And we’ve finally made it to the end. Here is the very last episode of the season and all of those fun extras including a special look at the Wakefield family in turmoil, the battle for Liz’s heart, Jessica’s love curse and how Sweet Valley High tried to get serious at the end of the season. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again! (I hope.) 😛
The Perfect Size Six (Continued)
Episode 81 – “Friend Against Friend”: Andy Jenkins is a science genius, in a band, a good student, and an all around nice guy. He’s also black. His best friend is Neil Freemount. One day, Andy and Neil go to Andy’s locker and find it full of trash with a note that says, “Go back to Africa.” Neil is outraged and wants to go to the principal but Andy tells him to just leave it be and let him handle it his own way. Neil tells his girlfriend, Penny Ayala, and Elizabeth Wakefield. Both girls can’t believe something like this could happen in Sweet Valley and are upset. Neil’s dad has his good friend Mr. Cashman over. Mr. Cashman is ranting about their new supervisor and how he was only promoted because of that damn affirmative action. He says a bunch of racist things and Neil is horrified to see his father agreeing with him. The next day, Neil, Andy and their girlfriends, Penny and Tracy, are at the Dairi Burger when Tracy has to leave for work. Andy and Neil go outside first and see Charlie Cashman (Mr. Cashman’s son) and a few of his friends leering at them. Charlie tells Andy he is only getting this science award because he’s black. Andy ignores them and they meet the girls at Tracy’s car. All of Tracy’s tires are flat and Charlie and his goons are laughing loudly and then they take off. Tracy is also black. Neil takes Tracy to work so she won’t be late and offers to come back to help Andy with Tracy’s car, but Andy tells him he doesn’t need help from any white person. Andy won’t talk to Neil and the next week things are tense. Mr. Freemount keeps talking about how their boss is picking on Mr. Cashman who is ultimately fired because he keeps showing up to work late. Charlie comes over to Neil’s in an attempt to get away from his father and Neil feels sorry for him and agrees to go out with him for a drive. When they get back Neil feels guilty for hanging out with Charlie because of how he’s treating Andy. The next day at school Charlie tries to get Neil to hang out with him and his friends but Neil says no. Andy sees this and tells Neil he can’t hang around Cashman and still be his friend, they have a fight and aren’t talking again. The next day, Charlie trips Andy in the hall and they get into a big fight. Mr. Collins breaks it up and asks Neil if Charlie is picking on Andy because he is black. Neil doesn’t say anything. That night Neil and Penny see a movie but leave early because Neil is too upset about Andy. When they get to the parking lot, they see a crowd of guys shaking a car. Penny runs inside to call the police while Neil goes over to the crowd and discovers it is Charlie Cashman and his crew assaulting Andy. By the time Neil gets to them Andy is unconscious. Charlie tells Andy to take a swing because Andy has been treating him like crap. Suddenly, Neil is overcome by all the anger he feels towards Andy and hits him before he can stop himself. Then he freaks out, runs to his car and drives away, stranding Penny at the mall. A few minutes later, Neil pulls over and throws up. Neil is avoiding everyone, worried someone will find out what he did. Then his father surprises him with football tickets and during halftime he tells Neil that Neil shouldn’t have hit Andy when he was down, but he did the right thing. Andy deserved it. Neil is horrified his did is a racist and goes to Andy’s house as soon as they get back to Sweet Valley. Neil plans on coming clean, but when he gets there Andy apologizes for acting like such a jerk and wants to be friends again. Neil chickens out. Jessica’s sociology teacher conducts an experiment where all the students with blue and gray eyes are second-class citizens. They’re forced to sit in back and cannot talk or raise their hands and the other students can treat them however they want to. Everyone realizes how horrible it feels to be discriminated against and how easy it is to discriminate. Charlie approaches Neil and tells him that it’s time to teach Andy another lesson and if he doesn’t help, then Charlie will tell the cops it was Neil who beat up Andy. Charlie’s dad has already given Charlie an alibi. Neil finally comes clean to Andy and Penny and both of them storm off. Penny tells Neil he wasn’t who she thought he was and it looks like Neil just lost his best friend and his girlfriend. He drives around and ends up back at Sweet Valley High just in time to see Charlie and his gang walking toward Andy on the football field. Neil runs to join Andy. He tells Andy he is going to stand by him this time. Andy says it doesn’t change anything and Neil says he knows that, but he is going to always stand by Andy from now on. Neil tells Charlie that they’ll have to beat him up too and this makes them think twice about things and they leave. Neil and Andy walk off in opposite directions and it’s unclear if they’ll ever be friends again. Penny takes Neil back though.
The “Relationship” Season
This season may have seemed more juvenile compared to seasons past, but it has good reason: this season focused on the many relationships of those who call Sweet Valley home. And I know this may come as a shock, so I apologize, but these characters are not real. Even worse, they are not believable. Not even a little. The relationships are vain, shallow, volatile, dysfunctional, fickle… you know, it’s just like high school.
Most of the relationships centered on the Wakefield family, of course. Elizabeth had to choose between two boys she loved more than anything, and has to live with the terrible truth that she made the wrong choice. And Jessica, who fell in love for the first time at the end of last season, cheats on her man and then decides she can’t date him because she knows herself well enough to know she’ll cheat again and she loves him too much to do that. Of course, her perfect guy was a redhead, so she’s not going to come out of that unscathed. Both twins basically had the perfect guy, and they both cut that guy loose. And we get to see them suffer for it! Then of course the Wakefield family, the most perfect family ever to be thought up, goes through a rough patch and their parents separate because their mom got a fulltime job and their dad can’t handle that. Yep, I’m serious. Of course, they had to make it right in the end; this was just a gimmick to show the Wakefield family was vulnerable too. Transparent much?
But not all of the relationships were about the Wakefields, and there was a decent amount of non-Wakefield relationships that were highlighted this season. Whether it was family, friendships, or romantic entanglements this season was more about the characters of the series and their relationships with other characters rather than outlandish and melodramatic plot points. Don’t worry, from what I know of the next season this is a one-time deal and the outrageous melodramatic storylines will return next season. 😉
A Family Divided
Unbreakable is boring, and the ghostwriters of Sweet Valley High decided they needed to make the Wakefields more exciting and set them up as, wait for it… human. So Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield both get stupid and split up for no good reason. Mrs. Wakefield suddenly working fulltime while Mr. Wakefield doesn’t like being a lawyer are the two reasons that are focused on, but really after twenty years of marriage… it’s as hard to believe as the rest of their lives.
Mr. Wakefield moves out and the kids take sides even though no one is asking them to. Jessica is a daddy’s girl while Steven is a momma’s boy, and Elizabeth remains in the middle, trying to keep her family from falling apart forever… Jessica acts fine at first, even though she isn’t, but she gets over the idea of her coming from a broken home in just a single episode and tries to match up her parents with other people! It doesn’t work though and the more Jessica meddles the closer Mr. and Mrs. Wakefield become again. So, while it wasn’t Elizabeth’s fault they separated, perhaps it is Jessica’s fault, cough, I mean credit, that they got back together again!
Todd Versus Jeffrey
Elizabeth Wakefield was in a terrible relationship with a chauvinistic and possessive pig named Todd Wilkins. But he was also her first love… He moved away and though she pined, it was the best thing for her. Then she met Jeffrey French and they fell in love. Jeffrey was the perfect boyfriend. He was a good guy, but also trusted Liz completely, even when he shouldn’t have. In fact, sensible and reliable Elizabeth Wakefield was the unsteady one in their relationship. And then Todd moved back, and Liz had to make a choice: Todd or Jeffrey. This was a big deal and in fact, even demanded its own post detailing the pros and cons of each boy, relationships highlights and poll.
Of course, Elizabeth made the wrong choice and how did that go? Well, she and Todd have broken up several times since getting back together only for thirteen episodes (just over half a season). Elizabeth has doomed herself to a lifetime of feeling inferior to a man and having her heart ripped out and toyed with. Just think about all of the things you could be writing, Liz. The things you could do with that wasted time. Knowing you, you’d try to save the world, but you can’t because you have to figure out how to get Todd to take you back – again. Even if you can do better.
Jessica’s Slump a.k.a. Don’t F*ck Over A Redhead
Jessica Wakefield fell in love for the first time last season. The man who stole her heart was A.J. Morgan. A.J. was handsome, a good student, writer, and jock. He was also a redhead (we are pretty irresistible, you know). But alas, Jessica wasn’t mature enough for a monogamous relationship, which she figured out after she cheated on him with a guy who went psycho, stalked her and then tried to kidnap her, but got the wrong twin by mistake. Jessica didn’t want to hurt A.J. so she broke it off with him. It was a touching scene between the two of them, but Jessica never came clean with A.J. about what she had done. And Jessica still got to be queen of some ball, which was her main reason for waiting to break up with her redheaded prince.
While A.J. would never wish Jessica anything other than happiness, because he was a good guy, too good for her, Jessica has been cursed ever since. If you take a look at her love life post-A.J. Jessica has: fallen for a crazy guy who wants to kill her; gets shipwrecked on a deserted island with the biggest nerd in school; fallen for a rich guy who wants to be poor and homeless; tried to get with a couple of guys who just weren’t that interested; tried out internet dating which is a bust – even though she created two entirely different personalities to use on each guy she met; fallen for a dirty hippie whose first love is the environment, fallen for a guy she met on a teen party phone line who sends his hot friend to meet Jessica because he’s afraid he isn’t good-looking enough, but it doesn’t matter because both he and his friend ditch Jess for Amy Sutton anyway… And that about sums it up.
I think it’s safe to say this is more than just a slump. Jessica Wakefield is love-cursed! But she has no one to blame but herself. Not because she dumped a real prince, someone she didn’t deserve but loved her anyway… but because she messed around on a redhead. And we don’t play like that! 😛
It’s Your Time To Shine! Sweet Valley Super Stars
First Sweet Valley High gave you the Super Editions, stories that were longer and usually featured some sort of exotic travel. Then the series brought you the Super Thrillers, books that featured the twins working as interns for The Sweet Valley News while they get caught up in a bunch of murders over the summer. These books could have been one and the same, Super Editions and Super Thrillers are basically just longer stories – there is not that much more to them that makes them all that different. I mean regular books have covered vacations, murders, and abductions, so it really comes down to length.
But the “Super Star” editions are different in a big way. They are not twin-centric. Each Super Star is the same length as the Super Editions and Super Thrillers and it could be the same as these, except that the twins only play minor, minor characters while the books focus on other characters in the series. I mean it’s rare when you are able to not hear about the Wakefield twins until page 47! It’s a reason to celebrate. 😉
So far, we’ve heard from Lila Fowler and Bruce Patman and next season we’ll hear from two more characters when they get their time to shine outside of the sun that is the Wakefield twins. Thank you, season four – you finally gave us a break. 😛
Let’s Get Serious
Sweet Valley High is a not a series that takes itself very seriously, (at least I hope it doesn’t!) but it ended on a rather serious note. Racism and what it means to be prejudiced; hate crimes and a serious look at a serious problem…. This doesn’t sound like the Sweet Valley High I love to snark on! (For anyone who wants to read about the book in detail, what happens and how they handle race and racism, click here.)
The change of pace was, well interesting, but don’t worry – from what I can tell and from the books I’ve read before, I think Sweet Valley High is going to get back to its regularly-scheduled silliness rather than stay even a little serious. And I don’t think it’s going to go back to that place, at least not anytime soon.
And that does it for the fourth season of Sweet Valley High – the book series! Whew, I don’t know about you, but I’m wiped. No offense, to my favorite fictional twins, but I think I need a break from this Sweet Valley nonsense for awhile.
I wonder how long I can stay away though…