Secret Life of the American Teenager


The Wife:

A third season of The Secret Life of the American Teenager has drawn to a close, so I’m cramming my thoughts on the final four episodes of season 3 into one clusterfuck of a post. The short version of events sees Adrian and Amy continuing to hate each other, Jack getting that long and not-so-subtly foreshadowed groin injury, Adrian moving in next door to the Jurgens, Ashley getting a cool room in the garage, the Jurgens family reuniting and the birth of Anne’s baby, who may not be George’s after all.

I’ll provide a lengthy roster of quotes in a moment, but first I need to give major props to Francia Rasia. IMDB informs me that she used to date adorable hip-hop choreographer Shane Sparks, so that gives her big ups in my book already, but when her character finally goads Ricky into attending relationship counseling to see if they can have a future together (after swearing to herself that she was only going to have sex with people she thought she could have a future with), she gives an utterly captivating performance explaining why she hasn’t wanted to have meaningful sex until now. (Her first time was with her best friend, who was dying of cancer, and when he moved away for treatment, they decided not to speak anymore, so she pushes her lovers away because she can’t bear to ever be that close to anyone again.) Of all the young actors on this show, Rasia is clearly the best, and I’m glad they’re giving her the more elevated material.

Leading a rather charmed life.

Leading a rather charmed life.

Rumer Willis showed up to guest star as the school’s new pregnant girl, Heather, which finally pulled Amy out of her super-bitch trance and made her decide to be a decent human being for one in this entire season. Other than that, I don’t really see the point of the Rumer Willis subplot at all, as it wasn’t brought up in any subsequent episodes. I guess Heather isn’t going to become part of the SLOTAT gang, even if Amy and Ben are her friends now. At the very least, I can appreciate an alternative view of what Amy’s life could have been and what life is for a lot of pregnant teenagers. Willis’ character was kicked out of her house and forced to live on her own. With no support from her parents of the father of her child, she’s barely scraping by. It’s a good reminder that Amy’s leading a rather charmed life, and I’m glad that it snapped her out of her bitch trance.

And at the end of all of this, Grace and Jack break up (which pleases creepy Madison), Adrian and Ricky finally say their “I love yous,” the Jurgens family welcomes little brother Robbie and Ben strongly considers breaking up with Amy. Part of me hopes he stays with her, because I believe he loves her, but part of me thinks it would serve her right for mistreating poor Ben. Oh, Bologna! The lessons you teach us!

And now! Quotes!

  • Ben: She’s on crack or something. Raging hormones are like crack . . . I understand.
    Amy: If that’s your way of defending me, step aside.
  • I was just one upping the conversation. Everyone knows that if someone calls you a slut, you have to call their mother a slut. — Adrian
  • I’m really sorry that you’re a slut. A slut. And a slut. — Amy
  • I just thought you might be into pregnant girls, and I could use a friend. — Heather, kind of coming on to Ben in the weirdest way ever. Would a 15-year-old boy even know if he had a pregnancy fetish?
  • Griffin called Ashley’s new suitor a nogoodnik. Griffin is now from a 1920s gangster story, or he’s a Russian grandmother.
  • Ricky: Church and sex don’t go together.
    Adrian: That’s church and state! Church and state!
  • Let me start with a little poem I’ve written called, “I’m sorry, Jesus.” — Grace, leading her abstinence group meeting with a poem I really should have written down in its entirety.
  • Sounds like your vagina’s really busy. Maybe I should come back later. — Jack, being very odd about periods.
  • Please, Adrian, do no go to my shrink. You’re going to ruin sex and therapy for me. And those are the two things I care about. — Ricky
  • Grace: It’s still sex.
    Jack: Not if you don’t believe it’s still sex.
    (Way to use Bill Clinton’s oral sex argument there, guys.)

The Husband:

Despite what seems to be the public consensus, I greatly enjoyed season 3 of SLOTAT, especially more than the awkward growing pains that was season 2. While unable to capture the sweetness and reality of season 1, season 3 brought me almost just as much entertainment, even if it slowly moved into the territory of me laughing at the show. But I appreciate Grace’s post-summer maturity (especially about sex with Jack), Ashley’s continuing relationship with gay Griffin and, yes, Adrian coming out of her shell.

Season 4 starts in January, and you’d better believe I’ll be watching, bitches.

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The Wife:

Once again SLOTAT teetered into total ridiculata, as evidenced by the whole “musical houses” plot, the second joke about dreamcatchers to make it into this drama and all of the following exchanges:

David: A night in the garage does not a lifetime make.
George: What is that? Iambic pentameter or Pig Latin?
. . . or it’s neither of those things . . .

Ricky: How do you even know [Ben] had sex?
Amy: Because he’s acting all grown up and reasonable!
. . . because that’s exactly how every other character on this show who’s had sex acts . . .

Anne: I like that building block weenie!

Adrian: Cribbage? Wait – what is that?
Ricky: Adrian, you don’t care and I don’t care.
. . . he’s right; nobody cares about cribbage . . .

Jack: It’s nothing. We just had a few meetings of the Dead Parent’s Club.
. . . a weak defense for spending the summer with Renee Olstead . . .

Jack: Wait a minute – you, Dr. Grace Bowman, are jealous? I kind of like that. It makes you less doctor. And more woman.
. . . because being a doctor absolutely removes your gender identity . . .

But even with all that craziness, I have to say that this episode was actually one of the best in terms of dramatic tension and performance level in a long, long time. Although I find Adrian’s quest to move in to George’s house kind of silly, the resolution of the Anne-George-David love triangle and Adrian’s confrontation with Ricky about living next door to his baby mama actually gave Francia Rasia some levels to play. By the time Anne has broken up with David, but also chosen not to go running back to her ex-husband/baby daddy, Adrian has decided it’s not worth spying on Ricky anymore and has a wonderful, if unnaturally pop psychology-sounding, conversation with her mother about the nature of her relationship with Ricky. This leads Adrian to go talk to Ricky during his night with John in which she earnestly asks him if they could ever stop cheating on one another and just be together, or if being mistrustful cheaters is all they’ll ever be. Nothing really got resolved out of that conversation, but I enjoyed Rasia’s performance in that scene and I think that we can take the following moments of her interacting with John as an indicator of Ricky’s trust in her (he previously wouldn’t let her near his son). The show isn’t known for subtlety, but I’m going to pretend that scene was intended to include some.

Dont worry; no ones going to start calling her mama Adrian.

Don't worry; no one's going to start calling her mama Adrian.

I thought there was a similar level of adult awareness in Ben’s scene with Amy on their date night during their frank discussion of Ben’s jealousy about Ricky’s presence in Amy’s life, whether or not either of them has cheated, etc. Unfortunately, this launched into a screed from Amy about how much she hates Ricky and, consequently, Adrian, which prompts her to demand that date night end and she pick up her son from Ricky’s house. Upon seeing her son in Adrian’s arms, she turns into Psycho Amy once again and starts lashing out at the woman who once drove her to an abortion clinic as Ben and Ricky try to act like civilized people, apologizing for interrupting one another’s evenings while the girls hiss catspit insults at one another and Amy demands that the “slut” not be allowed anywhere near her son. I mean, I get that sometimes we don’t want other people to hold our babies and whatnot, but let’s not forget that the “slut” was the one who tried to give you the option to not have said baby. She’s only trying to help you, Amy! God!

All of that stuff? That stuff is good crazy. It’s soapy as hell, but at least it felt well crafted and somewhat real – which is to say that I believe people do and say insane things when they’re jealous. I am down for this Amy-Ben-Ricky-Adrian hate trapezoid. Give me more of this. It makes way more sense than Grace’s reaction to Jack hanging out with Madison all summer, which is jealousy for no good reason, as Madison, though pretty, is so annoying that no one can even stand being around her for an extended period of time.

In other news, I somehow missed in the last episode that new kid Griffin was teh ghey. I guess I was too busy laughing at his “Are you planning to get pregnant this year, too?” line to notice he announced his sexuality for no apparent reason. I do, however, adore him. I would watch an entire show about his relationship with Ashley, because sometimes they come off like a Beckett play. It’s as though they should both be wearing bowlers, he should be crawling around like a dog and both will get into lengthy discussions about the insanity of the world around them and the proper way to put on boots.

As for his gayness, it so far seems pretty incidental to his character, and I do sometimes find it refreshing that a character can just be gay without having to make a big deal about it or force their existence within a work to be strictly issue-based. (A great example of gay characters who simply are: two of Nick’s friends in Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist.) In some ways, I think you can argue that not making an issue out of someone’s difference is the best way to demonstrate acceptance, and that’s an attitude that’s always been displayed in Secret Life land, a place where the only missing minority has been the LBGT community . . . until now.

The Husband:

The restaurant scene between Ben and Amy was the first this season to get me to put down my iPhone (and my intense Flickchart.com clicking), and for a show that I watch from a distance to achieve the maximum amount of amusement, that’s 100% a compliment. It was almost smarter than this show has deserved in recent weeks, and adult enough to completely renew my interest in the Amy-Ben dynamic, which had completely fallen apart this season.

And yes, we will go with Hate Trapezoid over Hate Square as a term from now on. Spread the word. It’s both unnecessarily bizarre and confusing enough for dumb people.

The Wife:

Hey, remember how, at the end of last week’s episode, everyone was about to embark on their summer fun? Well, apparently, we don’t get to witness even one episode worth of seeing these characters grow, change and have personal discoveries apart from the insular gossip mill in which they live. I guess that would have taken too much thought and would have required writing above the caliber this show is capable of because, instead, we returned this week to find that three whole months had passed and that everyone’s ready to return to school. Here’s about where they all stand on that:

  • Amy is still a fucking bitch and summer school was, apparently, entirely uneventful.
  • Ricky and Adrian, despite having asked one another to be in a committed hate-sex relationship with one another, both are fucking other people and lying to each other about it. What happened to the Ricky I thought was turning over a new leaf?
  • Ben is back from Italy and he’s not sure what to do about his relationship with Amy because, well, she’s a fucking bitch.
  • Grace is back from Doctor Camp with a head full of knowledge and it seems that neither her boyfriend nor her brother really like her all that much now that she knows things about things. I get that the extra-touchy “confidence inspiring” practice is a little odd, but what’s so wrong with her being a smart girl? Is it the blazer they don’t like? I like the blazer. It reads “Ivy League.” Frankly, if I were them, I’d be more concerned about the seeds of an inevitable eating disorder. You all saw the way she chastised Tom about his 2,000 calorie sundae and then surreptitiously took a bite out of the container when he wasn’t looking.
  • Lauren’s brother broke up with Madison. Yet more casualties of Doctor Camp.
  • Ashley is all ready to start her first day of high school . . . in pajamas. (Don’t worry. The pajamas eventually are shed for a way-too-sexy Gothic Lolita dress that, for some reason, no one has a problem with her wearing.)
  • Henry and Alice have discovered both oral sex and sexting. I’m impressed that they can multitask and he can answer texts while he’s going down on her. That man is a keeper.
This touching thing confuses and infuriates me.

This touching thing confuses and infuriates me.


Is it just me or is it indeed extremely odd that summer just didn’t happen here in the SLOTAT universe? And what’s weirdest is that summer just didn’t happen IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SEASON. It’s not uncommon for television shows to operate on their own time scale, but I make a general assumption with shows set in high school that they indeed follow the timeline of high school. When we go back to school in the real world, so, too, do the students of Constance and St. Jude’s, of WestBev, of Neptune High and of Sunnydale High. There are a couple of very simple reasons for this: the traditional September through May television season is the exact length of a school year and because that structure, that 9 month structure, is a reasonable timeframe in which to tell a story about high school students. This is because their lives revolve around going to school. It’s the place of action in a high school-based series, so it only makes sense that the story should be told in accordance with the structure of that setting. So we never see summertime on these series (and the summer-based episodes like the GG forays into the Hamptons kind of suck), and we accept that, because we’ve been off enjoying our summers along with Blair, Chuck, Annie, Naomi, Veronica, Logan, Buffy, Willow and Xander. We reconvene in the fall to go back to school along with them.

I recognize that SLOTAT started in July of 2008, yet we still had to pretend it was September on the show and their summer had just ended. The first season aired in summer 2008, with the second airing in spring 2009 (or the second half of the first season, however you want to look at it) and the third season airing now, in summer 2009. If the show had paced itself better, this season would have started not at the end of the last school year, but at the beginning of this one, this avoiding this whole summer situation. But it didn’t. And since this show hasn’t followed the traditional structure of a high school show in any way, I kind of expected to see at least an episode or two of summer, to see who these characters are away from each other. It was an opportunity both for great writing and great acting, but this show . . . is just not for those things.

I can’t even explain most of what went on in this episode because the conversations were just so bizarre, but two of them did make sense and actually contributed to the masterplot of the show.

1. After not talking to Amy for weeks, Ben accidentally gets them both detention by speaking his thoughts out loud in class (everyone else was wondering about sex, especially Alice, who loves oral). As they sit alone copying chapters in their notebooks, they talk about their relationship and how even though things are bad right now, they still love each other. Ben suggests they find things they can do that include John, as a family. All I can say is that I hope this makes Amy happier, because if I were Ben and I’d just done a lot of learning, thinking and growing in Italy for a summer, I’d return by saying, “Amy, I love you, but you need to stop taking out your bullshit on me. I am nothing but nice to you, and I need you to treat me like a person. In fact, just be a person. Stop being what you are and just be a person.”

2. George tells Anne that he’s probably her baby daddy, and she’s like, “I know. And so does David. But I’m probably going to marry him anyway.” They have lots of adult things to work out here, but their plot always gets shoved into the last five minutes of the episode like some frantic after thought.

As for the rest of the show, well, let me give you a sampling of the kind of ridiculousness that abounded:

David: ‘Morning, Amy.
Amy: It’s not a good morning.
. . . um! that’s not even what he said! . . .

David: I loved school.
Amy: I used to love school, and then I got pregnant at 15, had a baby and now it’s not as fun as it used to be.
. . . but it will be much more fun when her soon-to-be-stepdad bribes her with an SUV, that safest of cars . . .

Adrian: I’m not having sex with Ben!
Ricky: You’re talking to Ben!
Adrian: So?!
Ricky: Talking leads to sex!
Adrian: Everyone talks!
Ricky: Everyone has sex!
. . . truly, the logic here is airtight . . .

“This is the year we get boyfriends.” – Lauren, who asserts that her brother was just a practice boyfriend for Madison

Coach: Future medical students? How many of those students do you think actually make it to medical school?
Jack: I don’t know . . .
Coach: Me neither, but what I do know is that every year I lose a player to fear!
. . . that’s quite a transition . . .

No girls allowed!

No girls allowed!

“Oh, jeez. The old pistil and stamen. Could we just get to the nitty gritty? Or could you point me in the direction of a niiiiiice pistil?” – Lauren’s thoughts, being way more forward than I am comfortable with her being

Griffin: Nice attitude. Griffin.
Ashley: Ashley. The teen mother’s sister. Well, I know that’s why everyone’s staring at me. ‘Cause of my sister.
Griffin: I-I’m new here. I don’t know anything about that.
Ashley: Well, uh, my sister’s in the 10th grade and she had a baby last year.
Griffin: Uh . . . wow. Well, you know, stuff happens.
Ashley: Yeah.
Griffin: Well, uh, maybe you can point her out to me.
Ashley: Well, she’s pretty easy to spot. She’s the really pretty one with the French horn who’s unusually tired.
Griffin: Is she tired from dragging around the horn, or the baby?
Ashley: The baby. And just from being . . . Amy.
Griffin: So, are you planning to get pregnant your first year here?
. . . basically the best conversation ever uttered on this show, which includes absolutely the best icebreaker I’ve ever heard . . .

Coach: I don’t want you to see or talk to Jack Pappas for the rest of the football season. It’s not good for the team. It’s not good for Jack.
Grace: But . . . why?
Coach: I don’t want him distracted.
Grace: The other players have girlfriends.
Coach: Not girlfriends who wanna be doctors. I don’t like those kind of girlfriends.
. . . clearly, they’re smarter than women should be, candidly talking about groin injuries and the like . . .

That’s only a sample of the ridiculata. Truly, I think I laughed more that this episode than most other episodes of this show I’ve ever seen. What the fuck was happening? And why were so many ridiculous things being said in rapid succession? I like this new Griffin guy, by the way. It’s going to be interesting watching him adjust to this world. He’s already said my favorite line ever uttered in this history of this show, so I’m sure he’ll start to fit right in very soon.

The Husband:

This is without a doubt the best episode of SLOTAT this season and probably the best in a very long time. Unlike the past few episodes whose major flaw was focusing entire episodes on only one or two subjects and then hammering it into the ground like a stake, this was a massive overflow of information, with ridiculous conversations colliding in the hallways with other ridiculous conversations, until it almost seemed like Abbott & Costello mixed with one of those Monty Python sketches where everybody but one person in the skit is absolutely out of their minds. (That one pseudo-normal person? Ashley, as usual.) I am often flabbergasted by how open and bizarre these characters are, and it was in full force this week.

As for the sudden shift in time, it threw me off just as much as it did my wife, but I think I’m more forgiving. Why? Because I don’t think it’s a problem with the writers so much as the budget that they didn’t feel the need to open up the show to any new locations, because as we can all very clearly tell, nothing in a long time has taken place outside of a soundstage or the studio’s backlot, with verrrrry few exceptions. Hell, it probably wasn’t even in the budget to give us a montage at the end of last week’s episode showing all of our little teenagers off doing their own thing, even for mere seconds, which I think would have done away with that initial shock at the beginning of this episode (e.g. Grace in a full classroom of soon-to-be-pre-med students, Ricky caring for John, Ben walking past the check-in desk at an airport, stopping and turning around to see that only his father and Betty came to see him off).

Oh, and by the way, nobody in the world knows where the hell Brenda Hampton got that information about Bologna and its infamy in regards to oral sex. We are all baffled. I think someone told her that as a joke, and she took that one little bit of perhaps-false information and just ran with it, much like the weird confidence-building arm-touching doctor trick Grace and Lauren’s brother used all episode.

The Wife:

It’s the last day of school over on SLOTAT and everyone’s deciding what to do with their respective summers. Ben is headed off to Bologna, and Amy has finally made peace with the fact that he’s going because she’s got three incompletes to make up in summer school. Amy treats this like it’s basically the worst and most unexpected thing ever, but just because you got pregnant and had a baby doesn’t mean you can be late to class all the time and not do your homework.

I have no sympathy for her plight here, and that’s probably because I’m one of the kids who loved summer school. I never had to make up a class in the summer, but I voluntarily took summer classes every year through a program at UC Berkeley. I mean, really, what would you choose: spending a summer hanging out on a college campus when you’re a teenager, or spending your summer stuck in a small town, bored off your ass because there’s nothing to do? It’s pretty clear to me. Like, going to Bologna when someone offers you an all-expenses-paid trip. Or, say, attending a summer medical program when your dead father had the foresight to apply for you. I’m actually most happy about that turn of events for Grace, as it seems that this medical program is the only thing able to take her mind off her grief, despite Jack, Ben and Madison’s best attempts to give her a circle of peers by forming some kind of Dead Parents Club.

My absolute hatred of Amy this season has lead to my sudden and surprising love for Ricky. When Amy spends every moment of this episode complaining about summer school, having a baby, not being able to go on trips, having to work to support her child and, on top of that, being immortalized in the yearbook as “The Pregnant Girl,” Ricky reminds her that even though life is fucking tough all over, it could be a lot worse for her. She could have dropped out of high school. She could have been kicked out by her parents. All in all, Amy’s got it pretty fucking good and she needs to start being grateful for that.

Besides, Amy should be proud of that yearbook photo. Even without it, everyone would remember her as the pregnant girl anyway, so she may as well have a nice portrait to commemorate it. And yes, it is kind of funny that John got in the yearbook. It will horrify him years later, but then he’ll be cool with it and you’ll all have a good larf.

So Amy shows her gratitude toward Ricky for this reminder by allowing him to spend his first night at his new apartment with their son. (Which kind of pisses off Adrian, but ultimately reunites her with her mother and father who are desperately trying to form some semblance of a family unit with their headstrong daughter.) But even with that permission, Ricky ends up spending the night at Amy’s house because he doesn’t want to wake John, which provides a nice dramatic backdrop for Ben when he decides to give Amy the proper goodbye he’s been trying to give her all episode. She finally softens to Ben, only to have him be spooked by the fact that her baby daddy spent the night. It’s getting like a VH1 show up in that hizzouse!

Boom! You just got served!

Boom! You just got served!

Meanwhile, Anne serves George with divorce papers, having finally made up her mind to marry David after he ambushes her with a meeting with his parents. (Anne must have some seriously bad pregnancy brain, because she’s really, really slow to catch on to obvious situations like, say, someone building a house for you or someone’s parents not being clients, for instance.) Both Ashley and Adrian try to force George to tell Anne that the baby she’s carrying is probably his, but when she demands he sign the divorce papers, he can’t bring himself to do it. I’ve actually been enjoying this George-Anne storyline this season, as George’s actions reveal a hint of kindness we didn’t really know he had for the first two seasons. There’s a part of him that knows that Anne will be well cared for with David, and that means that the baby, as well as Amy and Ashley, will also be well cared for. Should he tell Anne? Absolutely, but I find there’s a real sweetness in the reasons he doesn’t want to.

Also, Betty is indeed an escort, and the Sausage King doesn’t care. Boy, I’m glad we spent so much time on that storyline, because it clearly had a worthwhile dramatic payoff. And Mr. Molina came back for this episode, only to announce that he wouldn’t be back next school year so he could care for his wife and child. Awesome. Can you say plot device? Because I can. And I just did.

Stray thoughts and quotes:

  • I am really curious as to the kind of sentiments Ricky would write in people’s yearbooks. “Call me if you want to bone!” I just imagine all of it would be really dirty.
  • “I thought we decided Betty was just a well-built, worldly woman with questionable fashion sense.” – Alice, with one of the show’s best lines ever.
  • Mr. Molina: “I still have both my parents.”
    Grace [snidely]: “Then I guess you can’t be in our Dead Parents Club.”
  • This local commercial played during SLOTAT last night, and I want you all to help me get it on WebSoup. I truly, truly enjoy it:

W E T P E T S! W E T P E T S!

The Wife:

Okay. I think I hate Amy Jurgens more than any other fictional character on television right now. Remember how last week she was all, “Watch my baby so I can go to Italy with Ben?” Well, now it seems she’s had another complete change of mind and has decided that no one’s going to tell her she can’t go to Italy and she’s taking the baby with her. (She must read my blog.) Never mind that she doesn’t have a passport (and, at this point, probably doesn’t have the time to get one), that John doesn’t have a passport or that she has responsibilities at her job that disallow her from disappearing for an entire summer. And how will she pay for her plane ticket? She really hasn’t earned the Boykevitch good graces enough recently to support her expectation that they should pay for her stay. In fact, I’m very happy Ben is standing up to her bullshit these last few weeks. I love Ben and his love for Amy but there’s really no point in allowing Amy to get away with her stank-ass attitude. Maybe if he goes away for the summer, she’ll learn to appreciate him more and will just stop all the fucking yelling.

God, its like no one thinks Im responsible or something!

God, it's like no one thinks I'm responsible or something!

However, for as much as I totally hate Amy these days, I do have to give Shailene Woodley some major props for giving us her most truthful acting performance in the entire three seasons she’s been doing this. The scene where she and her somewhat-estranged besties Madison and Lauren eat lunch while discussing her father’s possible vasectomy and the completely ridiculous notion that is high school students discussing such a thing was utterly real in its delivery. For once, Amy seemed like a real person to me, rather than . . . whatever she normally is. An idiot? That sounds about right.

This episode really was about George’s vasectomy, though, and Grace’s inability to keep a secret, which spread around the school like Chlamydia the idea that Anne’s baby might actually belong to her soon-to-be-ex-husband (rather than to the wealthy boyfriend who tricks her into designing her own totally green dream home!). But although everyone talked about it a lot, none of that buzz made it back to Anne, and so more minutes of my time were wasted. Even more time was wasted on the Betty the Escort storyline, as pretty much everyone but Ben knows she’s a hooker, but he’s steadfast in his belief that his dad wouldn’t marry a hooker. Betty even wanted to tell him herself, but ended up telling him she was named court reporter of the month, which is now my new euphemism for prostitute.

I think the only plotline of any substance this week was Ricky’s quest for emancipation and his foray into becoming an actual responsible adult, not just some sex-addict douchebag impregnation machine. His conversation with his foster parents about why he wants to become an emancipated minor was very earnest and was as much about his love for them (he doesn’t want them to pay to keep taking care of him, as he gets kicked out of the system when he turns 18) as it was about his need to establish himself as a man and provide a home for his child. I’m also really glad that he stood up to Amy about potentially taking John off to Europe without his consent. I wouldn’t be surprised if, the minute Ricky becomes legally emancipated, he draws up actual legal custody papers for Amy with regards to John’s care. I mean, someone needs to because that girl clearly can’t make adult decisions, despite what she thinks.

I can also only commend him for asking Bunny (Kathy Kinney) for permission to ask The Sausage King for more hours so that he could save money and get his own place. I was also very happy to see that kind of self-driven, goal-oriented decision making be rewarded when The Sausage King offers to let Ricky live in the family apartment above the butcher shop, rent free, so long as he fixes it up and maintains the unit. First of all, Steve Schirrippa is the nicest person ever. Second of all, I kind of want Steve Schirrippa to be my dad. (In actuality, my dad is a little bit like Steve Schirrippa, so I’m not really too far off there.) I’m sure that offering Ricky the family apartment will cause further tension between Ricky and Ben, but I’m really happy for Ricky. I want to see him turn his life around, and the steps he’s taking toward doing so read like an ad from Fatherhood.org. I do not, however, understand why Adrian isn’t happy about this turn of events and is upset that her mother and father haven’t gotten a house for her and Ricky to have sex in. She has a car. What’s the problem with going to visit Ricky at his apartment? It’s not like she’s got parents that give a damn about where she chooses to spend her time. Maybe she’s been taking some of whatever crazy, illogical pills Amy has been taking.

Oddly funny things:

  • “That would be a pretty big lie. I don’t even know if I’m capable of telling a lie like that.” – George, who is actually really good at lying.
  • “The dollar isn’t worth a peso in Europe.” – George, speaking the fucking truth.
  • “Why would you tell me about Mr. Jurgens when I’m trying to read Doonesbury?” – Tom, asking a really, really good question.
  • I also found myself being strangely covetous of Betty the Escort’s pyramid stud bracelet.
  • I also noticed that most of the high school girls had cute new handbags. Did this show’s costume department suddenly get money? Is that where Amy’s green pleather mini came from?

The Wife:

Now that Baby John has entered this world, I think SLOTAT has gone a little bit off the deep end. The last two seasons have had tension and drama and elicited a modicum of emotional investment from myself and other viewers, but this season? This season is totally and completely bananas. For instance, this episode was about one thing and one thing only:

No one is having sex with anyone on this show . . . unless they’re going to Bologna.

Ben and Amy: Because Amy’s experience of young motherhood has made her a complete and total bitch (i.e. flat out refusing to have sex with or even kiss Ben, whining, complaining, begging other people to do things for her, being critical and nagging of everything and everyone to the point there I kind of hope she kills herself at the end of this season because she’s become a terrible, terrible human being), Ben’s father suggests that it might be good for Ben to have a summer abroad, working for his uncle’s company in Bologna. (This is a suggestion that comes out of Ben’s apology for being a dick to his dad last week and quitting the butcher shop.) He’s given the choice to go on his own, or he can bring Amy and John with him. So, naturally, when Ben brings this up to Amy, she immediately wants to ditch her son and pass him off to family, friends or Ricky for a week, two weeks or a month so she can go gallivanting around Italy with Ben.

Wait, what?

This coming from a girl who earlier in the episode said she didn’t want to go out to dinner at a restaurant because she wasn’t going to expose John to germs from the outside world until he’s three months old? (Furthermore, how does she know about that little piece of advice floating around the parenting world and yet she doesn’t know how to breastfeed?) A girl who two episodes ago didn’t want Ben babysitting her son, but now is totally willing to just up and leave the little baby for a month or so? No! Amy, you are officially the most frustrating character on television. I know you feel trapped by your choices and whatever, whatever, but you made those choices and now you have to live with them. P.S. It’s not like you can’t put a baby on a plane and take him to Europe with you. You said he’s ten weeks old now, which means he’ll be 12 weeks (or 3 months!) old in two more weeks . . . and summer’s a month away . . . so it’s not like you’re breaking your stupid three month germ rule by taking him to Europe when he’s more than three months old. I just don’t understand her logic here, and that’s because there isn’t any.

Please notice whos missing from this picture . . .

Please notice who's missing from this picture . . .

Grace and Jack: Grace returns to school, only to find it’s harder than she expected it would be to face her sex scandal and father’s death on the faces of other students. An impromptu conversation with Mr. Jurgens, however, helps her feel better about what’s happened in her life (esp. because he might actually be the father of his pregnant soon-to-be-ex-wife’s baby), so she decides to go back to school, forgive lots of people, apologize for being mean to people while she was grieving, reclaim her virginity and get back together with Jack, only this time, they’re not going to have sex again until their married. And so the Grace Bowman character arc comes full circle.

Ricky and Adrian: She doesn’t want him to sleep with other girls, but also doesn’t exactly accept his plea for commitment, even though she later calls Grace to gush about it.

What’s going on in Ricky and Adrian’s relationship in this episode doesn’t matter nearly as much as the fact that Adrian apparently knows something about Bologna that I don’t know. It’s known for only three things, apparently:

1. The oldest university in the world.

2. Really good food. (Specifically, per Ben’s earlier answer to the “Do you know what Bologna is known for?” question, bolognese sauce.)

3. Oral sex.

Wait, what? This can’t be real, but rather some totally weird thing made up for the show because I have never, ever heard this and one of my grandfathers was from Bologna. In the context of the SLOTAT universe, though, it seems like something hookers know about, as Ricky pointedly asks Betty the Escort if she’s ever been to Bologna and she replies that she’s been many, many, many times and that they have lots of spaghetti there. (Well, obviously. They have lots of spaghetti all the fuck over Italy.) Am I to assume that all Italian sex acts are named after pasta shapes? Adrian seems to follow that line of logic when she spills the Bologna beans to Amy by calling out rigatoni and other such shapes (in a beautiful and perfect accent, for which I give my compliments to Francia Rasia). What fucking looney toons universe was I dropped into where this entire episode became about using pasta names as euphemisms for sex acts? If any of that’s true, I’m pretty sure anything called “fusilli” would be the equivalent of the tongue tornado from American Pie. And I’m pretty sure we can all figure out what rigatoni is. Penne is also obvious. Spaghetti, though? What the fuck would that be? Any creative people, please chime in with your ideas for sex acts named after pasta shapes in the comments.

Anne/George/David: Inspired by his conversation with Grace, George decides to come clean with Anne about the vasectomy he didn’t actually have, but he chickens out when he eavesdrops on Anne and David having dinner, at which David admits that he thought he was infertile so his fathering a child would be something of a miracle, thus he suspected, perhaps, that Anne was faking a pregnancy in order to get her divorcee hands on David’s family’s millions. (Wow, that’s a very complicated revelation that came OUT OF NOWHERE). When Anne assures him she didn’t even know about the money and wouldn’t care either way, David proposes to her, which keeps George from making his admission, making this the second nicest thing he’s done for Anne this season. First he leaves her the house, and then he doesn’t ruin her chances to marry a rich guy? Wow, George is really turning over a new leaf these days, no?

Some lines I liked:

  • “He just cries. He’s a baby, okay?” – Amy, getting really, really defensive about her parenting skills.
  • “After I get home from work, we’re going to cook dinner?” – Amy, incredulous and angry at Ben’s suggestion that they make dinner together instead of going out, as though this isn’t something that thousands of men and women do EVERY SINGLE DAY when they get home from work.
  • “We got family there.” – The Sausage King on Bologna, harking back to his Sopranos roots.
  • “I know just how you feel. I lost my cat last year. And my virginity.” – Random-ass girl, to Grace.
  • “Hey, here’s a good idea. Why don’t you just put John in a kennel while you’re gone?” – Ashley, always coming up with solutions to point out her sister’s completely idiocy.

The Husband:

Yes, it has gone pretty far off the deep end, but if this episode is any indication, I think it’s much more enjoyable than much of the “second season” (i.e. the second half of the first season in TV land but not in DVD land). The major problem is that each episode so far in this short season was given a task, one to simply talk about one damn thing, and beat it into the ground. All of these plots would work just fine for me if they made up a third or half of an episode, but when dragged out to full-length, it can get tedious. But at least I feel like I’m back to what matters for these characters as far as their interconnected lives are concerned, and we don’t have to have, say, the white guilt of when Jack went to the “inner city” to tutor “the less fortunate.” That ended up going virtually nowhere, and there were far easier ways to make Grace jealous of Jack eyeballin’ other women (e.g. the worst Buffy slayer ever.)

And while I appreciate that Ben is really trying to stand his ground with both Amy and Ricky, his shift away from schoolyard politics and issues, mainly among his two now rarely seen Asian-American friends, hasn’t given him very much to work with. Right now, he’s almost entirely reactionary, while the best parts of the first season was his quest to get Amy to love him. Babies make things complicated, and they definitely change people, but I don’t want my beloved Ben gone forever.

The Wife:

We missed out on SLOTAT while we were finding our dream home with a murder basement up in Seattle, and it appears we made the correct decision to not immediately watch the post “having sex will kill your dad in an airplane crash” episode until we had another one to pair it with. “What’s Done Is Done” had three basic plot lines:

1. Grace is mewed up to her heavens (Shakespeare!) and is, like, really fucking angry at everyone because she’s transferring her own self-hate onto others. This show is deep.

2. Every character in the SLOTAT universe has a discussion about whether or not they will/can/should attend Dr. Bowman’s funeral. Like I said, deep.

3. Amy is a tired new mom, coping with changes in her life, which she uses as an excuse to be a total fucking bitch to everyone else.

This is another way of saying that nothing actually happened that moved the story forward. Sometimes SLOTAT gets into these writing ruts where different sets of characters will have the same conversation numerous times, such as the discussion of funeral attendance. Adrian tries to convince Grace that she’s not responsible for her dad’s death (which she fails at doing, even though I think she said Grace’s name about 23 times during this scene, which is how she demonstrated how serious and caring she was being) and asks her to attend her father’s funeral, George helps ex-wife Mrs. Bowman execute Dr. Bowman’s funeral plan, Amy realizes she’s the only one not going to the funeral and acts like a total fucking bitch about it, Madison and Lauren appear for all of two minutes to participate in a totally pointless and frustratingly circular conversation about going to the funeral versus babysitting John versus doing Amy’s job for her so she can go to the funeral, Ben and Ricky fight over which one of them has to cover at the butcher shop so the other can go to the funeral . . . bah! This just kept happening and happening and happening and I don’t understand why! Did we run out of actual plotlines and character development? Is this all we’re left with? Redundant discussions about funeral attendance and debates over the correct terminology for the monstrous catered trays of cheeses and meats available at fine retailers such as Costco and Sam’s Club? I do not care if it’s a cheese tray or a party platter! I just want you to tell me a fucking story!

It takes a lot of makeup to make Megan Park look this un-pretty. (And even then, shes still really cute.)

It takes a lot of makeup to make Megan Park look this un-pretty. (And even then, she's still really cute.)

The following episode, which ended with Dr. Bowman’s delightfully quirky golf course funeral (because doctors LOVE GOLF!!!!) and a Kathy Kinney-led chorus singing “When the Saints Go Marching In” while actually riding on golf carts, was basically just a continuation of Grace’s continued struggle with her intense guilt (and some transference of that guilt onto Adrian, who clearly made sex look so tantalizing that she’s actually the one responsible for Dr. Bowman’s plane crash . . . yes . . . that’s it) and yet more whining and bitching from Amy about how she really wants to go to the funeral and is mad she can’t go because she has to work. Boo! Responsibility and childcare are hard! So hard, in fact, that Amy, very darkly, delivered my favorite line ever uttered on SLOTAT:

“I don’t have time to dream.”

Did she trade identities with Ashley? Christ. That’s almost as heavy as my favorite from Grace in “What’s Done Is Done”:

“He had a horrible death because I had incredible sex.”

SLOTAT suddenly became very, very dark.

“Par for the Course,” which is a golf pun in case you were wondering, concerned whether or not Grace would show her face at her father’s funeral. Some confusing arguments were made, the most perplexing of which came from Jack’s dad, who claimed that while he doesn’t necessarily frown upon premarital sex, he believes sex should occur only within the confines of marriage for the protection of the female partner, so they’re not violated or devalued. That makes no sense to me for two reasons: 1.) There are many places in the world where religious law requires women to be virgins when they are married, which sometimes lead to men marrying very young girls to ensure their virginity. 2.) There are also many marriages in which the female partners are sexually abused by the husbands such an argument claims will protect them. I also raise an eyebrow at that kind of rhetoric that continually frames women as things to be protected.

Taking a minute away from being a douchebag to comfort Kathleen.

Taking a minute away from being a douchebag to comfort Kathleen.

As Ann finds herself in the position Amy was in at the start of the show (although actually pregnant Molly Ringwald is obviously way too pregnant to match her character’s level of pregnant and the production folks at SLOTAT are not nearly as good at masking her as other shows might be), she and George discuss the terms for finalizing their divorce, and she and David maybe, possibly proceed towards marriage, providing George goes through with that whole divorce thing. George actually had a couple of soft moments in this pair of episodes, comforting his ex-wife as she mourned the loss of her husband and telling Ann that, when they divorced, he wouldn’t try to take her house from her as, after 14 years of marriage and two children, “I figured I owed you the house.” That sentiment was probably the nicest thing I’ve ever heard come out of George’s mouth, but even that didn’t last long as about 30 seconds later the two were bickering again.

Almost as much as superbitchmom Amy, who really, really, really does not want to have sex with Ben anytime in the near future, even though he kind of really wants to now. The writers achieved some semblance of character development with this plot, as Ben’s father goes to work with him so Ricky and Kathy Kinney can attend the funeral. Ben perceives this as yet another person who doesn’t think he can do anything (coming on the heels of Amy’s complete belligerence toward his desire to babysit and subsequent perceived failure when he leaves the baby with his father and soon-to-be-stepmom Betty the Escort for five whole minutes), and tells his father as much, storming out of the butcher shop in a fit of anger, echoing the fight Grace and her father had only episodes before. Luckily for Ben, Betty the Escort picked him up and drove him to the funeral, along the way dishing out some unsolicited advice about how he shouldn’t be upset with his father because if he loses his family, he’ll probably end up becoming a male prostitute somewhere along the line. I don’t really know what happened in that scene, but, at the very least, I learned some more about Betty, so that’s a plus.

I truly believe these two episodes would have been stronger as one entity, although on the other hand, I appreciate the realism of drawing out the aftermath of Dr. Bowman’s death a little longer. SLOTAT just doesn’t have the actual dramatic content to bridge that gap anymore. What’s up with this season and why don’t I care?

Quotes that amused me:

  • “We’re not married. I don’t have to tell you what my plans are.” – Ricky, with a sneer.
  • “Does this look like a baby store? Are we selling babies here?” – Kathy Kinney, to which Ben correctly retorts that they do sell veal.
  • “Don’t glamorize teen pregnancy, okay?” – Mama Ringwald, in the show’s most self-aware moment.
  • “Don’t try distracting me with a whole bunch of questions no one can answer!” – Bitchface Amy, about a bunch of questions that someone actually could answer. I mean, it’s not like Ben asked her about the meaning of life; he just wanted to know if her mom was going to marry her boyfriend!
  • “Even if you killed him, he’s with Jesus now. Mom isn’t.” – Tom, softening the blow a little bit. I think.
  • “Obviously you’re okay with you son having sex because you’re still alive!” – Grace, to Jack’s dad.

The Husband:

While the quote “I don’t have time to dream” is definitely the darkest line the show has ever possessed – it’s something I should say to homeless people begging for money in order to creep them out – the funniest line in SLOTAT’s history was the aforementioned (and re-mentioned here) piece of genius, due to its mixture of sheer inanity and illogical rage:


“Don’t try distracting me with a whole bunch of questions no one can answer!”


And while I agree that this two-episode intense focus on the drama surrounding Grace’s father’s death (didn’t this motherfucker die hard enough on Smallville several seasons back?) went on far too long, I’ve been greatly enjoying something my wife passed over – Adrian’s extremely frank sex talks with her father, which walk the line between earth-shatteringly inappropriate and kind of sweet in a Kevin Smith sort of way.

And I hate to be this guy, but the developmentally delayed actor who plays Tom, Luke Zimmerman, usually portrays a very sweet guy who just has trouble getting words out but is really struggling with some of the more serious dialogue thrown his way, and I try my hardest to stifle a giggle whenever he tries to scream at Grace. I like the kid, but Chris Burke he is not. (Shit, did you know that Corky from Life Goes On is 42 now?)

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