August 24, 2019

My So-Called Life 2, Dancing in the Dark: Under Pressure

Posted in TV tagged , at 1:23 pm by Jenn

Now Patty looks like a gymnast

Summary: Angela’s class is watching a movie about space, and she’s definitely not paying attention. She voices over that she’s been kissed three times, all by people she never saw again. One was a counselor at camp who was probably trying to make his girlfriend jealous. The film narrator talks about a star exploding, releasing intense pressure. Angela’s second kiss was with an usher at a wedding. He only kissed her because he’d lost a bet.

The third kiss was with a guy Angela met on a beach last summer. She swam out too far, and a lifeguard rescued her and gave her mouth-to-mouth. Angela admits that that might not count as an actual kiss, since she was unconscious, but it was still exciting. She’s never had a real boyfriend, and isn’t sure if that’s normal.

Rayanne and Rickie are talking about a girl named Dayna, who has perfect feet but annoys Rayanne. Angela notices Jordan walking by and gets really into the conversation. As soon as he’s gone, Rayanne tells her she can speak normally again. She thinks Angela needs to move things forward with Jordan already. Angela’s worried that she’ll look like she’s throwing herself at Jordan. Rayanne tells her that’s the “basis of civilization.”

Angela voices over that she always knows when Jordan is around; it’s like her body can instinctively sense it. She goes to biology class, where they’re dissecting pig hearts. Brian’s sitting with Sharon, who can’t stop looking at them. The bio teacher tells the students that when they form a hypothesis, they must convey information concisely and clearly.

Cut to the Chases’ house, where Patty and Graham are not communicating concisely or clearly. She’s disappointed that he doesn’t kiss her goodbye in the morning anymore…even though they work in the same place and will see each other again in half an hour. Graham says that kissing will just lead to sex. Patty wonders why he believes that they can’t just kiss for kissing’s sake. He kisses her goodbye passionately.

Back in class, the teacher talks about experiments and solving problems. Rayanne has a unique problem – she can’t get fruit out of a vending machine. Jordan comes by and Rayanne asks him to help her get Angela a fake ID. Jordan asks why Angela isn’t talking to him herself. Rayanne says she’s French, and she has a mental block on some English words. Jordan questions this claim but agrees to help.

Rayanne and Rickie pull Angela out of her class, and when the teacher notices, Brian says she left because she almost fainted. He even says Angela’s working with him on an extra-credit project. Sharon’s annoyed, and after class, she calls Brian out for lying. She tells him Angela takes advantage of him, and he lets her. Sharon pities him.

In the bathroom, Angela freaks out about Rayanne’s conversation with Jordan. She thinks she’s going to die of embarrassment. Rickie backs up everything Rayanne said, even though he wasn’t there. Rayanne thinks Angela should be grateful. Angela asks how Jordan acted during the conversation. Rayanne says he flopped around on the floor.

Leaving the bathroom, Angela runs into Brian, who calls her “Chase.” She voices over that she hates when people she knows from different places are all together. You have to develop a combination self. Brian is annoyed that Angela left him to clean up their lab work by himself. He tells her he lied about her helping with his extra-credit project, so she might as well do something to help.

Rayanne and Rickie joke around about the project partnership until Rayanne learns that Brian’s parents are out of town. She promises Angela will come over the next night to work…but really, to take Jordan for some alone time. Angela thinks that’s crazy, but it’s very hard to say no to Rayanne, so Angela agrees.

Later, at the Chases’, Rayanne tells Angela that she, Rickie, and Jordan will get her fake ID and bring it to her at Brian’s house. Angela doubts that Jordan will go along with this. As they go upstairs, Patty comes home with Sharon’s mother, Camille. She knows about Angela and Sharon’s confrontation in the bathroom, but not what’s going on between them. Patty says that’s more than she knows.

Brian comes across Sharon outside the house and tells her Angela’s coming over the next night. He thinks that proves that Sharon’s wrong about everything. Inside, Patty and Camille talk about their own teenage arguments. They’ve known each other since childhood. Camille notices a figurine that Patty’s father bought her, which Camille was always jealous of. Angela sees Sharon outside but ignores her. Rayanne and Rickie think Jordan is interested in Angela but just has other things on his mind. Angela wishes she weren’t the only one analyzing him in such detail.

Patty confides in Camille that her and Graham’s new work arrangements are pushing them apart. They discuss whether or not Patty should cut her hair. Camille thinks men like long hair and red clothes on women. Patty thinks Graham might like it if she showed up looking different. She complains about all the things women are told to do to put the romance back in their marriages (a phrase she hates). Patty and Camille debate whether Jane Seymour is a good role model for marriage.

Camille says that she and her husband have been doing something new that might help Graham and Patty. The only catch is that Patty will have to wear high heels. At dinner that night, Patty brings up the idea: ballroom dancing. Graham’s brother Neil is present. Angela voices over that he’s unmarried, so her parents always give him leftovers, like he doesn’t get fed otherwise. Angela and Neil laugh over how ballroom dancing sounds made-up.

Patty says she’s thinking of getting a short haircut. Angela and Danielle object. Graham asks if she’s going for Hillary Clinton-length hair. Patty thinks Hillary is brilliant and shouldn’t be judged by her hair. Neil says she should wear more red. After dinner, Neil tells Graham that he’s still in touch with an ex, and they even hook up sometimes. He envies Graham and Patty’s marriage. Graham tells him things aren’t as perfect as they seem, but Neil says they’re the happiest couple he knows.

Angela asks to go to Brian’s house, which is just across the street. Graham interrupts to announce that he wants to try ballroom dancing. Angela eavesdrops as her parents discuss plans for the next night. Patty thinks Angela has a crush on Brian, which makes her happy, since she likes Brian. Graham doesn’t like to think about his daughter getting involved with anyone. Patty practices some dance moves with Angela, singing to herself. She tells Angela she can go to Brian’s as long as she’s back by 9:30. She still can’t get a straight answer about whether she should cut her hair.

The bio teacher still can’t get anyone to engage in conversation in class. She says an experiment is successful if it yields meaningful results. Angela gets ready for her big night, unable to comprehend the fact that she’s about to spend time with Jordan. She goes to Brian’s for the first time in a long time, having spent tons of time there as a kid. She tells Brian that Rayanne and Rickie might stop by to bring her something. Brian knows Angela isn’t there to provide much help with the experiment.

Patty and Graham go to what looks like the basement of a community center for a poorly attended ballroom class. Patty’s cut her hair short and is wearing red. Graham just says that her new hair shows her ears more. How romantic. Jordan, Rayanne, and Rickie arrive at Brian’s with the story that Angela’s there with the money for the ID. Tino told them he would come by to see Jordan, so he has to wait there. Jordan thinks it’s about Frozen Embryos, a band he and Tino might be forming.

As Patty and Graham’s dance lessons go badly, Rayanne tries to kick Brian out of his own kitchen. Angela has the grace to feel bad. Patty has trouble letting Graham lead; she’d like to go forward for once. The other couple in class is dancing well together, and the teacher tells Patty and Graham that they were once beginners, too. Couples usually think things will go great the first time around, but it’s never that way.

Angela’s hesitant to go talk to Jordan, since her obsession with him helps her get through the day. By talking to him, she’ll make it real, and it won’t be hers anymore. Maybe the fantasy is better. Rickie totally gets it, but Rayanne thinks Angela’s nuts. She wants Jordan, but she’s programmed not to admit it. Rickie thinks Rayanne might be on to something.

After class, the second couple keeps dancing, just enjoying their time together. The teacher tells Graham and Patty that they need to work on their pacing; they keep rushing. She thinks they should take group classes and dance with other people. Patty doesn’t get it, since they came there to spend time with each other. She thinks Graham is dying to dance with other people. Graham says he didn’t want to dance with anyone.

The teacher uses Graham to show the couple that dancing involves different parts coming together. It’s about rhythm, speed, and confidence to make the steps your own. Many people try so hard that they can’t hear the music. She keeps speaking about balance and not looking down as Angela goes outside to talk to Jordan. You have to look straight ahead so you don’t lose your footing. Angela does this, giving Jordan a confident “hi” and a smile.

Jordan isn’t very talkative, but he invites Angela to get in his car. She tells him she has to stay, but Jordan hadn’t planned on taking a drive. Inside, Brian teaches Rayanne and Rickie about the volumeter he’s built. It’s about pressure, and Brian’s clearly feeling a lot of it. Rickie figures out that the mouse in the volumeter creates pressure just by breathing. (Rickie can relate.) Rayanne asks the point. Brian tries to explain, but ultimately just says it’s for extra credit.

Angela voices over that it’s amazing to feel your life going somewhere, “like your life just figured out how to get good, like that second.” Jordan gives her the fake ID, then kisses her awkwardly. She’s not impressed with his approach, especially since he interrupted her while she was talking. He tries again, and she’s even less impressed, telling him he has to work up to that.

Jordan asks how old Angela is. When she was 15, he says she acts older. Angela’s offended. Jordan says she talks a lot, but Angela notes that she’s only ever said about eight sentences to him. They stop talking, and Angela notices that his sleeve is touching her arm. Things start feeling perfect, and Angela voices over that now is the perfect time for a kiss, or anything else. Instead, Jordan kicks her out of the car so he can leave.

Patty and Graham get home before Angela, and Neil, who was watching Danielle, asks what Patty did to her hair. She ignores him and just goes upstairs, though Neil didn’t think he said anything offensive. Graham confides to his brother that he met someone. He was working with her, and one day she just grabbed his tie and said she hates him and can’t sleep because of him. All they’ve done is talk, but…

Neil worries that Patty and Graham will get divorced, which will leave him without a place to go on holidays. Yes, Neil, this is definitely all about you. Graham says he’s supposed to meet the woman at a hotel tomorrow. Neil calls that a cliché, and Graham notes, “Clichés happen.” He asks Neil to talk him out of it. Neil just says not to do it. He hasn’t even done anything, and he’s already acting weird, like agreeing to go to a dance class.

Angela goes back into Brian’s house as Brian goes outside, retrieving the fake ID she dropped. Jordan leaves, then comes back, looking for Tino. Brian says that the ID was supposed to show that Angela’s 21, but instead, it just shows that she was born yesterday. Jordan asks why he’s there, not realizing it’s Brian’s house. He asks if Angela’s really from France.

Patty tells Graham that she doesn’t think the evening was as disastrous as he clearly thinks it was. She’s mad about what he said about her hair and ears. Of course she didn’t want to dance with him after that. Graham says that he was under pressure to compliment and lead her. Patty thinks they’ve become furniture to each other. Are they incompatible? How could they have been together so long and be unable to dance?

Graham yells that it’s exactly because they’ve been together so long. Patty throws the figurine Camille admired on the floor, accidentally breaking it. Graham holds her as she tries to put it back together. He asks her to dance with her, correcting her when she says they don’t know how. They kiss as they stand up together.

Across the street, Rayanne and Rickie get ready to leave Brian’s house. Angela’s washing their dishes, finally being a good houseguest. She tells Brian she won’t take the extra credit for a project she didn’t help with. He gives her the ID. Patty and Graham have finished dancing…er, if that’s what the kids are calling it now. She wonders why their generation never learned to dance. They made up their own steps instead of taking the time to learn the real ones.

Graham hears Angela come home and goes down to tell her about the dance lessons. Angela doesn’t feel like talking, but Graham says he doesn’t, either, and certainly not to Angela. He warms up some food for her, and she voices over that the food always tastes better when her father prepares it for her. He asks if she and Brian went on a date. Angela says that people can hang out without dating.

Graham asks if there’s someone else Angela likes, which makes her wonder if he’s psychic. He warns that boys her age don’t always know how to be what Angela will want them to be. It’s hard to figure out how to be a man. Even men Graham’s age are still working on it.

Patty comes down to send her husband and daughter to bed. Graham offers to stay behind and clean up. Angela’s surprised by her mother’s new haircut, but she seems like she might like it. Graham makes a quiet phone call, telling the person on the other end, “I can’t do this.” Angela hears him on the phone, turning down the woman he could have had an affair with. She retrieves her fake ID, her pass to the adult world, where she doesn’t know how difficult things are.

Thoughts: One of Angela’s classmates is named Leander. No matter what Angela’s issues are, I guarantee that person has it worse.

You know, Frozen Embryos isn’t a half-bad band name.

The short hair doesn’t work for Patty. It’s too drastic of a change.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Jordan actually told Angela she acted younger than 15, that’s why she was so offended! She was right, though, that he didn’t know her well enough to know how old she acted. I was pretty proud of her in this whole sequence. The “I don’t even open up that wide at the dentist” line was particularly good timing.

    I’m glad Angela didn’t run back up the stairs after she overheard Graham on the phone but instead stood there and silently confronted him. At least now he’ll understand if she’s a bit icy with him. Such a shame after their nice spaghetti moment.

    I’m trying to imagine Patty in a Karen haircut and I can’t do it. That cut is pretty severe, though it suits her businessy style. I think Camille Cherski was right, especially if you consider the woman Graham’s talking to in the street in the Pilot and remember Hallie Lowenthal’s tumbling mane… he likes long wavy hair on women. I wondered why Patty never ditched the bangs look, but it looks like that was a consistent thing throughout Bess Armstrong’s career. She rocked that cute little blonde bob in that Jaws flick with Dennis Quaid, though.


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