You’ve got to make your own kind of music, sing your own special song

Is making fun of Olivia's receding hairline too easy?

Olivia’s an artist. Did you know that? She’s super artsy dresser too. And she’s an original. And she usually has paint splattered on her clothes. Because she’s an artist.
But for real you guys. Olivia has a studio in the garage that her parents set up for her. Which is pretty cool. Even the Kishis didn’t do that for Claudia. Also, why is it that the free spirits are always artists? I’m a mid-level manager in higher education administration, and I consider myself a free spirit. Aren’t I? Where’s my book? Liv is starting to experiment with Abstract Expressionism. You guys, I took 4 art history courses in college so I’m so the expert on this stuff.

Which, way to go ghost writers, for looking in an encyclopedia (that’s the written version of Wikipedia for those of you born after 1986) for things to include for her artwork. She’s trying to experiment with stuff but is nervous that other people won’t get it. Which, I’m just sayin’, is a valid concern, because I am sure in Sweet Valley, people’s houses are filled with pre-Raphaellite Ophelias and Van Goh’s “Starry Night”.

Olivia is also taking classes at the local college and meets fellow artist James. They never actually attend any classes, but that is where they meet. James, oh James. James is totally that douchebag artist who lives for nothing but his art. And lives in squalor because he loves his ART! Olivia has a total girlboner for James, but James is more interested in fondling his charcoal brushes than Olivia’s peasant skirts.

James shows Olivia his shiity artist loft, with his super high ceilings, concrete floors and cupboard of ramen noodles. James is SUCH the archetypal hipster in that he lives in a loft in a seedy part of town to gain “cred” while simultaneously gentrifying the area, and then acting all holier-than-though about it. Olivia gets her hemp underwear in a bunch because she is starting to think that she may not be making a lot of money as an artist and is she willing to give up everything to be a slave to her art like James? Surprisingly, James doesn’t make a move. James reminds me of Miles from Work of Art on Bravo, who is a total douche. (Are you watching that? It’s similar to Project Runway, except instead of Heidi’s German accent, we get China Chow’s Brooklyn accent and just as much crazy personalities).

Oh, James, that good looking guy that you just keep hanging on to every word and get excited to see him even if he treats you like shit every time but you think this is the time he will realize how awesome you are and you hate yourself for coming back for more because you consider yourself a total feminist and this isn’t you but you are just mesmerized by his skinny build and his tats and his ability to talk about deep things even though he can’t do simple things like do his dishes or his laundry and oh my god he is such an asshole but oh my god he is really hot. Not like I have experience with anyone like that or anything….

Coincidentally, because it helps the plot along, Olivia’s cousin Emily shows up for a visit because she wants to look at colleges in California. Emily is a professional college-applier, and it is all she talks about and thinks about. SERIOUSLY, WHY DOES E VERY CHARACTER HAVE ONE DIMENSIONAL IDENTITIES? Why can’t she like art AND college? Like parties AND be on the school newspaper. Ugh. ALSO, if Emily is really into getting into good schools, shouldn’t she be someone who is occupied with grades and extra-curriculars because that helps college? Her only activity is actually applying to colleges. A color coordinated Filofax organizing brochures and applications doesn’t impress the Ivies. I don’t get how this shit gets written.

Olivia doesn’t really like Emily and vice versa. Emily comes with Olivia to meet James and although she acts like a giant tool and annoyed that they taqlk about art, James’ douchey artist in peril charms works on Emily. So much that she borrows some of Olivia’s clothes and goes to see James on her own, trying to convince him that she is artier than he thinks. I don’t know folks, I just report what I read.

Olivia decides to quit art to be more practical and gets a job at her mother’s department store and starts hanging out with the owner’s son, who actually buys clothes for her. Emily reports to James that Olivia has given up art, and James suddenly realizes that Olivia probably won’t fall for his douchebag artist persona ANYMORE, and finally admits that he loves her. Olivia realizes that she should continue with art, because it’s what she loves! Besides, as we all know, she won’t live past high school anyway, so might as well makes some splatter drawings! Yes, I went there. Plus, her mother was an artist and gave up on her dream, and now she’s a measly manager at a dept store, and she doesn’t want Olivia to make a mistake. Yay, all is resolved! Who’s up for a triple bacon cheeseburger and lard fries at the DB?

Of course, it wouldn’t be an SV book if we didn’t include the inhaling and exhaling of the Wakefield twins. Because it is Christmastime again, they also gets jobs at Simpson’s Department Store. Liz does such a good job she gets medals for department store working, and Jessica is all set on nailing the son of the owner. She has never met him, but is convinced that once they meet he will ask her out- of course not even stopping to consider if she will like him, but he does have money and status, of course. The intense fixation on this just feeds into Jessica’s diagnosis of a Socipathic Narcassist, and is not at all charming, which I am sure the writers thought they were doing. So her plotline is the wacky hijinks that happen as she tries to be in the same place with him. Imagine her surprise when the guy chooses Olivia over her. Zing!

Oh yes. Important to mention that this is the book where Olivia wears a record in her hair. Prompting Lila to snark: “She thinks this is Greenwhich Village or something”. Oh, to remember the time when Greenwhich Village was actually Greenwhich Village. New Yorkers, are you with me?

Choose Your Own (mis)Adventure: Elizabeth Betrayed

Courtesy of The Closet

What is so horrid that has Olivia Davidson clutching her pearls? And why is Olivia wearing pearls? She must have read somewhere that Sylvia Plath stuffed pearls down her throat to kill herself, and it makes her feel more arty or something. And Penny Ayala, wearing a blue and purple ensemble? Those colors are crazy! Leave the mental patient look to Claudia Kishi. I digress, let’s get to it. I don’t even need to tell you what the “correct” answers are.

You are a member of the school paper, and the editor-in-chief is called away to a conference for a week. Do you:
(A) Not worry too much, you have an advisor to help you and no biggie if it gets published a day late. This isn’t USA Today, you know.
(B) Freak out, martyr yourself to the cause to getting the next issue out on the exact deadline, abandon all your friends to work on it, and worry that if the student body doesn’t read the expose on the new lunch items or the PTA agenda, the world will implode in on itself.

You are Olivia. You have a new boyfriend, Rod Sullivan, even though he seems to have no distinguishing personality traits from any other boring vanilla guy at SVH. He talks incessantly about what an amazing writer Elizabeth Wakefield is and how amazing she is, while ignoring your accomplishments founding Sweet Valley’s best (and only) literary magazine. Do you:
(A) Tell him to put it back in his pants, and then dump him. He clearly does not respect you.
(B) Put up with it. It is Liz Wakefield, after all. She can’t help that she is so amazing. Besides, she seems to be your only friend anyway.

You are Liz. Your supposed friend’s new boyfriend keeps showing up everywhere you are and constantly tells you you are amazing and smart and wants to talk about how you are amazing writer. Do you:
(A) Think to talk about it with your friend. She deserves to know what is going on. Also, tell Rod you are uncomfortable because Olivia is your good friend.
(B) Bask in the praise and admiration. After all, you can’t help that people love you! It’s not your fault! It’s the curse of being a Wakefield!

You’re Liz, and you’ve spent a lot of time struggling over being the interim editor, and talking how hard you are working as the interim editor, that you don’t have the time to complete the English assignment for Mr. Collins. Rod happens to be buy and offers to share his notes on the research paper that is due. You use them gratefully. Mr. Collins notices that your essay is similar to a famous art critic and suspends you from the Oracle for plagiarize. You:

(A) take responsibility and realize that you were trying to find an easy way out
(B) are in shock and awe! You are Elizabweth Wakefield! You are an innocent victim! This is all Rod’s fault for offering to help her! Plus, it is also Olivia Davidson’s fault! For not telling Ron not to do it!

You are Olivia, and you feel horrible about the whole situation. Do you:
(A) Stand by your friend (since she seems to be your only one)
(B) Believe your boyfriend because…he is so amazing? And charismatic? Meanwhile, it takes some berating from Jessica Wakefield to finally realize that Rod is dishonest asshole with a hard on for Liz’s writing. Goddamn, where would you be without these Wakefield twins? Well, most likely crushed under a refrigerator.

Well, there is a theme of TRUTH and HONESTY in this book. Lila gets her hair done and gets it dyed purple, and Jessica refuses to tell her that it looks terrible because she thinks it will hurt Lila’s feelings. Meanwhile, they are at the mall, and everyone stares and laughs at Lila, and Lila is mad that Jessica let her leave the house like that. This, my friends, is further proof that these ghostwriters are from some small cave in Antarctica, because since WHEN is purple hair at the mall UNACCEPTABLE? Wasn’t Manic Panic, like, specifically invented to be sold at malls? Yeesh. So Jessica vows to tell the truth to people, at all times, which results in Jessica raising the socipathic notch up to a thousand. her friends hate it, and decide to giver a taste of her own medicine, which is awesome but only lasts about two pages because they realize that, okay, maybe a little lying is ok. Nothing like a little moral relativism to pass the time between football games and Winston’s hot-dog eating contests.

In an even more ludacris C-plot, Mr. Wakefield develops a fetish for meercats. Yes, you read that right.

Loser Hippies need love too

Guess what, SVH administrators have found a way for students to spend even less time in classes; each period is shortened by 5 minutes so they can have a special two-week workshops. The big thing on everyone’s mind is which class should they take? Lila’s doing dressmaking, and Elizabeth is taking painting, so Enid bribed the principal to also put her in painting. And Olivia decides to take painting because she appreciates art but never really took the time to create it. WHAT? This is blowing my mind! Isn’t Olivia’s whole identity based on her being artsy fartsy and folksy? Really? I’m not going to let this bother me, because barely through Chapter One and Olivia is whining to Liz that she really wishes she had a boyfriend and how her life would be better if she had someone.

Liz takes this opportunity to pity Olivia while simultaneously being smug about how awesome it is that she has a boyfriend like Jeffrey. Liz iof course is preoccupied with Olivia’s need for a boyfriend, and talks about it with whomever would listen. Because she’s such a good friend and cares about her well-being. Excuse me, I meant HAS TO PITY THOSE THAT ARE NOT HER.

Enter Stuart Bachman, the art teacher for the workshop. He’s a local artist. Hold up here- is Sweet Valley REALLY where he wants to live? If he’s such an up and coming artist, why doesn’t he move to LA? He probably is hypnotized by the perfect beaches and the existence of one mall and the five restaurants, and two nightclubs in Sweet Valley. Olivia goes bananas over Stuart. Batshit insane. Really. She drools when she looks at him, always offers to clean up and set up, and constantly asks him to critique her work. She also manages to snag his address from the alumni origination from where he went to school (well done for a pre-google world) and stops by his house. Yikes! He is really patient with her and even lets her hang around in his house for a bit. He asks her to come to his gallery opening on Friday and says he has a big surprise for her. It’s also Olivia’s birthday on Friday, so she is stoked, and thinks his surprise is either (a) his dick (b) a date to the Box Tree Cafe (c) his declaration of his love for her and (d) all of the above.

Elizabeth is…wait for it….concerned about Olivia. She thinks Olivia is acting way crazy, and that she should know that Stuart is out of her league…woops, she means too old for Olivia. At first Enid doesn’t believe Liz and thinks she’s overreacting. Then Liz pulls Enid into her plan to spy on them, and Enid sees what a douche Olivia is being, and swears she’ll never doubt Liz again. And then goes home and shoves bamboo strips under her fingernails.

Stuart Bachman

Olivia goes to the gallery opening all a-flutter. She even bought a new purple silk jumpsuit for the occasion (Cameltoe city). She sees Stuart with his fiance, and freaks out and runs out of the room. There she sees that Stuart included one of her paintings in the gallery, which was his surprise. Luckily Olivia bucks up, and realizes what a shithead she’s been. In a split second, she gets over her lust for Stuart and thanks him for including her. He tells her she has “promise” as an artist. Except until she gets crushed by a fridge. Oops, did I spoil that for you? Too bad.

Let’s go back to this workshop thing for a quick sec, mmkay? Jessica gets STUCK in an electronics workshop. Mind you, she put that as her second choice, because she assumed it would be mostly boys. Well, it is, but it’s nerds like Winston (natch) and computer geek Randy Mason. Oh the horror! Jessica is trying hard not to cry. Poor Jessica. This may actually be worse than the time she was almost killed several times and all her boyfriends were murdered. However, the thing that is most horrid about this whole thing is that it is an ELECTRONICS workshop. What does that even MEAN? Each student has to work on their own project. Jeffrey is designing a computer game, Winston is building a singing toaster, and Randy is making a spaceship or something. How are those even related? Are these students just supposed to know how to do this? With no prior experience? Or even a concept of how circuits work” Christ, this irks me. One of my per peeves (are you keeping count?) is when in movies are shows, technology, computers and electronics are oversimplified. The first Mission Impossible movie is the worst offender. The Ving Rhames character is at a computer to help Tom Cruise, break into the supercomputer, and he types in “overide security system” and presses “ENTER”. THE FUCK? Did he design that program? How did he format it to make sure it worked? That drives me crazy!

Little known fact: the character of Don Draper is based on George Fowler.

Jessica has no idea what to make because electronics are for nerds and she’s just a GIRL. Meanwhile, Lila is flapping at the mouth about how her father is currently dating a famous movie star. Jessica doesn’t believe her and thinks Lila is doing it for attention. Wow, George Fowler gets around. I’ll bet he met her at a party celebrating a new microchip he just invented. So, with about three days left of the workshop, Jess decides to build a lie detector. Because it’s just that easy! Well, our Jess has a plan. She’ll flirt with Randy Mason and convince him to do it for her. Did I just eat a brain tumor for breakfast, or was this a plot line from another book? Where she convinces Randy to do her schoolwork for her? Oh, Randy.

The Fresh Prince of Sweet Valley, or #16 Rags to Riches

Just a warning, this one is so beyond ridiculous. Everyone’s annoying personality traits are magnified by about a thousand. And I want to fucking kill them all.

Jessica’s boobs look really weird. And Roger looks…not right. Like he has the smirk of an annoying sitcom little brother. On the body of a 35 year old. If his collar was popped anymore, it would turn into a display rack at Hollister.

If you remember, Roger is so poor that -gasp!- he has to work as a janitor after school to support his single mother. Apparently, at the end of the past book, Roger’s mother dies of cancer. After she dies he finds out he is part of the Patman family and heir to the Patman inheritance- his father was actually Bruce’s dad’s brother. So now he is living in the Patman estate. And the patmans are planning on throwing a big party at the Sweet Valley country club to instroduce Roger as a patman into a society. Almost like a debutante coming out thing, I guess.

How convenient that at the beginning of the book Roger is recapping the last few weeks’ events to his girlfriend Olivia. Ok,so his mother worked for Henry (Bruce’s dad) and Paul, his brother. Paul had an affair with Mama Barrett, got her knocked up and then died in a fiery crash. Unbeknownst to everyone, he left his inheritance to Rog. As he tells it,

“I guess my mother fell in love with Paul Patman, and they spent more and more time together, and-” Roger stopped, his face turning red. “I understand, Roger” Olivia said softly.

Mama Barrett was fooling around with Patman and gets knocked up. AND ROGER IS TOO EMBARASSED TO TALK ABOUT IT. Like 16 year old boys are embarassed to talk about sex. I swear, everyone in Sweet Valley has no genitals, like Alan Rickman in Dogma.

Jessica feels she lost her chance to hang around the Patman family when she struck out with Bruce, so she decides she wants to be Roger’s date to the big party, not Olivia. So they are at a BBQ at the patman’s and she sucks up to Mrs. Patman, Bruce’s mom and Roger’s aunt. Mama Patman likes Jessica’s je ne sais quoi (i.e., her Aryan good looks) and helps Jessica plot to get Olivia out of the picture. See, the Patmans don’t approve of Olivia, because-gasp!- she has frizzy hair! And wears flowy skirts and sandals! And likes poetry! How is she not stoned on the streets of Sweet Valley?

Meanwhile, Roger is having a hard time living at the Patman’s. Bruce is being a big dick to him, and Mama Patman hates him. Because he likes to run and not play tennis. Or some other dumb reason. He feels out of place at the Patman estate. His bedroom is large and wooden and has a large four poster bed. What? They don’t let him decorate? He has to live in a replica of a Tudor’s bedroom? He is at a dinner party for the Patman’s friends and he spills wine or something and Bruce and mama P act as if he killed someone. Papa Patman (who we are told is called Henry Wilson Patman) is the only one that is nice to Roger and tried to make him feel welcome. How is he not aware that his wife is a wicked old harpy and his son is a date rapist?

Meanwhile, Jess starts sucking up to Olivia and pretends to help her become someone the patmans would approve of. Liv continually feels like an ass and assumes she is embarassing Roger. For one, at a BBQ she feels like an ass because…she has a full plate of food. Yup, that makes her an ass because she eats more than 400 calories a day.

HOLD IT RIGHT THERE.

This is incredibly infuriating. If Olivia is supposed to be all independent and free spiritied, why should she care about changing her image and fall for Jessica’s manipulations? And if she and Rog are supposed to be so close, WHY DOESN’T SHE JUST TALK TO HIM ABOUT IT? Ugh. Way to make your semi-respectable characters act like shitheads.

Oh wait, it gets worse. Olivia is supposedly one of Elizabeth’s bffs, so you would think she would get suspicious of Jessica’s interest and I don’t know, maybe defend Olivia? But no, Liz decides she should just mind her own business and let Olivia suffer alone. What an asshole.

Jessica takes Olivia shopping at a trendy boutique, and Olivia remarks that she can’t tell which are the salesgirls and which are the mannequins. Apparently, she’s retarded.

Liz is busy being a total douche to another friend- Reginia Morrow, the rich deaf girl, has been leaving early from school. So, instead of just, oh, I don’t know, asking her friend if she is okay, she and Todd gossip like little girls about it and sneak around and follow her when she leaves after school. They see her with an older ma downtown. Lila is totes jealz of Regina because Regina usurped her position as the only rich brunette teenager in Sweet Valley, and also sees Regina with the older guy and spreads the rumor round that Regina has a sugar daddy. Obvs, this is juicy news over in SVH because they give a shit about the dumbest things.

Oh, so it turns out the older guy is the editor of Ingenue magazine (I guess it is like Cosmo?) and his job is to scout out young teenage girls to profile and model for the cover. Yup, that’s his job. Also, how convenient that the headquarters of a major mag is in SVH.

Reginia is profiled because of her ability to overcome the struggle of being deaf. Okay, no disrespect to the deaf community, but….has Reginia really struggled? her parents are loaded and therefore have been able to get her every treatment available and even had her in a special private school for the deaf her whole life. Not everyone deaf child has that luxury. Also, she is lauded for being able to lip-read perfectly and speak “perfectly”. Again, isn’t that conforming to dominant society and seeing her deafness as abnormal?

In reading this I was already up to my armpits in ridiculousness, but here is the kicker. We learn why Regina is deaf. Her mother used to be a famous model, and when she got preggers with Regina, she was going to quit, but she got one more offer to do a swimsuit shoot, but was told she needed to lose ten ponds, so she took a lot of diet pills which ruined Regina’s ears in the womb. THE FUCK? This made mama Morrow have to give up modeling, and ever since Regina was born, she also had hoped that Regina could model omeday. EVER SINCE SHE WAS BORN? Isn’t that the most awful expectation for a child? Francine thought she was making a tragic background story, I guess.

So back to the Patmans. Jessica tells Olivia the dress she made for herself is fugly, and embarasses her while playing tennis with Bruce and Roger, and other stuid manipulative stuff. Olivia finally breaks up with Roger over it. Both of them are so fucking stupid about it. Jessica convnces doormat Roger to take her to the country club. When they are there he realizes his mistake and declares his love for Olivia in front of everyone, much to Mama Patman’s chagrin. Papa Patman sets her straight and says that Roger is part of the family, so fucking deal with it. Papa patman is the only bearable person in the story.

Other thoughts:

Roger really doesn’t ever mention his grief over his dead mother…

Mama Patman walks around is silk loungewear holding a martini glass. What is this, Falcon Crest?

The SVH cafeteria serves Hungarian ghoulash, in case you cared. Why is Lila eating school lunch anyway?

In his free time, Bruce heads up to the university to cruise on college girls. Do they really want to hang around with a high school boy?

Also, Bruce apparently wears a teeny tiny speedo. Todd says it looks like a band-aid. Gay much?

Contiuity error: is this really the first time Jessica is meeting the Patmans? When she was dating Bruce, didn’t she hang around with them at the country club?

Do these kids ever go to a class?

In every book, one of the twins thinks about how lucky they are to live in Sweet Valley and how they couldn’t believe anyone would want to live anywhere else. Except for the racism, close-mindedness and lack of bars, it sounds like a dream.

Starting a new tradition: a poll with each entry. Today’s question:

Who is more of a DILF?

a. Ned Wakefield
b. Henry Wilson Patman
c. George Fowler
d. Roger Collins