Title: Sweet Valley High S1.E04 “Critical Mess”
Released: 1994

Previous episode: “Skin and Bones”

Hello! Happy Tuesday! It’s SVH time!

So, the Royal Wedding between Formerly Hot Prince William and Princess Shinylocks is soon upon us. To celebrate, I have watched Lifetime’s William and Kate and written about it. Unfortunately this fine piece if television criticism has no home, because Sarah didn’t have the foresight to call this blog www.foreveryoungadultandroyalweddingcentral.com. Jeez. If only she had read the portentous signs that that Wills and Kate’s union heralded the End Times.

Credits: The other day on Jezebel, they posted an article about what it takes to make a 90s sitcom credits. The credits for this show meet pretty much all of the required rules, but I think they’re missing a few key components.

  • Someone should always be modelling a pantsuit or vest with pursed lips (Lila does this for us)

  • All main characters should be shown as active, sporty people, except for the one bookish person.

  • The one bookish person should be shown wearing either an ornamental sweater or overalls and possibly holding schoolbooks in their arms while smiling wistfully at the idea that he or she might somehow get a date sometime in the next century (Enid takes care of this for us. If my high school were the credits to a 90s tv show, I guess I’d be the Enid.)

  • Someone needs to look inappropriately aged for this show, most likely too old. Like Actually-it’s-Aaahndreeea Zuckerman on 90210.

  • More beach volleyball.

Here, don’t take my word for it!

Show! Jessica and Lila are storming into the Poor Substitute for the Dairi Burger, looking as if they are particularly bitchy models making it to their fourth successful go-see on America’s Next Top Model. And then probably what will happen is that they will win a lucrative modeling job based only on their ability to navigate around a city – AS IF ANY CITY IN WHICH ONE MODELS WOULD NOT HAVE PUBLIC TRANSPO – and then that will cause certain people called Erin to be very angry because they hate that particular model and her particularly awful bitchface.

I’m just sayin’.

Manny and Bruce are sitting at a table, eating what appears to be a metric ton of French fries. Bruce, you will be delighted to learn, is wearing: a green-and-white striped button down polo shirt that sort of looks like he just walked off the polo field AND the tiniest shorts known to man. Like, I’m pretty sure one, if not both, of his balls are flopping out of those shorts right now. Maybe actually all three balls are currently touching diner vinyl.

Manny wants to go, like, sky-diving or something with Bruce (okay, it’s volleyball) on Sunday, but Bruce has to pick up his big-time commercial director uncle. Surely big-time commercial directors can hire car services? Am I to believe that rich people do not hire car services for everything when they get rich? What is even the point of being rich if you cannot: a) hire car services everywhere, b) invent a stupid religion and c) make it rain at strip clubs?

Liz then tells Todd what she overheard (because Liz is a nosy, gossiping bint), only she tells Todd that Bruce’s uncle is actually a big-time movie director. Todd then goes and tells Winston that Bruce’s uncle is filming an action movie in Sweet Valley. I mean, I get where they’re going with this whole thing, and rumors and blah blah, but the thing is: people who either misrepresent or expand the truth are usually doing so out of a place of either boredom, repetition, or time elapsed from hearing the rumor. They don’t IMMEDIATELY start lying, unless they are pathological liars who are in training to become serial killers. This isn’t a game of Telephone purple elephant monkeypants. You know?

Winston thinks that maybe Bruce’s Uncle’s action movie will star Sarah Pitre favorite Keanu Reeves and also Brad Pitt. The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis, of course, overhears this and tells Enid (French braid! drink!) that the new movie will be starring Brad Pitt and Christian Slater! Aww, poor Keanu. Dissed for Christian Slater?? Well, I guess this was before Speed.

Enid bops over to Lila and Jessica and tells them that she’ll be starring in a movie with Brad Pitt and Christian Slater. Enid is talking incredibly fast. Obviously we are meant to think that she is peppy, but I think that perhaps the makers of this tv show did not take into account that Enid’s pep is 100% methamphetamine-manufactured. Lay off the powder, Enid. There’s still so much to live for!

Lila and Jessica both dismiss the silly rumors and breeze out of the Poor Replacement for the Dairi Burger to go shopping (even though they JUST got there like two minutes ago. That’s not enough time to binge, let alone purge.). But of course they immediately come running back in to Bruce, demanding that he introduce them to his uncle.

Jessica is wearing a shirt that is barely covering her boobs. AGAIN. Jessica and Lila discuss how they’re both in the upcoming school play (Jess is playing Lady Macbeth. Awww, my favorite role!) and offer to give Bruce’s uncle tickets and, presumably, post-play blow jobs, but Bruce tells them that his uncle isn’t arriving until after the play, and also to maybe chill it just a little.

I mean, look, I’m not the dress code police, but is this shit really school-appropriate?

Lila is wearing a beret. I’m just mentioning it, in case you’d like to drink.

Now it’s school time! Jessica is lurking around a corner until she goes up to some dude named Stephen, who mentions that he’ll be reviewing the school play. But Jessica offers him Pearl Jam tickets instead (oh, Pearl Jam. Remember when they were relevant?). Stephen takes the tickets, but looks confused and conflicted.

Since the mostly nameless Oracle reporter now has better things to do, it’s up to The Only Oracle Reporter Who Matters, namely Liz Wakefield, to review the school play. But her sister is starring in it! She isn’t sure she can be objective! Mr. Collins has faith in her. So do I! I’ve never known Elizabeth to let something silly like family loyalty get in the way of airing her fucking opinion all up and down the pages of the ridiculously popular Sweet Valley High newspaper!

In the halls, Winston has approached Lila and Jessica, and has informed Jess that, since he is playing Macbeth in the play, perhaps they should “get together and do what married people do.” I’m sure we’re meant to find this kind of dorkily charming, but please allow me to parse this into regular human language for you:

Winston: “So, Jessica. We’re both participating in this extracurricular activity. So I think we should get together and fuck.”

Charming, no?

Jessica suggests that Winston make like a husband and clean out her locker, pick up a magazine and take her cheerleading outfit to the cleaners. Winston “aw, rats!” himself off stage, because apparently he’s been taken over by a cast member from Leave it to Beaver.

Enid and The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis rush over, excited to have sold all the tickets for the play. They’re going to be a hit! Jessica is all, “No duh, I’m the star, remember?” and then tells them that Liz is reviewing the play and will assuredly give them a great review.

Jessica enters the Oracle office and stalks some poor nerd named Chuckie. Chuckie has his flannel shirt tucked into his white pants. I’m just sayin’. Jessica would like Chuckie to do her a favor and deliver a photo of her (and the photo is actually just a still of her from the last episode, posing on the Not Really a Beach in her awful fucking bikini), along with Liz’s review of the play, to Bruce’s uncle as soon as the paper goes to press. Chuckie’s all, “We’re not really supposed to . . .” (What? Hand-deliver papers?), but Jess promises him a signed copy of her photo as well. Chuckie squirts developer powder all over himself, because that’s what passes for ejaculation humor on this show.

Dear Jess, that picture is not the present you think it is.

It’s time for the school play! Liz is wearing a babydoll dress, so, DRINK! Also, remember that trend about wearing babydoll dresses OVER tshirts or other shirts? Man. I wonder why that trend died! It’s so flattering to absolutely every body, this look like someone has gotten dressed out of order and smushed down their chest into weird lumps!

Todd, meanwhile, is watching Macbeth so that he doesn’t have to read the Cliff Notes.

It’s time for the play. Winston is playing a very slapstick-y Macbeth. Because what comes to mind when I think of Macbeth is “funny guy who just wants to make jokes.”

Jessica actually gets Arsenio-style whoops for her entrance, but is overly dramatic with the whole thing. The audience laugh, thinking this is all part of the show.

Later, Jessica gets distracted during her “Out, out, damn spot!” monologue and flirts with a cute guy on the front row. Then she walks through the three witches’ scene.

Now it’s time for a musical montage! Jessica keeps popping up during scenes and preening. Todd, because he is too dumb to live, thinks this is actually how the play goes. Meanwhile, I’ve just decided that we should chug during all musical montages on this show. So rewind this shizz, fill up your drink, and get to it.

Lady Macbeth has better things to do than preen, Jess.

It’s the next day, and Lila, Winston, Jess, Enid and The Girl Who Is Called Amaryllis are all hanging around, wondering what Liz’s review will say. Lila is wearing a hat that was last seen on the Quaker Oaks guy. That hat deserves like 5 drinks, all on its own. Meanwhile, Enid’s got her sweater tied around her waist, so drink for that as well.

The paper is delivered and everyone reads it excitedly. Liz calls Jessica’s performance “overly performed and loosely interpreted,” even though everyone in the audience seemed to love Jessica’s antics. Typical Liz, sacrificing fun for the scholastic stick up her ass.

Jess (wearing a plaid mini-skirt, which shows that at least some things never go out of style) barges into the Oracle office, looking for Liz. Liz’s forehead eats her eyebrows as she basically ignores Jessica.

Nice thigh highs, Jess.

At the Shoddy Replacement for the Dairi Burger, Lila announces that she’s been cast in Bruce’s uncle’s film thing. Then she spills the dish about Jessica sending a photo to Bruce’s uncle.

At the Palatial Spanish-Tiled Wakefield Home, Jessica and Liz are still fighting. They storm into the kitchen and WHOA! WHOA! HOLD THE FUCKING PHONE. THERE ARE NO SPANISH TILES ANYWHERE IN THAT FUCKING KITCHEN!!! I AM INCENSED! HOW FUCKING DARE THEY??

Where the fuck are the Spanish tiles, Wakefields??

Ugh, I can barely even go on. Liz keeps trying to apologize to Jessica, but she isn’t trying to hear it. For identical twins, Jessica has much bigger boobs than Liz.

Jessica tells Liz that she ruined Jessica’s chances at stardom. Thanks a lot, Liz!

And now . . . holy shit, it’s the Power Rangers. Am I that drunk? What are the Power Rang – oh, wait, no. It’s just a Power Rangers-like homage. Lots of kicking of things, and stuff. They’re stunt people rehearsing for a scene outside of a studio.

Todd and Liz arrive in an effort to make things right. They meet up with Bruce’s uncle and starts in about how she knows that Bruce’s uncle hired Lila based on her review. UGH. So self-aggrandizing, Liz! And also your mom jeans are OUT OF CONTROL.

Bruce’s uncle is all, “Hold the phone, Chachi. I hired Lila cause she was the right height and she was on my doorstep. I never even read your dumb review.” Then he TRIES TO HIRE LIZ FOR A ROLE. Ugh. Liz offers up Jessica for a role.

At the Shoddy Replacement for the Dairi Burger, Lila is excited about her new role, while Jessica is envious. Jessica hides a “wet floor” sign as Lila walks by, and Lila trips and sprains her knee. She totally pulls a Nancy Kerrigan, all “Why me??” while Tanya Harding Jessica deviously eats a cherry. This show. This fucking show. It has these strange scenes in which it lampoons popular culture whilst also making disgusting references to the evil that resides in ladies owning their sexuality (a la Lady Macbeth, really). For like a minute. And then the other 23 minutes are about Enid’s hair.


Todd and Liz arrive at the Shoddy Replacement for the Dairi Burger and Liz tells Jessica that she got her a part. Jessica leaves before Liz can tell her that it’s a commercial, not a movie. Meanwhile, Lila limps out while demanding to speak to a doctor. Her mobile phone is nearly Zach Morris-like in its size.

At the commercial set, the cast of SVH are assembled around on director’s chairs to watch the shoot. Bruce is wearing a sports coat with “SVH” emblazened upon it, because he is rich and therefore does not have to abide by the fashion rules of mere mortals.

Jessica is having her hair and makeup done while she crows to The Girl Who is Called Amaryllis about Lila being injured. The Girl Who Is Called Amaryllis is wearing a beret today, I guess because Lila’s sick. Also, I’ve just noticed how broad the Daniels’ sisters shoulders are. Damn. Jessica could be a linebacker with those shoulders.

Lila shows up to set on crutches. Mr. Patman needs someone to dance! Jessica offers to dance instead! So Mr Patman switches their roles. Drink now, because we all know this isn’t going to work out for Jessica.

Jessica could play on the Colts, and then she and Peyton could make ManningFace at each other.

Indeed, Lila gets a long speaking part while Jessica, dressed as a tomato, dances around to a jingle.

Then Jessica smashes a boom mike out of anger. Professional! She’s basically just like Christian Bale!

Classy commercial, big time commercial director!

And that’s it for this week! What have we learned, class? Not to trip our friends, I guess. And also that Liz is an awful human being! So, basically, business as usual.

See you next week! Stay blonde; stay bitchy. Er, beachy. Stay beachy.

Erin is loud, foul-mouthed, an unrepentant lover of trashy movies and believes that champagne should be an every day drink.