Homeless For an Episode
In TV land, teen homelessness seems more like couch surfing than anything close to reality. Often the friend of a nuclear family will take in a wayward youth for an episode or two before a teacher or some other semi-responsible adult takes the temporary orphan off their hands (à la Boy Meets World’s Shawn, who moves in with motorcycle-riding Mr. Turner).
Modern-day versions of this trope exist on both Glee and Pretty Little Liars. In Season 2 of Glee we learn that Sam Evans (Chord Overstreet) and his two younger siblings have been living out of a single motel room because his dad lost his job. After finding out that PLL’s Caleb Rivers (Tyler Blackburn) has set up camp in Rosewood High to avoid his foster parents, Hanna (Ashley Benson) invites the homeless hottie to crash on her mom’s basement couch in Season 1’s “Je Suis Une Amie.”
Taking in a homeless family around the holidays can make for a Very Special Episode, such as when Zack (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) suddenly becomes interested in someone other than Kelly Kapowski (Tiffani Thiessen) on Saved by the Bell — and his mom lets the girl and her father stay until pops finds a job (which was apparently before the next episode, because we never heard from her again).
Now, we love My So-Called Life, but it was series full of VSEs — and it ended up tackling homelessness through two characters. Problems at home force Rickie (Wilson Cruz) to seek refuge at Angela’s (Claire Danes), and her mother, Patty (Bess Anderson), meets the ghost of a homeless girl who froze to death. It’s much more heartwarming than it sounds.