Once upon a time, I found a super weird video in a thrift store titled Free to Choose — which turned out to not have anything to do with abortion, so much as a bunch of stop motion After School Specials for Mormon teens. I gave it away a while back, given that I don’t even have a VHS player anymore, but was thrilled to find that some beautiful angel uploaded all the vignettes to YouTube — and I figured it would be swell to recap my favorite vignette of them all for you. Because I like doing recaps about as much as I like watching bizarre Mormon videos from the thrift store, which is to say A LOT.
This vignette, titled “Wickedness Never Was Happiness” tells the story of rebellious Mormon teen Karen Parker, who had recently taken up with what appears to be a 45-year-old man who looks like a brown-haired version of Jeff Foxworthy. Like you do.
When we first meet Karen, she is applying mascara while some very generic-sounding song about wanting someone to show her “how to build a dream” plays in the background. So we already know she’s some kind of a hussy.
She gets picked up for school by some other chick, and that’s the end of that. In the meantime, Karen’s little sister LeAnn, who is definitely one of the Children of the Damned, is just humming like a weirdo in order to get attention from her brother.
Also she has extremely unfortunate bangs.
Then, somehow, it is nighttime, and Karen goes off to her job as a movie ticket clerk, where she gets hit on by all the dudes (probably because of the mascara). Hussy that she is, Karen has no time for the high school boy trying to get a piece and instead opts for the 45-year-old dude who impresses her with his smooth talk, casual sexy leaning, and Tom Selleck mustache.
CUT BACK TO CREEPY LEANN!
LeAnn comes into the brother’s room and asks him to perform her baptism, because their dad is gone, and she doesn’t think “Carl” will do it. Whoever Carl is. Maybe their stepdad? Who knows. Fuck Carl, I guess. Ben is on board, ready to do all the baptizing.
When Karen gets back from work, Mitch is waiting for her outside… which is definitely a thing dudes do when they’re not going to make a skin suit out of you.
He offers her a ride home and informs her that his name is Mitch (of course it is, Mitch) — and she’s all, “I don’t know,” but then her idiot friend Brenda is all, like, “GOODNIGHT KAREN, see you later!” because Brenda DGAF if Karen ends up in pieces all along the Utah highway.
Brenda is a really shitty friend.
They then have a beautiful montage courtship in which they spend a lot of time standing like they are slow dancing at a middle school dance and having candlelight dinners. Which actually always seemed to me like kind of a weird thing to do. I mean, why is that the essence of #ROMANCE? OOH, eating in the dark! It’s so sexy! I don’t think this is a thing people do in real life. Maybe Mormons. I don’t know.
I think maybe they are drinking wine and he has a cigarette at some point, so, you know, “bad influence.” On what appears to be their third date, he has to drag her away from a store window display of wedding rings, so Karen is clearly getting serious. In the meantime, creepy LeAnn is all psyched about her baptism, but that’s pretty boring, so whatever.
Mitch picks up Karen from school, where they make out in front of everyone, because — again — she’s kind of a hussy. By Mormon standards, anyway.
Brenda’s back, and she’s all, “Hey, haven’t seen you in a bit,” which Karen does not take kindly to. She responds with a “SO?! That’s my business!” which seems a little harsh, TBH. Now, of course, Brenda is finally concerned about Karen’s dating life, even though she was all, “YEAH, get in the car with that random dude!” last week. Fuck Brenda.
Fast forward to LeAnn’s baptism. Mitch drops Karen off and tells her he has a surprise for her — a surprise that we, the viewer, must assume is his penis. Because what else could it be? At the baptism, Carl, who turns out to be another brother, gets all, “Oh, hey! Don’t think this Mitch guy seems like the best idea,” but Karen is still all in deep smit with him and does not care.
Because Karen is kind of a jerk now, she skips out on Creepy LeAnn’s baptism party to go hang out with Mitch — and is very excited for his surprise. They go back to his place where he says, “CLOSE YOUR EYES and don’t look until I tell you!”… which seems like a weird way to initiate sex.
The surprise is not his penis. The surprise is that he got a new stereo. Which, to be fair, is also a totally weird thing to surprise on her, no matter what she was expecting. Who surprises someone else with a thing they bought for themselves?
Karen is sad because he thought he was going to ask for her hand in marriage, to which Mitch responds, “Um, that was not even on my radar.” Probably because they’ve only been dating for, like, a week at this point.
That means the biggest twist of all is that the creepiest person in this scenario is actually KAREN. And also the people who made this video teaching kids the lesson of not dating a 45-year-old man because he might not teen-marry you, a high school junior, after you’ve been dating for a week.
Which is, I would imagine, somewhere near the exact opposite of the lesson one would learn from a regular after school special.
(Screenshots via YouTube)