So a couple of weeks ago, Megan No H sent me an email that consisted of the following sentence: "ERIN. HAVE YOU CHECKED YOUR MAIL TODAY?"
I was confused as to why she cared, because it's not like my failure to check my mail on time has ever led to missing out on a bill for three weeks and then having HER electricity shut off! (In case you're wondering, this is but one of many reasons why I'm not allowed to function in real life.)
So I checked my mail, just to calm down poor Megan, and GUESS WHAT WAS IN THERE?? The complete first season of the SWEET VALLEY HIGH TV SHOW.
I obviously freaked the eff out and made several coherent sounds that may have resembled a fish washed ashore, and Megan told me, "Don't think this if a gift. I demand recaps of this show."
Who am I to argue?
MAN, YOU GUYS. I definitely remember watching a few of these episodes when they first aired on UPN, cause that's totally how I rolled in 1992, but I was NOT PREPARED for the AMAZING 90s fashion and horrible acting that would greet me. I mean, hey. I watch iCarly, NOT IRONICALLY, so I know from bad acting, but THIS SHIZZ IS INSANE.
I guess the best thing to do is just dive right in. But wait, you may be thinking!! I've never seen this show! I won't know what you're talking about! Has that ever stopped you guys before?
CREDITS. There are rousing title credits that sort of look like Saved By The Bell: College Years and the original Bev Niners had a drunken hookup one night and then made a baby. It's all neon, there are people playing volleyball on the beach; I think you know what I mean.
We we we so excited, we so excited!
Of course, no show is complete without asinine lyrics that make you want to stab your ear drums with a sharp stick, so here are Sweet Valley High's:
Look right down any crowded hall
You'll see a beauty standing
Is she really everywhere or a reflectioooonnnn
One always calls out to you
The other's shy and quiet
Could there be two different girls who
Look the saaaame?
Sweet Valley, Sweet Valley Hiiiiiigh
And etc, etc.
Those lyrics just sound creepy. WHY ARE THE TWINS STALKING YOU THROUGH THE HALLWAYS??
Oh, look, it's Brittany and Cynthia Daniel! One of those girls still acts, but maybe in porn? Not really sure.
There's a girl who is just called Amaryllis. You know what that puts me in mind of? The Music Man. Now I have Wells Fargo Wagon stuck in my head. Fuck you, show. Fuck. You.
Also the guy playing Bruce looks like Crispin Glover's Choadier Cousin. Just sayin'.
Seriously, why is this?
Beach! Rollerblades! High-waisted shorts! Neon stuff! Everything old is new again.
Okay, the credits are over. That was exciting!! I'm not sure I have enough energy for the rest of the show, BUT I SHALL TRY TO POWER THROUGH.
It's the first scene and I already have the first Drinking Game rule: Drink anytime a character/situation is changed from the book. The reason I mention this is because Liz and Jess have just driven up in a JEEP, not a Fiat Spider. And yeah, I know, in later issues they drive a Jeep, but I WANT THE FIAT.
Liz and Jessica are showing up to A DANCE. You can tell who is whom because Jessica is dressed like a common whore.
Some girl approaches Jessica, Lila and Patty (who is played by The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis). Lila, by the way, is SO not dressed in Lissette's best fashions. And her hair has yet to be tossed dismissively. Unknown girl tells "Liz" that she voted for her for Useless Dance Royalty Position. Jessica's all "Um, Liz is over there" and the girl gets all offended, like, "Well you both just look so much alike" and stomps off, even though Jessica is full on wearing a Jessica McClintock business-casual suit which she has fashioned into a strip club outfit, and Liz is dressed like someone is about to have a garden party on her face. In what universe do they look alike?
Lila comments that Liz has cornered the "nerd" vote. In high school dances as in life, Lila.
Enid appears. She is dressed like a couch. Like an actual couch. Fucking Enid. I forgot how much I hated her in this show, because she was inescapable.
Enid and Liz are standing by the punch bowl. Liz is sad because she's broken up with Todd, or something. She catches him making ape eyes at her from across the way and pouts. (Seriously, ape eyes. Todd has the most protruding brow I've seen outside of Pan paniscus.)
The couch and the garden party go to tea.
Some random dude who may or may not be actually sporting a boner asks Jessica if they're still on for tomorrow night. Jessica says yes, "As long as you voted for me." The Daniel sister who is playing Jessica can not act. I like to think that the casting directors were like "Make the good actor play Liz! Jessica's character doesn't deserve any accolades!" Fuck you, casting directors! But also, joke's on you! Neither of them can act!
Also, let's add to the drinking game: one drink anytime Jessica says something in an unnecessarily bitchy way. For those keeping count at home, that's every single sentence she has uttered so far.
Also, I've just noticed that the Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis has an ORANGE SWEATSHIRT tied around her waist. AT A DANCE. Girl, no. NO.
Man. The acting in this show is groan-worthy. I can act better than this and, you guys, I always got the Narrator role in the school plays, because I CAN'T ACT.
Across the room, Todd, who looks pretty much EXACTLY the way you would think he'd look, down to the striped shirt, woven leather belt and baby blue tie, is bitching to Winston (who is wearing Harry Potter glasses and looks like he's 30) that Liz is still annoyed with him, just because he nominated her for Homecoming Queen without her permission. Man! Women! So picky about shit like that! Why can't they just sit back and let men run their lives for them, amirite?
Meanwhile, Liz is complaining to Enid that Todd is smothering her, and Enid's all, "I wouldn't mind being smothered by a guy like Todd!" Because Enid desperately wants to have sex again for the first time since she was 14, but she is dressed like a couch and it's never going to happen. People might have sex on Enid, but they aren't going to have sex with her.
Liz is all, "You just don't get it, Enid! Let me explain it to you in small words! Home! Coming! Queen!" Enid's all, "Why didn't you just pull out?" Well, Enid, first of all, then she wouldn't be able to be all self-righteous about the whole thing. And second, Liz doesn't understand what pulling out means, cause she's never let anyone's junk come near her precious ladybits.
Oh man, Jessica and Lila are "dancing" to the background "music." Only you can tell that the director told them to pretend like they were dancing even though no music was playing, and so they're sort of just moving their hips off-tempo from each other. The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis, meanwhile, is standing still, staring off into the distance. "Oh crap," she's thinking. "I think I forgot to leave my orange sweatshirt at home."
An awkward tableau.
Scott Daniels shows up to the dance! Date rapist Scott Daniels!! Except he has no mustache! This will not do!
Oh, man. Poor Man's Crispin Glover, i.e. Bruce Patman, shows up to announce the winner of the Homecoming Queen contest. He mentions all of the contestants: Amy Sutton, who looks like she's about one college semester away from switching her major to PE and becoming a softball coach; Liz, who blushes, and Jess, who preens like she's goddamn Tawny Kitaen and this is a Whitesnake video. Wrong decade, Jessica!
Liz wins, of course. Jessica is never allowed to triumph! Not ever!
There is an extra in the crowd wearing a dress I owned in fifth grade. Also, Amy Sutton is wearing, like, gardening clogs with her babydoll dress. (Addition to drinking game: Drink anytime anyone wears a babydoll dress. Currently I see four in this shot. And TWO people actually have their sweatshirts tied around their waists. Why did we ever think that was a good idea?) Liz, who didn't want to be homecoming queen, of course has a charming yet modest speech prepared.
I'd like to thank the little people.
Now it's time for the crowning of the Homecoming King. And it's Winston! He does some "jokes." They go over about as well as you'd expect. And now it's time for the Traditional Homecoming Dance.
Oh, look. Manuel Lopez is the dj. HOLY SHIT THIS DANCE IS CHOREOGRAPHED. What? Why? What? Is Freddie Prinze, Jr about to show up? This dance is wildly inappropriate for a high school. Both because it contains some truly awful dance moves but also because I just saw up Liz's front porch.
And now they're doing the robot? Or something?
I've noticed that Lila hasn't taken her hands off her hips all episode. Yes, we get it, Lila, you've got a tiny waist.
Winston asks Jessica to dance, which goes about as well as you'd expect. Meanwhile, Liz and Todd have problems! She doesn't want him to control her! Well, he doesn't feel like dancing!
Scott Daniels approaches Liz and asks her to dance. Scott Daniels has been hitting the 'roids, but still has not grown a mustache. WHERE IS HIS MUSTACHE? DRINK!!
I have noticed already that scenes aren't really brought to their natural conclusion on this show. They just sort of . . . stop.
The next morning, Liz is Doogie Howsering on her computer about how much she misses Todd, blah blah blah blondecakes. Jess comes in to show her some ad for Wonderbras. The ad appears to be in a magazine and yet I'd swear that Jessica's tits are actually the walking advertisement. Then Scott Daniels calls to ask Liz out. No one asks Scott if he's grown a mustache yet. And why is he asking Liz out? He's supposed to try to date rape Jessica!! THIS IS ALL WRONG!! DRINK!!
Obligatory cleavage shot for the kids.
At school, Enid is talking to Liz about the Eyes and Ears column. (Drink! Old drinking rules still apply! We're doing ALL THE DRINKING now!) Enid is dressed just like Tai when she goes to that party that Josh's friends throw and then Josh does her a solid by dancing with her because she's lonely. God I wish I were watching Clueless right now. Liz is wearing another babydoll dress. Drink!
Enid wants a boyfriend so that she can once again feel manly parts inside of her vagina. Ain't gonna happen, Enid. Ain't ever gonna happen.
Todd appears! He wants to make up with Liz. Except he's still not sure why she's mad at him, so she tells him she's going on a date with Scott Daniels. Instead of asking, "Has he grown his mustache yet?" as I would do, Todd just stomps off.
Wakefield residence. Jessica is on the phone with Scott Daniels, pretending to be Liz, and offering to meet him at his frat house for their date. Oh, that Jessica!
Later, Liz is showing off her date outfit to Jessica (babydoll dress, Drink!). I think we should also add a rule to drink anytime Jessica is baring her midriff, as she's doing now. Yet another 90s look that I'm glad has faded away. NO ONE WANTS TO SEE YOUR STOMACHS, PEOPLE. Unless you are Ryan Reynolds. Do your abs look like Ryan Reynolds? No? Then PUT A SHIRT ON. Anyway, Jessica offers Liz a (slightly) cooler jacket to wear and shoos her into the bathroom to put on more makeup. Then Jess puts on Liz's discarded cardigan.
It's a frat house! You can tell because there are empty cans of beer on the ground, a sheet hanging up which announces that there is a "Party Tonight" and also the stench of imminent rape. Jessica has come (as Liz) to meet Scott Daniels. Her boobs are super out of control, damn.
Scott Daniels, still sans mustache, offers Jessica a beer. She asks for diet cola instead, because both Wakefield girls are total squares.
At the Wakefield Palatial Spanish-Tiled Manor, Liz is fed up of being stood up and stomps off.
Meanwhile, at the frat house, Scott Daniels (still no mustache) and Jessica are dancing in a way I can not adequately describe.Words have not yet been invented for this style of dancing. Instead, I must show you the Youtube video:
The dancing appears about 1 min 40 seconds in. Enjoy.
Todd is busy throwing darts at some tree that has his and Liz's initials carved in it. Liz appears! Todd always makes her decisions for her! They need to communicate! And be equal partners! Babydoll dresses! Other 90s terms! Then they kiss, fucking hooray for them.
At the Frat House of Imminent Date Rape, Jessica (pretending to be Liz) is trying to convince Scott Daniels to grow a mustache and date her sister, Jessica. Scott runs off to fetch another drink and, hopefully, some facial hair serum.
At something called the Moon Beach Cafe, which is clearly trying to replace The Dairi Burger (therefore, DRINK!), Lila is dressed like a French foreign exchange student who has lived in a bubble all her life. Like, seriously, she's wearing what look to be pleated skorts. WHY IS THIS HAPPENING, LILA?? Anyway, she's excited to tell everyone (The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis, Winston and Enid) that she has found out the author of Eyes and Ears (drink!). It's Liz! Who has just shown up with Todd, actually. And they're getting all handsy, as if that is appropriate for a Dairi Burger Replacement Restaurant. Lila storms off because no one believes that Liz could be the author of Eyes and Ears.
Then some drunk frat dude comes in and mistakes Liz for, well, herself. Liz and Todd realize that Jessica has been at the frat party, posing as Liz! SCANDAL.
Meanwhile, at said Frat House of Imminent Date Rape, Scott Daniels is spiking Jessica's coke with some Seagrams or something. Then he starts step two of Imminent Date Rape, the "casual" hands-on approach to Jessica's knees. She dumps her drink on him and storms out.
What's with the chair rail on the wall?
As Jessica is storming out, Liz and Todd are driving up in the Not-Fiat. Liz is all snarky to Jessica until she sees how upset Jess is about having Scott Daniels' non-mustached grabby hands on her. They drive home.
At the Palatial Wakefield Spanish-Tiled Manor, Jessica and Liz make up. OR DO THEY?
Oh, quit pouting, Liz, you toddler.
At school the next day (? Who knows? The tv show has adopted the book's philosophy of existing in a time vacuum), Liz "accidentally" spills grape juice on Jessica's white tank top. So she offers her a cardigan (conveniently tied around her waist, of course), and, of course, everyone comes to cart "Elizabeth" off to dump her in the pool. The Eyes and Ears Pool must have its sacrifice!! Liz and Todd laugh with mirth at Jessica's predicament.
Anyway, you would THINK that Liz would consider the fact that her sister was almost date raped as reason not to, I dunno, have her picked up and carted off to be dunked in a pool, but Liz is the worst human being alive, so.
And that's the ENTIRE SHOW. It may only have lasted like five minutes? Or five hundred minutes? I measured it in "Time I Could Be Spending Watching Party Down," so I think the episode actually lasted One Bazillion Precious Henry!Face Moments. Who knows how much human time that is?
But, never fear, FYA! We'll be back next week with a recap for Episode 2 of Sweet Valley High TV. WHAT WILL HAPPEN? Will someone listen to Ace of Base while rocking multiple Swatches? WHO KNOWS?
(And, not to fear, our recap of Sweet Valley Confidential will be up THIS WEEK!)