November 2, 2019

My So-Called Life 10, Other People’s Mothers: Prisoners of Happiness

Posted in TV tagged , , at 1:16 pm by Jenn


Summary: Rickie and Rayanne are at the Chases’ house, where Rayanne is waxing poetic about refrigerators. She says that the Chases’ fridge tells her all she needs to know about the family. She also thinks mustard is somehow related to sex. Rayanne snags a beer from the fridge and the conversation continues as the kids head up to Angela’s room. Rickie says there’s an empty mayo jar in his fridge, but no one will admit it’s empty. Angela says her mother won’t throw anything away.

Patty and Danielle come home, and Danielle sees Rickie holding Rayanne’s beer. Patty sends her outside, so Danielle complains that her life is “totally edited.” Rickie hands the beer over to Patty and promises this won’t happen again. Patty tries to give the kids an anti-alcohol speech but can’t get the words out. She pulls Angela into the kitchen for a lecture. Rickie’s upset that now Patty hates him. Rayanne says she never liked him that much to begin with, so it’s okay. Patty would never give anyone a break. It’s obvious by her vegetable bin.

Patty tells Angela that Chuck is in the hospital for some tests, but he’ll be out in time for anniversary party that weekend. Then she tells Angela to never let Patty catch her drinking in the house again. Angela argues that she wasn’t drinking, but the message stands. Rayanne decides they’ll hang out at her house the next day.

Angela makes her first visit to Rayanne and Amber’s place, which she compares to entering another country (though she’s never been out of the U.S.). There are beads and crystals everywhere, which says more to me about the family than Angela’s fridge could ever say. Rayanne is thrilled to get a birthday card from her father, along with some money. Amber is even more thrilled to finally meet Angela. Angela immediately loves her.

Amber, an x-ray tech, is constantly happy and always trying to live life to the fullest. She brings out some tarot cards and gives some insights into Patty’s attitude. Angela thinks that Patty has abandonment issues, since she was adopted. Rickie says he has them, too. Amber says Angela is covered by the moon, which is a deadly mother, like a wicked witch. It may mean that one door opens and another closes.

Angela calls home just as Patty and her mother, Vivian, are arriving. Patty wants Angela home for dinner, but Vivian tells her to let Angela stay at Rayanne’s. Clearly, Patty and Vivian don’t get along any better than Angela and Patty do. Vivian worries that Chuck won’t be well enough for the party. Plus, he’s diabetic, and the fondue restaurant they’re going to could prepare something badly. Patty says they can call off the party if she wants, but Vivian knows Chuck will be disappointed if they do. She suggests moving the party somewhere else, like the Chases’ house. But she could never do that to Patty, of course.

Patty goes up to her bedroom and begs Graham to help her with her mother. Graham tells her to stand up to Vivian. Patty tells him he’s naïve. There are papers all over the bed, and Patty tries to figure out what Graham’s up to. He says he’s looking into some jobs and thinking about his goals. He doesn’t want Patty to get enthusiastic just yet. She asks him to go downstairs to entertain Vivian; she would do the same for him. Graham says he enjoyed his mother’s company before her death, so Patty would never have to entertain her. He finally goes downstairs when Vivian yells up that she’s just going to look around the kitchen.

Angela is impressed with Amber’s tarot reading and asks how she learned to do it. Amber offers to loan her the book she used to teach herself. Patty arrives to get Angela and puts on a happy face. Rayanne considers sending back the money her father gave her. Amber learns that Patty is hosting her parents’ party and says it’ll be a great way for her to work through her issues about being adopted. “I think I might’ve given up a baby in a past life,” she says. She loans Angela the book and some cards.

The next morning, Angela practices by using the cards on Danielle. Patty asks her to help decorate and clean for the party. Angela scoffs at the idea of being asked to move furniture. Danielle anticipates that Vivian will drive everyone crazy like she did at Thanksgiving. Patty has found a recipe for no-fat chicken, but Graham tells her she can’t cook chicken without the skin. Patty’s trying to stay optimistic, but she’ll need her family’s help to pull off the party. Angela tells her that life is for living, obviously something she heard from Amber.

At school, Rickie’s back to hanging out in the girls’ bathroom. Sharon’s having a bad hair day, so Rayanne gives her some mousse. Her dad’s money falls out of her bag, but Rayanne doesn’t care. Rickie guesses that she’s been drinking. She tries to give Rickie the money, saying she doesn’t deserve it. Rickie tells her to think about something she really needs, like new makeup or CDs, and spend the money on it. Rayanne decides to throw an endless party instead. There’ll be so much going on that they’ll be prisoners of happiness.

Vivian brings some things by the Chases’ house, delaying Patty as she’s leaving for a meeting. Vivian says Patty can go about her day and let Vivian do whatever she needs in the house. Patty warns her that Graham gets “emotional” about food when he’s cooking, so Vivian should let him handle all that. Vivian says she’s just providing a turkey.

Rayanne and Rickie spread word about her party, and she uses some of her money to get booze and drugs. Sharon watches her running around drunkenly, clearly headed for disaster. At the Chases’, Graham is sad about the turkey and can’t stop staring at it. Rayanne’s party has become such a big deal that some girl at school tells Rayanne she thinks she can get her in. Rayanne tells Angela that she was just invited to her own house.

Angela realizes that the party is set for the next night, when her grandparents’ party is taking place. She offers to help Rayanne get ready anyway, maybe by moving furniture. Rayanne drinks more alcohol as she, Angela, and Rickie decorate. Amber’s rules for the party: no eating on her bed, don’t let things get out of control, and don’t make too much noise. Drinking is okay. Angela is totally in love.

Danielle uses Amber’s tarot cards as Patty regrets agreeing to host the party. Vivian calls, and just as Patty is about to try to cancel the party, Vivian tells her that Chuck is out of the hospital and healthy. Now Patty can’t come up with a reason to cancel. It’s almost time for Angela to leave, but Amber suggests that she find a way to attend both parties. She needs to go where her karma takes her. Angela doesn’t think Patty will agree to that.

She goes home, where Patty’s decorating so she can tend to other things in the morning. Angela brings up Rayanne’s party, which she says is for Rayanne’s birthday. She asks if she can attend her grandparents’ party for a while, then go to Rayanne’s. Patty’s upset that Angela told Amber about her life. She tells Angela that she needs to be at the family party. Angela says the karma in the house is ridiculous. I don’t think she knows what karma is. Anyway, Patty says she won’t be going to Rayanne’s.

The next night, both parties begin, and one is going to be much more lively than the other. Also, Chuck didn’t want to come to his own anniversary party, so Vivian arrives alone. She thinks it’s for the best; she can never enjoy herself fully while he’s arrive. Graham is annoyed that he cooked a special non-fat, sugar-free meal to accommodate someone who isn’t even coming. Danielle whines about hating her dress and wishing she was dead. When Patty calls her on that, Danielle asks if Angela is the only person in the house who’s allowed to have feelings.

Angela watches from upstairs as guests start arriving. She voices over that Patty might be better at being happy for real if she didn’t fake it so well. Over at Rayanne’s, everyone’s having a good time except Rickie, who’s concerned about some of the guests they don’t know. Danielle changes clothes and braids her hair, making Vivian say she looks like Pippi Longstocking. Danielle decides to change again.

Angela still hasn’t made an appearance, so Patty goes to get her from her room. She’s wearing a Rayanne-like outfit and tells Patty she thinks she’s going to the other party. Somehow, Patty doesn’t say, “Oh, you THINK you are, do you?” Instead, she just goes back downstairs and puts her happy face back on. Yeah, I guess it’s best not to murder your daughter when there are so many people in the house.

Rickie catches Rayanne taking some pills, but she ignores his disapproval. Vivian tries to season the chicken, but Graham stops her. He tells her to do whatever she wants to her turkey as long as she leaves his chicken alone. Angela finally comes down, and Vivian tells Patty to stop worrying about her outfit and let her wear what she wants. Angela complains that she has to stay at the party when Chuck didn’t even come. Vivian tells her she can go do her own thing if she wants.

Patty argues that staying there would be doing what’s right. Vivian backs up Angela’s decision to go to her best friend’s party (though Patty denies that Rayanne is Angela’s best friend). Patty complains that Angela wants to go to Amber’s house, where there are no rules and Rickie can drink beer. Angela says he doesn’t drink and accuses Patty of hating Rayanne on sight. Patty admits that she doesn’t think Rayanne is the right friend for Angela.

Angela goes to Rayanne’s and tries to have fun. Rickie’s trying, too, but is still keeping an eye on Rayanne, who’s really drunk now. Rayanne is thrilled to see Angela and hugs her tightly. They fall over and some tarot cards get spilled. Rickie comes over as Rayanne starts babbling about getting a tattoo. Rickie assures Angela that Rayanne will be fine eventually; this happens all the time.

Amber decides that things have gotten out of control and kicks everyone out. Rayanne’s in her bedroom with a guy who’s ready to give her a tattoo. Amber yells at Rayanne for throwing a bigger party than she’d let on. She’s displeased that Rayanne drank too much; Amber talked to her before about moderation. She heads off for a date, telling Rayanne to have everything cleaned up by the time she gets home.

Rayanne drunkenly tells Rickie she loves him, then says she’s cold. He cries and rocks her, saying everything’s okay. He and Angela take Rayanne to the bathroom to get some water and try to keep her awake. Distressed, Rickie says he’s never seen her like this and doesn’t know what to do. Angela does – she calls her mother. Vivian answers the phone, but Patty seems to sense who’s calling. Angela calls her Mommy and says she needs her. Vivian tells Patty to go tend to her.

Patty calls an ambulance on her way to Rayanne’s, then immediately takes charge. Rickie says she took ecstasy but still has a pill left. Patty asks him to find the remaining pill. She gives it to the paramedics who come to take Rayanne to the hospital. In the waiting room, Rickie brings Patty some chips and thanks her for her help. He asks if she’s ever tried to protect someone so much that it hurt. Patty realizes that the beer she saw him holding the other day wasn’t his.

Rayanne is stabilized, and she’s asleep when Amber arrives, distraught that her daughter is in such bad shape. The police have some questions, which concerns Angela. Patty says they’re just filling out reports. She invites Rickie to come to the Chases’ “very dull party.” When they get home, Patty sends Rickie inside and stays in the car with Angela, who expresses regret at screwing things up for Patty. But Patty’s happy that Angela called her when she needed help.

Patty says that her college roommate was a lot like Rayanne. The same thing happened the roommate that happened to Rayanne, which is how Patty knew what to do. Unfortunately, the roommate died. Patty liked her roommate, and she’s worried that Angela is seeing the good things in Rayanne without thinking about reality. She guesses that forbidding Angela from seeing Rayanne wouldn’t work. Angela asks Patty to trust her. Patty says she does.

Angela heads inside to rescue Rickie from having to spend time with their family. But Rickie’s having a great time being doted on by Vivian. Patty cries in the car, then puts herself together and returns to the house. Her mother gives her a nice hug, as if everything’s okay between them.

Angela voices over about tarot cards and what they depict. They represent tests, challenges, and twists of fate. Cards can be good or bad depending on where they fall; none is all good or all bad. When you do a reading, someone thinks of a question. Each card moves to the next, from terror to loss to good fortune: “Out of darkness, hope is born.”

Thoughts: I can’t believe I would pick Patty over anyone in this category, but I would rather have her as a mother than Vivian.

Who knew Patty was so good in an emergency?

If you played a drinking game where you drank every time Patty put on her fake smile, you’d end up in the hospital with Rayanne.

’90s music alert: “Fall Down” by Toad the Wet Sprocket

1 Comment »

  1. Nick Rivers said,

    This was a good episode to showcase some of Patty’s lesser-known talents. We see a lot of her being critical of her family members, but when she came through for Angela without any negativity, I thought that was a great storyline. Providing her with the background of a doomed college roommate also gives a lot more context into her reluctance to accept Rayanne in her daughter’s life.

    I’ve mentioned on some of the ER recaps that I love the episodes where crisis management comes to the forefront and this episode falls right in line with that. I think Patty sold herself short by working some management job for a printing press when in reality she would have been better in a more organizational leadership role, especially one that routinely faces crises. I just loved how she switched into Take Charge Mode as soon as she took the phone from her mother… and how Vivian recognized immediately not to mess with Patty in this mode or second-guess anything she was about to do. (Did Amber ever thank Patty for saving her daughter’s life, btw?)

    Speaking of whom, flighty-ass Amber was perfectly played and gives a lot of insight into Rayanne herself… plus the fact that she too immediately fell in love with Angela speaks a lot about how similar she is to her daughter. Her reaction upon arrival at the hospital was just what you’d expect from a melodramatic person who doesn’t grasp the enormity of the issue. “What a night!” as if it’s just some sort of anomaly that’ll blow over like they always do, versus a reaction of “Omg my daughter nearly died and my life as I know it needs to change to protect her going forward”… everything changed in that moment for Angela (though Patty naturally suspected it was coming) with regards to her friendship with Rayanne, but for Amber it was just one wild Saturday night. I hope CPS was part of the conversations the police were about to have with her, though it doesn’t seem like it went that far.

    I know later on Rickie faces homelessness problems and I wonder why Amber never asked him to come live with her and Rayanne. Rayanne had to know about it all… or maybe she didn’t, because if she did, she would have insisted he stay with her. I’ll have to wait for those eps to find out again.

    Watching the way Vivian is with Patty vs how Chuck was with Patty was telling, too. The fact that Vivian was okay (on the surface) with Chuck ditching on his own damn anniversary party tells me that Chuck is the domineering one in the family, which is why Vivian dominates Patty when she’s alone with her. And why Patty dominates everyone else in her life when her parents aren’t around. The fact that Chuck was allowed to bail on his party and it still went on? What the fuck was that. Why is that sort of rude, assholish behavior allowable?

    Separately, why wasn’t Angela shown anywhere as Rayanne was in the parking lot dancing around drunkenly with the flyers for her party? Only Sharon and Rickie were looking on with concern… but Angela was nowhere to be seen, which is odd.

    Danielle was actually amusing in this one as the only person with the balls to stand up to Vivian.

    Rickie was heartbreaking in this one as the enabler who clearly loves the person in crisis but doesn’t feel empowered to try to stop her. I just love that Patty brought him home to the party with her and Angela, though. And their little talk in the car was perfect.

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