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.

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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:

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 to write about the final two episodes of SLOTAT together, because it was impossible to write more than a couple of paragraphs about either of them. The flashback episode, “One Night at Band Camp,” was one of the strangest things I’d ever seen. I thought it was just going to be Amy flashbackin’ on how she got into such a pregnant pickle, but, no, apparently, she was flashbackin’ for everybody, as not only did we learn how she met Ricky and apparently got pregnant from making out with him in the band camp cafeteria (what? they cut straight away from the promise of making out! that’s not even showing us the make-out and top-taking-off that leads to implied sex!), but also about how Adrian got her red convertible, how Jack first asked out Grace, Ben getting his braces off before high school started and Lauren and Madison scoping out the prospect of high school altogether. None of those things, outside of the actual band camp flashbacks, added to the episode at all and, in fact, just made things really weird. Just about as weird as the strange voiceover whisper of Amy’s thoughts as Ricky laid his signature moves on her. By the way, these moves are:

  • “You wanna move over to that couch? This bench is getting a little uncomfortable.”
  • “I could listen to you talk all night, or we could do this . . .” [Proceeds to make out with her.]

Smoove!

The only thing that was really well-achieved by adding all that stuff in was to stretch Amy’s labor and delivery process over two episodes, thus making it seem a little more realistic, as on practically every other show, the baby is always born in the very episode in which its mother goes into labor, making it seem as though the process took less than five hours. (Possible, but generally not for one’s first birth.)

God, I hope bitchface isn't genetic . . .

God, I hope bitchface isn't genetic . . .

Amy was also a total bitch in that episode, her brain addled by flashbacks and her body riddled with contractions, all the poor girl wanted was a greasy-ass hamburger from the Dairy Shack and no one would get it for her! While Ben’s offer of Kobe beef prepared by his chef was lovely, if a pregnant lady asks for a Dairy Shack burger, you fucking get her a Dairy Shack burger. This is exactly what Ricky ends up doing after she invites him to wait for his son to be born. My husband felt kind of bad for Ricky, being yelled at and shit, but I think that if he knocked the poor girl up and fucked with her life throughout her entire pregnancy, the least he can do is buy the girl the correct kind of burger.


“Would you two shut up? I can’t enjoy my Dairy Shack burger when you guys are talking about cows in Japan and stuff.” — Amy

I was also rather surprised at Amy’s complete ignorance of her situation. She asked her mother pre-epidural if she actually had a birth canal, which is a truly dumb question for someone with a vagina to ask. What surprised me most, though, is that Amy apparently hasn’t thought at all about what to name her son. Um, what? What girl doesn’t have secret baby names? We’re cultured to desire motherhood from birth (especially girls who are taught to call their dolls their “babies”), and I do not know a single girl who doesn’t have secret baby names for their future children. We start thinking about that shit when we’re like eight. Hasn’t Amy ever heard someone’s name and said to herself, “I really like that name. That’s a pretty name.” Or looked up the meaning of someone’s name and thought, “I like that.” Or even seen a movie or read a book or seen a play and admired the character in it so much that their name held special meaning to her? No? Apparently not.

In “And Unto Us a Child Is Born,” Amy’s baby finally makes his debut, at about the 30-minute mark, leaving a good 5 minute sequence of everyone oohing and aahing over the little guy and another 25 minutes of show thereafter. Prior to his arrival, however, all the waiting friends leave to go get coffee, Ben and Ricky try to figure out how to deal with being dueling daddies and Ashley and George reminisce about how much easier it would have been to deal with teen pregnancy back in the 1950s. (For example, Amy would go to “music school” in the Midwest for a year and Anne would fake a pregnancy during that time and then suddenly give birth while the family took a vacay to visit their prodigal daughter at music school. Hooray! Problem solved via a complicated lie. I immediately though about how horrible it was for Bobby Darin to find out that the woman whom he thought was his sister was actually his mother. Complicated lies are complicated.)

Ricky realizes that he doesn’t even deserve to have this child with Amy, but Ben talks him off the vasectomy ledge and convinces him that, between the two of them, the baby will be very well cared for. This is basically the weirdest teenage boy to teenage boy conversation I’ve ever heard, as Ricky assumes that its going to be difficult to split up holidays and birthdays and custody of the baby . . . as though thousands of adults don’t currently function that way without any major incident. It’s like he’s never watched a TV show featuring a divorced couple, or, for that matter, ever met one. Adrian buys Ricky coffee and tells him she cares about him and will be there for him for anything, and Grace tells Ricky she’s getting back together with Jack and reminds Ricky just how in love with him Adrian is.

The baby is born and Amy decides to name him John, because she didn’t think of any baby names and decides on about the most fucking boring name ever, which she and Ashley defend as “classic,” citing a list of famous people named John and launching into a stirring rendition of “John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt.” John Jurgens. Ugh. That is some unfavorable alliteration right there. Couldn’t she have gone for the slightly more modern Jonathan? He could still be a John, he’d just have the option of not sounding like he was born in 1952, as well as the comforting cushion of two extra syllables between those harsh initial affricates. The fake baby who plays John in non-close-up shots is incredibly creepy, by the way. Like, terrifying creepy. No one likes animatronic babies. No one.

That baby is so fake, this looks like an ad for a little girl's toy rather than a scene of a young mother not breastfeeding her baby. EVEN ANIMATRONIC BABIES NEED THE BREAST!

That baby is so fake, this looks like an ad for a little girl's toy rather than a scene of a young mother not breastfeeding her baby. EVEN ANIMATRONIC BABIES NEED THE BREAST!

Once Amy brings little John home, life goes on around the Jurgens home, but changes considerably. Ashley and George move into the house next door — close enough to stick around, but far enough away to remain separated. Amy finally gets some of that new-mom tiredness that I expected her to have after giving birth, stumbling around the kitchen in her robe heating up formula. That girl’s hair was far too perfect when she gave birth, so I’m glad to see a tiny bit of realism eke through in her messy head of hair in this scene. It distracted me from my outrage that she wasn’t breastfeeding for a few seconds. Apparently, Anne plans to take her to breastfeeding classes, but she better do that shit soon because I don’t know why “and my boobs are sore” wasn’t on Amy’s list of complaints about being a new mom. Girl, you got milk tits, and if you are not feeding your son or using a breast pump, those suckers are going to ache. Do the people who write this show have children? Have they ever met anyone with children? Do they have breasts? I don’t have children, but I fucking know that you start lactating after you give birth and that it hurts when your milk is stuck or when your breasts are heavy swollen with it. Clearly, I don’t know nearly as much as my friend the certified lactation counselor does, but I’m fucking appalled that Amy’s not breastfeeding and equally appalled that no one at the hospital bothered to take five minutes to give her a quick run-through. That girl should be breastfeeding that child, for its sake and the sake of her breasts.

And that’s it, folks! Ashley and George have their new home and are continuing their teenage-and-midlife rebellions, Anne continues to date her boss the architect and Amy’s already really tired of having a child. I hope someone buys her some books on mommyhood before next season, and preferably that she enrolls in a lactation class very soon. I’m worried for the future of that animatronic baby.

The Husband:

I’m currently sick at home with what may be whooping cough, so I’m sad that I cannot muster up enough brainpower to wrap up this season of SLOTAT. I will say, though, that while I think the show lost a bit of its realistic edge from season one — you know, that teenagers make ridiculous impulsive decisions and don’t talk like anybody of any age anywhere else — and instead focused on a lot of soapy Baby Daddy drama, I felt that it regained a lot of its momentum as Ricky became a better drawn character, Lauren and Madison disappeared for episodes on end, and Grace began to talk like a real human being with actual human urges. Even Ben learned to stand up for himself better, and I was glad to see that he learned one of those great lessons we geeks learn by the end of high school or midway through college — being an intelligent, well-spoken individual raises you above the class of smooth-talking meatheads who have nothing to add to our society, and our confidence in knowing that is the biggest step toward adult-hood.

But Ashley has now become my favorite character, and maybe one of my favorite characters on TV — a wise-beyond-her-years bit of rambunctious snark, the one sane person in a family of lunatics who distances herself from everything as long as she can. I can’t wait for her to start high school. It gon’ be hilarious.

The Wife:

I realize that most of the episode titles for SLOTAT are the names of pop songs or plays on pop songs, but by far the strangest and funniest one is “Whoomp! (There It Is).” I mean, yeah, Amy does go into labor in that episode, but I sure hope that no one, ever, has ever used that phrase to describe birthing a child. But before we get to that, there other preparations before the baby arrives.

The Sausage King makes good on his threat to teach Ben responsibility by getting him a job at the butcher shop, an offer he also extends to Ricky so that both unprepared teenage boys have a chance to provide for Amy’s child. Part of me thinks this is kind of douchey to do to your son, but its also largely magnanimous, because if the baby’s biological father and his adoptive father are both providing for him, that just increases that kid’s chances of having the kind of life he deserves to have. Ricky is all about taking the work and, as it turns out, for all the things he sucks at and his sociopathic tendencies, he has a real aptitude for following instructions and doing a job well. He’s also very fast at his work, which pleases butcher shop manager Kathy Kinney, whom I am not used to seeing without her Mimi makeup from The Drew Carey Show. Ben, the spoiled rich kid, is less quick about filling his orders and doesn’t really understand the whole process. But at least he’s learning that he can’t spend his whole life living off his Sausage King trust fund.

Better to work with sausages than with tools. (I dont even know what thats supposed to mean.)

Better to work with sausages than with tools. (I don't even know what that's supposed to mean.)

Speaking of work, Anne goes off to interview with that cute architect, but George tries to sabotage her by telling her that he’s not only gay, but deaf in one ear. Anne spends her interview talking about how much she loves the gays, especially when she sees his ice skates hung on the wall (which just fills in the picture that George painted when he told her that the architect went deaf during a salchow accident). Anne also says everything very, very loudly throughout this entire interview. AWKWARD! She later goes back to apologize for being weird in the interview, and explains to the architect what she thought about him that caused her to act so strangely. He then tells her the truth, especially that he was indeed flirting with her at the hot dog stand, and Anne decides to walk out and start the interview over again. The architect then takes it to even higher levels of awkwardness by proceeding to kiss her and ask her on a date. Rather than hire her, he tells her she should start her own green consulting business and start her own life away from George. That’s a great way to avoid a sexual harassment suit.

As for Amy, she’s starting to feel really lonely, especially because her dad forgets to pick her up from school. She assures herself that he’s coming, though, and she turns down invitations to hang out with Grace and Adrian, as well as her former best friends Lauren and Madison. Instead, she takes a long, lonely walk home, stopping in at a baby clothing store where the store owner instantly starts chatting her up about her due date and impending birth. I really loved this scene, actually, in which Amy pretends that she has a different life where she’s 21, married and can keep her baby and probably still finish college. It hit this nice mix of sadness and hopefulness. The storekeeper gifts Amy a pair of overalls for her son, and tells her to be sure to bring the baby in when he’s born so that she can see. Filled with her fake hopeful future and a shopping bag full of gifted overalls, Amy heads home, where she catches her dad and Ashley watching the “why I’m giving you up” video she made for her son. She’s furious, and Ashley launches into a weird, weird speech about raising a baby that doesn’t make any sense.

Then, freaking everyone in the SLOTAT universe shows up at her house with news. Ben and Ricky tell her they both got jobs to support her and the baby, while Adrian, Grace and Jack arrive with the most ideal news of all: they talked to Rev. Stone and got Amy a job in the daycare center at the church, where she can leave her son during school hours and come to work in the afternoons as a music teacher. That job? It also comes with insurance. Adrian and Grace also offer to throw Amy a baby shower, beating Lauren and Madison to the punch. After all of this, Amy decides to keep the baby. And here’s where I teared up a little bit:

“I know that I can be a good mom because I’ve got the best mom in the world.”


Then it’s on to the baby shower preparations! Adrian forgot to send out the invitations, so she tries to invite girls from school by phone, but it turns out no one likes her because she’s a dirty sloot. Grace tries her hand at it, but is too caught up kissing her ex boyfriend Jack to do it, so she enlists the help of Joe the Fake ID Guy. The bigger issue, of course, is kissing Jack, as Jack got into some hot water with his mentee in the last episode when he called him on his stupid pranks and forced him to sell candy. Shauna, apparently, can smell a cheater from a mile away and suspects Jack when he calls her to tell her not to come to the baby shower (which he mistakenly thought he’d be invited to, thus there’d be a link between his older girlfriend and the attendees). So she goes to the baby shower to investigate.

Adrian, meanwhile, has been moping around waiting for her step-brother to call, but he hasn’t. He shows up at the shower and says he wants to have sex with her. She insists on a 30-min love session before the guests arrive, insisting:


“You risked military school to come over here. I don’t want you to go off to war without something to remember me by.”


So they head off to her bedroom and end up missing the entire party because all the guests arrive early and then Amy doesn’t make it there at all because she goes into labor while walking up the steps to Adrian’s condo complex. Thus, when Adrian’s dad arrives to bust in on her and Max, she sees that the whole party has passed her by. Her dad tells them that this is exactly why he didn’t want them dating, but Max insists that going to military school was worth one afternoon with his sister because he’s falling in love with her. Adrian is surprised to hear that, and does not reciprocate those feelings but instead tells Max that their father was cheating on his mother with her mother. Man, the dude just wanted to hear that you loved him! Way to break a man’s heart!

Ricky’s mom, meanwhile, has an awful lot of faith in her son’s parenting skills, and we later find out that he’s been practicing diapering so he can care for his son. He and Jack have a diapering race, which is the weirdest thing ever. George moves out of Anne’s garage, and Ashley plans to move in with him. Shauna decides to break up with Jack because he’s 16, especially after meeting all of his teenage friends.

At the hospital, Ben shows up to greet Amy, and she tells him he can’t be in the delivery room. He agrees to this condition and urges Amy to call Ricky and let him know that his son will soon be born. Ricky’s face on the other end of this phone call? That’s acting, my friends. That’s acting.

ACTING!

ACTING!

I like that this show straddles the line between being ridiculous and being very thoughtful, and both of these episodes balanced those to things out very well. I have a feeling I’ll tear up a little bit when the baby’s born, and when Amy speaks his name for the first time. That’s just how I roll.

Some other assorted points:

  • George’s weenie stand song is so amazing they should sing it on American Idol. It can’t be any worse than forcing someone to sing “Rockin’ Robin.”
  • I need Amy’s cat maternity sweater. I’m not pregnant. I just really want a cat sweater.
  • I swear Grace said someone on one of her phones about a mixed dog breed called a sasquatch. What the hell is that and where can I acquire one?
  • I like that Lauren is such a bitch about everything that she thanked Grace for inviting her to the baby shower by insulting her mini-quiches.
  • “This is the slut’s condo – I’m just answering the door.” – Grace
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