Hey guys, first off - I only updated "Girl Meets Jexica" with my own review like half-an-hour ago, so check that out if you gave up hope on me. I suggest something at the end of the review that I imagine people might have contentious feelings about and I'd like to get people's opinions.
Good episode, that Jexica, but I think I liked this one even more. Also, this show has a habit of making a funny joke and then going just one line too far where the funniness gets negated. For instance, Maya says Riley's name is "a trick so people think she's cute." that's funny. When Riley responds to this by resting her cheeks on her hands and exclaiming "I'm Riley!" that's real funny. When Maya says "See, it worked, and now I want to squeeze your cheeks!" I feel like they just explained to me a joke because they didn't trust me to get it. A good example of how you should do a joke is the fact that the Spanish teacher, who speaks Spanish well and looks Spanish, is named "Ms. Feinstein-Chang" suggesting that's actually half-Jewish and half-Chinese. They never point out how weird it is that her name is Feinstein-Chang when she seems Spanish. It's just there. Of course, I think Community may have a copyright on a Spanish teacher named Chang.
First off, I really liked that the thing Riley was bad at and Maya was good at was Spanish. It's something they'd believably just be discovering now since a lot of students only started foreign language in high school (well, at least, they do in my day, I have a hunch that's less true for kids now with how the world is changing.) In my experience, though, foreign language is exactly the kind of thing that people who ordinarily good students just can't wrap their heads around, and people who are ordinarily not very good students can pick up. It's a completely different skill, and I think that's why they always say you got to get to kids young with second languages while their brain is still developing. Case in point was my sister and I. I was always a pretty smart kid, and I'm one of those lucky people who happen to test very well, so I generally coasted through school without applying myself much. But in high school I took French and I just could not get it. I worked my ass off and was lucky to get C's on tests. I was fine when it was stuff like translating specific nouns and verbs, ("pomme de terre" means "potato"? Fine, I'll remember that) but the moment you had to actually conjugate and form whole sentences I was completely out of my depth. I never ever took to it no matter how hard I worked, my brain just didn't work in whatever way allows that to make sense to you and so I took only the bear minimum to graduate and actually purposefully went to a college that didn't have a mandatory foreign language program because I knew it would torpedo my GPA. My sister meanwhile, though also smart in her way, was a horrible student. Eric-level bad. But she's picked up enough Spanish to be conversant in it just by working in restaurants and listening to bus boys. So, that really rang true for me. And the explanation that Maya lives in predominantly Spanish neighborhood makes a lot of sense, and is an obvious reason why the more scholarly Riley Matthews of Greenwich Village is more disadvantaged from her gentrified Bay Window perch.
I am not one to plan heavily for the future, but I do know that if I ever have children, it's going to be a big priority for me to get them involved in learning foreign languages young. I encourage you all to do the same! Don't let them be like me, wishing they could, and knowing they'll never be able to.
Okay, back to the show! Also, it's just a good episode. It's funny, and I like the lesson. And I like that finally FINALLY FINALLY Cory is acknowledged as still having a thing or two to learn about being a teacher himself. I'm really glad that the Spanish teacher (who is the BEST example of a teacher on this show so far) wasn't sacrificed at Cory's altar. She was right, he was wrong, he fought her, she won, he knew it. And the thing is Cory came off as a better character because of it. We're not going to like him less because he gets it wrong sometimes. We watched him get it wrong every week for seven years. We like to watch Cory learn lessons. And he works better when he's self-effacing and imperfect and trying to figure things out. No one likes this smug "Aren't I just the wisest wiseman?" guy with his fortune cookie wisdom. Anyway, I hope we see more of Feinstein-Chang though she's actually a pretty stilted actress which is unusual for adult actors on this.
It was also just fun to see Maya having succeeded and her fondness for her A was a fun bit. It was fun to see Zay succeed to, though I would have liked more explanation there. It made sense that Maya would be better than Riley at Spanish, but like.... this isn't a new untested sport, this is baseball, which we know Lucas plays and is very good at. Why would he suddenly be bad? Why would Zay, without practicing or working at or showing any talent thus far, suddenly be better than him? It should be instead that they were, like, playing tennis for the first time, and Zay is apparently a tennis whiz and Lucas just can't get it.
You... probably coulda not subtitled "Gracias" and "De nada" between Topanga and Ms. Kosher-Eggroll, show, I think we know that one.
Weird that Farkle stopped by Riley's apartment for a 30-second conversation. I always hate that on shows. People drop by on TV for the briefest fucking conversations. You should just open the scene with them already there, so it was like they were already hanging out, or else have them just stay when the scene ends.
Ah, the old "Someone doesn't speak a foreign language well and they substituted a goofy word for the word they meant!" bit makes an appearance right at the end. Was wondering when you'd turn up, you ol' TV staple. They even got Tyrion Fucking Lannister pulling you these days.
Episode Review: B+ (I really liked the plot and the lesson, and they did good stuff with Cory as a teacher, and I was into all that, but it still had that uncomfortable air of sanctimony at times that we all recoil at in GMW and as this review went on I noticed I kept pointing out things I was iffy on)
Episode MVP: Sabrina Carpenter (though Ben Savage was close!)
There were a lot of funny moments but Christian explained the problem very well. They almost always take it one or two lines too far.
Cory's humor in this series is totally binary. "Ed's Learnin' Hole"? Hysterical. I laughed out loud. "I'm the best there is!" Not even remotely funny. In the same scene. How do they do that? How do they hit a home run and then 0-3 strike out in the exact same scene? It's almost impressive.
They nailed some huge points for me. Riley is bad at something. Cory isn't the best teacher (though they still couldn't resist telling us how good he is). Lucas continues to lose his status. Also there's a SHIT ton of overshirts in this episode, everybody's got two or more shirts on, and that really brings me back to the Boy Meets World glory days.
I don't have anything meaningful to add to what Christian said except for the thing about overshirts and the fact that I nailed French. Ugh, here it is again at the end, Cory shows his humility but Riley jumps in with that "You always have been!" Like COME ON, can we get ONE MOMENT of genuine humility for Cory? ONE MOMENT without people reminding us he's the realest hardcore thug on the streets? Damn.
The writers are getting closer. I think we can all agree on that. They're getting closer.