Monday, February 20, 2012

Suburgatory: Changing People

by Amy K. Bredemeyer

You can't change the way other people think and act. Tessa realizes this while running for student body president. Lisa's brother, "The Body," realizes this when he's mourned after a major injury. Lisa realizes this when her parents forget the attention they were giving her after her brother "is healed." Students will continue to want "easy" classes like gym, attention won't be given to those who don't stand out in the crowd, and Sheila and her husband will continue to shower praise on their child who is an athletic star. These aren't great things, but in Chatswin, they're truth. Unfortunately, there's another truth: bodies matter. In this episode, Ryan is held in the highest esteem because of his athleticism when it comes to the wrestling mat, and is ignored as soon as he's temporarily in a wheelchair. The student body president resigns because she's gained weight. The basis of Kaitlyn and Kamantha's campaign is that they have tight bodies. Dallas won't be satisfied until she has the whitest teeth possible. FIVE blatant instances of the importance placed on the body. Now, I know that the title of the episode is "The Body," so that could very well be what they're going for, but doesn't it disturb you? Even in the "this fictional world is awful" way?

Suburgatory "The Body" (S01E14): Lisa's brother is an excellent wrestler and has earned the nickname, "The Body." Everyone treats him like gold and carries him around on their shoulders. Sheila's family has a celebratory dinner of venison marinara for him, but he had burgers with his friends so he's not hungry. This pisses off Lisa, who was made to wait an unknown (but presumably long) period of time to eat. [I couldn't believe that even his parents carried him to the car!] When Ryan loses a meet and tears his ACL, the family hold the equivalent of a wake for him. His parents begin to treat Lisa like Ryan doesn't exist - giving her his dessert and asking about what she'd like for dinner. Ryan feels disowned, so he goes to George's and asks to live there. [SO awkward!] George takes him to talk to a disabled artist, then sings him a song with a guitar, which teaches him to play through the pain... though he takes it to a bit of an extreme. In fact, hee gets out of his wheelchair with tons of pain, struggles around the yard a bit, then walks home, trampling the one flower in George's garden. [oh yeah, there's a mini-story going on about George deciding to garden. nothing really happens, tho.] Ryan requests "tuna and shells" for dinner because it's Lisa's favorite, though he does insult her a few times along the way. [I liked that he did something nice, even if he doesn't understand why.]

Lisa actually did have something to celebrate... she's a campaign manager at school. See, the student body president has stepped down because of "unexpected fatness," and Dalia's friends, the "thin twins," are running on a platform that would double the gym requirement. [did the former president drop out of school or what? you'd think we'd hear from her during the campaign otherwise. Plus, doesn't the VP normally step up in situations like this?] Tessa opposes this (she's failing gym and thinks that it shouldn't take the place of academic class time), so she runs against them. Dalia acts as the campaign manager for the twins, and Lisa is Tessa's. But, the first of twelve [!!] debates is "why are you so fly?," to which the twins write and perform a song for "The Body," while Tessa talks about "what makes a hero." But, when she's getting no support, she busts out an impromptu song about the kid in class who got a perfect score on his PSATs. [both songs = bad.] She also talks about how sports are dumb and proposes that they make gym an elective, which only causes the student body to think she's "racist" against jocks. Tessa decides that she won't change these people, so she quits the election. But, since Dalia got bored running the other campaign, Tessa finagled the spot for Lisa. [isn't "campaign manager" close enough to "event planner" that Dalia should be thrilled? Or no, since the budget is so much smaller?]

There's also a short plot about Dallas whitening her teeth. Noah won't go whiter, since it'll leave her with sensitive gums, so she goes somewhere else to make them "as white as is legal." [We're supposed to believe that Noah turning down Dallas is actually because he's taking her husband's side with the divorce... but that didn't come through very well.]
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