Ryder Guests on Final Strangers With Candy

September 27, 2000 -- Say it ain't so: Cable's zippy Comedy Central might be canceling the sage, delightfully back-ass-wards Strangers With Candy show.

If your response is "What's Strangers With Candy?" consider yourself part of the problem rather than the solution. As a modern take on the after-school-special formula, Strangers With Candy has gathered a cult following in its three seasons. The series centers around 47-year-old screw-off Jerri Blank (brilliant sicko Amy Sedaris), who returns to Flatpoint High School 32 years after she dropped out to pursue a diploma-less life of sex, drugs, booze, and cockroaches.

The show's series finale — unless some divine miracle intervenes — is Monday, Oct. 2, at 10 p.m. In it, pixie-ish actress Winona Ryder revisits themes from the 1989 movie that also put her on the cult-status radar: Heathers.

Sedaris and her Candy co-creators thought Ryder would reject their invitation to appear on the show. In a recent chat on the Comedy Central Web site, actor-writer Paul Dinello said, "We used to be in negotiation with Wynona Ryder [sic], but she seems to have cooled." His co-star Stephen Colbert added, "Maybe Matt Damon [Ryder's ex-boyfriend] was a fan. Now that that's over, she's changed her mind." Sedaris chimed in, "That's funny!"

But hip chick Ryder will appear on the show to give frumpy Jerri a makeover so Flatpoint's prize jock (Paul Rudd) will ask her out. The catch? Ryder's in a She's All That-style contest with her bitchy peers, who plan to take Jerri down the hard way. Janeane Garofalo, Cheri Oteri, and Mark McKinney also star in the final SWC episode.

A trailer promoting the episode shows Jerri, usually a sloppy mess with a Sandy Duncan haircut, as a sexy woman who looks like a cross between Amanda Peet and Jenny McCarthy.

This is the genius of Sedaris, who wears a fat suit, dons skintight sweat pants, and rolls her upper lip into painful contortions in order to get into character. When asked who she believes the show's core audience is, Sedaris told a fan, "Homosexuals and 14-year-olds and farmers and ghosts." That pretty much sums up the beyond-weird, joyous mess that is (was?) Strangers With Candy.

Fans interested in keeping the show alive should send a message to mail@comedycentral.com.