September 21, 2019

My So-Called Life 5, The Zit: Metamorphoses

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:06 pm by Jenn

Sigh. High-school boys

Summary: Angela is surprised to see that Sharon now has a boyfriend, Kyle Vinnovich. Angela voices over that, while Sharon’s life is developing normally, her own life feels clogged. Rayanne has already heard about Kyle and Sharon; it’s apparently big news around school. Angela studies a zit on her chin, then Sharon’s chest, as her English class discusses Kafka’s Metamorphosis. Brian defines the title, then “Kafka-esque,” which he says is when something seems like a total nightmare but is actually happening. Angela thinks being single while Sharon has a boyfriend falls under that category.

In the bathroom, Rickie and Rayanne discuss how people see his habit of hanging out there. He’s decided it’s time to stop. As Angela enters, someone slips a piece of paper under the door. It’s rankings of the top 40 sophomore girls. Sharon’s breasts are mentioned, which annoys Angela. Rayanne’s thrilled to be listed as having the “most slut potential.” Angela pretends she doesn’t care that she’s not on the list. Rickie thinks it’s good; it means she blends in.

As they leave school, Angela says she’s offended on Rayanne’s behalf. Rayanne thinks Angela just doesn’t want to be associated with someone who’s been branded a slut. Brian and Sharon go to band class, and the guys in her row watch her chest as she plays her clarinet. After class, Sharon asks Brian what’s going on. He tells her about the rankings, saying he doesn’t condemn or condone them.

Angela studies her zit at home, trying to convince herself that it’s not the end of the world. Patty tells the family that the annual mother/daughter fashion show is coming up. It’ll benefit a battered-women’s shelter, and Patty promises it’ll be better than last year. Angela doesn’t want to participate, and though Danielle does, she’s too young. The girls tease their mother about how many compliments she always gets. Patty plans to sew matching outfits again. Angela says it’s “sick.” Graham will only go so far as “corny.”

Patty says she doesn’t ask much of Angela, so she wants some cooperation just this once. Angela reluctantly agrees. Later, Patty tells Graham that she has to find opportunities to spend time with Angela now because in a few years, she’ll be out of the house. Plus, it’s a chance to give back to the community. Angela might even end up feeling better about herself. Graham assures Patty that she’ll be the prettiest mom there. Patty has a hard time taking the compliment. She says her face is changing; for example, she’s getting more lines. Graham pretends he hadn’t noticed.

In the school bathroom, Angela’s putting some concealer on her zit when Sharon enters. Angela almost ignores her, then asks if Sharon’s doing the fashion show. Sharon doesn’t answer her. They bicker about how Angela has suddenly decided that Sharon is worth talking to. Sharon mentions Angela’s zit, so Angela tosses back congratulations about her ranking in the poll. Sharon still hasn’t been completely clued in, but she’s getting a better idea of what’s going on.

Patty and Camille look at possible outfits for the fashion show, which Camille can’t believe Angela agreed to do. She had a hard time getting Sharon to agree even before the poll. Patty hasn’t heard anything about that. Camille is upset that Sharon’s “global endowments” are now making her self-conscious. She herself was self-conscious in high school even after she lost a lot of weight. However, it worked out well, because she had nowhere to go but up. Now she likes the way she looks.

Sharon gets ready for gym class while two classmates talk about the model on the front of the same magazine Patty and Camille were looking at. Sharon wants to wear a sweatshirt to class, even if she’ll be hot. Her classmates are looking forward to a party that night. Angela feels like she doesn’t measure up to her more developed classmates.

Rickie runs into Brian in the boys’ bathroom and wonders if he’s not welcome in there, either. At lunch, Brian complains to Rickie that Sharon and Kyle are always holding hands. Not that Brian has a problem with it or anything. He just doesn’t remember when everyone started pairing off. Rickie can relate.

Kyle tries to kiss Sharon before he goes off to some sports practice, but she’s not in the mood. She asks what he and his friends like to talk about. She’s pretty sure he and his friends started the poll. Kyle says he knows who started it, but he wasn’t there. Sharon says that eight guys have asked her out since the poll came out. Before the rankings, she wasn’t completely sure that Kyle actually likes her. Now she thinks he’s just been dating her because of her breasts. They’re done.

Angela and Patty go to the mall, where Angela can’t believe a guy at a skin-care counter thinks she has nice skin. He suggests that they get makeovers for the fashion show. He offers Patty a product for the lines around her eyes. She tries it out at home that night while Angela studies her own skin.

Patty tries to get Angela interested in the fabric for their outfits (while ignoring a much more interested Danielle), but Angela doesn’t want to be scrutinized right now. She doesn’t appreciate Patty’s recommendations for getting rid of her zit. Angela says she “may not” want to do the fashion show. Yeah, hon, that’s pretty obvious. Patty says she’s already put a lot of time and effort into it. Angela falls for the guilt trip. Danielle remains ignored.

Angela’s history class watches a speech by Malcolm X asking his audience who taught them to hate how they look. They’re the way God made them. In English, they’re still discussing The Metamorphosis. Angela passes Jordan in the hallway and feels self-conscious about her zit. She sees Rayanne surrounded by admirers, completely unconcerned about how she looks. Sharon holds something in front of her chest as she walks.

Kyle finds Sharon practicing her clarinet and takes off one of her shoes. Brian comes in, decides he’s interrupted something weird, and leaves. Rickie asks if he caught them kissing, or something more. Kyle promises to give Sharon her shoe back if she’ll listen to him. He promises he’s not interested in her just because of how she looks.

She asks why else he wanted to date her. Kyle says he likes her smile and her cheerfulness, and he thought she liked him. It’s not just those aspects, though; he likes everything about her. But he has to admit that he also likes her breasts. He wonders why she doesn’t. Sharon says she’s working on it.

Rickie tells Brian that he wears eyeliner because Egyptians thought it warded off evil spirits. He’s Catholic, though, and just likes how it looks. Angela obsesses over her zit, voicing over that it feels like it’s become the truth about her. She imagines the model from the magazine in the bathroom with her, criticizing her own appearance and complimenting Angela’s.

At the Chases’ house, Rayanne tells Angela to just pop the zit already and move on with her life. Angela worries that it’ll leave a scar. Rayanne tells her everything leaves a scar, including living. Rickie advises against concealer, which will just make Angela’s pores worse. He compliments Patty’s sewing skills, getting exactly the style she was going for.

Angela, however, hates the dress, and especially doesn’t like dressing the same as her mother. Patty doesn’t know why Angela’s uncomfortable with an activity she always enjoyed in the past. Why wouldn’t she want to dress up and look her best? Angela asks who she’d be dressing up for. Patty says it would just be for herself.

Angela blurts out that she’s ugly, and Patty needs to just face it. She thinks Patty looks at her like she agrees. Angela hates how Patty tells her to wash her face so she won’t get zits, as if Patty needs to fix her. She thinks Patty expects her to be beautiful because she herself is beautiful.

Patty tells Graham that she screwed the whole thing up. She took all the fun out of it and put too much pressure on Angela. Graham says she lost perspective because she got caught up in something. It’s as if she needed approval from people other than Graham. Patty hates the timing of making Angela feel worse about herself while she’s dealing with a zit and Sharon’s ranking. Graham blames himself for the acne, since Patty never had it in high school.

Patty says that, like all women, she’s becoming less attractive and more expendable as she ages. Graham and other men become more attractive and desirable. The trade-off is that men die sooner than women. Patty doesn’t think Graham knows how attractive he is. She wonders if anyone in the world really believes they’re beautiful. Graham picks RuPaul. Patty laughs because she didn’t think Graham even knew who RuPaul was.

Jordan asks Brian about the paragraph they’re supposed to write about “that bug guy.” He got an extension, and if he doesn’t turn it in, he’ll be sent back to remedial English. He asks how the book ends. Brian says Gregor’s family kills him. (Uh, spoiler.) Rickie’s present and gets interested in the conversation.

Brian explains that Gregor’s family is repulsed by him, so they turn on him. But really, he seems to die of loneliness. Rickie asks why Gregor doesn’t just leave. Sharon speaks up that Gregor is the same person inside, no matter what he looks like. Rickie says that he’d still leave if he were Gregor. Rayanne enters, seemingly drunk, and flirts with Brian. Jordan asks if The Metamorphosis was a true story.

Angela runs into Sharon in the bathroom again and they make awkward small talk about the fashion show. Sharon also wants to drop out but says Camille’s in denial about her participation. “Why do girls have to tear each other down?” she wonders. Angela thinks part of it is jealous. She admits that she’s a little jealous of Sharon’s chest. Sharon in turn is jealous of Angela for being flat.

She thinks it all goes back to what they once learned in Girl Scouts: What you have is God’s gift to you, and what you do with it is your gift to God. They reminisce about their time together in Girl Scouts until Rayanne enters. After Sharon leaves, Rayanne says that Angela can be friends with Sharon again if she wants. Angela denies it. Rayanne thinks Angela would prefer to hang out with the girl who hasn’t been branded a slut, at least not yet. Angela says that who Rayanne sleeps with is none of her business and has nothing to do with their friendship.

At home, Angela looks at the magazine model again, then tries to read The Metamorphosis, but Danielle keeps yelling a loud cheer about girls winning because they have sexy legs. Danielle knows Angela’s annoyed because of her disagreement with Patty. Angela says she doesn’t measure up to Patty. Danielle thinks she measures up even less, since she wasn’t even considered for the show.

Angela apologizes to Patty for wasting her time, but Patty says she may have needed Angela with her in the show too much. Angela looks at a picture of her mother when she was younger and asks if she loved being pretty. Patty says she didn’t really let herself know she was. She didn’t want to seem vain or stuck up. She wishes she’d been able to enjoy her beauty, and that’s all she wants for Angela. They hug, and Angela decides to try Patty’s zit treatment.

Patty says that Camille is going to find another mother/daughter team to model the dresses she made. Angela has a suggestion: Patty and Danielle. They have a great time, and Angela (now zitless) gets choked up watching them. She voices over that sometimes it feels like we’re all in prison, and the crime is hating ourselves. It’s nice to get dressed up and show the truth. People are complicated, but they’re beautiful, possibly even Angela.

Thoughts: I cringe every time Angela touches her zit. Stop doing that! You’re making it worse!

I like that Rickie and Brian are become friends. Brian really needs some.

Oh, hey, corduroy overalls. Haven’t seen you in a while. Can’t say your appearance was welcome.

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    Ahh, Kafka’s Metamorphosis was one of my favorite high school reads. I just loved how it didn’t have a happy ending for a change.

    I love seeing Ricky and Brian bond a bit more as the episodes go on. Brian doesn’t judge him for his choices (the eyeliner discussion was so cute) and Ricky clearly enjoys indulging in the lascivious observation of the Sharon/Kyle situation along with Brian. It’s a cute friendship to see blossom. It’s also nice to see how Patty is starting to warm to him, after his compliments on her dressmaking skills.

    You’d think Angela could relate to Sharon a bit about the poll and being pursued for it after the whole Jordan-sex-in-the-car-note debacle. That wasn’t Angela’s fault, and Sharon’s developments aren’t her fault either, yet both are/were being unusually pursued for them. I don’t know what I was focusing on at school when I was their age but it didn’t seem to occur to me at 15 that my classmates could actually be having sex with each other on the regular.

    The Kyle bit with the shoe was particularly charming, only because the kid seemed super genuine and their interaction was very cute. What a well-written little scene.

    I’ll admit it was enjoyable (in a bitchy and petty kind of way) to watch Patty struggle with aging, especially the scene with Camille who seems to be embracing it, particularly when you consider her high school years were evidently not all that great. Patty’s face in that scene was a bit of karma. Full disclosure: I was much more of a Camille than a Patty in high school. It just feels in this episode like Patty really misses the boat in terms of understanding anything at all about what it’s like to not be physically attractive, or at least not conventionally so. Not once did she actually say to Angela that she thinks Angela is absolutely gorgeous, or beautiful, or lovely, or even compliment any specific aspect of her appearance. The skin care guy at the mall was more complimentary than Patty ever was. She just seems so enraptured with her own physical beauty and can’t see beyond it. It’s really strange and in this episode in particular, I found it a bit infuriating, but maybe that’s the point — we’re supposed to think (maybe?) that she doesn’t actually believe her daughter is as beautiful as she is so of course she’s not going to say it. I mean, Angela believes this to be true, and Patty didn’t do anything to discourage it. She didn’t even think to ask Angela what makes her *feel* beautiful, like a makeover or a style of clothing or makeup type or hairstyle. It was all about what made Patty feel beautiful. Ugh. That picture of her on her bureau with her hair swept up was stunning, but who keeps pictures of themselves like that on their bureau? I guess if I looked like that once I would too. Maybe it was Graham’s idea. She was 28 in that photo, actually (41 when she was on the show).

    Maybe it’s the vintage ’90s “Return To Innocence” tune at the end, but I tear up right alongside Angela every time I watch that last scene. I love that Rayanne notices this, but doesn’t say anything, and she and Rickie (and Graham!) are having a grand old time at this weird little mother-daughter thing in support of their friend. I’d missed the end credits scene with them playing with all the dressmaking supplies but that was a terrific addition too. Damn, I missed this show. I was thinking the other day how the “Weekend” episode was one of my favorite little slice-of-life episodes of any tv series ever, one of those little confections where you really feel like you’re a part of the episode and are sad when it ends. Hard to explain, but I look forward to it all over again.


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