Thursday, December 29, 2011

12/29 - These So-Called Problems

To close the year, I shall direct each of the LWs to an episode of My So-Called Life, which ought to solve the problem at hand rather better than the Prudecutor can do.

L1: As we are dealing with facial hair, this must be Episode #4, Father Figures. Having made less than sterling first impressions on Patty, Rayanne and Rickie have better luck when they meet Graham on his return home from work one afternoon - with stubble (not, Angela explains, deliberate - he ran out of razors). Rayanne likes it. Rickie, after a quick baby gayppraisal, has to go and just exchanges Hi and Bye with Graham at the door. Angela begins by recalling how excited she always was when Daddy came home a few years ago. She shies away from Graham's embrace, citing his stubble, but really she's gone off him since overhearing him planning a potential extramarital liaison that in the end Graham squelched. Danielle, in a manner only a younger sister could pull off, gives Graham a huge embrace and enthuses about how much she loikes it when he doesn't shave.

And, much to her own surprise, Rayanne is soon actually cooking, which is a real hoot for her. And then comes the revelation that Graham has been given two tickets to the Grateful Dead. Thrilled, Rayanne relates to Graham Amber's glorious past as a Deadhead, living in a van for six months with a girl called Pop-Tart. It remains for Patty to play killjoy, arriving home with news that her father's slippery tax preparation had landed her an IRS audit for the family business she took over.

It gets worse. The audit is due to precede the concert by only a few hours. Patty informs Graham that he is not going to a rock concert after she is audited by the IRS. So Graham gives the tickets to Angela and Rayanne. He tells Patty when they're in bed, leading to a marital spat. That Amber is going cuts no ice with Patty, who accuses Graham of wanting Angela to go - on a school night, on top of everything. Graham admits it. He saw the Dead when he was fifteen, and it was one of the eight greatest nights of his life. He wants to share that experience with his daughter. Unimpressed, Patty tells him to get Angela to return the tickets.

Angela, a bit nonplussed about how to cope when a friend really likes one of her parents, has to diagram sentences in English with Jordan Catalano. Desperate to start a coversation, she pulls out the tickets and studies them, making sure he sees that she has them, then can't decide how far to backtrack about not being a Deadhead or liking them that much. When she remembers that she owes Jordan $30 for the fake ID he procured for her, he offers to scalp the tickets. This shatters Rayanne, who goes off on a rant about how people don't sell Grateful Dead tickets; they give people Grateful Dead tickets, and how she was part of the Us to whom Graham gave the tickets.

The evening of the concert, Angela quarrels with Graham, accuses him of hypocrisy, runs out of the house and decides to hide at Brian Krakow's for a while in order to maintain the illusion that she went to the concert. Unfortunately, Graham sees her, and takes it badly. At school the next day, Angela, understanding what the tickets meant, starts to apologize to Rayanne. But it's unnecessary, as Rayanne went with Amber and got a ticket from a wounded veteran with a hot upper bod. Prodded on both ends by Patty, Graham and Angela reconcile over gutter repair.

LW1, watch this episode and decide which Angela you want to be.

L4: Going in chronological order, we have a gift of money from an unexpected source that the recipient is not sure about keeping - Episode #10, Other People's Mothers. After an unpleasant visit to the Chase's during which Patty sees Rickie holding Rayanne's open beer bottle, Angela goes to Rayanne's and finally meets Amber, who makes a most favourable impression on her and lends her a deck of Tarot cards. At home, we meet Patty's mother Vivian, who keeps rearranging the candlesticks while debating the wisdom of holding her anniversary party at a fondue restaurant. Instead, Vivian simply decides to have the party there. Graham, who enjoyed his mother's company, stays holed up in the bedroom until Vivian calls up that she'll be in the ki-tchen poking arou-ound. When Angela calls home to see if she can stay at Rayanne's, Patty jumps at the chance to go pick her up. We see Patty's best Fake Smile as she meets Amber and makes polite replies to Amber's emotional pronouncements about adoption (Angela having tried to explain her mother by revealing that Patty had been adopted and had abandonment issues).

Rayanne, who has received $270 from her father, isn't sure she wants to keep the money. Rickie tells her she needs new makeup and could use some CDs, but Rayanne, who is acting up a bit as her conflicted feelings about her father are likely nearing the surface, decides in a manic moment to have a party, at which everyone will experience an "infininity" of happiness. Of course, both parties are planned for the same evening. Vivian buys a turkey and sticks it into the refirgerator over Patty's protests that Graham is very emotional about food. Later, in Bess Armstrong's favourite scene, Graham is looking mournfully at the turkey and wondering how anyone could just put such a thing in someone else's refrigerator, Patty asks him please to close the refrigerator door, he does, and then a second later opens the door and resumes staring mournfully at the turkey.

Angela, once Patty refuses to let her attend Rayanne's party, is a turncoat. Resenting that Patty wants her to move furniture and clean behind it, she cheerfully does it for Rayanne, and makes brightly coloured streamers that delight Amber in contrast to the pale and sober decorations for the anniversary party. Amber appears to be the sort of parent every teenager would want. She knows there will be some drinking, but is counting on Rayanne to keep things in line (she'll be at work).

Vivian shows up for the anniversary party alone - Chuck decided not to come to his own anniversary party, and she's pleased about that because she can never enjoy herself when he's there. As the guests arrive and Vivian torments Danielle, Patty realizes that Angela has been hiding in her room. Angela, resplendent in tie-dye, appears to say she's going to Rayanne's for a little while. Patty is in no mood to have this, but the last straw is Vivian's backing Angela up. Vivian also alienates Graham (already upset because he cooked the chicken without the skin for Chuck's sake) by trying to add oregano to his curry sauce.

At Rayanne's there's a huge crowd, way too much drinking, and Rayanne has taken Ecstacy. Angela finds Rickie and they realize that Rayanne isn't in great shape when Amber returns from work. She clears the place at once, and appears for a brief, shining moment as a possible Supermom. But no. Having only ten minutes to get ready for her date with Rusty, she removes her lab coat, sprays cologne in the air and walks through it in lieu of bathing, and doesn't see that Rayanne is seriously unwell, simply telling her that the place had better be cleaned up and that Rayanne is way too drunk. After Amber leaves, Rickie realizes that Rayanne is in serious trouble and Anglea immediately phones Patty for help.

Patty gets right over, knows exactly what to do, keeps Rickie from becoming hysterical, and soon they are all at the hospital. When Rickie chokes up asking about trying to protect people, Patty realizes that it wasn't his beer that day, which begins her appreciation of Rickie. Rayanne will be all right, Amber shows at the hospital in hysterics, and Patty invites Rickie to a really dull party. Back at home, Patty sends Rickie in first, then explains to Angela that she'd had a friend a lot like Rayanne, only her friend had died in a similar incident. She sends Angela in next, collects herself for a moment, and then returns to the party, where Rickie is getting on famously with Vivian and praising the turkey as Angela compares the party and the people there to various cards in the Major Arcana.

LW4, examine the way Rayanne treats the money, which she carries around in small denominations, crinkling it up like dead leaves and handing out to people like Sharon.

L2: There were multiple choices for this one, and the episode applied to any of the other letters could have done well. But, as what we have is a case of a LW emulating her mother, I shall go with Episode #14, On the Wagon. Even though Angela and Jordan Catalano have broken up since she didn't go through with having sex with him, they are spending a lot of time together. Rayanne isn't happy about not seeing much of Angela. When Angela tells her to stop by after school and doesn't show up herself, Rayanne has an awkward meeting with Patty, who she hasn't seen since Patty saved her life. Rayanne says she's been 30 days sober. Patty invites her to stay for dinner, but Rayanne, upset about Angela not showing up, says she promised to go home for dinner with Amber.

Back at home, Rayanne decides she's made a mistake. Amber seems surprised that Rayanne would want to eat dinner, an actual meal, like every other American on the planet. As we have already learned that Amber lives on appetizers and desserts, she goes through an unimpressively paltry selection of choices before Rayanne snaps. Amber drags it out of her that Rayanne is seeing too little of Angela because Angela's always with Jordan, and just pushes Rayanne to hang out with the pair of them then, then finds leftover Chinese.

Angela hopes that the important thing Jordan has to tell her is that he wants to reconcile, but instead he wants to kill Tino, who quit their band, Frozen Embryos. Worse, as the name was Tino's idea, Jordan isn't sure they can call themselves that. Rayanne twists Angela's arm to get Angela to suggest to Jordan that the group should let Rayanne sing. Angela mentions this reluctantly. Jordan doesn't like the idea, but Rayanne comes on to the group's drummer, and she's in. She's at least as good as Tino; even Sharon has heard her and been not unimpressed. But rehearsals aren't going all that well, and the group is set to perform at an open mike night way before they're ready. Jordan just tells Rayanne to wear something tight. Angela mentions it to Graham and Patty in such a way that makes it clear she's decided not to go but wants their imprimatur on the decision.

Rayanne has a variety of mood shifts before the performance. At the Chase's she pretends to panic and pours out a glass of liquor but is just teasing Angela and pours it back. Patty finds the glass later and is convinced Rayanne is drinking again. At home getting dressed, Rayanne and Amber sing a bit and get psyched up. At the crucial moment, though, she freezes, can't sing, and runs away from a scared Rickie. Meanwhile, Patty and Graham are deciding that Patty couldn't possibly call Amber and imply that Amber might not be being the best mother.

The next morning, Patty calls Amber. Amber is as sure that Rayanne isn't drinking as, she says, Patty is that Angela isn't having sex with Jordan. In the end, Patty goes to Amber's door only to find that Rayanne went right home and ate cookie dough with Amber all night. Amber tries to make amends with Patty and offers to let Rayanne stay home from school, but Rayanne wants to apologize to Rickie. Patty gives her a ride, and tells Rayanne to call her Patty; Rayanne thanks Patty for the ride and saving her life. Rickie eventually forgives Rayanne, but impresses on her that he was picking out what to wear to her funeral, and that if she does that to him again he will probably kill her.

The episode ends with Rayanne, Rickie and Angela waiting in line to see a film. Discussing attractive men, Rayanne reveals that she rather liked the character Luis from Sesame Street, then belts out a rendition of the theme song that gets the line cheering. Then, almost tragically because it actually seems to be a really good moment, someone offers Rayanne a drink and she just takes it as Angela's face falls.

LW2, study closely Rayanne's interactions with Amber.

L3: While it was tempting to pick Episode #3, Guns and Gossip, which involved pressure from the principal on Brian, the theme of wanting to snitch seems better suited to Episode #17, Betrayal. With Rickie now in Drama Club and staying with Mr Katimsky and his lover, Rayanne has been convinced to audition for Our Town. Meanwhile, Angela has had an erotic dream about Corey Helfrick (Rickie's crush and the catalyst for much of the damage done involving the World Happiness Dance in Life of Brian), even though she isn't quite as over Jordan Catalano as she thinks. Meanwhile, Brian agrees to Sharon's request to get video footage of students as part of yearbook, though he's really just trying to reingratiate himself with his jilted WHD date Delia Fisher.

At tryouts, Rayanne reveals that she's studied how Angela cries, and is a bit intimidated by the performance of Abyssinia Churchill. In the meantime, Patty and Camille are organizing what to give to a clothing drive when Hallie Lowenthal shows up, having forgotten where she was supposed to meet Graham about the restaurant they're going to start. After Hallie leaves, Camille expresses a bit of suspicion about whether Hallie is after Graham or not (Graham hasn't mentioned yet to Patty that Hallie's fiance Brad dumped her). Patty expresses great appreciation for Camille.

That evening, Brian tries to get video footage of students hanging out. Rayanne is drinking because she thinks she didn't get the lead in Our Town. Jordan is drinking because he didn't like seeing Angela flirting with Corey. One thing leads to another, and Brian gets it all on tape.

The next day, Brian waffles about what's on the tape and tells Sharon what happens. Sharon then goes on ton have a lengthy conversation with Delia in the girls' bathroom, during which Delia is unable to get a word in edgeways, about how she never trusted Rayanne but doesn't want to say anything to Angela because it would destroy Angela if she found out - and Angela overhears the tail end of the conversation. Angela thinks at first that Sharon's just being jealous again, but eventually confronts Brian and realizes it was true. Angela tells Rickie that two can play at that game.

Rayanne gets the lead in the play and the cold shoulder from Angela. After school, Angela shows up for scene painting dressed in Rayanne's general style, asks Corey if he has anything to drink and tries to kiss him. Later, Angela realizes she's gone too far when Rickie, scoring one for the home team, asks Angela how she thinks he felt seeing her go after Corey. Angela, to her credit, wakes up at once.

Rayanne goes to the Chases' and confesses to Patty. She feels terribly contrite. When she leaves, she supposes that Patty hates her now, to which Patty replies slowly that she doesn't hate her. When Graham returns and rants about Hallie (one of Camille's Bad Signs), Patty tells him that the reason Angela isn't speaking to rayanne is that she slept with Jordan. Graham calls that low, and is in the middle of a rhetorical question about what sort of person would do such a thing when Patty sits down in a hunched position and raises her hand. It was in college. Camille really liked this guy and they'd dated a couple of times. Patty had just been dumped, and was sure Camille wouldn't find out. Alas a snitch who knew them both spilled the beans, but Camille somehow found it in her heart to forgive her, and Patty has always been grateful for that.

LW3, study closely Angela's and Rayanne's reactions to Sharon's revealing the truth.

Moral:  "You have to forgive Angela. She's the product of a two-parent family!"

1 comment:

  1. Sitcoms (or is this a teen drama?) are just way too convoluted to follow on paper.