The Wife:

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

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

Leading a rather charmed life.

Leading a rather charmed life.

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

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

And now! Quotes!

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

The Husband:

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

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

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The Wife:

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

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

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

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

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

Boom! You just got served!

Boom! You just got served!

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

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

Stray thoughts and quotes:

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

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

The Wife:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oddly funny things:

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

The Wife:

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 Husband:

So right now, ABC’s Ugly Betty is on a mini-hiatus in order to allow Samantha Who? to finish its second season, as well as let In The Motherhood go through its entire six-episode first season. (Taking the FOX model of trying out six eps of a sitcom is actually pretty smart business, even if it is for a show that I keep accidentally calling Notes from the Underbelly, which is probably not a good sign.) This allowed me to catch up on the four backlogged Betty episodes that were sitting on my DVR, a pretty simple task considering how easy the show it to watch. But what’s been keeping me invested in this show, and, likewise, what issues do I have with the mini-run?

Matt

I love Matt. I think he’s a great foil for Betty, his relation to her industry allows for a type of romantic interaction missing from her Henry/Gio triangle (Henry worked at Meade, yes, but he was an accountant, so that doesn’t really count.) I think he’s a sweetheart, I think his bits of inner turmoil are entirely founded, and I like the way he is treated like an actual human being and not just a character cipher. When we last checked in on this blog, all we knew was that Matt was a sports journalist and cared very little about fashion. Now, we know he’s actually not only the heir to a disgustingly huge fortune, but he has so many notches on his bedpost that…some clever analogy. (Shut up! This is Ugly Betty.) And now, I think that he’s the best beau ever for Betty. Sorry, Gio fans, but I’m really pulling for Matt to become a major regular. Agree or disagree?

I think we need to talk about this obsession everyone has with this Gio person.

I think we need to talk about this obsession everyone has with this Gio person.

Christine Baranski

As Matt’s overbearing, snobbish and protective mother, Ms. Baranski fell right back into her glorious comfort zone after that appearance on The Big Bang Theory, which still annoys me to no end. She was completely miscast there. Here, she may be typecast, but it’s that wonderful kind of typecasting where it works perfectly. I desire more of her.

Ralph Macchio

He returned in a big way, finally bedding Hilda when she realizes that his clean-cut city councilman image may just be a cover for a badder boy underneath. Between this and Beer League and My Cousin Vinny, as well as his appearance on Broadway as J. Pierrepont Finch in How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (taking over for Matthew Broderick when he left the cast in the mid-90s), I don’t know why he doesn’t get more active work, or why he’s barely in films anymore. He still looks effortlessly young, still has the comic timing learned from Mr. Miyagi, and yet still looks like he came from the downtrodden wrong side of the tracks. It’s a good combo. Why can’t he be the “best friend” in an Ed Burns movie?

Bernadette Peters

She was used for about 45 seconds in one episode of the four. This is not proper usage of The Bern. Ultimate fail, UB.

Connor & Molly

So after all that love square madness between Connor, Molly, Daniel and Wilhelmina, Connor just suddenly decides to just up and leave in one episode, suddenly desiring to embezzle money from Meade Publications as well as try to steal Willy’s baby and leave the country. This twist came out of nowhere, was not in tune with the rest of his character, and made little to no sense. All it did was save the money it would take to pay the actor to show up to work. That’s the only thing I can figure out. It’s a shame that UB is having trouble keeping story arcs going this season, because the fact that they get completely abandoned every four episodes or so makes me not want to invest as much energy in this series as I assume they’d like. And giving Molly borderline inoperable cancer has, so far, been completely pointless as well. But at least she only disappeared for one episode and came back. The same can’t be said for Connor, despite showing up for a few seconds in a dream sequence.

Steven R. Schirripa

Eh, get a load of this guy here, eh?

Eh, get a load of this guy here, eh?

Between his appearance here as a competitive TV chef, SLOTAT‘s Sausage King and his TV food show that I’ve never heard of (thanks Wikipedia!), Steven R. Schirripa has effectively changed his typecast from mob family comic relief (Casino and The Sopranos) into being the go-to guy for any role revolving around food. I’m not sure if I’ve ever seen a shift like this, so it’s good that he’s a very amicable actor, both onscreen and on talk shows. It’s tough to not love that face.

Christina

I know that actress Ashley Jensen is on her way out at the end of the season and they have something big planned for her character, but that doesn’t mean that giving her about five lines over four episodes is allowable. She’s definitely in the top three best characters of the show, but you wouldn’t know it from the scripts. Fail.

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