Title: Sweet Valley High S1.E05 “What, Me Study?”
Released: 1994

Previous episode: “Skin and Bones”

Guys, I have the worst news EVER. No, it’s not that I went on a rapid Facebook defriending spree, kicking out all of the people who got all butthurt that Obama made fun of Donald Trump. That actually felt AMAZING. I should do that more often. It’s like exfoliation for the soul.

No, my bad news is that MY DVD PLAYER IS BROKEN. This is sadfaces times infinity, because my trusty DVD player has been with me for six years AND it’s dual-region. I first watched Spaced on that DVD player. That DVD player let me switch from The O.C. to Skins without missing a beat. I used to actually pack the DVD player up and bring it to other people’s houses and sit them down and be like, “Please to let me introduce you to the Mighty Boosh. YOU ARE WELCOME IN ADVANCE.”

Of course, had this happened three years ago, I would have just immediately run out to buy a new one, but now with Netflix Streaming . . . do I really NEED a DVD player anymore? I mean, I have all of these DVDs, shelves of them, but I can’t tell you the last time I watched one of them. I either watch them on Netflix or on my computer (through completely legal means, obvs). Is this the end of the DVD player?

Heck, even Sweet Valley High, it turns out, is on Youtube. At least until some lawyer threatens to sue them via comment on an internet blog, I guess.

That said, because SVH is on Youtube, I didn’t have an excuse to just feck off and watch Titanic 2 (which, YES, is a thing, and which, YES, I totally plan on watching on Netflix as soon as I finish typing this post). So, I guess let’s see what the built-like-running-back blondes are up to.

Credits. Somehow the credits are even cheesier on my computer. Maybe it’s because, in 1994, I totally thought these credits were baller but never dreamed I’d be able to sit in my living room and watch them on a computer that sat on my LAP. And then talk about them on the World Wide Web! Where are my cables? Where is Prodigy and AOL? I haven’t dialed up to anything! Beeeeeeeeeeep eep boop eep boop beep!

It’s school! The World’s Worst Cheerleaders are doing a cheer! “Hey! Hey you! Better move, we’re coming through!” Okay, I mean, I don’t know a whole lot about being a cheerleader – Cheerleaders are the natural enemy of the Drill Team – but MY GOD, is this what passes for a cheer around these parts? I mean, I watch the ESPN National Cheerleading Competition every year, which is not a little creepy for a grown-ass woman of 31, but those girls and guys are awesome and do all these stunts and, like, will kick you in the face while doing a Liberty and then tie your bowtie with their feet while coming down in a twisty basket catch. And I get that not everyone is cool enough to go to Ranch Meat High School, but STILL. A little professionalism, Sweet Valley High Cheer Squad, if you please.

“Watermelon, watermelon, watermelon rind! Look at the scoreboard and see who’s behind!”

Jessica is SUPER excited and proud of her cheer. I should probably show this show to my daughter, who has of late started coming up with cheers on the playground at recess and then coming home to show them to me and THEN saying that she wishes she were a cheerleader EVEN THOUGH I totally drove her to cheer practice last year for months and then she decided she didn’t want to do it again but WHATEVER, KID. I should show this to her because her cheers are WAY better. I mean, she hasn’t managed to work in “polypeptidenymphorectalism” like I’ve asked, but they’re still pretty good. Better than this show’s, at any rate.

(And if you’re wondering why I don’t let her watch this show, it’s the same reason why I have completely barred her from knowing that Toddlers and Tiaras even EXISTS. She will want to BE THESE PEOPLE if I let her. Therefore, as far as my kid is concerned, there are only four television shows on TV at all: iCarly, Spongebob, 10 Things I Hate About You* and David Attenborough-narrated Nature programs.)

*Adorably, when they cancelled the show, she wanted to write A LETTER to ABC Family to ask them why they were “being so mean.” Also she has this enormous crush on Patrick and I’m all, “Get in line, kid!” Or at least I am for a few minutes, and then I realize that it’s creepy that my child and I both think the same dude is hot.

Jessica is all worried because if she doesn’t ace Mr. Russo’s next chemistry test, she’s on Academic Probation. Jessica gets all butthurt about it, like, how dare they make me be scholastic? Uh, cause getting good grades is your JOB, Jessica.

The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis leads the rest of the cheerleaders away so that Jessica can study. Jess pouts.

In the Oracle offices, they are playing straight up porn music on the soundtrack while Winston pulls an Alex Keaton and rolls around on his desk chair. He hacks into Mr. Russo’s personal files. The screens he goes through while hacking, bee tee dubs, have smiley faces on them and say things like “PERSONAL and CONFIDENTIAL.” Boy, obvs my computer security has been lacking, what with the two passwords and fingerprint ID.

Winston looks through test questions and then comes across a love letter addressed to “Rosemary.” Because Winston is a giant douche on this show, he prints out the letter and cackles with glee. I get more wine.

Oh, Christ. So Enid (hair half-up/half-down. The half-up part is braided, so allow yourself half a drink.) and Liz walk over to Liz’s locker, which is decorated in, like, a GIANT PINK BOW that you might find at your local Walgreens pharmacy, PLUS a photo of her and Todd that says “Happy Anniversary!” Christ Almighty. Dear future boyfriends of the world: We, the undersigned ladies, want no part of your Anniversary Locker Shenanigans. Signed, All of us.

The face of a lady in love?

Liz panics because she has totally forgotten about her and Todd’s anniversary, as if Liz isn’t the type to not only remember said anniversary, but to drop tiny hints about it every day leading up to it for weeks. I am the type of person who forgets anniversaries, not Liz. Liz is organized and has several desk calendars – I usually have to ask my coworkers what day it is. You know that awful cell phone commercial where the guy is working late (because he is important! and has an important job! because he is the boy!) and his girlfriend/wife calls him and is all “Haaaaapppy Anniversary!” and he has totally forgotten but, lo, using the power of his smartphone with its 3G coverage, he can book dinner reservations and then tell her he’s got it covered? Yeah. I would be that guy. Only instead what would happen is that my boyfriend/husband would call me to wish me an Anniversary, but the call would go unanswered because I would have either left my phone at home or dropped it in a toilet by accident. And then I would come strolling in around 10 pm, having worked late as usual, and plop myself onto the couch, scratch inappropriately, and ask him to get me a beer. Because I am totally the Al Bundy of girlfriends; I swear to you.

Liz, because she is the Heinous Bitchfaces of Girlfriends, not only forgets but then tells Todd that it’s actually HIS fault for “miscalculating” their anniversary. Todd looks crestfallen. This bitch is supposed to be the GOOD one?

Winston and Jessica both approach, from opposite sides of the screen (I wonder how long it took them to block that particular intricacy) and Winston tells everyone that Mr. Russo and Chrome Dome Cooper’s secretary are an item. Liz gets all uppity about it, like, “This is personal!” but of course Jessica already has her scheming face on. Drink!

What’s with the cheer uniforms, btw? What is this, 1964?

Oh, Jesus. Enid is over at the Palatial Spanish-Tiled Wakefield Manor, her attention focused on some type of QVC show while Liz complains about forgetting her anniversary. Enid looks a little bit like a tarsier here. Her eyes just dart-dart-dart back and forth. Maybe if we give her an orange peel she’ll get distracted and go away.

She looks a bit like a cocker spaniel, no?

Liz is just telling Enid that she has to get Todd something really special for their anniversary when the announcer comes on to say that they have signed Shaquille O’Neal cards for sale. “That’s it,” Liz breathes. Man. If she’s that excited in 1994, think how excited she’ll be to go to a Justin Bieber concert featuring Shaq.

Perfecting blow job mouth for Justin Bieber concert.

At the Shoddy Replacement for the Dairi Burger, Winston is going around handing out photocopies of Mr Russo’s love letter, because Winston is in training for Grand Wizard of The Knights of the Ku Klux Douche. Jessica comes in and flirts heavily with him whilst wearing a business suit. What the fuck is with all the suits? Though I actually do remember that trend. It was Heather Locklear’s fault because she wore them on Melrose Place and she was such an awesome BAMF that everyone wanted to dress like her. Even 16-year-olds. I had several suits during that time, because right after Melrose Place came The X-Files, with an actual feminist icon, and I wanted to be just like Scully (only not as much of a sadsack; I would have wooed Mulder after, like, week one of knowing him). Here’s a ponderance: I can name, off the top of my head, like 10 tv shows with kickass female leads and twice that number of crazy-popular grrrl bands and stand-up comediennes and actresses. Right now I can name, like . . . three. I’m so tired of Dudebro Culture; can we go back to the 90s please?

Anyway, Jess is laying it on thicker than the cholesterol clogging my arteries. I’m surprised that Winston’s penis doesn’t actually take up the lower half of the frame with how excited it must now be.

She is going to EAT YOUR BRAINS Winston!!

In the next scene, Jessica and Winston’s Erect Penis have migrated over to the Palatial Spanish-Tiled Wakefield Home, where they are ostensibly studying. Jessica asks Winston to get her a drink – IN HER OWN HOME – and he happily does so while she desperately tries to find Mr. Russo’s password in his stuff, to no avail.

Then Liz comes home and makes it all about her for a while as she worries that Todd’s signed Shaq card has yet to arrive. I hear ya, Liz. I ordered some Lush last week and I was on pins and fuckin needles until that shit came in. That must be how the druggies in my college dorm felt when they’d order mushrooms delivered to Room 107 (a bathroom). I sorted the mail, so they all had to be really nice to me if they didn’t want me to misplace their stuff. That’s how you make friends, kids! Hide the things that the druggie wants! (I’m just kidding! That’s NOT how you make friends! Please don’t do this; you will get knifed.)

Jessica tells Winston that they’re leaving and they make their way to the Oracle office. Jessica lays down some jive about how computers turn her on and Winston picks it up because nerds don’t understand anything about sex or flirting, ever. Then Jessica does the patented Get A Nerd To Do What You Want move, i.e. stands behind Winston (seated at the computer) and rubs his shoulder/presses her breasts against his back. I ain’t gonna lie; that’s how I used to get printers mapped in college. Look, it works alright? But then what happens is you have a nerd that follows you around for weeks afterward, just popping up unexpectantly at your English class or a movie you are seeing with friends, sporting an oversized sweater and an undersized boner. And it takes a lot of talking to extract yourself from that situation, so really, it’s just easier to learn how to do your IT stuff yourself. Just go to Start->Control Panel->Printers and Faxes and select Add a Printer. Very easy, I promise.

Not worth it, Jess.

Jessica gets a devious look on her face as Winston logs into Russo’s account. Drink!

At the Palatial Spanish-Tiled Wakefield Home, Liz (wearing a babydoll dress. Drink!) is on the phone with the QVC people, upset that the card isn’t coming till next Friday. Then Todd shows up to give her an anniversary present and she tells Todd, YET AGAIN, that it’s not their anniversary yet. And he totally buys it.

Oh. And that reminds me. You’re right, Liz; it’s NOT your anniversary. Because THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SIX MONTH (or three month, or eight month or whatever) ANNIVERSARY. ANN-I-VER-SARY. ANNO. MEANS YEAR. You cannot have a “six month anniversary;” that is like saying that for all “intensive purposes,” you find your writing “very unique” but “irregardless” of that “its” okay because “you’re” grammar has very little “affect” on things even though it makes Erin’s head “literally” explode! STOP MURDERING LANGUAGE!

And also, it’s kind of annoying because, hooray, you’ve been together for two months! So you are going to punish yourselves by having a night out at the Olive Garden? Do you WANT this relationship to fail?

School. It’s time for Russo’s big test, which means it’s also time for . . . a montage!! Start chugging, folks! This montage seriously lasts, like, five minutes, so good luck. Anyway, everyone looks frustrated with the chemistry test, except for Jessica, who of course knows all the answers because she cheated. Oh, and Liz looks okay, because she is the SMARTEST UNICORN IN ALL THE LAND!

I wonder if Jessica ever attempts to minimize her bust.

Meanwhile, this test doesn’t really look like a chem test. No one writes any equations down, which is mystifying. What type of chemistry are they studying? Here is an anecdote about my Chem II professor in college: he was a dick. Story, end of. Oh, okay. Yeah, so, one of my housemates was also in my class with me and she went to the prof for extra assignments – not for credit – because she didn’t understand the homework and wanted to work on it more. And so he took her chem book out of her hand, tore off the cover and several of the pages, and then threw it in the trash can and told her that if she was too stupid to do the homework, she was too stupid to go to school at UT and that she should just quit.

Yeah. That class started with 300 people in it, a typical Freshman Flunk class. By the final exam I only had 42 classmates left, and of those, 35 didn’t pass. God, I wish they’d graded that class on a curve; I would have done fucking gangbusters.

At the Shoddy Replacement for the Dairi Burger, Enid is eating her feelings. Everyone but Jessica is convinced they flunked. Meanwhile, Winston wants to make a little time with the bustier Wakefield, but she tells him to get lost. Todd comforts “Egg-man” by comparing Jessica to a piranha, and all that does is make me want to watch Piranha 3D again. Piranha 3D is maybe the best movie of that genre (angry animals hellbent on revenge/man vs. nature) IN YEARS. Seriously. Seriously. That movie has everything I have ever wanted in a movie of that type: gore, ridiculous stereotypes, gore, 3D boobs, KILLER ANIMALS, Christopher Lloyd playing Doc Brown and Adam Scott being cute. I urge you to watch it, if you haven’t already.

It’s Russo time again! He hands back the exams. Jess got an A+, which means she’s off probation, as The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis clunkily explains. Boy, Amaryllis is almost the worst actor they have on this show. And that’s saying something. I’m not sure what that something is, but it’s definitely saying it.

Mr. Russo stops Jessica after the bell rings and accuses her of cheating on the test. He actually utters the line, “I’m a man of science, Jessica; I don’t believe in miracles.” OH MY GOD. I want to go waterboard myself just to escape this clunky dialogue. I mean, surely whoever it was at Gitmo who gave up bin Laden’s position has been upgraded to a better cell in which to be completely stripped of any civic liberties or Geneva convention rights, right? I’ll just take his place.

Jessica rats out Winston as the test thief. Then she looks devious. Drink!

Mr. Russo doesn’t believe Jessica, and he clunkily addresses the audience off-screen as he protests that Winston is his best student. (I mean, honestly. Who directed this thing, Christopher Marlowe?) But Jess “proves” it by reading off her copy of the love letter.

What kind of soliloquy shit is this?

Now Winston is in Russo’s class. He denies cheating, but Russo suspends him for a week. Awesome. Party at Winston’s! That’s what suspension means, right?

At the Shoddy Replacement for the Dairi Burger, Winston is nervously discussing his now ruined future with Liz and Todd. They try to comfort him, but Lila, Bruce and Manny all show up, wearing MATCHING TENNIS OUTFITS, to make fun of him. Liz and Lila finally figured out that Winston gave Russo’s password to Jessica, and Lila laughs with frivolous mirth. ha ha ha!

What were they playing, triples?

At the Palatial Spanish-Tiled Wakefield Manor, Jessica is doing what I’d like to be doing – chugging wine straight from the bottle. Oh. Oh, no. Apparently it’s just water. LAME. But it did remind me that my own glass was empty, so it still performed a service. Thanks, scene!

Liz barges in and gets all up in Jessica’s grill about cheating. Her forehead roars, “I’m monstrously hungry!!! RAWR! I WILL EAT THESE EYEBROWS TO SOOTHE THIS SAVAGE ACHE!” And then that’s what they do.

Jessica admits that she stole the test, and Liz vows to take her down!

I shall make no mention of the phallic nature of this scene.

Russo’s labs. Things are a-bubblin’ away. Liz is there, telling Russo that she can prove that Winston didn’t cheat. Her chest heaves with either indignation or lust. Perhaps Russo is bubbling up some Love Potion #9? Liz is wearing what I believe to be god-awful ugliest shirt that has ever graced any tv screen, ever. I mean, look, I’ll put a picture up of it. If you can find an uglier shirt, then you win one Internet and an ARC from my box of misfit toys/books. But I doubt anyone will beat this:


Russo’s class. He lets everyone know that there will be ANOTHER exam, since the first exam’s answers had been stolen. Jessica sneaks into the Oracle offices and tries to log into Russo’s account. Jessica, by the way, is wearing a red bandanna tied around her neck, as if she is Annie Fuckin’ Oakley. Why is this happening? Though, now that I think about it, I would love a duo of “Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better,” starring Liz and Jess. Liz can knit a sweater! Jess can fill it better! Liz can do most anything! But can she bake a pie? Neither can Jess. (What, you thought I’d say, “Neither can I?” I can bake fucking ALL THE PIES, okay.)

Anyway, Jess tries to log into Russo’s account and fails, prompting a “Look Behind You” graphic, where Winston, Liz, Todd and Russo are all staring at her. Liz totally smirks as her sister gets in trouble. So much for looking out for one another.

I do not advocate violence, but DAMN, that face is punchable.

It’s Friday (Friday! Gotta get down on Friday!) and Enid and Liz are talking about Todd’s anniversary gift, which has finally arrived in the mail. Then Enid . . . bops off, or whatever it is you call the type of locomotion that Enid employs to travel from one place to the next.

Jessica, meanwhile, is telling Lila and The Girl Who Is Just Called Amaryllis all about how awesome suspension was. She brags about how relaxed and tan she is until Amaryllis tells her that she’s on probation from cheerleading and Lila hands her a stack of work to make up. Jessica tries to entice Winston to help her, but Winston rejects her and scurries away.

Mom jeans, Jessica? Really?

Todd and Liz suck each other’s face for a while and then exchange presents. Oh, it turns out that Liz bought him autographed shoes, not a card. Well, whatever. Autographed sports memorabilia! Only it happens that it’s actually two left shoes. Oh, the hilarity! Liz makes a stupid fucking face and then we’re out! Woohoo!

And that’s it for this week, folks! Until next time, stay blonde, stay bitchy.

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