The Wife:

Before I actually talk about the meat of this episode, let me take a minute to be super girly and praise resident beefcake Matthew Morrison, who originated the role of TV dance hunk Link Larkin on Broadway in Hairspray. Dear. Sweet. Mother of all that is holy. That periwinkle cardi! That tie! Those shades! That murse! Morrison looked so superbly hot in this week’s opening scene that I was pretty much beside myself for the rest of the episode. Why wouldn’t Jayma Mays’ Emma be all up on that shit?

One major change in last week’s re-edited pilot was the addition of a romantic foil for Will in gym teacher Ken Tanaka. The re-edit added a few scenes in which he makes his interest in Emma known, as well as her disinterest in him, and I’m glad for those scenes, as I think they help to anchor Emma’s desire for her unattainable beau, who is preparing for the expansion of his family by purchasing a far-too-expensive house simply because Terri wants something shiny and pre-fab, with a $14,000 grand foyer.

“I’ve already did the math, Will. All we have to do is give up Applebee’s and not run the AC for the first couple of summers.” — Terri

Sue continues to rage against the very idea of Glee Club and this week’s methods of sabotage include finding an arcane rule that would required the Glee Club to have at least 12 members in order to show at Regionals, which they presently do not have. (By Sue’s count, it’s only 5 and a half, because of “that cripple in the wheelchair.”) Will’s idea for a membership drive is to show the student body just how awesome Glee Club is by having the kids perform a disco number at an upcoming assembly. Rachel, knowing that this is going to be social suicide for everyone involved (and will likely get her several more slurpees in the face), recruits Finn to help make flyers in lieu of doing the assembly, but gets caught using the Cheerios copy machine, which simply provides more fuel for Sue’s anti-Glee fire. Fortunately, the kids are only asked to pay for the copies they made (much to Sue’s chagrin) and they press on with the assembly.

“Lady Justice wept today.” — Sue

Straight hustlas.

Straight hustlas.

Rachel attends a meeting of Quinn’s celibacy club just to see what all the fuss is about, which, naturally, turns out to be an exercise in complete ridiculousness, replete with dancing against balloons and mantras such as, “Remember, it’s all about the teasing and not about the pleasing.” Rachel can’t stand the hypocrisy of the club, and speaks out against it, which earns her some points with Finn. In fact, the two later share a kiss on a not-so-impromptu indoor picnic during a vocal rehearsal, a scene that, by the way, reminded me very, very much of “Mirror Blue Night” from Spring Awakening.

“I’m still on the fence about this celibacy club. I only joined to get into Quinn Fabray’s pants.” — Finn

So while Will picks up some nighttime janitorial shifts to help pay for the house he and Terri are buying, Rachel devises a plan to change the song for the assembly into something that the student body will actually respond to. Teenagers are horny; they want sex. And so, on assembly day, the Glee Club performs the most hilariously inappropriate song to sing at an assembly . . . ever: “Push It” by Salt n’ Pepa. Frankly, this was a pretty amazing performance, and I think it accurately captured most of the crazy shit we came up with in my high school drama club. (High school friends, that’s accurate, right? I mean . . . right?)

“That was the most inappropriate thing I’ve ever seen in 20 years of teaching, and that includes an elementary school production of Hair.” — Sue

Rachel’s little stunt, rather than getting Glee Club entirely disbanded as Sue would hope, gets them slapped with a list of approved songs, most of which are either about Jesus of balloons. To keep tabs on Glee Club, Sue sends Quinn and a couple of other Cheerios to audition and join the club. I must say, Quinn did give an amazing audition to “Say a Little Prayer for You,” but I feel Rachel’s pain in that her solo in “Don’t Stop Believin’” is given to Quinn. Especially because this means she won’t have anymore alone time with Finn, and her episode-ending performance of Rhianna’s “Take a Bow” was certainly heart-wrenching.

However, nothing in this episode was more heart-wrenching than the scene where Emma helps out Will with his janitorial work, and he confronts her about her OCD, which stems from the time her brother pushed her into the runoff pool on a visit to a dairy farm. Since that day, she hasn’t ever felt clean, nor has she been able to stop smelling that smell. So she lives her life not eating dairy and washing her hands repeatedly and polishing every single grape before she puts it in her mouth. It was sheer beauty to watch Will put a tiny bit of chalk on her nose, and wipe it away after 10 seconds, but incredibly sad to see that Ken Tenaka had witnessed this act, and even sadder when he later confronts her about it, assuring her that he’s really the best that she’ll ever be able to do in their town, and that he’d put up with her crazy if only she’d stop chasing after a married man.

Le sigh.

Stray thoughts:

  • Jayma Mays’ Emma has inherited my Chuck Charles wardrobe envy. I want every single thing this woman wears, and it’s appropriate she should inherit this distinction, as she, too, was on Pushing Daisies.
  • It’s a major plot point, but so emotionally insignificant that I didn’t feel like talking about it: Terri is having a hysterical pregnancy, but rather than tell Will, she’s apparently going to fake a pregnancy. Good news, though. Now they’re not buying that crazy-ass house.
  • I just realized the jock-cheerleader pairing is Quinn and Finn. That’s amazing.
  • Hands down, the funniest part of this episode is Finn’s anti-ejaculation flashback of him hitting someone with his car. HILARIOUS.
  • “They’re gonna throw fruit at us. And I just had a facial.” — Kurt
  • “My dad always said you become a man when you buy your first house. I’m not sure what he meant by that, since he burned ours down after a drunken argument.” — Will
  • “This is where our daughter or gay son will sleep.” — Terri, about a room with a sign reading, “A Princess Sleeps Here”
  • “This banister was made by Ecuadorian children!” — Realtor
  • Every single one of Emma’s guidance pamphlets was hilarious. I can’t decide if my favorite is “Radon: The Silent Killer” or “Wow! There’s Hair Down There!”
  • Rachel: I guess I don’t have a gag reflex.
    Emma: One day, when you’re older, that’ll turn out to be a gift.
  • WANT: Rachel’s horse sweater.

The Husband:

My favorite guidance pamphlet was “My Mom Is Bipolar And She Won’t Stop YELLING.”

I am very glad to see the musical aspects of this show open up, because there are still plenty of people out there who are trying to convince the world that this show isn’t a “musical.” Yes it is. It is a musical. It’s a backstage musical, which was a subgenre for much of the first couple decades of the movie musical. A musical is not defined by simply having people break into song without lead-up, otherwise dozens of already determined musicals would cease to be considered musicals. (Seriously, I was involved in a major IMDB message board argument over this shit. I know musicals, bitch.) But unlike the pilot, we got glimpses during Rachel’s rendition of “Take a Bow,” which opened up outside of the auditorium to have her singing it into her hairbrush and, most importantly, in the middle of the school’s hallway as Finn and Quinn flirt nearby. So now the show can have its musical cake and eat it, too, and for that I am grateful.


The Wife:

I’d be lying if I said that the pilot of Ryan Murphy’s Glee was perfect. It was far from it, but so much of the show is so winning that it’s easy to overlook its few flaws and fully embrace it. It’s not a silly musical in the slightest. Ryan Murphy has always treated music with much more respect than that, even when he’s being ironic or cheeky during surgeries on Nip/Tuck. On that show, the surgery music is used to dig deeply into something as seemingly superficial as plastic surgery. Sometimes it’s funny (such as the use of Don McLean’s “Vincent” during a surgery in which Rosie O’Donnell as Dawn Budge gets a transplant ear grown on a mouse’s back . . . it’s a long story), and sometimes it’s incredibly moving (to this day, I can’t hear Leo Delibes “Flower Duet” without thinking about conjoined twins Rose and Raven Rosenburg, who died after their separation surgery and asked to be put back together when they were buried).

On Glee, the music functions as it should in any great musical: it’s intended to give us an insight into the characters, and I can think of no better example of this than Lea Michele’s (Broadway’s Spring Awakening) audition song for the new glee club, “On My Own” from Les Miserables. I hate Les Mis, but to hear Rachel Berry sing it while hearing about her backstory was the most sublime use of that song. You see, despite the fact that Rachel’s two gay dads raised her to be an overachiever and to strive to be known in the world because “being anonymous is worse than being poor,” she’s lambasted by her peers for being talented, for being different. She posts daily MySpace videos of herself singing in her bedroom, all of which receive comments from her peers basically suggesting she should kill herself (cyberbullying that would probably destroy someone with less self-confidence). She also often has things thrown at her, because for as much of a type-A personality as she is, Rachel is, in fact, on her own. She might be a little cocky and a little dogged in her quest to be special, as evidenced by her claim that the former glee club director molested the boy he gave Rachel’s solo to, but there is something in her that deserves to be recognized for who she is. And there is a tremendous sadness in the fact that no one sees her specialness but her . . . and her two gay dads.

Glee: what this show will be filling me with Wednesday nights at 9 in the fall.

Glee: what this show will be filling me with Wednesday nights at 9 in the fall.

So with the former glee club director out of the picture and the club in danger of being shut down, Matthew Morrison’s Spanish teacher Will Shuster decides he should take over. After all, Will sees that these kids need a place where they won’t be bullied, and where they can cultivate their talent. But as usual, the activities in which the popular kids reign get more funding, especially The Cheerios, the cheer team coached by Jane Lynch, which receives the bulk of the school’s budget because they keep winning national competitions and bringing the school a lot of press, which ultimately means more funding. So Will is allowed to operate glee club, recently renamed New Directions (which is weird for me, because that’s the name of a counseling center that a friend I know from high school theatre works for), on a $60 budget, which struck me as incredibly realistic given the dire nature of arts education in America, by which I mean, the lack thereof. But even that $60 budget eventually gets cut and Will is asked to run New Directions with his own $60, something that is, for him, very difficult because he lives off his teaching salary and his wife’s 12-hours-a-week job at Sheets and Stuff.

We meet a lot of characters over the course of this hour-long pilot, but even though there are some of the glee kids we don’t know all that well, I’d say that Jessalyn Gilsig’s Terri is the least well-drawn. Terri is obsessed with an idea of womanhood that allows her to contribute little to her marriage and spend all of her time crafting and decorating. She’s largely just a stand-in for the thing that’s holding Will back from what he really wants from life. But that said, I think Jessalyn Gilsig, as always, turns in a brilliant performance of very little material. I mean, this is a woman who nearly suffocated her own daughter in a cargo hold (on Heroes) and, more importantly, a woman who got fucked off a building (on Nip/Tuck). I am certainly not used to her playing someone demure, and she creates a sort of quiet insanity in Terri that makes her seem both utterly unreal and yet absolutely the kind of woman who thinks her life should be what she sees in magazines. She is deeply shallow, and I think there’s something exceptional about placing a character like that amongst so many other deeply real people. She’s a wonderful contrast.

[Husband Note: Gilsig also did wonders with the quite poorly written role of teacher Lauren “The Nun” Davis on Boston Public, as well an incredible job as the oblivious sister-in-law-party-girl-way-past-her-prime on Friday Night Lights. She’s not the best actor, but she’s a serviceable television performer, and that’s good enough for me.]

Because Terri won’t give Will an extra $60 a month to run glee club (as she’d rather spend it on trinkets from Pottery Barn and crafts), he tries to drum up more membership around the school, taking guidance counselor Emma’s (the lovely and talented Jayma Mays) advice to recruit a few popular kids into glee club, and the rest will follow. He tries to get a few Cheerios in the club, but Jane Lynch’s Sue refuses to give up her girls, setting up a rivalry between the glee kids and the cheerleaders that I’m sure will continue throughout the series. But then, by a stroke of luck, he catches football star Finn singing in the shower, and blackmails him into joining glee club by “planting” some weed from the Chronic Lady (the former glee club director’s new profession: dealing weed) in his locker and telling him that he can spend six weeks in detention (which Will is now running, unpaid, due to budget cuts) which will go on his permanent record, or he can join glee. There was a moment in this scene that I truly loved because it was very representative of how Glee likes to play with cliches from high school movies. Will tells Finn that if he chooses detention, it’ll stay on his permanent record and they’ll take away his football scholarship. Finn asks, incredulously, “I got a football scholarship? To where?” And because that’s just something Will said because he heard it in a movie, he continues on, “You could go places, son.”

With Finn in the club, Will takes New Directions to see the current national show choir champions, and Emma decides to chaperone, as Terri has already turned Will down for some crafting-related outing. Emma, who clearly likes Will, is something of a germaphobe, a trait Jayma Mays does not play up for comic effect, but rather allows into the open with a kind of reserved sadness. In addition to cleaning surfaces in the teacher’s lounge with disposable gloves before she eats off of them, she brings her own food, even to public events, ands he and Will have a conversation about the state of his marriage to Terri over a peanut butter sandwich prior to the choir concert. Over that sandwich, which he says he never gets to eat because Terri is allergic to nuts, he confesses that he’s not entirely happy with his marriage. There’s just something about his relationship with Terri that isn’t working, but he rationalizes that it’s okay because he does love her, and he does want to have children with her, even if they aren’t totally happy. If you want to know why they’re not happy, look at the scene in which Terri makes Will do a puzzle with her in her craft room while she tells him it’s important for him to have a creative outlet, while in the same breath telling him that she doesn’t want him to run glee club because they don’t make enough money with him teaching. She’d rather he be an accountant, the epitome of jobs that lack creativity.

The rival choir puts on a ridiculous performance of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab,” which is stunningly choreographed and sounds great, but is obviously wildly inappropriate for a high school choir to sing and is incredibly funny if you absolutely don’t ever take your mind off of the lyrics. You just can’t do choreographed lifts when you’re singing a line like, “I’m gonna lose my baby / so I always keep a bottle near me.” (On the other hand, though, I think you absolutely can sing “I Kissed a Girl” for a glee club audition, because that’s just funny.) Clearly, a performance of that caliber is intimidating, but that’s not all of the problems facing New Directions. Finn’s teammates find out that he’s been lying to them about where he had to go when he missed practice. They are not pleased that he pretended his mom was having prostate surgery, and pelt him with paintballs. (“Chicks don’t have prostates. I looked it up.”) Finn eventually stands up to his football teammates when he finds that they’ve locked the wheelchair kid in a port-a-potty, telling them that, like Troy Bolton in High School Musical, he’s not going to choose between being a jock and being a singer. He’s going to do both. “Because you can’t win without me, and neither can they,” he snarls.

And when Terri announces that she’s pregnant, Will quits, following his wife’s suggestion to apply for a job at an accounting firm, leaving his newly formed club without a mentor. Emma tries to talk some sense into him, setting him up with a guidance appointment with her when she catches him filling out an accounting application at H.L. Mencken (oddly, named after a writer and literary critic for the Baltimore Sun who had some interesting ideas on elitism within social classes, rather than a traditional class or race-based social hierarchy . . . I must miss Lost a lot if I’m looking for these kind of references on other shows). Emma shows Will a video of the year the school’s glee club won nationals. It was 1993, and Will was in that choir. And he was happy. She asks him if providing money for his wife and child is really the same thing as providing them happiness, but being a man of his word, he heads off, presumably never to return.

Meanwhile, Rachel and Finn have taken over New Directions and have recruited the jazz band to help them stage their first performance, with Mercedes doing costumes, Rachel choreographing and Finn doing vocal arrangements. As Will heads down the eternal hallway, he hears them singing strains of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’,” another instance of perfect music choice. Not only does it serve as a ballad for these kids who just want to believe they’re good at something, but for soloists Finn and Rachel, those opening lines serve as portraits of themselves. Never before have I been teary-eyed hearing someone sing, “Just a small town girl / Living in a lonely world” or the phrase “S/he took the midnight train goin’ anywhere” until last night. They took that song, and made it transcendent – enough to make me believe in the beauty, sadness, humor and joy of this little show and enough to convince Will not to leave, but to remain with New Directions.

This is a show about lonely, sad people, trying to find something that actually makes them happy, and you’d be hard pressed to find someone who isn’t made happy by music. So even for those of you who don’t really like or get musicals, know that Glee is simply about people trying to find happiness, and that happiness is achieved through music. I also take that last song as something of a plea to those of us who watched Glee and everyone at FOX, executives who clearly believe in taking a risk like this enough to promote it now and schedule it for Wednesdays at 9 p.m. throughout next season, picking up on SYTYCD results shows and Idol results shows as a built-in audience. FOX wants us to believe in Glee, and I do. Your Journey-infused plea has not fallen on deaf ears, Ryan Murphy.

I believe, I believe, I believe. Oh, I believe.

Some other notes:

  • “I’m Beyonce! I aint’s no Kelly Rowland.” – Really, Mercedes? Because you seemed so happy to be asked to do costumes later in the episode. Are you sure you don’t want to host The Fashion Show on Bravo?
  • For as much of a monster as I think Jessalyn Gilsig’s Terri is, she’s really funny. Two winners from her: “If my diabetes comes back I can’t get pregnant” and “Don’t go in the Christmas Closet!”
  • I’m told the first episode aired in the fall will be a re-edited pilot. My first edit: eliminating the references to MySpace and replacing it with something more culturally relevant. Like the word, “Facebook.” Or maybe even “YouTube” in some cases.
  • Spring Awakening fans, that last line was for you.

The Husband:

I honestly thought we were going to wait to review this show until the fall, but as it stands, here it is.

I’m sure I’m not the first person to find many parallels, mostly in tone and narration, between Glee and Alexander Payne’s biting 1999 high school satire Election. Not only do we get some wonderfully insightful yet overly self-centered internal monologues from our main characters at only the most opportune times, and also revel in both the show’s insistence on clichés and its subversion of them, but Cory Montheith, the actor who plays Finn, bears a striking resemblance to a young Chris Klein. (You know, before Chris Klein started sucking.)

This is quite a show, just from the pilot, what with its heightened emotions, its parody of high school affectations, its very focused jokes and, of course, the usage of Journey. True, there were some considerable lulls, and I thought the Finn transformation happened way too early, but there is definitely something special about this show. A dramedy of the highest order, I hope it helps brings even more respect to the musical form.

And on that, some might argue this isn’t a musical. Yes it is. It’s just not a “traditional musical.” People don’t have to break out into song, but simply have the music define much of the piece itself. And Ryan Murphy, as my wife pointed out, is very specific about his song choices, so “Don’t Stop Believin’” as sung by Finn and Rachel, knowing what we know about them, defines who they are, amplifies their backstory, and fits perfectly into this world. Sounds like a musical to me. Definitely as much of a musical as Cabaret.

The Wife:

I almost don’t know what to say about this show anymore. I really don’t. Normally, I’d just launch into making fun of how lame this show is, but I actually found this episode really confusing. I actually have legitimate concerns about the way things are going around WestBev, so, this week, I have for you “10 Things That Frustrate and Concern Me About This Week’s 90210.”

1. I was happy to see some characters return to us this week, but I mostly found their presence after such a prolonged absence to be confusing. I mean, sometimes Gossip Girl leaves a character out, but even people who totally aren’t important or interesting like Nate and Vanessa will randomly show up in an episode they have nothing to do with just to keep the idea of the universe continuous. Ty, for instance, has been gone since Spring Awakening finished. Literally, kids, he’s been gone since episode five. I had just assumed that he’d gotten a real acting job doing porn or something because he’s such a fucking method actor jerkmeat, but no, he’s still there, chilling at WestBev. I wonder if the WestBev parking lot has the same magical character-dissolving properties that the Seattle Grace parking lot has. It sure took Ty a long-ass time to find his way back to the show. I mean, Ryan Matthews has been gone, too, but not for as long (only three episodes) and he actually had a legitimate reason to leave. (Seriously, you should probably not get caught having sex with a student who’s really an undercover cop. That’s fucking awkward any way you slice it.) You’ve really got to learn to manage your characters better, 90210 writers. Seriously. Why bring Ty back at all since we’d all but forgotten about him? Which leads me to the next thing on this list . . .

2. I guess the writers needed to find some way to legitimize Adriana’s pregnancy, and Ty Collins, the guy we thought she didn’t sleep with because she was just running the empty shower to trick Annie, seemed like the best choice for a dramatic baby daddy situation. Ya’ll remember that? Back in episodes four and five? Because I do. I will be incredibly surprised if the writers bother to explain to us – and to Annie! – why Adriana lied about lying about sleeping with Ty. This was supposed to come off as some shocking, dramatic revelation, but it just fell flat because Ty has been wandering around the WestBev parking lot for so long. That’s no way to build drama at all. Lame.

3. Hey, speaking of exactly how long Ty’s been gone, I should note that the last time we saw him was in September. Now, I know that television time and real life time are not the same (just ask the Losties!), but we do know that it is officially January in 9fneh, because someone mentioned it during the heat wave episode last week. So, it’s been four months since we last saw Ty. Adriana, then, is four months pregnant. I was immediately confused, then, when I heard that her doctor told her it was too late for her to abort. According to California law and the text of Roe v. Wade, abortions are legal unless the state determines that the fetus is viable to survive on its own outside the womb. Here’s a better summary from the folks at Planned Parenthood of California:

In Roe v. Wade (410 U.S. 113 (1973)), the U.S. Supreme Court held that the U.S. Constitution protects a woman’s decision to terminate her pregnancy.  Only after the fetus is viable, capable of sustained survival outside the woman’s body with or without artificial aid, may the states ban abortion altogether.  Abortions necessary to preserve the woman’s life or health must still be allowed, however, even after fetal viability.

Now, the youngest premature birth to survive was delivered at 24 weeks, or six months. Adriana is nowhere near that. So, um, what the fuck, 90210? Is there some kind of moral ambiguity you have that’s interfering with your ability to take actual facts into consideration? Granted, forcing Adriana to have the baby (and you are indeed forcing her into this, writers, so, you know, so much for choice) provides a better dramatic storyline that can be sustained longer than any other storyline on this show so far, I’m just really concerned about an alternative agenda here. I don’t know what kind of psycho tween would actually look up to this show, but I certainly don’t want anyone thinking that a fetus could be considered viable prior to 24 weeks. I’m uncomfortable with shows that have heretofore not promoted any kind of agenda at all seeming to slip one in, especially when that notion is presented though incorrect medical and legal data. I do not watch 90210 for lessons in morality; I watch it because it’s a trainwreck. When I want to watch something about values and minors carrying babies to term, I’ll tune into ABC Family and watch Secret Life of the American Teenager.

4. Adriana, by the way, is avoiding her pregnancy in the fucking weirdest way possible. I mean, she’s not exactly Peggy Olson-denying-the-whole-thing-until-the-moment-she-gives-birth-to-Pete Campbell’s-illegitimate-son (so not a chip-and-dip), but Adriana is definitely working hard to drink lots of coffee and focus on her career. My husband was really concerned about Adriana’s coffee addiction because television likes to purport that drinking coffee is bad for babies, but there are different schools of thought on that. Some people quit caffeine entirely when they’re pregnant. Some don’t. It’s considered okay to consume between 150 mg and 300 mg a day, so having one cup of coffee in the morning is fine unless a doctor tells you otherwise. You know what’s not advisable, though? Drinking cup after cup of coffee and pulling an all night drive to Solvang up the PCH, pregnant or not. This leads me to what was by far the fucking weirdest part of this episode. What the fuck is with that scene of Adriana driving on PCH? She drives all night and yet she’s still on the same part of the road? (Husband Note: Not only the same part of the road, but still in Malibu, which is nowhere near Solvang.) Only to decide to make a U-turn in the middle of the freeway, nearly crashing into someone? This was followed by another scene of her, driving up to a women’s clinic and sitting in her car. I guess this was 90210‘s way of trying to “show” not “tell,” but it just came off as fucking bizarre.

5. You know who shouldn’t stage an intervention? Kelly Taylor the Worst High School Guidance Counselor in the History of High School Guidance Counselors and Naomi Clark. These two have no business telling other people how to get their shit together, considering neither of them have their shit together at all.

6. Case in Point: Way to make Ryan Matthews feel bad, Kelly! While kicking Silver out of his class was a little harsh, I get where Ryan is coming from. Silver wrote some mean and untrue things, and she didn’t retract them when she found out that her initial reports were wrong. That would definitely make it difficult for him to teach her objectively as the situation was unresolved. Technically, if he wanted to, he could slap her with a libel suit, but given that 90210 doesn’t understand Roe v. Wade, I can’t really expect that universe to understand how a libel suit would function. Furthermore, Kelly took this incident of concern for his sister and, naturally, made it all about her by blasting Ryan for banging Brenda, as though he did it just to hurt her or something. I really hate you, Kelly. You need to grow the fuck up before you can start telling people what to do with their lives. Seriously. Stop. Being. So. Lame.

7. Another Case in Point: How could nobody tell Naomi that her mom was MIA and her dad was planning on selling the house? Can adults not send a text? I mean, sure, she was upset about maybe losing her house earlier this season when her parents announced their divorce, but she seems to have gotten over that entirely and has, instead, grown back her bitchbone and is ready to blackmail her dad into paying for her to live in a hotel in exchange for her silence about his mistress. I’m glad Naomi has her bitchbone back, but she’s still really not in any position to tell anyone how to live their lives, considering that she has no friends and lives in a hotel because her parents don’t tell her they’re selling property out from under her feet.

8. Oh, Dixon. I’m sorry that, unlike Naomi, you have no bitchbone at all and can’t seem to bring yourself to be assertive and talk to your girlfriend about what’s bothering you. Yes, she’s dumb for not noticing that your thinly veiled suggestion about hurting Mr. Matthews’ feelings was really about how hurt you are that she was mean to you at the beach party and wouldn’t say she loved you, but Lori Loughlin’s right. You just got to tell people how you feel, because they’re not mindreaders. And while I did truly love Silver’s off-the-cuff response to Dixon telling her that he knows she’s not a mindreader (“Oof! You’re onto me!”), you do not grow your bitchbone by breaking up with someone at a fucking party. That’s super lame. Please get a personality. And some tact. Soon.

9. Annie, Annie, Annie and her petty drama club dramas. So, when you try out for a play, you should probably not convince your boyfriend, who has no interest in theatre at all, to try out with you. You should probably not assume that you should play Cleopatra just because your grandmother, the working actress, lost that role to that violet-eyed hussy Elizabeth Taylor. Oh, and if you want that part, you should probably learn to read Shakespeare as though you understand it and can act. Ty may have been a little harsh in his critique of Annie’s reading (you know, being a douche and saying that her poor reading made it impossible for him to do his job), but he’s right. Please don’t audition for Shakespeare if you are going to read it like that. And don’t mope around when you get beat for a part by someone better, even when that person showed up late for the audition and probably shouldn’t have been able to audition at all. That’s the breaks, Annie, dahling. Some people are better than you. Tough noogies. (In a related note, I do love this new drama teacher, who you all might recognize as Thirteen’s lesbian lover on House, but I know better as “Shawn,” the film version of Shane during Season 5 of The L Word. I see you, Angela Gots! Rock that bob like it’s nobody’s business!)

10. Remember when Adriana made an illegal U-turn in the middle of PCH that nearly got her killed? That was foreshadowing for what I assume Ethan did at the end of this episode! Kids, don’t make a U-turn in the middle of traffic! Just don’t do it! I really hope Ethan isn’t dead because I was actually really starting to enjoy him. I think Dustin Milligan has finally found a way to make Ethan interesting and somehow more alive than the other people at WestBev, a feat he has achieved by basically delivering most of his lines as though he is intentionally trying to sound like he has an alien controlling his brain. If you don’t know what I mean, think really hard about how he described Egyptian food as probably having a lot of couscous. How he became my favorite character on the show, I have no idea, so I am deeply concerned for his well-being. Who will play a eunuch half as well as he?

And One Awesome Thing About This Week’s 90210:

1. Lori Loughlin’s description of Silver’s food predilections: “Is Silver coming over? I hear she’s an artichoke fiend.” Damnit! Now they’re really on to her! The Artichoke Fiend is the greatest evil villain in all of Beverly Hills! I fear for her safety now that her secret is out!

The Husband:

Since my wife beat me to the mention of “artichoke fiends” as one of the awesome things about this episode, I’ll have to think of something else.

One Awesome Thing About This Week’s 9fneh:

The presence, both in the opening credits as well as actually in the episode – show’s like Lost and Grey’s Anatomy like to list certain guest stars even when they’re not even physically there sometimes – of one Lisa Tucker, better known as one of the finalists of American Idol, season 5. She was too young and too innocent for the competition, and she didn’t make it very far (10th place), but she did use some of her newfound fame to make some television appearances – I recall her playing herself in a very awkward scene on The O.C. – and apparently had a recurring character on Zoey 101. (Which, as we all know, is a show that is no longer on. Thanks, statutory rape.) I’ll always appreciate her for one of her Idol song choices during semifinals, which was “Here’s Where I Stand” from the awesome independent musical Camp from a few years ago. It’s a lovely (if sloppily filmed) movie and a kickass song. So amidst all the stupidity and confusion of this week’s 9fneh, it was nice to see her, basically in the background, in the scene where the cast list is posted. I assume she’s going to be in Antony & Cleopatra, so hopefully we’ll get to see more of her.

The Wife:

So, I’m trying a new format with 90210 posts this week. It’s called “9 Lame Things About This Week’s 90210.” Here goes:

1. Naomi’s entire manipulative scheme to out Ethan and Annie’s relationship by inviting Annie’s ex, Jason, to her birthday party in a ploy to make out with him and therefore make Annie feel bad about being with Ethan. Oh, and also “ruin” her sixteenth birthday. I’m glad to see Naomi the Bitch return, but, frankly, this was a lame scheme. Her scheme to try and get her parents back together was thought out a lot better, even though it ultimately failed. I know high school girls can be petty and manipulative and that they do indeed like to do things like steal each other’s exes and so on. But you know what probably would have hurt Annie more, not ruined her birthday and not involved poor innocent Jason at all? Stealing Ethan back for good. That would have provided a lot more believable drama and actually would have been interesting to watch. That, or poisoning someone with a mercury-laced fruitcake. For no real reason. Just ’cause.

Oh, Ill steal him back for good. Just you wait.

Oh, I'll steal him back for good. Just you wait.

2. Kelly Taylor returning. Ugh. Her entire plot was catching up on things she missed, especially the Ryan Matthews scandal, the worst part of which was her pitiful attempt to get Kim to discuss her role in the scandal by abusing her position as guidance counselor. I hate Kelly Taylor. Also, why wouldn’t she have stopped off at home first before coming to work? I know she didn’t fly back from Africa in that outfit and Sammy had to be dropped off somewhere. It’s really weird that Silver should find out about her sister’s return at school, rather than at home, even if Kelly did come back on an early flight.

3. Navid being embarrassed by his big, happy super-rich Persian family. This is lame because of one little fact, a teensy tiny detail: when Navid told Adriana he was in love with her, he specifically mentioned that they played together as children and he’s loved her since then. How is it possible that she has never met his family if that’s the case? I realize that giant porn-purchased house is not necessarily conducive to play dates, but surely Adriana has met them at some point in the potential 16 years that they’ve known each other. He shouldn’t be embarrassed of his family, but of the fact that they’ve evidently never met Adriana, even though he’s loved her since he was a child.

4. Kim’s random hot cop drug bust. In theory this is cool, but since this drug bust didn’t involve a.) a student or b.) the school at all it seemed a little out of Kim’s jurisdiction and very much like a really hasty way to wrap up her arc. Sure, that dude could have been the one supplying all of the small-time dealers at WestBev, but if that was going to be her arc, why blow it all in one night? Lame. Stop killing storylines, 90210!

5. Rob Estes taking over for Mr. Matthew’s classes. Wow, you’re really telling me that this school can’t afford to hire a substitute? The economy really is bad.

6. Silver’s blog returning. I thought we’d given up that ghost after the first episode, but apparently, Silver felt the Matthew’s scandal was so juicy that she had to resurrect the thing for her second post . . . ever.

7. Adriana not understanding that Navid wants to edit his film project alone. That’s what real life is like, Adriana! Sometimes, people have jobs and can’t spend all their time together. Let the man work! Stop being so clingy and lame!

8. Ryan leaving just as Kelly returns. The West Bev teacher shortage continues.

9. Naomi trying to turn herself into the victim in her catfight with Annie at the end of the episode. Naomi, if you’re going to hatch a half-baked evil scheme, you’d damn well better follow through and own up to it. Don’t blame it on the fact that no one is ever honest with you. Annie’s right. You ain’t honest with yourself. I did enjoy, however, that Secret Brother Sean is the secret weapon to end all self-pitying catfights.

Go away Secret Brother! This is a psuedo-sister fight only!

Go away Secret Brother! This is a psuedo-sister fight only!

And “One Awesome Thing About This Week’s 90210“:

1. Jessica Walter + Karaoke = Amazing.

The Husband:

“One Additional Awesome Thing About This Week’s 90210”:

I hope I wasn’t the only one who checked out the posters in Annie’s room during a scene late in the episode. I didn’t pause it or anything, nor do I care enough to rewind and go frame-by-frame to catch corners of her room in the distance, but I did notice two in particular.

1. Stephen Schwartz’s Pippin. Kind of a weird show for an average 16-year-old to have, but she does, in fact, like musical theatre quite a bit as we’ve been told. I can only assume that nearby is a poster for Schwartz’s Wicked, a not-nearly-as-good show but one that regular teenagers have actually heard of. [Wife’s Note: I, too, saw the Wicked poster on Annie’s wall. And yes, teenage girls do indeed love that show.]

2. A poster for West Beverly’s recent production of Spring Awakening, complete with a list of cast members. And what was the name that caught my eye right before it cut away? Ty Collins. Nice touch. Although below it, I swear I saw the name Tate Donovan. Tate Donovan? You mean the guy from SpaceCamp, The O.C. and the voice of Disney’s Hercules?

The Wife:

So, it seems that the CW owes me a writing job per my bet with myself and my readers. Annie did indeed get thrown into the lead role of Wendla in West Beverly Hills High’s production of Spring Awakening because Adriana was missing too many rehearsals due to a combination of drug addiction and being a cash cow for her stage mom. I was wrong about the whole School Board getting involved angle, though. I guess their lack of concern over a show with mature, controversial themes makes sense in a town that seems to give up absolutely anything for money and fame because, hey, getting agents and producers to come to your high school musical is just another way of showing concern for your students’ Hollywood dreams.

I’m waiting for your call, CW. I’d also be willing to write cue cards for Top Model, if you’d prefer.

Hooray! We put on a musical version of a once-banned play with nary a scrape! Lets all go get ice cream and have sex!

Hooray! We put on a musical version of a once-banned play with nary a scrape! Let's all go get ice cream and have sex!

That aside, this episode tried really hard to create drama within the drama club, and it made me a little nostalgic for the insanity that is high school theatre. While filling in for Adriana at dress rehearsal, Annie’s dad catches her making out backstage with Ty Collins, who evidently is playing Melchior in this production. Annie apparently has a history of falling for her leading men. Frankly, who doesn’t? There’s a certain amount of actual affection that becomes of spending day after day playing at loving someone. Most of us just got to kiss our scene partners (and techies and whoever else was backstage), but Annie gets to fake copulate with her scene partner, which apparently inspires her to take the (ineffective) condom her brother has been keeping in his wallet for four years and set off to the after party at the Roosevelt Hotel to have sex with a guy she barely knows and only really seemed to start liking a week ago.

Oh, Melchior, I will absolutely let you impregnate me and force me into having a life-threatening back-alley abortion.

Oh, Melchior, I will absolutely let you impregnate me and force me into having a life-threatening back-alley abortion.

This decision comes only so shortly after discussing with Silver that she’s waiting for the right guy to have sex with, being chided by Naomi for not getting it on right away, like Naomi and Ethan did, and apparently not realizing that everyone who does high school theatre goes to the cast party to fuck, or otherwise release sexual tension. (This is true in real life, too.) Mom and Pops Wilson obviously object to Annie going to the cast party at the Roosevelt Hotel, which Pops Wilson thinks seems like too fancy a place (not to mention it being a place with beds):

“Isn’t the whole spirit of theatre camaraderie in the face of starvation and poverty?”

Yes, Principal Wilson, it is. But not in Beverly Hills. Luckily for Pops Wilson, Annie’s sex plans are thwarted when dejected and drugged-out Adriana sees her with Ethan, fumbling over her dropped condom as Ethan warns Annie to not have sex with Ty Collins. (Like Chuck Bass, he is a two-namer.) Adriana races to the Roosevelt and drops in on Ty Collins before Annie arrives, half-heartedly praising the show she wasn’t in by declaring that Ty Collins and Annie had the right kind of sexual chemistry onstage with a line that I thought was wickedly hilarious:

“I’d give you an ‘A’ in both theatre and chemistry.”

And Id give you an A in being a coke whore.

And I'd give you an 'A' in being a coke whore.

When poor Annie arrives at Ty Collin’s room, she discovers Adriana in a towel, who claims that the lothario had double booked his sex appointments, pointing to the running shower as evidence that he was rinsing off the remnants of his tryst with Adriana. Annie, mortified, runs from the Roosevelt crying to Ethan and Naomi. Meanwhile, Adriana turns off the empty shower. I love this crazy, crazy bitch.

As for the other WestBev kids, Silver is evidently the stage manager for WestBev drama and her hotheadedness causes her to lose her lightboard operator on the day of the show, making him officially the worst techie ever. Lovestruck Dixon takes the job and flirts with Silver over headsets during the show, proving eerily similar to a script I wrote back when my husband and I first met, which was about a lighting designer falling in love with an actress over a headset she steals from the costume department. Seriously, CW, please pay me for these ideas, okay? I’d even be willing to do it for no pay if you agreed to produce a Veronica Mars miniseries based on Rob Thomas’ Veronica: Fed concept. Just think about it, okay? As Silver and Dixon’s relationship progresses, we learn that Dixon likes Silver because she’s bossy and “a big pot of mean . . . a hot seething pot of mean,” and that Silver isn’t willing to have sex with him just yet.

Im the stage manager? Does that mean I have to do something other than wear black?

I'm the stage manager? Does that mean I have to do something other than wear black?

Naomi Clark, on the other hand, is dealing with a depressed mother and failing schemes to get her parents back together. I’m no longer interested in this storyline, as it never really seems to go anywhere. Although I do think that AnneLynne McCord and Christine Moore (Tracy Clark) are another good pair as far as mother-daughter casting is concerned. I really believe they could be related. It’s also comforting to know that Mr. and Mrs. Clark really like to hate-fuck each other, but don’t actually like each other at all. Or their daughter, evidently.

So, you see, CW, if you paid me, I bet I could fix that Clark family plot and make it more interesting.

In the meantime, though, I’d like to thank you for paying for the rights to get one more Spring Awakening song in this episode. I’m glad I won’t have to hear “Mama” anymore, because, as pretty as it is, I really wanted to shoot myself after hearing it a total of 10 times on your show so far. So thanks for paying for “The Bitch of Living.” That was a nice treat.

The Husband:

I, too, am kind of done with Naomi Clark for now. Come on, writers. She was supposed to be the bitch, but you’ve completely defanged her in less than six episodes. I know that your whole concept – or, at least the one you claimed in that Entertainment Weekly article to be striving toward – that you wanted to mess with story and character conventions and show that nobody is ever who they seem. Unfortunately so far, everyone on the show is who they seem, and are the same people they were in the pilot. Naomi is the only one you’ve applied this concept toward, and it’s unbalanced.

In the pilot, Naomi was cruel, vicious and vindictive. That was fun. McCord is good at that. Nip/Tuck proved that she’s great at being a villain, one that you love to hate. (And not just hate. I’m looking at you, Oliver from s1 of The O.C.) But now she’s just a whiney high school girl, just like everybody else on the show that isn’t named Silver. (And even she could stand to complain a little less.) Naomi’s downfall came too soon in the series to matter dramatically as far as her relationship with Ethan is concerned, so right now she garners no sympathy from me. Just pity. And nobody likes a pity party. You just have to pick up your beans and keep on rolling.

Naomi’s claws need to come out again, because God knows this show needs some better conflict and not just rich people dicking around.

The Wife:

This week’s installment of 90210 was all about family, and explored the family situations of two of our West Beverly students, as well as the Wilson kids.

The Family That Bowls Together

Alternate episode title: "The Family That Bowls Together"

Mom and Pops Wilson decided that the family needed some good ol’ fashioned family time, which evidently supersedes any plans anyone in the family had already made. (That’s a situation I absolutely do not understand. If you have tickets to a show at the Bowl, you go. You don’t give them up short of an emergency. Nor do you break dates with people/friends in order to do something else. Seems like Mom and Pops Wilson are unintentionally teaching their kids to blow off their plans.) Annie and Dixon break it to their friends that they are being forced to participate in a family night out at the local bowling alley, Lucky Strike, and contrive ways for their friends to meet them there after a couple of hours of fun with mom and dad so that the Wilson children get to have the best of both worlds: appeasing their parents and still being able to do what they wanted to do.

Dixon invites Silver along to go bowling with his family, which is especially poignant for her because she spends most of her nights sleeping in her car or a women’s shelter so that she doesn’t go home to her abusive, alcoholic/cokehead mother. Unlike the Wilson kids, Silver wishes her family actually spent time together, but apparently not enough to actually talk to her big sister Kelly (whom she sees every day at school, where Kelly works as a guidance counselor that doesn’t do any guiding) about what’s going on at home. After spending time with the Wilsons and falling asleep in her car outside their palatial BevHills estate, Papa Wilson involves Kelly, who then chooses to confront her mother in some nonsensical screaming match about Silver’s quality of life. Silver eventually goes to live with big sis Kelly and her son, Sammy, where they all eat popcorn in bed happily ever after.

Jessica Stroups worst nightmare.

Jessica Stroup's worst nightmare.

Not so happily ever after is Naomi Clark, who gets to spend one weekend in Vegas each year with her Daddy and looks forward to it as though it is the absolute best part of her life. When Daddy shows up at school to take Naomi on her favorite trip, he arrives with a new white Mercedes SUV for his little girl as a consolation prize for being unable to take her to Vegas “because he has to work late.” Naomi, being the daddy’s girl that she is, worries that her father won’t get to have dinner if he’s working late and, wanting to spend time with him, drives over to his office in her new present to bring him dinner. Instead of a pleasant meal with dad (and the purse-stealing friend she brought along for the ride, for some reason), Naomi finds her father making out with a hot redhead. Crying ensues. Naomi finds her way to the bowling alley, where more crying ensues, and then back home into bed with her mother. The next day, Naomi confronts her mother with news that she expects will be shocking, only to find out that Mrs. Clark is well aware of her husband’s dalliances and is perfectly okay with keeping the life they’ve built in tact, despite her husband’s infidelities. Naomi cannot fathom that anyone with a gorgeous house in Beverly would want to keep that kind of life if they wouldn’t be wholly loved, and her little heart shatters into pieces.

So that’s what happened in this episode, and two of these plotlines could have been really poignant if I were able to care about any of them. I’m having a lot of trouble understanding why Silver wouldn’t just go live with her sister. It’s not like her family has a reputation to protect, and it’s not like Kelly couldn’t give her sister a place to sleep, even though their mother seems to think that Kelly is having a really hard time being a single mother. Kelly seems to think this, too, given what she says about her son on her dates with Mr. Matthews. I have to ask myself: what era is this? If you can afford to live in BevHills, even if you teach at a high school, and you’re a single mother who wears BR Monogram to work, you’re doing pretty okay. And no one, no one, in 2008 would be “freaked out” that someone in their late 20s/early 30s has a four-year-old son, as Kelly seems to think Mr. Matthews would be. It just doesn’t make sense.

While Naomi’s reaction to her perfect world shattering makes a bit more sense, I can’t imagine that she’s the kind of girl who really believes that her parents’ marriage was based on love or sexual attraction. She doesn’t strike me as immature, but that’s an incredibly childish thing to think. That’s certainly not the mindset of someone who goes out of her way to look like Elizabeth Berkeley’s character in showgirls, Nomi Malone, by wearing denim onesies to class.

The Husband:

After such an uneventful episode – although, as my wife pointed it, it was decently structured – I have very few things to say.

I’m appreciative that 9fneh feels comfortable enough to base an episode more around characterizations than plot devices, but honestly it’s far too early in the season for my taste for the stories to simply exist and just lay there with nary a moral or theme. I don’t know these characters well enough to allow such laziness.

No, I’m not asking for big big drama every week, nor am I implying that a show needs big big drama to be interesting. But something about this episode struck me as very flat. All I could think about during its 42 minutes was how irritating the show’s product placement is. Between the mentioning an early and illegal screening of the new Bond film – which comes out in November – and the front-and-center inclusion of the Lucky Strike bowling lanes, the show is almost as bad as Donald Trump’s The Apprentice as far as blatant advertising goes. It just seems too desperate to capitalize on the show’s young and impressionable audience.

What they should have shown of the new Bond film:

I’m sure that the inclusion of Spring Awakening as the school musical at West Beverly will have some effect on the story, as Shannon Doherty’s troublemaking character Brenda Walsh is directing it and will probably incur the wrath of the school’s officials once again. (Yes, I do know a few things about the original show without ever actually watching it.) But there’s also a part of me that thinks that the controversial nature of the play will not even be referenced, that Spring Awakening exists on the show simply to advertise its national tour that just started. (As luck – and promotion – would have it, my wife and I saw it two nights ago at the Curran.)

Hopefully this isn’t a completely obnoxious trend. I want to like the show. I really do. But let’s not forget that a show needs real conflict to exist, because watching rich kids dick around each week simply because they can, for me, isn’t a very thrilling use of my time.

The Wife:

I have to mention that, after seeing Spring Awakening on Wednesday night, we came up with what we, and our Imminent Powers of Television Prediction, have decided the 90210 plot that concerns the show will be.

Because Adrianna (Jessica Lowndes), whom we know has “the lead” and therefore assume is playing the part of Wendla, is as much in love with pills as she is with inappropriately singing along to her iPod, she will start missing rehearsals for the show because of her drug addiction. Annie, therefore, will be asked to step into the role of Wendla, and everyone will like her better in it and let her keep the role. Adrianna will be pushed back into the role of Ilse, who still gets to sing a lot, but has much less stage time. Adrianna was born to play this role because her haircut looks like the wig they use for this character in the national tour of Spring Awakening.

As my husband mentioned, Brenda is coming back to direct the show, and there will inevitably be some kerfuffle with the school board about the “unwholesome” content of the show, causing the production to be shut down. Annie will then become very angry with her father, Principal Wilson, for doing this, as it was her chance to sing and act and do what she loves in front of an audience. Principal Wilson, heartbroken that he has hurt his daughter, will find a way to stage the show off school grounds so that Annie gets to be a star like she wants to be and the school board cannot fault Brenda for the production.

If this ends up being even remotely what the 90210 plot is, we need to be hired to write this show. Immediately.