A thank you letter to Robin Williams
When I was a little kid, I loved Mork & Mindy so freaking much.
Robin Williams’s frenetic zaniness was revelation to five-year-old me. He’s sitting on his head! He’s babbling every last thought in his head! He’s making everyone angry and annoyed not by doing anything bad, but just by being enthusiastically hyperactive!
Yeah, it’s not hard to see why that would speak to a five-year-old little boy. Especially a somewhat overly energetic and clingy one like me.
This glorious manchild understood me. Or at least he didn’t understand the same things I didn’t understand: why the adult world around him was so freaking serious and restrained and boring. Why everyone else didn’t get as excited about things as he did. Why there is only one proper way to sit a chair.
As much as a show can speak to someone that young, Mork & Mindy spoke to me. And it wasn’t just Robin Williams’s character within the world of the show that blew my mind, but the show itself compared to everything else on TV that a five year old could watch.
Mork & Mindy was like Dr. Seuss, and everything else was like Dick & Jane.
And there’s one very simple reason: on Mork & Mindy, the weirdo was the main character. He was the hero. He was the one you’re suppose to love and appreciate.
This shattered every convention of storytelling that had been beaten into my head thus far in my short life. “HOLY SHIT, YOU CAN DO THAT?!” my five-year-old brain screamed. (Not in those words.)
The oddball was supposed to be the one who learned a lesson. The one who needed to change. But Mork was fine just the way he was. His weirdness was a virtue. It made him funny and unique and adorable.
Through Mork from Ork, Robin Williams made me happier to be me. He helped me not to worry about being weird, but to wholeheartedly embrace the people and things in life that make you smile no matter how others look at you.
He’s not the only one to teach me that lesson, of course, but he was one of the first and most effective at it. And it’s a lesson that’s served me well and brought me a lot of happiness. I hope to pass it along to my son when he’s born in about seven weeks.
All my life Robin Williams has had a special place in my heart. I’m so sorry to see you go.