You’re in Love, Charlie Brown (1967)

Starring: Peter Robbins
Grade: A

As increasingly annoying as I’m starting to find Linus in these specials, he always gets one moment that really makes the show. As Charlie Brown plays, “She loves me, she loves me not” with a flower, Linus puts things into perspective with, “It is difficult for me to believe that a flower has a gift of prophecy”. It’s a funny quote in the moment, but at the same time, it did make me question how much time I wasted in my childhood doing stupid shit like that.


On a normal school day, Charlie Brown (Robbins) wakes up and sees Snoopy (Bill Melendez) cooking up breakfast. Thankful for his dog and excited to eat, he’s about to dig in. Unfortunately, Snoopy just set the table and made all the food for himself. Next, Charlie Brown goes to the kitchen and finds his school lunch already in a bag for him. It’s peanut butter sandwiches again, and he’s already done with today because of it. Soon after, he catches up with Linus (Christopher Shea) as they walk to school. He asks Linus if he’s worried about what the kids will say about him holding a blanket around him at all times, but Linus stops in his tracks. He has Charlie Brown throw a nickel into the air, and he cracks it with his blanket like it’s a whip and he’s Indiana fucking Jones. With this, he assures Charlie Brown that the kids don’t say very much to him. They continue to walk, and Charlie Brown talks about how he’s absolutely miserable and can’t even enjoy his lunch. The bus drives by them, and Charlie Brown points out the Little Red-Haired Girl.

Why can’t he have lunch with her? Is that too much to ask?

As Charlie Brown goes on about how he gets all worked up and how he doesn’t feel very well, Linus realizes what the problem is. He’s in love.

Just then, Sally (Kathy Steinberg) interrupts the two and tells Linus she loves him. Later, Charlie Brown and Linus hang out outside the school before the bell, and Charlie Brown plays the classic game of pulling apart a flower leaf by leaf to determine if the Little Red-Haired Girl likes him or not. Once the bell rings, they head in. In class, Charlie Brown thinks to himself how pretty the Little Red-Haired Girl is and how he would do anything to talk to her. Then, he realizes tomorrow is the last day of school. If he doesn’t talk to her today or tomorrow, he’ll have to wait until the fall. He has to do something now! He comes up with the idea of writing her a note and immediately starts to write. As this happens, the teacher interrupts and asks him to present his report on the mountains and jungles of Africa. Caught off guard, he grabs the stack of papers on his desk and drops them. Then, he heads to the front of the class to present his report. As he stands there, he drops the stack of papers a couple of more times. Once he gathers himself, he reads his paper aloud. Unfortunately, it’s the note in which he was writing to the Little Red-Haired Girl, and he names her directly, talking about how he is “longing” to meet her. As the entire class laughs at him, an embarrassed Charlie Brown heads back to his seat where Linus mentions how he made a fool of himself.

Yeah, thanks asshole.

On the playground later, Snoopy messes around with everyone during recess and is kicked out. Linus gives Charlie Brown an ultimatum: either play with him and the others or go talk to the Little Red-Haired Girl. He can’t be moping around constantly, and he only has today and tomorrow to make a move. Now is the time. For a second, Charlie Brown musters up the courage and tries to talk himself into finally going over to talk to her, but he pussies out pretty quickly. Then, he asks Linus to go start a conversation with her first. This way Linus can ask her if she’s ever noticed Charlie Brown and if she has a general opinion of him. Linus goes and comes back in seconds, saying he told her how Charlie Brown is madly in love with her. Of course, this leads to Charlie Brown freaking out and running away. Back in class, Charlie Brown comes up with another “master” plan. Since the Little Red-Haired Girl’s desk is right by the pencil sharpener, he’ll go over and sharpen his pencil. While he’s sharpening his pencil, he’ll say, “It’s a nice day Little Red-Haired Girl”, thinking he can impress her with friendliness. This almost never works kid, but good luck. Anyway, he goes up to the pencil sharpener and does his thing, but he panics and doesn’t say anything to her. Once he goes back to his desk and admits his failure to Linus, he points out that Charlie Brown sharpened his ballpoint pen and broke it. Of course, this leads to the teacher interrupting, asking Charlie Brown to speak aloud about certain spelling rules. His nervousness makes him screw it all up in front of everyone.

At lunch, they’re all on the playground again. Charlie Brown eats his sandwich alone and acknowledges how lonesome he feels during the lunch hour. As he tells himself nobody likes him, he says he would do anything in the world for that Little Red-Haired Girl to come over and sit with him. Linus sits down and eats lunch with him. This is where Charlie Brown assumes the Little Red-Haired Girl doesn’t notice him because he’s nothing. Linus knows Charlie Brown is depressed but reminds him that the last day of school is tomorrow which is a good thing, though this only reminds Charlie Brown that he won’t be able to talk to her all summer. After Linus leaves to go play, Charlie Brown realizes how stupid he is for not doing anything. Then, he makes eye contact with her and starts to panic when it looks like she’s walking towards him. Because of this, he puts his lunch bag over his head and gets in line, running into Lucy’s (Sally Dryer) annoying self. She starts yelling at him, prompting Charlie Brown to admit he can’t help but act this way when the Little Red-Haired Girl is around because “Pretty faces make me nervous”. Seeing this as an opportunity to make things about herself, Lucy gets immediately offended because Charlie Brown isn’t nervous around her.

Following school, Charlie Brown and Linus walk home together. Lucy and Violet (Ann Altieri) catch up to them just to call Charlie Brown a moron and trash talk him over how much of an idiot he looked like in class. Linus tries to defend him but only makes matters worse by admitting Charlie Brown has a lot on his mind because he’s in love with the Little Red-Haired Girl. The girls laugh, sing a song about him, and leave. For some reason, Linus doesn’t think he did anything wrong and leaves as well. Charlie Brown sees the Little Red-Haired girl on a parallel street on his walk home and gets anxiety-riddled again and goes into hiding. Then, he tells himself over and over again how he doesn’t have a shot in hell with her and how this has been the worst day ever. He hopes for Snoopy to at least greet him upon getting home, but Snoopy is napping. Once he walks in on Sally practicing her walk back and forth for her kindergarten graduation ceremony where she’s been selected as class valedictorian, he leaves and is only annoyed further with the ridiculousness of this scenario.

Time is running out for Charlie Brown to make a move, but he needs some direction or help of any kind. As much as the Peanuts gang tries to help, most of it results in lateral movement and the frustration and pressure only increases for our star.

My Thoughts:

A common theme in Peanuts productions has been Charlie Brown’s struggle with love. In honor of Valentine’s Day, it felt like the perfect time to dive into a handful of these specials to see our hero cope with his feelings of nervousness and not knowing how to approach women, something he never really figures out. Though it’s not as anxiety-inducing as It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown, You’re in Love, Charlie Brown is a good representation of one’s inner feelings regarding their first, grade school “love”. Let me take you back to when you were a kid. Do you remember the first time you felt different at school when you were interacting with certain classmates, but you weren’t sure what the feeling was? Sometimes, you have an inkling of what it could be, but you try to bury it. There’s no way, right? Yeah, she’s cool, but do I actually “like” her? It doesn’t hit you until there’s a moment where it’s right in front of your face. In the case of You’re in Love, Charlie Brown, Linus is the one to point it out to Charlie Brown, and it changes his world in a way that did for all of us when we first started exploring this aspect of life.

You’re in Love, Charlie Brown works in more ways than one. All the kids are dealing with love in different ways. Lucy is dealing with an uncaring Schroeder and generalizes all men as being like him when he doesn’t respond the way she wants him too (I know some people), Peppermint Patty in her onscreen debut is the wingman trying to help but only makes things worse (her having Charlie Brown and Lucy meet at home plate was a great moment), and Linus is the encouraging friend who is a little too optimistic about his friend’s chances mostly because he doesn’t have a dog in the fight. With our star, we get a surprisingly in-depth look at a kid who is coming to terms with his first real crush and those thoughts and feelings that come with it. Wondering about hypotheticals involving the girl, getting nervous just by looking at her or being near her, the feelings of anxiety when wanting to get the courage to make a move, Charlie Brown’s small, 25-minute journey is one of the better stories that kids can relate to when dealing with similar issues. When you add in the accurate scenes of him trying to sneak into school after being late and the door being loud as all hell (which seemingly only happens when you’re trying to be quiet), and the plan he comes up with of trying to wake up early to talk to his beloved Little Red-Haired Girl at the bus stop, you are only reminded of the embarrassing scenarios you or someone you know may have attempted to get the one they like.

Back when many of us were faulted with inexperience, how many of you can painfully admit to going over strategies in your head or even attempting to try and create a “spontaneous” conversation or scenario to get you close to the one you like? Look, your secret is safe with me. We all did it. Here, Charlie Brown is reminding us of these moments in entertaining fashion and though it may bring back some repressed memories, they do a great job in this special at making it endearing for our main character and wishing for him to pull off the impossible. Referring to the day he finally musters up the courage to talk to the Little Red-Haired Girl as “D-Day” is yet another accurate label for the moment.

Ah yes, the feelings of young love and anxiety. I don’t miss it.

Of course, the “over the moon” feeling when everything pays off is one that is hard to replicate in the medium of a television special, but the ending is about as similar to said feeling as it gets. Not that I would ever want it to happen, but if Peanuts were to ever cease production and there was one final movie, a finale similar to the one in You’re in Love, Charlie Brown would be a flawless way to end the franchise, especially with his last, absolutely classic Charlie Brown line of “Good grief. How will I live until September?”. Finally seeing him happy makes you happy. Even so, you still need the dread to creep in, so it stays true to the character.

This special is more amusing than usual. Usually, Lucy’s cutaways with Schroeder meander along, but their sequence was probably the best one I’ve seen in a while between them. Considering how much it happens, this is saying a lot. Starting with Lucy speaking of a hypothetical where the two get married and he turns into this famous musician, she unexpectedly takes a dark turn in the story. Her idea of a romantic element to the hypothetical is Schroder breaking both of his arms and never being able to play again, so she has to support him by working at a laundromat. This is outrageous enough that you can’t help but laugh, especially when Schroeder is dumbfounded at the thought and just dumps a bust of Beethoven on the piano as a response. Of course, this results in the best gag of the special when she uses the bust to destroy his piano and he just goes into his two closets to get replacements for both. You’re in Love, Charlie Brown is a great representation of the simple, harmless, and subtle humor Charles M. Schulz does so well. It’s like when Charlie Brown is sitting by himself at lunch and in-between putting himself down about his chances with the Little Red-Haired Girl, he looks down and says, “The PTA did a good job painting these benches”. I’m not kidding when I tell you I laughed out loud. It was so random but again, it’s the subtle humor of Schulz’s work that makes specials like this timeless. Additionally, it’s also accurate when you think about it. How many times have you been hung up on love and overthink scenarios in your head to the point where your mind wanders and you start to notice details around a room that you never noticed or cared about before?

Maybe this is too specific of a scenario, but it resonated with me despite its randomness. The PTA is such an underrated running gag too. When he’s in the principal’s office and to ease the tension, he asks his principal, “How are you and the PTA getting along?”, it was pure gold.

Times have changed though. My dude did not deserve to be sent to the principal’s office for yelling about missing the bus. For some reason, this was considered insubordinate or disrespectful or something, and his teacher sends him to the office like he was yelling at her. What? Is she related to the bus driver and got offended? This teacher is sensitive as hell! I don’t even think Charlie Brown’s sweet talking of the principal was necessary to get back to class. I bet you the principal was like, “Yeah, that bitch overreacted. We get a lot of calls about her”. For the record, when Charlie Brown fell asleep at the bus stop, the bus driver honked at him and THEN drove off. This tells me the bus driver saw him and still drove away. Who hired this assclown? WAS IT THAT TEACHER?!

Lucy and Violet can go fuck themselves. Them seeking out Charlie Brown to call him a loser and sing a song and dance about how much he sucks to his face is evil work. You, see? This is why no one likes you, Lucy. In regard to Violet, there’s a reason that you never get anything more than a bit part. One of the final lines Charlie Brown says to himself is when he’s finally happy and talks about the possibilities with the Little Red-Haired Girl for the next school year. He’s heard saying, “…and the kids will like me for a change!”. It’s kind of depressing that he has to deal with this on a daily basis and it almost doesn’t seem accurate because he doesn’t seem nearly as loser-ish as the kid who carries a blanket or dirty ass Pig-Pen, but the one scene with Lucy and Violet trash-talking him is reality hitting us in the face. I know Charlie Brown’s whole shtick is taking “L’s” and being depressed, but this is why I enjoyed this special. For the first time in a while, they finally throw him a bone to end things on a happy note. The kid deserved it, and as fans, we’re thankful for it.

For a non-holiday special, You’re in Love, Charlie Brown is one of the better Peanuts productions. They were really at their best in the 60s and 70s. The writing is good, it’s very realistic for the age group and themes, it’s funny, and it’s heartfelt. It doesn’t get much better than that.

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