eyes. AWWW BROTHERS.
4. Fight the power (every once in a while).
Miss Grotke has clearly been reading up on some feminist and queer theory. Subvert that hegemony, girl!
5. Don’t forget where you came from.
Sure, it seemed awesome at the time to be able to have ALL THE COOKIES WHENEVER YOU WANT, but Gus’ brief stint as King actually just alienated all his friends. Moral: Cookies aren’t always worth it.
6. There’s no point in getting petty revenge.
Even though Becky stole Gretchen’s science project, Gretchen helps Becky out when the judges’ questions start to trip her up. Becky ends up forfeiting the trophy anyway because Gretchen taught her the value of true friendship. Awwww.
7. You should never be embarrassed by who you are.
Spinelli thought her life was over when everyone found out her first name was Ashley. But after a little while, she realized that just because she was named Ashley didn’t mean she needed to change her personality.
8. Don’t let other people dictate who you can and can’t be friends with.
The rivalry between the dads of Gus and Corn Chip Girl almost torpedoes their really adorable friendship. Thankfully, everyone realizes that COME ON THEY’RE JUST KIDS, LET THEM HAVE A PLAYDATE.
9. Cooties are gross.
Ewwwww, TJ and Spinelli kissed. As the Ashleys would say, “Scandalous!”
Note: Cooties aren’t actually real, because science.
10. Stick to what you believe in.
Gus almost gets taken in by district headquarters (district headquarters!) because of his commitment to the Power of the Jinx. Again, the Ashleys demonstrate why they are THE WORST.
11. Sometimes a kind gesture really is just a kind gesture.
When an obscure Ashley rule forces them to hand over some wrestling tickets to Spinelli, only Gus and Mikey are willing to take the kind gesture at face value. So while those two enjoy the match, the rest of the gang gets locked in the Ashleys’ clubhouse looking for proof of their (non-existent) nefarious plan.
This is the one time the Ashleys aren’t THE WORST.
12. Be yourself. (Or, imitation isn’t always the most sincere form of flattery.)
Quick, what’s wrong with the picture above?
Yep, Mikey is dressed as Vince, and Vince is dressed as Mikey. This whole “copycat identity” thing was originally due to Mikey over-idolizing Vince, but thankfully the two decided that, in the end, it’s best to just be themselves. Basically, this episode boils down to “You do you.”
13. Don’t let money get in the way of friendship.
This economic parable saw TJ get a little too big for his britches when he came into a huge supply of Monstickers. Kids are fickle, though, and the playground soon switches to an entirely different form of currency. So maybe this isn’t the most realistic economic lesson, but still.
14. Watch what you eat.
Get a hold of yourself, Mikey - you look sick after eating that sandwich. Maybe slow it down next time.
15. Don’t judge people based on first impressions.
Yes, Recess had its fair share of one dimensional characters, from Swinger Girl to Hustler Kid. But in this episode, the gang learns that their first impressions aren’t always as accurate as they think when Hank the Janitor is revealed to be a secret math genius.
When even Gretchen is impressed by your skills, you know you’ve got something going for you.