Coming at you a day late but never a dollar short. This week, Sabrina has a crush on a teacher, so Mickey tries to prove why this is a bad idea to her. Jimmy gives some advice to Chip and Ben that predictably goes awry.
Naturally, Mickey’s solution to Sabrina crushing on her poetry teacher (full name: Brian Reed) is to sleep with the guy herself. Unfortunately, this plot is mostly predictable– I was a little surprised Sabrina didn’t believe her, but the “attempts to prove she’s not crazy actually make her act crazy” aspect of Mickey’s plot is kind of old hat by now. We did get a couple of good moments out of it, like her triumph at getting Brian to admit they had sex in front of the principal. (Mickey: “And he won’t admit it to Sabrina!” Principal Gibbons: “Good. I agree with him on that part.”)
The B-plot is much better. Chip’s ego is bruised over his low ranking on the Hot List (is this a real thing kids do?), and he’s trying to learn how to land a handspring to help raise it. (Yeah, that’ll work.) Jimmy’s solution is to let Ben literally bruise him, with a punch that gives Chip a black eye. (I can relate, since I got one about an hour before watching the episode while playing basketball.) Jimmy instructs him to keep the story behind the black eye mysterious, since there’s nothing cool about “getting beaten up by a ten-year-old.” (Ben: “I’m seven.”)
But of course, Chip’s friends get too close to the truth (“He probably just got beaten up by his fine sister!”) so Chip makes up an elaborate story about beating up some public school kids. He reveals to Jimmy the next day that he’s rocketed to #2 on the Hot List (from #43), and wise fool Jimmy immediately pieces together that he screwed up; that by telling a specific story, “You’re a player now, and you have a target on your back.” Chip doesn’t realize the implications until some public school kids show up at his school to call him out and predictably kick his ass. (One black eye is cool; two is not, especially when everyone sees how you got the other one.) We don’t see Chip fight, but we’ve seen enough of Chip to know how that would go, and it’s probably funnier in our imaginations.
And Ben, upon confirming to Jimmy that a black eye does help kids be cool, launches a howlingly funny, misguided campaign of inadvertent bullying. He goes around school with a list of “Losers,” punching them in the face (and hitting one girl with a book), telling a couple of them “You’ll thank me for this someday.” The principal also tells Mickey about this, and Ben’s punishment is to read an anti-bullying poem he wrote at the school’s Arts Festival. (Mickey: “Great, perfect punishment. Poetry sucks.”)
The plots all collide at said Arts Festival, where Ben’s poem “Black Eyes” sounds unfortunately like “black guys.” After the principal rushes him off the stage, Sabrina enters to read her poem, which she tells Brian she wrote for him. (“Thank you for helping me realize my gift.”) It’s terrible and a little gross. Mickey interrupts her to play a tape recording of her conversation with Brian and the principal, where Brian admits to having sex with her. (Sabrina: “I thought you were waiting until I graduated! We had something!” Brian: “I just wanted to teach kids some poetry!”) Mickey then calls on anyone else who was “abused by this predator to come to the stage, holding hands…” and this is when Chip decides to stick the landing on his handspring. Cue Chip’s fervent backtracking: “The handspring is unrelated!”
While some of the beats in Mickey’s story were predictable, the other plots were very funny, and all in all, it was a worthwhile episode. I don’t like grading episodes, but push comes to shove, I guess B+, with slight leaning to B. I can’t say I was disappointed, but the show has done better.
- Mickey explains to Sabrina that she knows firsthand the negative impact a relationship with a faculty member can have on a high school student– but she clarifies it wasn’t a teacher. Sabrina: “So like a janitor?” Mickey: “No! …He was head of maintenance.” Sabrina: “Oh, King Janitor.”
- Jimmy, realizing Chip messed up by telling a story instead of letting the rumor mill do its work: “The only way you went from #43 to #2 in one day is if someone came in and mowed down 40 other kids.” Jimmy understands the story of the old bull and the young bull well.
- If you don’t know that story, Google it. Most of the versions I found online have specific commentary to them, and I don’t want to endorse any of them.
- Wayne Wilderson returns as the principal; I first saw him on Mr. Show, but you’ve seen him in guest roles in quite a few comedies over the years as well. (Veep, The Office, Seinfeld)
- Alba doesn’t get much to do this episode, but apparently she does smoke hash with some poetry reading attendees.
- If anyone transcribed Ben’s poem, I’d greatly appreciate it. (Or Sabrina’s, for that matter.)
- Similarly, if anyone has a suggestion for a title for the stray observations section more specific to this show, I’d also appreciate it. (For example, on Vice Principals, we used “Extracurricular Activities,” and on Nathan For You, we went with “Dumb Stray Observations.”)
- Hilarious tag: Mickey gets a restraining order from Brian and brags about it. “Emotional distress due to a negative sexual experience. Now it’s in writing!” Jimmy: “That’s my girl! Wait, what?”