Huge, Episode 5: “Walk her every day, into a shady place.”

By | July 27, 2010

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Way back in the first episode, Ian and Will first bonded, as it were, over a shared appreciation for the Pixies. Somewhere, in one of the many interviews I’ve read (the best yet being this piece in The Advocate), producer Savannah Dooley comments that while the Pixies are as good a band to bond over as any, she also had in mind that Black Francis/Frank Black is a — I don’t remember how she put it, a “big guy” or some other friendly euphemism.

I write a lot of imaginary letters to Savannah Dooley in my head these days. Typically, they go: “Dear Savannah Dooley: I love you. Thank you so much. Cheers, Lesley.” But the letter I composed after reading the above began: “Dear Savannah Dooley: That’s great. But let me tell you about Gossip.”

Previously: Amber got a hoodie from George; Alistair got blown off by his sister. Wayne the survey guy appeared and got Dr. Gina even more flustered than usual, and Will couldn’t believe Ian didn’t really read her journal.

It’s evening in the girls’ cabin, and hooray, we get more Twilight spoofery. Chloe’s reading a magazine about the alleged romance between the stars of Phantasma, everyone’s favorite vampire ghost love story. Amber is dubious, and Chloe brandishes the magazine, saying, “Look at this body language! He’s unconsciously protecting her with his arm!” I wonder if the screenwriters read Jezebel’s Midweek Madness. That’s good shit, yo.

As the girls debate the veracity of the backstage romance, Will announces that the fake RPatt is gay, which she knows because she saw him making out with a guy at a club in London. Sierra takes this badly and bursts into tears, to be comforted by Carter. I’d wondered why Carter — played by Ashley Fink, who has also played an awesome fat girl on Glee — has been MIA for a couple episodes now, so I’m glad she’s back. Amber tells Chloe she hasn’t seen Phantasma — she was supposed to go with her mom, but mom lost her job that week and they had to move. Oho! Interesting shift from the source material here; maybe Amber’s mom isn’t going to be a caricature of disability. I also like that Amber’s class difference is being explored so delicately over time, rather than us being beat over the head with it, or her being tokenized as the poor kid.

He's gay.

As an aside, throughout this scene Will is sitting on her bunk in a tank top, and y’all can’t even know how happy it makes me to see fat upper arms — arms that look like mine, even! — displayed without shame on television.

Elsewhere, Dr. Gina is having a counselor meeting and going over some issues. Apparently some kids are lying about having sore throats to score salt from the infirmary for gargling purposes, but which they then have the gall to put on their food. Them fatties sure are resourceful! Next on the agenda is movie night, and this year there is a No Sleeping Bag policy, as last year there were… sleeping-bag-related shenangians. As in, someone found two campers in one sleeping bag. Damn, y’all, do they make double-wide sleeping bags? I’m not being snarky here — I am honestly having a hard time envisioning how any two of these campers could fit in one standard-sized sleeping bag. Little details like this are why this show needs to hire me as a consulting producer for their second season, should a second season come to pass.

Anyway, there were shenanigans, so sleeping bags are no longer allowed. Dr. Gina also wants the counselors to keep an eye out for campers who are getting “involved”, like if they’re kissing and stuff. George is surprised and asks, “Kissing’s not allowed?” Dr. Gina: “Kissing of a prolonged nature is not encouraged.” Sadly, this exchange ends here, before we get a clear definition of how long it has to go on for in order to count as “prolonged”, and how much time must pass between kisses in order to count as a new series to be measured for prolonged-ness. Also, this bodes poorly for my constant demands that various characters make out.

Back in the girls’ cabin, Chloe is telling Amber the Phantasma backstory, and apparently that universe has a no-sleeping-bag policy as well. Next Chloe teases Amber about having apparently kept George’s hoodie since episode one, and sleeping in it every night. If Amber wasn’t seventeen, this would be a little creepy, so I guess we’re lucky she is.

Becca is writing in her journal, and Will is amazed that Becca can feel comfortable doing so after Will’s walkabout-journal incident. Becca explains that when she’s writing something really private, she does so in runes. LOL. Becca also wants to know if Will’s really going to not speak to Ian for the rest of the summer. Will assures her, “I could go a lot longer than that. I love not speaking to people.” Dudes, Will is so me at that age. It’s spooky. Becca seems to rethink the possibility of ever coming clean about having read Will’s journal herself.

In the mess hall the following morning, Ian and Alistair are in line for food, and Ian trips when he sees Will: “Confrontation makes me physically nauseous.” As opposed to mentally nauseous, which happens to me whenever I see a Jenny Craig commercial. Alistair offers to tell Will that Ian didn’t read it, as he was present during the discovery, but Ian says he’s already told her that eighteen times. She doesn’t believe him. Once they’re seated, Alistair asks the allegedly-nauseous Ian if he’s going to eat his breakfast, which seems to consist of oatmeal (potentially delicious, if it’s steel-cut, cooked from scratch, and served with a bit of brown sugar and a dash of cream) and half a pink grapefruit. I know there are people in the world who can eat grapefruit without sweetener (I prefer honey for this purpose, myself) but I am so not one of them. Indeed, just looking at the grapefruit half is making my mouth twist up. Ian has recovered enough to eat, unfortunately for Alistair.

Dr. Gina’s morning announcements include the list of possible films for viewing on Movie Night. The campers will get to choose the film from the list by voting. The selections are Stand and Deliver, “Sir Richard Attenborough’s Ghandi”, Wuthering Heights (Poppy seems excited about this), annnnd — at this point campers start shouting their suggestions, “Dreamgirls!” “Old School!” “Phantasma!”, this last met by gasps of delight — but no, the last film on the ballot is “one of my personal favorites, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” Becca’s too, as she claps enthusiastically. Campers, I know that wasn’t what you wanted to hear, but my opinion of Dr. Gina Torres has just gone up a notch or two. That said, it still defies belief that Dr. Gina has been doing this for five years and wouldn’t know that these choices would hardly be thilling for the kids of Camp Victory. Their ballots are under their Snalt shakers. Ian uses his to write a note to Will, which he asks Becca to deliver.

Moments later, Will is reading the note: “So, even though I no longer trust or respect you, the truth is I still really want to write a song with you, it’s not even that I want to but I need to, it’s almost like I have no choice.” Well. That’s awkwardly hot. I don’t know if we’ve yet reached the point where I need to add extra T’s to “hot”, but we’re making progress.

What's up, doc?

Speaking of hot, Wayne’s back, to build Dr. Gina a fence. Dude, you want to break down her boundaries, not build them up! Ah well. He finds her collecting the movie-night ballots, and reads one: “These choices suck.” Turns out Wayne is familiar with Dr. Gina’s favorite film. He lived in Paris: “It was either that, or finish college.” I am completely in love with Wayne. Dr. Gina, if you don’t want him, send him over here. Dr. Gina says she’s always wanted to go to France, and she came close in high school, “but I missed my chance.” Wayne asks, “You only get one chance?” Wayne gets to work on the fence, which he’s doing himself. Alone. Interesting.

Boating safety! Boating safety is important, not least because it means we get to see our campers in swimwear. Y’all don’t even know the good it does my heart to see these boys shirtless on television. I said my heart. We’re keeping things above the waist today. This is almost as good as the underwear pillowfights I’ve been demanding. Part of me wonders, at times, as to how the actors feel about being so exposed, and I hope they see how amazing and — by my reckoning anyway — how gorgeous they all are. I’m glad I saved those extra T’s because I’m going to need them all now: HOTTTTTTT. I am so into the scantily-clad fatness, y’all. It is such a fabulously normalizing thing to see.

George is demonstrating CPR on a practice dummy. Amber watches like it’s the most romantic thing she’s ever seen. He instructs the campers to take turns practicing, and, handing Dante a canister of sanitary wipes, saying, “Use these, for your own protection.” Ha. George walks off, followed by Amber. At first she says, “Hey,” softly, before remembering his deaf ear, and then barks, “George!” Cute. He smiles when he sees her. Amber wants to return his hoodie. It interests me that George’s hoodie fit her, as George is, well, kind of wee. I doubt it’d fit the death fats about.

Trent and Chloe are paddleboating — holy flashbacks to my own summer-camp experiences, Batman! — and Trent has been, like, seriously moved by Ian’s song from Talent Night. Chloe is stuck between wanting to seem interested in what interests Trent, but also clearly not really giving a crap. She changes the subject by pointing to the yellow wristband he wears, and asking whether he wears it all the time. Trent responds, “Yeah, it’s like a reminder, to never give up and keep working out until I get the body I want.” Chloe: “Shut up. You… look good.” Trent barely seems to hear her: “I really want a six pack.”

You look good.

Oh, my loves, let me tell you a tale of a seventeen-year-old Lesley in South Florida, and a boy we’ll call Joey, on whom I had a massive, all-consuming crush, though he had a girlfriend who always seemed like a bit of an unpleasant bitch. Joey and I mingled in many of the same circles, and occasionally I would drive him home late at night, as he didn’t have a car. One night, I drove him home and we sat in my car in the driveway of his parents’ house, talking for over an hour; the car in gear the entire time, my foot tense on the brake pedal, afraid to put the car in park and possibly draw attention to the fact that’d we’d been sitting there talking for so long, and bring that time together to a premature close. Joey was a thick-set guy, and eventually, somehow, the conversation turned to his trying to work out more often, encouraged by his girlfriend, to get in “better shape.” I couldn’t take it anymore. I said, “I think you’re fine just the way you are.” And then I said, “I think you’re… just perfect.”

It was probably the most My So-Called Life-esque moment of my entire teenage career. Joey blushed, and simultaneously thanked me and brushed my praise away. I wasn’t done. I told him, point-blank, that I had a huge crush on him, “which I hope you’ll take as a compliment.” He did; we never dated, even after that, but I left some kind of impression, because other friends remarked on how he couldn’t stop talking about how cool I was, even months and months later. Teenagers are so reluctant with praise; as though liking something — or someone — enough to tell them so is a sign of weakness, and maybe in the teenage universe it is. But I like to think hearing that someone thinks you’re fine just as you are can occasionally be enough to help you believe it, and so I told him — and I’m telling you. Because you are fine just as you are. All of you.

Trent tells Chloe about the rumored sleeping-bag shenangians of last year, and Chloe seems defensive. It’s pretty clear to me at this point that Chloe was one half of the sleeping-embagged pair.

Back on shore, Will comes upon Ian, practicing his CPR. She can’t even look at him, and neither can I, because this is SO GROSSLY UNFAIR, HUGE, DUDE IS HALF-NAKED AND WE HAVE DISCUSSED THE JAILBAIT SITUATION, OKAY? You are fucking with me, Huge, and don’t think I don’t know it. Let’s get though this quickly, so I don’t have to feel too dirty about it: Will wants to know why Ian wants to write a song with her. Ian says, with difficulty, that he never wrote anything good before Talent Night, and the song he played there was because of her. So will she work with him, or not? Y’all, these two either need to start making out, pronto, or they need to end this scene, else I’m going to have to leave the room owing to my personal embarrassment over all the sexual tension I’m projecting into this conversation.

Oh, thank god for commercials. Whew.

Back in the girls’ cabin, Carter is telling her co-campers about her boyfriend and how wonderful he is. Sierra wants to know who in the cabin has had “complete sex”, by which I assume she means penis-plus-vagina intercourse, the fin de siècle of the sexual-contact ladder (for a thorough investigation of the nebulous concept of virginity, allow me to direct you to Virgin: The Untouched History, by my brilliant friend Hanne Blank). Carter raises her hand without hesitation, and everyone looks expectantly at Chloe, who immediately claims to be a virgin. Amber: “I thought you did everything but.” Chloe: “So? That doesn’t count.” Well played, Huge.

Becca and Will are sitting on the floor in the bathroom, while Will rambles on trying to sort out what Ian’s wanting to write a song with her actually means. Becca tries to provide input, but Will is sort of panicked and not listening. Finally Becca gives up: “I have nothing to add to this conversation.” Oh hey, the girls’ cabin does have a private shower.

Dr. Gina finds Salty Dad in the mess, who is reading a magazine called “OMG!”, which is hilarious. As she enters, he announces: “That Lady Gaga sure works hard at whatever it is she does. I just hope she has people looking out for her.” I kind of love Salty Dad. Dr. Gina asks Dad for some iced tea to take down to Wayne. Who’s here. Building a fence. Dad is smart enough to see the signs here, and tries to get Dr. Gina to see them too: Wayne liiiiikes you. After all, says Salty Dad: “He’s a man, and you’re beautiful…” Dr. Gina is pleasantly astonished by this compliment, and for once we see her as a little more self assured. She thanks Salty Dad for the iced tea — “and for everything” — and heads out to deliver it to Wayne.

Wayne is putting in the fence posts. As she approaches, Dr Gina says: “You work fast,” to which Wayne replies: “That’s because everything I do is dangerously shoddy.” That even wrenched a laugh out of my husband. Dr. Gina hands him the thermos of iced tea and says, “It’s unsweetened, but I can get you some Stevia.” Wayne shakes his head definitively: “I’d rather lick money.” Oh my fucking god, Wayne, you are a treasure. I too will gladly take an unsweetened beverage over an artificially-sweetened one any day. Dr. Gina looks bewildered and aghast.

Wayne asks which movie won, and tells Dr. Gina not to be surprised if there’s a huge write-in vote for Phantasma. Dr. Gina says she wouldn’t ever choose that for her kids, and Wayne asks if she’s seen it. He saw it with his daughter, and thought it was kind of fun. I only saw the first Twilight a few months ago, and if I’m honest I did find it weirdly compelling. Oh, and Wayne’s divorced. Like in case you wondered. Then he asks if Dr. Gina knows that tea was discovered by accident. I really, really love the depth they’re giving this character — we’re never allowed to stereotype him as the caricature working-class guy. As Dr. Gina, conflicted as ever, leaves, she turns to look back in his direction, just in time to see him take off his shirt and reveal a round belly.

In the rec room, the campers are doing recreational things, while Poppy counts the Movie Night votes. Trent discovers a disused drum set in a corner before Dante calls him over for some unknown purpose. George joins Poppy and gets more information about the sleeping-bag shenangians, which apparently were more involved than Dr. Gina knows, as Poppy was the one who discovered them. She says the boy was “popular” and the girl “innocent”, and, “You just feel so protective of these girls, you know? They’re so young.” George seems to be thinking about his protective feelings.

Alistair knits.

In the boys’ cabin that evening, we get a close-up of someone doing a blood glucose check, using one of those handy meter things. It’s Dante. We’re presented with this without any further comment. That’s kind of amazing, and, again, normalizing: some people have diabetes, some do not. Dante asks Trent about his situation with Chloe; Trent says they’ll probably hook up again, because she’s hot. (Alistair is knitting in the background during this, which is awesome.) Dante ponders who he might hook up with. George observes that it’s wrong for them to put “pressure” on the girls, and Trent tells him the girls put pressure on them too. George tells the boys they have to be responsible. Oh right. That’ll do it.

Trent tells Ian about the drum set he found, and offers to play with him, like, if he wants to. This awkward courtship is interrupted when someone notices, “Hey, there’s a girl out there,” and everyone’s excitement wanes when they realize, “It’s just Will.” OH, it’s not a REAL girl. Ian goes outside and they talk about the hypothetical song they’re going to write. Ian wants it to be a love song, but not something “cheesy”. I want them to make up. I mean out. I want them to make out.

Argh, foiled by commercials! Curse their oily hides!

The next day, Wayne is finishing up the fence, and when Dr. Gina appears his face brightens. He points out some forget-me-nots, and quotes Longfellow on the subject. Okay, Wayne is seriously hot. He has also brought her a copy of Phantasma on DVD, just in case. Dr. Gina, of course, has to go ahead and make a shit show out of everything, by rambling on about sending the wrong signals and she’s sort of basically not sure what the hell is going on. Wayne gets the message, and immediately cools and tells her he’s left her an invoice. She seems relieved. Dr. Gina is an idiot. This scene is so well-composed, with Wayne and Dr. Gina standing on opposite sides of the new fence, staring at each other through the chain link.

Will puts on lip balm — hee — and heads out to meet Ian to work on their song. She approaches him from behind and hears him singing, something about blue eyes and yellow hair. Will immediately turns and runs off, unseen.

This song is definitely not about Will.

Back in the girls’ cabin, preparations are ongoing for Movie Night. Chloe asserts that “if you know a guy is going to be feeling you up, that affects your choice of bra.” This is actually true, or at least it’s true when that guy isn’t yet your husband. Amber is subtly stressing over who she’ll sit with, since it’s clear Chloe will be sitting with Trent.

Movie Night! This whole sequence had my husband laughing, as it’s so clearly shot day-for-night with a blue filter. That, or the moon is in the process of plummeting to earth over Camp Victory. Chloe finds Dante and asks him to sit with boyfriendless Amber. Will and Becca are seated already when Ian appears to ask Will what happened with working on the song that day. Oops, Will was busy. Ian sees Amber, who hasn’t found someplace to sit yet, and strategizes: “I just need to get near her, without being too obvious.” Will’s face registers, with certainty, that he really didn’t read her journal. When Ian asks, “What about you, anyone you want to sit with?” Will says, more to herself than anyone else, “You really didn’t read it.” Ian’s all what? no, and is still focused on Amber. Damn, Ian is thick. Like, in the head. Will basically shoos him away to try to sit with Amber. That dry crunching noise you hear is my heart breaking for Will.

Will is not the girl that boys want to make out with, or crush on, at least not at this age. There is no mystery, no feminine wiles, no untouchable unknown. Straight boys of that age are intoxicated by the foreignness of the feminine, the other. I may think Will possesses a hotness of sun-dwarfing proportions but she is not a pretty girl, not like Chloe or Amber — she doesn’t wear makeup, doesn’t faithfully reproduce the trappings of femininity, doesn’t resemble the beauty these boys have spent a lifetime learning to admire. Even the nerdy boys, the ones you’d think would give the non-girly-girls a chance: even they’ve absorbed that necessity. This is what you want, a girl who reads magazines, knows how to apply eyeliner, and follows the rules. How many teen movies feature a plot in which the geeky or awkward or subcultural or tomboyish girl only gets the attention of the guy she likes after some kind of makeover event which brings her into line with established notions of femininity? All of them? Nearly all? It’s a shit situation for everyone involved: the boys chase after chimeras that don’t really exist, and the girls adopt behaviors and attitudes that may not come naturally to them, and nobody wins by it.

Ian’s efforts are foiled by Dante, who gets to Amber first and offers her blanket space, as he’d promised Chloe. Ian, frustrated, angry, leaves to work on his song, no longer interested in the movie.

Commercials. It’s nice that Joey Lawrence is working again.

The assembled campers settle in for the movie. Carter winds up beside Dante. Alistair joins Becca and Will. The DVD starts, and it’s Phantasma, much to the joy of the audience. Let the dry-humping begin! Chloe looks on the verge of losing it, as she’s alone, and Trent is nowhere to be found.

Trent has skipped out to hit on Ian in the rec room. Ian is irresistible to all sexes! No, actually, Trent just really really really wants to play music with Ian, which is kind of adorable: “I wish I could do what you do. Just… make something, out of nothing.” Ian’s initial irritation fades and he tells Trent, “Anyone can be creative. You just need to find your medium.”

Back at the movie, the Phantasma/Twilight spoof is hilariously awful. Chloe gets Alistair’s attention by throwing pebbles at him. He sneaks off to join her, and she wants to know whether Trent knows it was her in the fabled sleeping bag of teen sex last summer. Alistair didn’t know! I knew! The guy apparently didn’t come back this year. Chloe says he was popular, and, “when we got together, I got to be part of his group. We both got something out of it.” Well. That’s a diplomatic way of putting it.

Forget me not?

Dr. Gina, sitting at the back of audience with Salty Dad, opens Wayne’s invoice, and finds a forget-me-not inside. Dr. Gina, I am rapidly losing patience with you. She is stunned and gets up to leave, claiming she’s tired, dropping the flower as she goes. Amber sees Poppy and George whispering and laughing and gets up to leave as well. And then Carter and Dante start making out, which would be awesome as I dig their characters so much, except, uh, Carter has a boyfriend. Finally the movie affects Will enough that she starts writing furiously in her notebook.

George collects discarded popcorn bags and finds Dr. Gina’s dropped flower. He returns to sit with Poppy and says, “There is so much angst going on here.” Poppy: “You mean in the movie, or here?” George: “Both.” Poppy gestures at the movie and says she can’t ever imagine feeling like that. George asks if she means, like, being in love, and Poppy drops a giant bomb on us all by saying, “Basically I identify as asexual.” Well, shit on me, y’all. Will this show ever cease to surprise me? Poppy says she kept waiting to feel what other people felt, and just never “got there”. This is awesome times a million, and I’ll tell you why: I’ve had many wonderful friends, both in my teens and later, who identified as asexual, and who had to deal with this concept being essentially invisible to most people, or worse, thought of as pathological or frigid. What this show is doing, again and again, is attempting to drag out these unfamiliar ideas to the light of day and make them normal. It takes George about ten seconds to go from “what?” to “okay,” and that’s how this should work out all the time. Having a character identify in this way is validating and normalizing for those kids — and adults. “Dear Savannah Dooley: I love you. Thank you so much. Cheers, Lesley.”

George realizes that one of Poppy’s “girls” is missing. He knows it’s Amber, but doesn’t say so, and volunteers to go find her.

Chloe comes upon Trent and Ian jamming together in the rec room and watches from outside, until Trent sees her and wonders why she’s there. Out he goes, and insecure Chloe is looking for validation: “Do you even like me?” Trent: “Yeah, but I wasn’t sure if you wanted this to be a one-time thing–” Chloe: “I just want… what you want.” Oh hey, did you hear that? That was the sound of millions of feminists nationwide groaning in unison. When Chloe and Trent kiss, it’s like one-tenth the hotness of Dante and Carter. I think it’s because the latter two are fatter. Ian looks on, open-mouthed, as Trent and Chloe kiss outside the window. Oh Ian, if it was still 1995, I’d make out with you.

George finds Amber, and they sort of awkwardly stare at each other while the movie dialogue plays in the background. George says of the movie, “I’m watching this thinking, why doesn’t she just date a normal guy, save herself the trouble?” Amber responds, “If he was just alive and she could kiss him anytime, maybe she wouldn’t want him so much.” GUYS GUYS I JUST GOT IT! IT’S LIKE A METAPHOR FOR GEORGE AND AMBER! Apropos of nothing, George gives Amber the forget-me-not. And then practically runs away.

Making up is a step toward making out, I guess.

Will finds Ian and throws her lyrics at him, saying she got “inspired”. Ian needs her to stay because he can’t read her handwriting, and they awkwardly try to work out the melody. Hey, I’m instituting a Lesley’s Huge Recaps Drinking Game — every time I call something “awkward”, you drink. Okay? Eventually Will has to take over and it’s fabulous to hear her sing, even if it’s just a little bit. Ian loves it and relates to it. Will says, “You could get a lot of tail with this song,” and Ian laughs. It doesn’t seem to be working out that way for you, Will. MAKE. OUT. No, instead Ian puts him arm around Will and they walk off together as Ian says, “Oh Rader, love is a nightmare.”

Next week: The campers go on a camping trip. This sounds redundant, but it’s with tents and “trust exercises”. That should go well.

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