Saturday, August 20, 2016

Episode Review: "Girl Meets the Real World"/"Girl Meets Sassy Halter Top" (#3.11)

It opens up innocently enough, a fun and energetic 30 second debate between Farkle and Riley. I appreciate "And for extra credit, time does not exist" from Farkle, but I appreciate even more "I said what I believe, how can that be wrong?" from Riley.

You know that's a good question Riley, and if there's any justice in the universe you'll obtain a satisfying answer to it, because that's really one of the most annoying things about this show. Riley spouts happy dappy nonsense and generally faces no consequences. 


But this time she lost, and Cory insists that she needs to consider opposing viewpoints instead of living in her happiness-echo-chamber. And somehow that ties in to history class. It's a good thought though, definitely, so let's see where we can go with it.

This is honest, genuine life advice here, that you have to understand both sides of an issue. Cool.

Riley is now assigned to argue that people are evil by nature, while the entire rest of the class argues they are good. This occurs because Cory is an awful teacher who does not even know the names of most of his students. Where's that heckler girl from the season opener? This is exactly where we need her. Maya steals a projector though, so I'm glad true new blue whatever Maya is still here.

As I mentioned in the comments, in high school debate (which, I'll mentioned, was held in a class called Advanced Debate, and not in fucking history) I was given good vs. evil too, and I had evil. I won the debate handily, both my scorning my opponents sunshine and rainbows attitude, and speaking to mankind's true nature, and I gotta say, I never had an existential crisis over it. Just a fun fact.

Maya trolls Riley a little bit with the morality of wearing a wool sweater, it's fun and makes these characters seem like real people for a minute before we start getting stupid.
Once again Topanga receives Auggie's B story and I'm just not even gonna talk about it.

I didn't mind their B story at all. I mean, for one, we barely spent time on it, so it was easy to not mind it. But, also, it weaved nicely into Riley's story, and I actually found Auggie a little endearing in portions of it. He got some good lines. There's good lines throughout this episode, whatever else may be wrong with it. 

Yeah we got stupid. Sad guitar music plays while the girls look at (implied) depressing news headlines on a laptop. That's the whole shot. 

Smackle still wants to bang Lucas's brains out, even though she was hot for Farkle earlier in the episode. I'm all for sexual liberation, but you made a commitment, Smackle! And Lucas is officially Riley's boyfriend now! (Even though there's no hint of that in the content.) 

Yeah, Smackle's flirting with Lucas is really starting to irritate me. Do they not get what a repellent character trait it is? Having one main character's girlfriend show open lust for another main character? I really think Cecelia Balagot does a good job, and there were other portions of this episode (like when she came in through the door and over-explained why) that I liked. But this kind of stuff makes me hate Smackle and feel really bad and embarrassed for Farkle.

I don't know why Lucas isn't saying anything about it, except that I guess it's a really uncomfortable thing to break up and might serve to humiliate Farkle who right now is playing it off like a joke... when I'm sorry, in reality, this would be devastating for a 15-year-old kid to hear from his girlfriend about a friend he's already expressed feeling emasculated by, joke or not. 

But yeah, it's weird, we're now two episodes in with no sign that Lucas and Riley are a couple. 

I thoroughly enjoyed Zay's bit of character and story here, he's already more fleshed out than Lucas just from this one scene. Amir has further convinced me his acting chops are on one of the higher levels for Disney Channel. Lower than Sabrina, but higher than most everyone else. And I like how they tied it in to Riley. Nice work.

I don't think I'd put him above Rowan, but it's really just hard to gauge because Amir has never played anything but a supporting role in any episode. But, yes, I'd definitely put him ahead of Peyton and Corey. Peyton has shown progress, but not enough, and I feel like more and more I get less and less impressed with Corey. Some of it is because of what a non-entity Farkle has been this season, but really Corey's acting on this show has just gotten bland. Farkle's gotten bland. I'm not into Farkle.

But, yes, Zay's great in this one.


Evil Riley is funny. "What's next, that heavy metal?" She refuses to apologize for eating Zay's cookie, which is compelling, but more interesting than that is the implication everyone else was hanging out without our two leads. It's a nice bit of subtlety that tells us these characters actually exist off camera.

So this could be Riley's gateway drug. She has tasted the thrill of being a jerk, a real Jordan Belfort, and it tastes good. I hope this story doesn't get foggy and mixed up down the road. "Riley enjoys being Jordan Belfort" and "are people naturally good or evil" are kind of separate, but maybe they'll tie together in a nice way by the end.

What I like most about this breakfast scene was Riley asking what if it's more fun to be evil, and Cory says "What if being evil changes your understanding of what fun is?" That's a genuinely compelling idea that I would have loved to hear more about, but as with all good things, Auggie interrupts it immediately. Topanga tells us a parable, and we've got a third thread to weave here, that small good deeds can still make a difference, which I of course agree with, but the capacity to do good deeds doesn't really fix either of our other two problems. 
Farkle and the gang show up with some nonsense to defend their point of view at the debate while Riley is actually coherent and effective. Cory rightly awards the victory to Riley. 

Buuuuut then we kinda lose it when they switch sides. Riley has her happy dappy nonsense that I mentioned earlier, personal anecdotes that don't really address any of her points from when she was arguing for evil. And that's fine, it's obviously not all one or the other, I just have no idea what Riley is actually taking away from all this. It gets messy trying to recombine "Riley likes doing bad" with the good/evil nature of humans and OF COURSE the other team never gets to give their defense of evil. Cory's like, switch sides now! ...But just Riley! I don't care what the rest of you have to say.

Seriously, what's my takeaway? From Cory, "There is good and there is evil. I've found that if you choose good, the world is more than willing to help you out." I mean, maybe, but that's really more of a lesson for "Riley likes to do bad things." What about our inherent nature? Does it just not matter anymore? It just doesn't seem to connect very well. 

Two Shoes Louie is an interesting cat, and I love his line "I'm trying every day."

I'm sorry I find "Two-Shoes Louie" and everything about his random half-assed storyline to be fucking ridiculous. He's ridiculous. Them shoe-horning him in (pun intended) is ridiculous. Either make him part of the episode, or don't, but don't mention him briefly and then ask him to carry the poignant ending 


That SOUNDS like they're saying "Are humans naturally good or evil? Neither. You choose every day." And that's great, and Maya said something about choosing during the debate. So like, I think I know what they're saying, and it's solid, but it's just lost inside the cookie and forgiveness business. 

I just... don't have a lot to say about this one. Maybe two in a row is just rough. I laughed my ass off when Maya walked off with the, I guess, projector? (I thought it was a printer) That was one of the funniest things this show's ever done. And there's a lot I like about it - I like Riley waking up to the realities of the world, for one, and I thought Rowan was very funny in this one. But I also find her descent into evil a little ridiculous and not fun enough to justify it.

That said, the look of delight and relief on Riley's face, when Cory switched the sides and let Riley defend good, made me feel something. I was genuinely happy to have Riley back too. So, that ain't nothing. 

Riley should at least bake Zay a batch of cookies. Or she should find his grandmother's number and explain the situation.

Episode Rating: B (Good lines, and some funny moments, and good beats, and a good message... but a lot of dumb stuff got in the way)
Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard, the episode was on her shoulders and she carried it well (shout out to Amir and Sabrina though)

It's worth saying that Joshua Jacobs has entered the arena with this script. It's pretty sharp writing, ESPECIALLY compared to his travesties before this one.

88 comments:

  1. Good evening gentlemen.

    I have quite a few thoughts on this one.

    I'm not sure I liked it.

    In previous episodes, it was implied that Riley played the part of naive, sunshine at least a little on purpose, because it made people happy and she wanted them to be happy, while also knowing that the World had some ugly corners.

    The Riley Committee actually being effective in their mission, and more importantly, that it was never called out, I'm not happy about. I don't bear much ill will against Maya or Farkle, since it likely started as more of a "Make Sure Riley Never Cries Club," and I could buy it snowballing, but the others didn't know Riley until she was a teenager, which makes me angry that they chose to treat her like a little kid.

    Riley and Zay's conflict was rather contrived--are we supposed to sympathize with Riley or her friends? Zay isn't what I'd call an engaging character, seeing as he hasn't had an actual plot-relevant conversation with Riley since his first episode. There's also the very real possibility that Zay could have lost his cookie had he tripped over his own feet and smashed it into a million pieces. And knowing that he is most likely a part of the Riley Committee (and condoned Friar's behavior in the Triangle far more than Farkle did) makes it much harder to sympathize with him.

    The message was good, but I think the instigating conflicts--the classroom debate, the fight with Zay--leave a lot to be desired.

    It's not a bad message, but they have to twist the story a lot in order to get to it.

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  2. Also, something I thought about quite a bit while watching this episode was the Season 7 episode "You Light Up My Union."

    The A-plot was Jack tearing into Eric's optimistic worldview, shocking his friend into a jerk. It isn't enough to succeed in this cold, cruel world. You have to have the desire to change it.

    Here, we have Optimistic Riley falling into more jerk-ish behavior due to her realization that the world is not a nice place.

    Also, your comments about Isadora's behavior towards Friar reminded me of the B-Plot, with Cory and Shawn behaving VERY inappropriately towards Rachel.

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    1. Actually, yeah. It does remind me a lot of "You Light Up My Union" quite a bit. Having said that though, though Cory and Shawn were -insanely- inappropriate, there was never a hint that Cory didn't love Topanga, or Shawn didn't love Angela, so it may be the same here. The way Isadora is acting towards Lucas, in front of Farkle no less, is bad; but are we meant to infer that maybe it doesn't mean she cares anything less for Farkle?

      I don't really agree with the comparison to Riley and Eric though. Partially because Riley went way further than Eric did - who, despite everything, was just acting like a typical business person (which didn't fit who Eric really is, granted), whilst Riley was far worse.

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  3. In Lucas' defense, he did look appalled at the continued Smackle advances. But you guys are right, this is not an attractive trait for Smackle and further serves to damage Farkle's character, who is already really underutilized this season so far.

    She was much more entertaining during her nerdgasm in the first minute or two of the debate, though.

    The episode had a good lesson, but I feel the conflict that drove to this was incredibly contrived. I AM, however, glad to see more interaction between Zay and Riley, which has not been too frequent so far.

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    1. Yeah, I'm sick of it too--since it's one of the only things Isadora actually does.

      It was funny to see her misinterpret regular interactions as flirting--"Are you sitting next to me because you wish me to be your mate?" was a great line in her titular episode.

      I, too, found the conflict that drove the lesson to be contrived--perhaps because Riley was goaded into acting out, or maybe because Riley and Zay haven't interacted enough for me to be invested in the possible dissolution of their friendship.

      I'm curious somer. How would you have done this differently? The lesson is good, but how would you have driven the point home?

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    2. Oh, I'm not mad at Lucas over this business with Smackle. He very clearly is not encouraging it.

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    3. He definitely isn't encouraging it, but why haven't he and Farkle sat Isadora down and told her this is /wrong/?

      Part of me wonders whether or not Isadora isn't doing this on purpose, to provoke a reaction from Farkle, in order to get him to say, "Stop! You're with ME!"

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    4. @Cryptid: Good question. I tried to be a writer when I was half my age, but realized after a while that I'm truly dreadful at it. This, in turn, does make me reconsider my criticism of the show because I don't exactly know if I can write a better story.

      I should clarify then: I guess the main conflict itself would have been alright, if it wasn't for the fact that it was driven by a cookie. It could have easily been another, more important item.

      Say Zay got a fragile, unique present from his dying grandmother, like a snowglobe or figurine or something (hey, she's his grandma, after all), which Riley knocks out of his hand after being mocked by her friends. That would have a little more impact (figuratively and literally).

      Somebody on reddit mentioned that Zay shouldn't have forgiven her so easily at the end. This would have been a great piece of continuity from "Forgiveness Project", where the lesson was that forgiveness sometimes takes much longer. I agree with that argument. They were SO CLOSE to doing that too, but I feel the executives had to force them to add a few lines at the end where Zay was like "oh yeah okay sure I changed my mind and now I forgive you after all."

      So actually I would have been okay with most of the plot if it wasn't for the fact that the main item in question was so... petty. I couldn't stop thinking "It's a fucking cookie, guys. Get over yourselves."

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    5. ... Except that it was a cookie baked by his grandmother, who is, from the sound of it, dying. The only thing I don't really buy is that she would send a -single- cookie over from Texas once a month or whatever. Send over a batch and not send them as regularly would make more sense; but then you couldn't have Riley eat it.

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    6. @somer - if it makes you feel better I can say Zay isn't really over it. He will bring that cookie up again in the future.

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    7. Given the way Zay ran into the bakery, I couldn't help but think, "Dude, if you had tripped or bumped into something, you would have broken that cookie anyhow. And Riley still left you a bite."

      Was it ever actually stated that Zay's grandma was dying? As I recall, he just said she was getting older, and recognized the possibility of "maybe." I'd probably feel better about that line if we hadn't just had His Excellency Mr. Feeny, who is very old and still relatively fit.

      I like what you said about it being a more valuable McGuffin, and if what 1960 is true, then all the better...though given that RIley and Zay have only ever been friend-in-laws at best, connected through Friar, it's still rather hard to get invested in a fight between them.

      I'm personally curious to see what would happen if something bad, something evil happens to the Matthews family, which shakes Riley's faith in humanity to the core. What if someone breaks into their house and steals stuff--maybe coming in through the Bay Window?

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    8. A break-in through the Bay Window? That's too dark. :D

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    9. Exactly, Cryptid. And that's exactly my point, Will. If it were a more valuable MacGuffin, literally nothing else in that story would have had to change, but I would have been more sympathetic to Zay.

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    10. Exactly, Cryptid. And that's exactly my point, Will. If it were a more valuable MacGuffin, literally nothing else in that story would have had to change, but I would have been more sympathetic to Zay.

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    11. But... I get it from Zay's POV. I think that cookie could be tremendously, emotionally valuable. But then, my mother is getting to that point, and my son is close enough to their age. She lives in the same city, but if she didn't, any time she sent him home-baked cookies could easily be the last. And if someone took that from him, he'd be crushed.

      Granted, this being just the episode after Feeny turned up still relatively fit at age 90 does not help.

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  4. I think Farkle understands that Isadora has strong feelings for him, and that while she has fantasies about Lucas, would never actually act on them. In a way, it's a more mature relationship. Farkle clearly isn't the jealous type. He clearly knows about her fantasies, and they don't bother him. Farkle rightly thinks she needs to keep them to herself.

    I would have liked to see more about "being bad changes your idea of what fun is." It's a shame they didn't have time to explore it. I would have liked to see her do something that would get her trouble, even it was something small like breaking curfew.

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    1. Kit, I don't think that fantasy is correct here. Remember that these characters aren't supposed to exist in a vacuum. She most likely hears other kids commenting on other people, though most likely not where the target of their comments can hear them. I'm sure this is being played as Isadora trying to work through her condition and fitting in, but not yet being successful. That Lucas is the target of all of the comments we have heard from her so far is most likely just a running joke for the viewers. I would imagine that her character does the same thing off-camera as it relates to other people as well.

      Since Farkle told her she should be using her "inside your head voice", I'm sure they have had a conversation where he told he its normal for people to have these thoughts, but they keep them to themselves in most cases. Isadora just isn't in control of herself yet as it relates to her emotions due to her Asperger's.

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    2. 1960poster-"Since Farkle told her she should be using her "inside your head voice", I'm sure they have had a conversation where he told he its normal for people to have these thoughts, but they keep them to themselves in most cases. Isadora just isn't in control of herself yet as it relates to her emotions due to her Asperger's."

      This is why I totally agree with you. Farkle understands exactly what's happening, and he isn't jealous for the exact reason that you mentioned. He knows she's having these thoughts, but he also knows she won't act on them, which is why they don't bother him.

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  5. Having given it some more thought (my initial comment was actually copied from Reddit, where the episode was still very fresh in my mind) and seeing your thoughts, I find myself somewhere between the two of you.

    On the one hand, I think Sean has a very good point: that the question of human nature and whether we are good or evil is somewhat of a stretch to fit in with Riley realizing that she likes doing "evil" things. This is especially interesting in the context that Riley is essentially Maya's conscience.

    That being said, I also agree with Christian that this episode had a good heart. I also agree that Two-Shoes Louie doesn't work quite so well, since this is the first we've seen him, or even heard of him. We didn't even see Riley refuse to give him money, which I do think weakens it.

    Oh, and Christian, about Friar and Riley dating. From what I recall from "Ski Lodge," Friar suggested that yes, he and Riley could go to dances together, and do it /together/ rather than as friends, but he didn't want to make spectacle of it. And he also wanted to be the only one that Riley had "important" talks with.

    Seeing as neither of those things came up in this episode, there wasn't any need for their dating to come up, since Friar didn't seem to want the day-to-day, regular dating interaction to be a thing.

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  6. One thing I thought during this episode was like, how did they get some of Smackle's stuff past the Disney censors? Her in the opening classroom scene? Gold. Also, I swear she almost dropped the F word before Farkle covered her mouth. That was funny.

    I don't know, my takeaway from this is that they're giving Riley the growth they gave Maya. She was honestly a caricature almost in some other episodes. Her capacity to see good in others and her optimism and sunny disposition are important and should not be forgotten. But her obliviousness and downright loony attitude sometimes could be evened out by some realism. I hope that's what they're doing here. Like, disregarding it's faults, Riley's characterization in STEM was pretty good. She was educated/informed, passionate, hopeful while still feeling like Riley. I really hope that's what they're going for here.

    Maya needs hope like Riley needs realism. They need to find individual balance, I think. Also, Riley's cookie song was cute. And I liked Zay's genuine hurt about the situation. It wasn't glossed over. That could have been the last cookie his grandmother was going to be able to make because she was getting too sick, and Riley grabbed it from him. Either way, I thought this episode had some tricky bits. But, all in all, one of the better ones!

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    1. We've seen this a number of times, though: Riley is given an opportunity for growth, and even if the story gets resolved in a way where the problem isn't already magically fixed for her, it seems to be completely forgotten by the next episode.

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  7. I'm surprised nobody mentioned Smakle's covered up WTF line. I thought it was hilarious and I'm really surprised they got that in there.

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    1. I laughed harder at that moment than I have during the entire series so far. I actually replayed the scene to make sure that I was right in assuming it was going to be the F bomb.

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  8. I love Smackle. But everyone's right: the Smackle/Lucas joke has got to go.

    I did like this episode, but I just found Riley to be a little OOC here? Isn't she supposed to be smart? I mean, who doesn't know that war, poverty, and climate change is going on. The "Riley Committee" is their excuse, but still, she's acting 5 here. I've never really complained about Riley before up until this point.

    Despite the above thoughts, I agree with Christian--Rowan gave a great performance. Her reply to Cory when she was eating breakfast reminded me of "They're in the yearbook. Keep in touch and have an awesome summer." Another line or two reminded me of the same line as well.

    I think it's kind of annoying (but a good thing for us older viewers) that Auggie/Topanga have these off-screen plots. The candy store in "True Maya" and the beach here in "Real World."

    I read on another forum: what if Zay's grandma died at the end of the episode? Would that have been too "A Very Special Episode"-like? OK honestly, that would have been depressing as hell.

    The first act had a lot of comedy, which is always rare when that happens. This episode gave me "Jexica"/"Permanent Record" feels. I liked it.

    Random nitpick: I hate the show's background music sometimes--specifically the cues that play in between scenes. When Topanga told that starfish story and it cuts to Riley, the cue/transition plays and it ruins the moment so badly.

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    1. Yeah, while maybe it would have given Riley a bit of a wake up call, I think Zay's grandmother dying would have felt like too much. And like they were trying to squeeze unearned drama by killing off a character we've never met.

      Kinda like trying to squeeze unearned drama by ending the episode showing Riley make amends with (and be a little inspired by) a homeless(?) man we've never met before or heard of beyond a quick throwaway mention.

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    2. The show does it all the time. They bring in important parts that were supposedly there their whole lives.. i.e Riley's bear.

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    3. I'd be more accepting of 'Two-Shoes Louie" if weren't for the amount of times we've seen outside 'Topangas' and there's never been any homeless man there at all.

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    4. I'd be more accepting of Louie if we saw him earlier in the episode, and then see Riley refuse to give him money.

      That was actually a point that could spur more discussion. Riley said that Louie could be scamming them--and what if he was? There's plenty of people who panhandle because they genuinely need the money, but there are many that scam people.

      I'll give Beary the Bear Bear a pass though--I don't disagree that we should have seen him earlier for the sake of the "Forgiveness" storyline, but we don't get nighttime scenes often, so I buy Riley keeping him somewhere safe, and thus hidden from audience view, until bedtime.

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  9. i like it when smackle almost drops the f bomb and farkle covers her mouth to stop her from saying it.

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  10. i have aspergers like smackle i can get why she says the things she does sometimes we have no filter and can say what we think outloud. i would of been what the f too if i saw something strange

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  11. pls do recaps 4 make it pop henry danger and the thundermans I didn't gmw was bad til I read ur recaps they r true honest and funny do bunkd stuck in the middle toons like amazing world of gumball the new tmnt ur recaps gift from god all the bad kids shows

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  12. pls do recaps 4 Make It Pop The Thundermans Nicky Ricky Dicky and Dawn Bunkd Stuck in the Middle and KC Undercover and all the bad kids shows and movies toons like Amazing World of Gumball the new TMNT all the bad kids shows and movies ur recaps r a GIFT from GOD fuuny honest and true

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    1. Please stop it. Christian and Sean have made it clear that they only intend to do reviews for Girl Meets World on this blog.

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    2. I for one enjoy Jamie Davis's enthusiasm. And their delightful compliments.

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    3. Yeah, you keep doing your thing, Jamie Davis. But, unfortunately, no, we're not going to be reviewing any of those.

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  13. Two Shoes Louie is the CLEANEST, BEST DRESSED homeless person in existence.

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    1. he seemed a little creepy, i just got that vibe from him.

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  14. I think it's interesting that despite being told that Riley is smarter and a better student, that Maya is one the who regularly reads the newspaper/news and is better informed on what is happening in the world. It adds greater depth to Maya.

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    1. This was one of my initial problems with the episode, but I just ended up accepting the idea that Maya is street smart and Riley is only book smart.

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    2. Which is weird because part of being book smart is being up to date on current affairs and news. It would be a requirement from school to read up on these things.

      Also, a lot of history classes would have a five minute talk about the news before starting the lesson...but this is Cory, so.

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    3. We never did in history. The only time I recall doing that is when the first Gulf War broke out in 1991. And that was more of a "This is what your kids will learn in history class". I don't have an issue with Cory not doing that. Now debating as part of history class? We did that in English. We occasionally did something similar in history, but was always directly related to history. Not "is humanity basically good or evil?" or, even worse, "does the sun rise every day?"

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    4. I'm not sure I can suspend disbelief to that extent though. "Mr. Squirrels Goes to Washington" mentioned climate change, albeit in a quick aside, so I doubt Riley is unaware of it. And Riley named dropped Malala Yousafzai in "Flaws," which suggests she should know at least a bit about the conflicts in the Middle East.

      That being said, with that horrific picture of that little boy in the Syrian hospital being published by Wall Street Journal in real life, it's pretty easy for me to imagine Riley's optimistic worldview being shattered by actually paying attention to the news.

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  15. I love that you guys more or less like Zay now. You've come a long way since season 2, when you guys vehemently hated the guy.

    It's nice to know the show is capable of surprising us.

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  16. I liked the beginning of this episode a lot, but as it went on it kind of lost me in the way GMW usually does: I didn't hate what was happening, but it got so convoluted and long-in-the-tooth about its message that I just lost interest.

    The scene at the end with the homeless Louie dude was SUPER weird though. Like beyond being riidculous in concept and execution, I thought it was SUPER creepy that this middle-aged homeless guy was hanging out in front of the place waiting for his favorite 15 year-old girls.

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    1. yeah that guy did come off as a little creepy. he didn't look too homeless if can afford decent clothes.

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  17. But is anyone going to comment on the fact that the writers keep on underestimating Riley's intelligence? She's known to be a straight A student, and has talked about topics like the Taliban, feminism, homelessness/poverty, malaria, Adam and Eve, and has this huge inspirational speech about important ladies throughout history, yet keeps on getting used as a lesson prop. I find it hard to believe that a girl who has knowledge about all those topics, and is the daughter of a teacher doesn't know about global warming and war.

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    1. Jenni - That is an issue I've had for a while. Not that they keep underestimating her intelligence, exactly, but more how smart she is keeps fluctuating. Sometimes her intelligence shines through; then other times she's this hopeful, naive little girl who knows nothing.

      I also find it jarring that they keep pitting her up against Farkle. As in, losing a debate to Farkle is no great crime. Her win at the end didn't mean anything, as he was only one voice. Did anyone really expect her to beat Farkle in a debate? Her being hopelessly unprepared might have meant more if it was against Zay, or Maya for example.

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  18. I don't get the hate for Smackle's flirting with Lucas, I find it both hilarious and indicative of a very mature handling of their relationship between Farkle and Smackle.

    In previous episodes like New Year and Ski Lodge, there have been hints that Farkle and Smackle might be the best couple in the show (Cory and Topanga don't count). In New Year, Smackle knows Farkle's most ticklish spot, which I'm taking as a Disney channel hint that they have some kind of physical intimacy. Then in Ski Lodge, they reveal that they talk to each other so much and with such depth that Smackle feels secure and comfortable hugging Farkle, which wasn't the case before.

    Knowing that, I find it refreshing to think that scenes such as Farkle kissing Maya's nose and Smackle flirting with Lucas are not a big deal because they're both secure in their relatioship and can handle such things as nothing more than jokes or gestures that don't mean much.

    In fact, after that nose kiss, Maya threatens to tell Smackle, but Farkle doesn't seem the least bit worried and simply exclaims that he'll tell her. And in New Year, after one of Smackles comments to Lucas, she asks Farkle which part she shouldn't say, to which he just confidently smiles and reassures her that she can say anything she wants.

    If you ask me, that's a very mature approach to a relationship in high school, and I'm all for it

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    1. But it's totally one sided. Lucas is visibly uncomfortable, how is that mature?

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    2. Yeah, it would be one thing if a playful flirting thing was the way Isadora and Lucas interacted. And also, Riley and Lucas are... kind of a new thing. It's one thing to harmlessly flirt with a friend that you also do lots else with (thus, yeah, the nose kiss), totally something else to flirt, if it's even just that, with someone who's only -very- recently started going out with a friend, and that you do literally nothing else with. She doesn't talk to Lucas like a friend. All she does is flirt.

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    3. My focus is on Farkle and Smackle, not Smackle and Lucas. Looking at it from Lucas' point of view, I still don't see what the problem is. Lucas reacts inconsistently to it, sometimes he looks uncomfortable, other times he just looks confused, and others he just laughs it off. Regardless, I don't see anything she has done that has been out of line, she's being playful, it's played for laughs, I just don't see what the big deal is.

      If anything, Maya's flirting with Josh in earlier episodes, or Farkle's flirting with both Maya and Riley were far more aggresive that what Smackle does with Lucas.

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    4. Well, I'd need to see actual scene by scene evidence, but my impression is that Lucas always looks weirded out. And I think he's even said things to that effect as well. And, comparing Maya and Josh is irrelevant - Maya was not openly flirting with him in front of her boyfriend.

      And it's not just casual flirting the type that we all do day to day. In this episode, she said she liked to create her own reality where she and Lucas are together in Hawaii. Then she gave him a big lustful grin. Then he looked repulsed. Then Farkle indicated that wasn't appropriate to say, so she stopped saying things but continued grinning and staring at him lustfully while dancing and Lucas looked even more horrified.

      This is a far cry from the fun, casual flirting that, say, we saw Maya and Lucas get up to all throughout Seasons 1 and 2. What this reminds me most of is how Farkle treated Maya and Riley in Season 1 - only exacerbated by casual disregard for how this makes her boyfriend feel.

      Also, I don't know. I kind of think if Lucas pulled Smackle aside privately and suggested they bone, she'd say yes immediately. Hell, I think she'd say yes immediately if Lucas requested it in front of Farkle.

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    5. "To which he just confidently smiles and reassures her that she can say anything she wants." Well, it's eight months later, and twice in a row now Farkle has been visibly and verbally bothered by Smackle's flirtations with Lucas (which are amping up in intensity) and she doesn't seem the least bit interested.

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    6. I would actually agree that Farkle doesn't seem bothered by it. But Lucas clearly is, and considering Riley and Maya were the first people to actually treat her like a normal person, I have severe issues with how she's treating Lucas.

      And, as I said, if she sometimes had normal conversations with him as well it'd be better. Maya and Farkle have normal conversations all the time, so his flirting is fine.

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    7. I think Farkle seems bothered by it too. He seemed very embarassed by the fact that Smackle was so brazenly flirting with Lucas in this last episode.

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    8. I actually think Isadora's flirting with Friar is a fair bit worse than how Farkle flirted with Maya and Riley in Season One.

      To borrow Will's argument, it wasn't the only interaction they had with him. "Girl Meets Boy" had a rather sweet scene when Farkle was awed by Maya's pencil sketches of the skyline to use an immediate example. And Farkle had his little competition with Riley about who got the most A's, and occasionally ate meals at the Matthews' home.

      And with "Meets Farkle" retroactively implying that a good chunk of that flirting was mostly in jest, to paraphrase Farkle "None of it was real," we have no indication that we're not supposed to consider that Isadora's being serious in her flirting. It might get laughs from the audience, but we have no indication that it isn't a game.

      And that's not at all a good thing. It's almost as if Isadora...Smackle has no particular interest in actually being committed to her boyfriend.

      If we do treat this as serious, and that Smackle actually means what she says by her blatant flirting, then as far as I'm concerned, she's cheating on Farkle.

      I enjoyed Smackle when she was introduced. I liked the running joke of her mistaking casual conversation for flirting, since that was funny and she WASN'T flirting. She also interacted with the others a bit more; I was initially happy to see her join the main group.

      I thought she could add an interesting dynamic--heck, I would have loved to see her correct Cory when he gets basic information wrong. Or go through the public school textbook and point out erroneous information.

      I was wrong. I hate being wrong.

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  19. It kinda seems like the writers hate Farkle, the two girls he liked, both rejected him and fell for Lucas. Then when he finally finds a girl who likes him, even she flirts with Lucas. That is really cruel. Is it supposed to be funny? cause it's not. Why did they make Farkle a main character in the show if they were just going to treat him like crap? What's even more puzzling is that Jacobs said in an interview that he was the one who fought to have his character on the show, so its not like it was Disney's doing. Why exactly did he want him on the show so bad? They have basically made him background character.
    I don't understand these writers at all.

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  20. I'm eight minutes into this episode and I'm already pissed. Everyone thinks Riley is this good little girl, when really she's naive, doesn't pay attention or honestly care of the things around her. She also really needs to pay attention more in science class. I will now continue the episode...

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  21. 16 minutes in, the metaphors in this episode are spot on, Maya, topanga and Cory all do a great job getting to the level of the kids watching the show and are simply good reminders for all of us. Riley eating zay's cookie...not gonna lie, a little proud of her, but when the group of kids say what they say about Riley's goodness I have to disagree, is she good? Or just stupid, if you don't know anything then yeah, you're in bliss I would like to see Riley more balanced in lowering her ignorance while still having faith in people. The Riley committee needs to die and die fast! and actually that 'Riley committee' makes them shitty friends because they 'keep her that way' for their own benefit.

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  22. I didn't like this episode much. The biggest problem is they don't know how to write Riley from week to week. One week, she's a strong feminist, the next she's in a fucking triangle, and now we have her being a complete imbecile. I mean, it's not impossible to avoid the news. I knew a guy who had no clue about anything that happened on 9/11...

    This episode was great for Zay and Cory. I liked Farkle's debate. I was very glad to see a minor Auggie subplot that actually relates to Riley's problem of the day, but apart from that, not much else worked for me.

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  23. Newest Tweet - Girl Meets Writers ‏@GMWWriters · 8 hours ago

    Girl Meets The Voice. Congratulations to Darby! We are all rooting for you, and we are all very proud of you. Especially Yogi.


    For those of you that don't know Darby Walker, the actress who lays Darby, was on The Voice last night. You can see it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S51ldd1Hg50

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    Replies
    1. I enjoyed that far more than I thought I would.

      Funny that she got to sing with Miley and Alicia.

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    2. IDK if i was more confused by Miley Cyrus's outfit or darby being dressed like a very weird cowgirl

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  24. Ratings are in for the latest episode: 1.5 - wow that's terrible!

    Mixed with all the cancellation rumors, that's pretty bad.

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    Replies
    1. In September Liv & Maddie is moving to Friday night to be paired to GMW. It will be interesting to see if both shows back to back help the ratings or is they both suffer.

      Of course it GMW loses that ratings war badly then I wouldn't count on a season 4.

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    2. Eh. Seems like the writing's on the wall to me. I don't expect a Season 4.

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    3. Well, not that the triangle is "dead," why would the shippers bother to watch? But it's also Olympic time so many people would be watching them instead of Disney.

      That said...I honestly don't know if I care anymore if we get a Season 4. I doubt we'll get one but three seasons for a cable show is pretty good so anything else would be gravy.

      Regardless, if you want, there's always fanfiction.

      Pairing it with Liv and Maddie could be good for both shows though.

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    4. I had hopes that Girl Meets World would be a long-runner. Even on Disney Channel, I wanted a real journey. But given the state of things in Season 3, I have to say...this isn't much of a journey.

      That makes me really sad, because I wanted there to be a really good coming-of-age show for the 2010s.

      Wonders Years had the 80s...er, 60s...er, you know what I mean; Boy Meets World had the 90s; there wasn't really a long runner in the 2000s unless we consider BMW doing really well in syndication; I wanted GMW to be it for the 2010s.

      On that note, I don't think I know of a long-running (four seasons or more) coming-of-age show, that was geared for children and families, that was slice-of-life realistic.

      As it stands, I think I'll be doing what I did for the last Somewhat Underwhelming Sequel Series for a series I loved. Take bits and pieces I like, and then move on from there.

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    5. I would be OK with the show ending here. Idk about you guys but Season 3 has been pretty good despite all the triangle bs. I feel like the comedy has been amped up a bit and the classroom scenes aren't such a chore to watch anymore--it helps that classroom scenes don't even happen that often anymore. The filler episodes--Jexica, Permanent Record, the Real World--have been decent, if not great, compared to Money, STEM, Commonism.

      So with that said, I actually will miss the show. If, for whatever reason, the show ended after Season 2B, I would not miss it one bit.

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    6. I wouldn't say Degrassi.

      I haven't seen enough of the show to actually make a judgment on its quality, but it featured a rather large cast--even larger than our group of six. I can't be a fair judge, since I only saw the last forty seconds of one episode once, but I'm inclined to think it would collapse under its own weight.

      By coming-of-age show, I was more referring to the journeys of one or two, maybe three individuals. We all saw Cory, Shawn, and Eric Meet the World, but their journeys were sufficiently different from each other.

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    7. Degrassi is more like Beverly Hills. No main protagonist, or two or three. At least, that's what Degrassi High and Degrassi Junior High were. I'd fallen out of watching those kinds of shows by the time the 2000 version hit the airwaves here, but I'd imagine it would be the same. To be fair though, due to the success, in large part, of Friends, the 2000s had really embraced the ensemble show a hell of a lot, for all programming.

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  25. Yeah, I was thinking about that. When I was a kid, there were a lot of good shows for teenagers. Not sure any of them were superb coming of age stories, but they were shows I could enjoy. Comparing GMW to those, it might fall short. But compare it to other shows -today-? I'm not sure it's really bad. It is probably one of the better ones. Whether I've become more discerning in my mid-to-late 30s, or they really were better I'm not sure on.

    I usually don't mind reading fanfiction, but I have to say, other than maybe Maya and her mother, I don't have enough investment in the GMW-only characters to go looking.

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  26. I think that they have been hurt, since Disney likely has very strict practices in place. This can limit stories and what they talk about. Bad writing is also an issue but they work with what they have. Personally I hope they get picked up by another network. Possibly even Netflix. It seems like something Netflix could get down with and they would be able to spread out and expand the show a bit more. Just a thought

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  27. Finally watched this one, having to buy it on iTunes, which despite the small sum still put me in a bad mood.

    Yeah there was some good stuff, lame stuff, confused stuff, and throughout it seemed ready to fall apart at any moment. I agree that this episode’s chances for success rested largely with Rowan Blanchard’s considerable comedic gift, and she held up her end of the bargain.

    The discussions you folks had about Isadora was interesting. Her behaviour toward Friar seems fairly consistent with who and how she has been. I’m troubled only that it is close to the only thing they have her doing now, a waste of both the character and actress. On the other hand, Friar isn’t laughing it off anymore, and Farkle isn’t okay with it. Maybe they are going somewhere with this.

    Riley living in a protected bubble is where I came into GMW, so I didn’t find that aspect objectionable even if other episodes have her better informed. I’m probably too old to give a shit about such a discrepancy. Maybe it isn’t even that big of a one. Our capacity to filter out what doesn’t fit our inner narratives might be boundless.

    Yeah, the Two Shoes stuff was weird.

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    1. Hi Milestones, it's been a while since I've replied to one of your comments properly. How are you, friend?

      Interesting point about Blanchard's performance. I hadn't given that much thought in several of the preceding episodes. A good actor can make the most of a mediocre script.

      Case in point, the awesome Will Friedle carried the humor of Boy Meets World Season 7 on his back, and managed to pull it off more often than not.

      Fair mentioning about how Isadora is now used almost exclusively to flirt with Friar. I agree it is a waste of character and actor.

      Funnily enough, things could have been different. Halfway through Season One was airing, Disney used the actress to shoot a pilot for a live action sitcom that was never picked up for a full series.

      Long story short, it would have revolved two teenaged siblings dealing with their parents magically having turned into teenagers.

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    2. I dunno. I don't think Farkle is really getting annoyed about it yet to go anywhere this season with it. He seems... frustrated, rather than actually annoyed.

      The problem with Riley is not so much protected bubble, is that you just can't be a straight As student with that. Not for some subjects. I can actually accept she doesn't read current affairs, but at the very least she would have studied history and there are certain events in history which would suggest mankind is at least capable of evil.

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    3. Cryptid my friend, the last couple of weeks I've been behind the GMW times for differing reasons. But it is always good to converse with you.

      That Rowan Blanchard is really funny is something I have known (and probably everyone else has known) for a while. This episode leaned on that more than any other I can think of. (For one of the crappier episodes, Ski Lodge 1 was pretty funny too.) But, I was basically just agreeing with Christian's summarizing point about that.

      Will, however you might characterize Farkle's reaction, it was not welcoming or amused, and GMW showed that, and showed Friar's reaction. Yeah, I don't know that it will lead anywhere, but the show doesn't seem tone-deaf about the impact of Isadora's behaviour.

      Delete
  28. Hey Sean I know you're a big Jason Marsden fan from reading your BMW reviews - curious how you feel that his character from Full House is being recasted by a new actor in Fuller House?

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    Replies
    1. thanks for the question! i didn't know about that. hmmmmm, well I would absolutely love to see Marsden on television again, but I'd hate to have to watch a single episode of Fuller House. I'm definitely torn.

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    2. Wow. That's awfully random. I remember his character from Full House, wasn't he in like one or two episodes tops? Why bring him back at all?

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    3. According to Wikipedia, he was in about 9 episodes and played a 'rich boyfriend of DJ'. Doesn't surprise me they're bringing him back. It is a bit disappointing they're recasting, given the fact they made a big 'moral' stance about not recasting Michelle.

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    4. IMDb says only 4 episodes, and that sounds more right. I remember the character, he was a rich dweeb in a triangle with DJ and Steve who tried to buy her affections. Not a villain, just... hapless. But I guess I could see if they intend for him to be a real love interest for her not wanting 5'4'' Jason in the part. Still I'd just make someone new up.

      And while I don't like them recasting anyone, it's not the same thing as recasting Michelle by any means. Being played by the Olsen twins is like Michelle's whole thing.

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    5. It was actually Viper, DJ's boyfriend who was in a band with Uncle Jesse, who was in the Triangle with Jason Marsden's character.

      I don't like the idea of recasting either--but Marsden is a fairly successful voice-over actor, so I can't say I feel sorry for him missing out.

      I think I first became a fan of Marsden specifically when Shipping and I watched "The Weekenders."

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  29. Except that I suspect Jason has changed a heck of a lot less than the Olsen twins. They could pick nearly anyone to be that and you could argue "Michelle grew up". The other girls barely look the same, in particular the girl who played Stephanie.

    If it's really only 4 episodes, it's a better idea to get a new character built around similar lines than to do a recast. But maybe that's my bias against recasts.

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  30. I know I'm late getting to this, but better late than never. Right?

    Anyway, while I did enjoy the episode, it did have faults. The biggest fault being the fact that we are into Season 3, and the writers have once again written Riley nonsensically in this episode. It's more than just her being the eternal optimist, she was just plain ignorant of simple scientific and real world facts. Let's face it, the debate at the beginning was dumb. Sure, the scene as a whole was funny, but the heart of the scene was intrinsically flawed. On purpose.

    Riley was portrayed not just as naive, but flat out ignorant of...well...real life. Honest to goodness things everyone who walks out of their front door should know. And nothing a "Riley Committee" would ever be able to keep her from knowing. So, that idea falls flat for me. What makes it worse is that they just came off telling us Maya is the one who had the identity crisis. Really? Maya? It feels like they're talking out of both sides of their mouths.

    But, I did get some laughs out of this from Riley and Isadora. Rowan and Cecilia both have very good comedic timing. They are fun to watch, and know when to deliver. Do their characters have flaws? Absolutely. Are they working within what they are given to the best of their ability? You damn right they are. And at this point, that's all you can ask for.

    As far as the Isadora/Lucas stuff goes. It's so blatant, that I can't help but laugh. Like, in a "is she really doing this" manner. Its fun, but I can see why it would grate on people.

    All in all, I had fun with this episode, but it still isn't the best. Really wish Riley was written better. Both in this episode, and in general. It's hurt this show in a bit way.

    Episode Grade: B-. This is closer to a C+, but I feel like the laughs were enough to raise the grade a bit.

    Episode MVP: Rowan Blanchard. Despite my complaints about how she was written. She made me laugh. And, her legit serious moments were good too.

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  31. Not So New Tweet From the Writers. It's from a couple days ago, but I only now noticed.

    "Friday. We decide to grow up."

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