Father Knows Best is a sitcom that aired from 1954 to 1960. In season 2, episode 22—The Bus to Nowhere, Betty Anderson (played by Elinor Donahue) has an existential crisis, a coming of age crisis. She feels that she is a name with no identity, which causes her to be melodramatic and unhappy. After her brother, Bud (played by Billy Gray) shares a story of their uncle taking a bus to essentially nowhere, Betty explodes:
I wanna go to—somewhere, anywhere. Nowhere. I wanna take a trip from 'What now' to 'This is it.' From 'Fine and cozy' to 'Bright, swift, and swirling.' I wanna arrive and hear them say, 'Here she is. We know her.'
No one seems to understand her angst—not her family, not her friends, and not even the strangers she meets throughout the episode. Not being able to find something decent to wear, her father tells her that she will be late to school. She responds:
It seems like we spend our whole lives trying not to be late. And for what? We rush, rush, and where are we going?
She tells her family that she is going to head to the bus depot. No one listens, and they either don't believe her, or it goes in one ear and out the other. A taxi arrives, and off she goes to the bus station. With 9 dollars she asks the ticket clerk where she should go. He responses that any place is as good as another. She buys a ticket to Montgomery, a town of fewer than 2,000 people and a town without entertainment.
A voice inside her head asks:
What are you going to find Betty?... Is this where you will find it? The bright, the swift, the meaning, the reason?
While she is waiting for her bus, she encounters a few nutters. A woman who is only concerned about getting a pillow for her ride, a man who is hopelessly confused as he got off at the wrong stop.
She has a choice to make: catch her coach to Montgomery, or stay to help the confused old man get on the right bus to see his son. She stays and helps the old man who rewards her with an umbrella, with a renewed sense of purpose.
Betty tells her father that she is better now. Her father replies that Real happiness comes from doing things for others. Her existential crisis is over, and life returns to normal, but not before it starts to rain.
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