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:

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?)

The Wife:

So Secret Life of the American Teenager has returned for its third season, which is baffling in its own right. I reread my blog about last season’s finale in preparation for getting back in the groove of writing this thing, and I think my husband was definitely right in his observation that the show has sacrificed some of its realism in the interest of soapy baby daddy drama, which has never been more apparent now that formerly non-jealous and understanding Ben is doing silly things like ordering Amy to keep Ricky out of her room, even when he’s there spending time with his son. The Ben I know and love wouldn’t do that, but I guess having a girlfriend with hot, lactating milk jugs changes the minds of adolescent boys.

What an odd conversation to have with your friends about the increased size of your girlfriend/wife’s breasts, Ben! Almost as inappropriate as, say, telling your wife’s lover that she’s fat and/or pregnant, George! Never before has an episode of this show been filled with such awkward discussion of women’s bodies by men. I don’t exactly know what was meant by it, other than to show that both being possessive of your girlfriend’s milk jugs and embarrassing your ex-wife by exposing her pregnancy are both kind of shitty things to do. Oh, but this is a great rebuttal, no?:


“I’d rather be pregnant than be fat and eat soup every night!” –Mama Ringwald

Hey! I love soup, lady! You watch your mouth!

At least Ricky seems to have come into his own in the new season, being a responsible father to his son with regular visiting hours and a steady job, and appropriately using his mouth to tell Adrian’s dad that he’s a douchebag that walked out on Adrian years ago and therefore has no business telling her what to do with her life now that she’s almost an adult. It feels weird to me that I’m suddenly liking Ricky, but fatherhood has clearly changed something in him, and we can only be thankful for that.

At least Ricky is fully aware that Bens request is really, really weird.

At least Ricky is fully aware that Ben's request is really, really weird.

It’s changed Amy, too. As a tired new mom, I feel like her brattiness has purpose, and it was really interesting (and actually kind of funny) to see her play the mothering role to her own mother, who now finds herself in a situation comparable to the one her daughter just went through. Clearly, Amy still has a lot of growing to do, though, as it’s evident she relies too much on the help of her family and others to raise her child. I mean, it may take a village and all that, but if she’d had this kid at 25, its not like she could call grandpa in the middle of the night just to put the baby to sleep because he sleeps better when a male figure puts him to bed.

But for all that discussion of baby weight, milk jugs and how having a child changes a person, there are two much more important things that this episode dealt with:

1. The Sausage King is fucking Betty the Escort and seems to have no idea that she’s an escort. Oh, wait. So is this the message we were supposed to get about not getting married young? Is it because when you’re later widowed, you won’t be able to recognize the difference between a regular date and a date with a hooker? (I should note that George also has no idea that she’s a hooker, and he also married Anne pretty young.) Or maybe I’m selling Jennifer Coolidge’s Betty a bit short here. Maybe she wants to go straight with a nice rich man who likes sausage just as much as she does.

2. If you’re a Christian and you have sex before marriage, your father will die in a plane crash ON THE SAME NIGHT YOU LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY. Man, if Grace’s highly contrived and totally unemotional drama here doesn’t scare kids into abstinence, I don’t know what will. (I’m certainly not shortchanging Josie Bisset and Megan Park’s acting here, I’m merely shortchanging the writing. Bisset and Park were great at crying.)

The Husband:

I had asked my wife to jot down a particularly funny quote from this episode, but I guess it didn’t make it onto the page. Thanks to IMDB’s devolving silly message boards, however, I did get another gem. I love how you’re never really sure how intentional this show’s humor is. It definitely keeps viewers on their toes.


Grace’s Mom: “He’s dead!”
Grace: “No! Nobody is dead! We just had sex!”
Tom: “YOU KILLED HIM!”

Glorious.

The Wife:

I had a conversation with my friend Drew over Facebook this morning about the weirdly uneven storytelling in last night’s episode. This was a three-patient episode, with three stories in it that felt somewhat rushed. Nip/Tuck has given us multiple patient stories before, but, usually, they’re a little better balanced between two patients whose stories last for the entire episode, rather than what occurred last night:

Jennifer Coolidge’s Candy Richards came back, after having discovered her African-American heritage, and has decided to reinvent herself as rap/hip-hop artist Hot Coco. After spewing what I believe was a largely improvised list of reasons she knows she’s black (example: she has always loved chicken and waffles), she asks Sean and Christian to give her butt implants. She has her surgery and then completely disappears. For what it’s worth, though, during the surgery, the team listens to Coco’s new single “Yo Stank Bitch,” and we get to see the entirety of the music video, which is priceless, especially because it contains the phrase, “Whadja do? Smuggle garlic in your cooch?” (Husband Note: I equally like the new term “Dubba Deez.”)

Olivia, meanwhile, wants plastic surgery so she can look ten years younger before moving to New York to teach at NYU’s medical program. Although this is an inherent contradiction because she teaches Eastern medicine, she feels like she’s aged ten years and has the surgery despite Julia’s protestations. And then, after a freaky little hallucination where Sean imagines Olivia begging him to kill her on the table, she goes into cardiac arrest during surgery and dies somewhere off screen, presumably with her forehead still hanging off her face.

At his breast cancer support group, Christian meets Roxy St. James, a totally hot lady who lost both her mother and her sister to breast cancer and irrationally fears that she, too, will die from the disease, even though tests to see if she’s a carrier for the cancer gene continually show up negative. After some totally sweet cancer-survivor sex, she asks Christian to perform her double mastectomy. He signs on for it, but then listens to Liz’s misgivings about performing such a radical, irreversible surgery on someone who seems to be mentally unstable. “You can’t cut the fear out of you by taking off her breasts,” she warns. And then the greatest thing I’ve EVER SEEN ON TELEVISION HAPPENS: After waking up from her “surgery” totally distraught that she still has breasts, Roxy later barges into McNamara/Troy, asks the receptionist for an open outlet, plugs in an electric turkey carver AND SLICES OFF HER OWN BREAST IN FRONT OF A WAITING ROOM FULL OF PEOPLE. I wish the interwebs had a clip of that, but for now, I can only give you the seduction scene she has with Christian:

After watching that scene, I went to bed last night proclaiming that this episode was a tour de force, a return to form for Nip/Tuck. This episode was funny, not just because of Coco, but because Christian’s banter was some of the best it’s ever been. This episode was totally disgusting and weird, what with Sean’s open-faced Olivia hallucination and the self-breast augmentation. Sean was as needy a giant man child as he’s ever been, especially when he tries to get Julia to stay in L.A. by passionately kissing her, as though one passionate kiss is going to erase the fact that she remembers the fact that their marriage failed. And yet the episode was still tempered with a couple of superficially deep thoughts about keeping one’s scars and furthered the deepening relationship between Christian and Liz.

But for all of those things I really liked about it, it was uneven in terms of storytelling. Coco’s plot and Roxy’s plot could have each had their own episodes, although if this episode had decided to balance the two of their stories, it could have worked out a little bit better. At the very least, while the women’s stories and desires are unrelated, I think that having the two of them share an episode would have at least balanced out the concept of ornamentation vs. purposeful disfigurement. It was an odd choice to leap into her plot so quickly, with only one minor protest from Sean about how asking to become more ethnic in appearance by getting butt implants and wearing gold teeth is one step away from putting shoe polish on and performing in blackface. There was a much better execution of this dilemma back in season three, when Matt starts dating Neo-Nazi Brittany Snow and she rightfully questions McNamara/Troy’s policies regarding ethnicizing surgeries. Ariel (Snow) wonders why its okay for people to have their features made to look more white, including through skin bleaching procedures (one of which Ariel herself will test out), when it isn’t okay to have one’s features made to look more black. Sean balks at her accusation that his surgical practices are racist and homogenizing, even though, in essence, she’s right. Plastic surgery is about homogenization. (Although in another episode, Sean willingly agrees to add a slight slant to a patient’s eye so that his bride-to-be’s Asian parents will be more willing to accept him.) But rather than dwell on that dilemma again, Christian reminds Sean that they’re surgeons, and if a white lady who didn’t think she was black wanted butt implants, they’d do it. So in the scope of minutes, they agree to Coco’s surgery, perform it and are entirely done with her.

Roxy’s plot was probably the only one of the three surgeries in this episode that was fairly well-paced, although, considering how psycho this lady is, I would have been happy to see more of her. The writers could certainly have done more with her story, but I think the climax of Roxy St. James makes up for any inadequacies in her narrative. People mutilating themselves with turkey carving knives? That is precisely why I watch Nip/Tuck. I certainly haven’t seen something that outrageously grotesque in a long time, and that scene alone is a tour de force. At the cancer support group, Christian callously told the women there that it’s only natural for their husbands to be disgusted by their scars, failing to understand why they wouldn’t get their chests reconstructed. “Any woman who chooses disfigurement,” he says, “chooses to be a victim.” No one is a great illustrator of this point that Roxy. There was nothing physically wrong with her at all, but she intentionally chose to mutilate her body. Having lost her mother and sister to breast cancer, she was already a victim of the disease although her own body never made her suffer. And for Roxy, there was no other way to be. I think there’s a lot of richness in this plot, and it poses a lot of questions about how we read the disfigured female body. That’s me mentally bookmarking this episode for later research.

Moving, on though, there’s one plot that just didn’t make sense in this episode at all, and that’s Olivia’s. It’s clear that this was just a way to get Olivia out of the show, and to establish the negative relationship between Sean and Julia that has driven the show for so long. Sean and Julia just don’t work when Julia’s working from a tabula rasa, so something needed to happen to make their relationship volatile again. And that thing had to be Olivia’s death. When she’s pronounced dead, Julia rails against Sean for intentionally killing her lover to try and get her back, but the autopsy later reveals that Olivia had neglected to tell the staff at McNamara/Troy that she was on anti-depressants (another thing that contradicts with her Eastern medical practices), effectively resigning herself to death via surgery. However, other than the spectre of her dead self that we see when Olivia looks in the mirror with her plastic surgery roadmap marked on her face, we had no idea that this character was going through this at all. Her death is a development that came out of nowhere, a machination to move the plot along. And that kind of sucks. Even Eden, who has been busy making porn in Europe (i.e. working with far less attractive script material over on 90210) dropped by to claim her mother’s ashes and couldn’t adequately explain why Olivia wanted to die. Taking advantage of Julia’s amnesia, Eden tells her that Olivia had been depressed for the last six months because she had been drinking, and shot Julia by accident, thus actually erasing the blame from the person who pulled the trigger: Eden Lord. Then Eden tosses Olivia’s ashes on Julia and Sean, a gesture which says, “Here! Take my mother! Please!”

I don’t understand anything about this plot at all. There had to have been a better way to deal with this, because while I’m willing to believe a lot of stuff, I am not willing to believe that Portia DiRossi would ever need plastic surgery. None of it makes any sense. And I’m going to choose to believe that Eden shot herself like I thought she did at the end of the first half of season 5, because that makes much more sense than her continued career in EuroPorn. After all, being on 90210 is like being dead anyway.

Christian Troy, you're the only man for me. And I mean that.

Christian Troy, you're the only man for me. And I mean that.

Outside of the patients, this episode did have one really great thing going for it, and that’s the continued trajectory of Liz and Christian’s budding relationship. Liz continues to experience her sexual identity crisis, wondering if men were the answer to why, after living as a lesbian for 20 years, she never found the right girl to settle down with. Christian suggests that they sleep together again as a scientific way of seeing if it’s just his cock that has “mystical powers” over Liz. Instead, she goes on a date with Bizarro Christian, an anesthesiologist who dresses and looks like a less wealthy version of the man with the mystical penis. She later tells Christian, as they sit and read the newspaper together in an adorable scene that made for a nice counterpart to human turkey carving, that Stephen’s penis also had mystical powers, but later admits that she lied about this, telling him that he’s the only man she likes. Christian, too, admits that the depth of their relationship is stronger than either of them realized, and he and Liz walk hand in hand to his bedroom.

Drew told me that he felt like this was the only plot that really got proper attention in last night’s episode, but still felt that Christian and Liz’s relationship rang a little false to him. I disagree with that last point – I think that Christian and Liz have always had a teasing, playful relationship that would evolve into something like what they currently have, and I’m willing to believe that his cancer was the catalyst for that transformation. She’s totally the opposite of everything Christian says he wants in a woman, but I think that’s one of the reasons why they work. I’m interested to see how their relationship will play out over the remainder of this season.

Without the Olivia stuff, this could have been a much stronger episode. It would have still been uneven, but not, say, lopsided like you’d just cut one of your breasts off with an electric turkey carver.

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