The one where Robin Wilson loses 100 pounds and joins the cheerleading squad in a timespan of a week, or #4, Power Play

Jessica “I like gingham”.

Elizabeth: “I am going to give you an open-mouth kiss”.

Also, Elizabeth has a receding hairline.

I digress. Jayzuz, this one was disturbing. So many horrible messages sent to young impressionable minds. So let’s get into it. If you remember in book three, Jessica strung Robin Wilson along and took advanatage of her. She even told her she would nominate her to be a Pi Beta Alpha. Now that the whole thing with Bruce went haywire, she wants to forget it. Elizabeth thinks it is unfair and thinks Jessica should keep her promise. Okay, I’ll give her that. Jessica doesn’t want anyone fat in her sorority. So, you would think that Elizabeth would be on Robin’s side for Robin, but no, she just does it to prove a point to Jessica, Lila and Cara, the trifecta of c*nts. So to try to dissaude her, they give Robin these impossible hazing tasks, like running five miles around the track while people oink at her. And make her go to the beach in a bikini. Ok, everyone say it with me: WHY DOES THE SCHOOL ALLOW THIS? MR. COLLINS, DO SOMETHING!

Instead of telling Robin that she shouldn’t go through this, she helps her complete the tasks. I think she secretly wants to see Robin go through it. So Robin does do everything they ask, so they give her one final task: get Bruce Patman to ask her to the Discomarathon (another dance-a-thon?). That’s a punishment, he may try to touch her boob. Or drug her and date rape her. It could happen. So Elizabeth goes to him and promises to write a feature for him in the Oracle if he asks her to the dance. His ego wins out, and they go to the dance. Once they get there, he acts all Bruce Patman-y and says to everyone when he arrives, “Ok, that’s it. I brought you to the dance, Tubby. I’ve got better things to do now. Hey! Anyone want to steer the Queen Mary around the floor tonight?” Wow, real nice. So Robin is humiliated and finally realizes that everyone is having a laugh at her expense with this whole pledging thing. Just NOW she realizes it. So she runs out and after that withdraws from everyone and walks around not talking to anyone and all withdrawn. And acts pretty suicidal. Jessica and the Pi Betas blackball her.

So apparently, a few days go by and Elizabeth starts noticing that Robin is losing weight. Then, maybe another week goes by and suddenly she is a size zero. And BOOM everyone wants a piece. Even Patman. And get this…Elizabeth talks to Robin’s mother!!!! What a fucking tool. Ok, the nominations are heating up for the Miss Sweet Valley High title. Ok, what school sponsors a beauty pageant? WTF??? In what fucked up world is Francine in? Of course, Robin wins, which is a big fuck you to the Pi Betas, because Miss Sweet Valley High is ALWAYS a Pi Beta, doncha know. Then, Robin tried out for the cheerleading squad and is made co-captain with Jessica. Uh, Robin has never cheerled in her life, now co-captain? Apparenty the only requirement for the team is being skinny.

Ok, back it up. Apparently, Robin also happens to be one of the smartest students at Sweet Valley. But that doesn’t seem to matter here. Only when does she win Miss Sweet Valley does she get acceptance and self-confidence. Ugh. And she gets acceptance from the people that once mocked her. UGH! Seriously, if Robin is smart, just wait it out a year. She’ll go off to a good college and be successful and Jessica will have three kids by age 20. But no, being thin and popular is the ultimate success. Of course, how could I forget.

And obviously, since Robin is fat, she is a bumbling idiot as well. Don’t you know the two go hand in hand? When Liz is with her, she stuffs her face with candy bars all afternoon. When she gets the news she is pledging, she rushes to the fridge to eat an entire cheesecake. Francine really hates overweight people. According to her, they get what they deserve.

When Robin is losing weight, there is an obligatory scene where she explains to Liz that she is not starving herself. I think it is a little late for a public service announcement.

Oh yea. There is a side story about how Lila is shoplifting because she wants more attention from Daddy. Elizabeth forces her to confront the store and tell the truth. Because Elizabeth is full on Little House on the Prairie syndrome.

The moral of the story: thin is in.

Other tidbits:

Robin wears tent dresses everyday, because my god, no one must make clothes in her size, ANYWHERE. Actually, if she were around today, she’d be totally hip.

Omg, a really dumb Todd/Elizabeth moment: Liz won’t tell Todd why she is pissed at Jessica, so Todd apparently pretends to be a fortune teller: “Don’t tell me. Let me gaze into zee futur. Ziss beeg trouble starts with a J is look almost as bee-yoo-tiful as you.” I cringed when I read that.

We get a description of Fowler Crest (Lila’s estate): sculptures on the grounds, red brick courtyard with a big fountain filled with tropical fish. Francine has such a fetish for rich people.

During the campaign for Miss Sweet Valley, the football team has a sign that says “Robin has us Throbbin'”. Heh.

On another note, I sheepishly netflixed the first season of the Sweet Valley High tv show. Oh god, what a mistake. It was paaaaaaiiiiinful. Not funny and no matter what they were wearing or what they were doing, the twins looked like porn stars. And there was this horrendous scene at a dance (where else?) where Elizabeth and Winston do a choreographed dance (you can see a lil of it in the credits. And Todd is fugly (Ryan James Bittle) and Bruce looks about 50 (Brock Burnett). Full cringe factor in effect.

My grade: F

Next time: Perfect Summer and then Lovestruck, told from Ken Matthew’s perspective. Because he’s so insightful. Or something.

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42 thoughts on “The one where Robin Wilson loses 100 pounds and joins the cheerleading squad in a timespan of a week, or #4, Power Play

  1. kiwimusume says:

    Oh God. I remember that cheesy theme song (though for the most part the TV shows were before my time.) SO LAME!!!

    Also, “shy and quiet”? ELIZABETH?! Newsflash, people: Elizabeth is not shy and quiet. She’s every bit as pushy as Jessica (except when it’s Jessica) just in a sanctimonious way instead of a slutty, bitchy one.

  2. coquelicot says:

    I remember thinking how weird it was that *Jessica* was wearing gingham on the cover. Wasn’t that supposed to be an Elizabeth thing? Or was Jess just rummaging through Liz’s closet again because she didn’t have any clean clothes?

  3. Kate says:

    I remember in this book it said that soon, everyone forgot there was once a fat, ugly Robin, but Robin would always remember. Might the school psychologist consider screening some of these students for possible brain damage/loss of memory?

  4. Jacinda says:

    This book made me nuts because it could’ve been such a good opportunity to discuss body image. You know, that not everyone has to be a size 6, blonde, and blue-eyed to be happy? Like teen girls in the US don’t have enough body image problems…

  5. Onnie says:

    hmm, i wonder when francine comes out with her new “heights” series, or whatever the hell it is going to be called, if instead of a size 6, the twins are now going to be a “perfect size 2”? by the way, i always found is incredibly irritating that francine had robin lose ALL that weight over, what, 2 weeks? is popular, and co-captain of the cheerleading squad…go figure – i never knew robin turned so athletic in such a short period of time.

  6. Dwanollah says:

    I adored this book when it first came out. Of course, at the time, I was 13 and firmly convinced that a couple laps in a grey sweatsuit and some new lipgloss could turn me into cheerleader material, too. Which was the ultimate goal.

  7. brandname says:

    My high school had a female beauty pageant that was sponsored by our Student Government. Of course, there was an emphasis on “talent”. We also had a corresponding men’s pageant, again, emphasizing “talent”.

  8. Rebecca says:

    What the hell are the lyrics to that theme tune?!?! All I get is: Look right down in a crowded home, you’ll see there’s a beauty standing issue really everywhere, a reflection… Makes no sense. Really cool blog you’ve got here!

  9. Jade says:

    The lyrics are
    Look right down in a crowded hall, you’ll see there’s a beauty standing, is she really everywhere or her reflection – sweet valley sweet valley high

  10. Jo says:

    Oh my god, the boys who supported Jessica had the wonderful slogan “JESSICA IS JUST RIGHT”, which she preened at smugly when she saw it written on a banner or something.

    I have carried this utterly useless information around in my head for TWO DECADES and AARGH this book sucked so much.

    … still loving the blog!

  11. Cheryl Slade says:

    Okay, Robin isn’t starving herself. How come Francine realized about 70 books later that Robin has anorexia? Or rather, she had an eating disorder for about one more week, got down to a 00 instead of a 0, and was cured by the next book.

  12. Nicole says:

    How fucking sick is it that I still–some 25 years later–remember the exact description of her sitting in the cafeteria after she embarks on her “weight loss journey”. It was something like, “Her tray, which had always been heaped with double burgers, instead held a small salad.”

    Let me just tell Francine Pascal something. No fat girl would have ever been seen at school eating a double burger, let alone a pile of them.

    Now I’m just re-traumatized by the whole thing (but loving the blog all the same).

  13. BartTempleton says:

    Okay, I just re-read this for the first time in perhaps 12-15 years and had to look it up to comment.

    This book is foul. Every character is unlikeable, from the fat-hating wicked bitch of the west, Jessica, to the obtuse/weak-willed Robin Wilson, to whiny daddy’s girl Lila, to resident asshole 1Bruce1, to–and this is what is surprising, given Francine’s usual hard-on for Elizabeth Do-Gooder Wakefield—Liz’s loathsome condescension, false concern, and completely misguided motivations in meddling.

    I’m _so_ glad IHW called out Liz’s suspect motives. A lesser reader would have overlooked this fatal flaw. It’s nice to have someone as astute as me writing these recaps. Ahem, anyway.

    The character we’re called upon to think of as “the considerate, caring twin” was, in this book, a smug little bitch who worries about Robin Wilson’s hazefest because it doesn’t reflect flatteringly on JESSICA and her attention to the “little people” (actual phrase), not because it’s–oh, I don’t know, IMMORAL for people to persecute other human beings.

    Here’s one of many scenes where Liz deserves a knee to the crotch:

    –“Robin, doesn’t eating like that make you–” don’t say “fat,” she warned herself– “break out?” (6)

    –Elizabeth looked at Robin dubiously. She was convinced Robin’s heaviness was due to the way she ate–especially if this was typical. (7)

    –Though Elizabeth and Jessica certainly (readers, note this douchebaggy “certainly”) didn’t have Robin’s figure problems, they still watched their diets carefully. (7)

    –[Jessica’s]”let ’em wait” attitude was what had Elizabeth fuming. (7)
    *Really, Liz? THAT’s what has you fuming?

    Mother. Fucker.

    Pardon my Anglo-Saxon, but I just felt rage course through my endrocine system all over again.

    Just what the $#!? does this skinny sun-streaked biotch know about tipping the scales? Is she an fffffING nutritionist, now?

  14. BartTempleton says:

    But there’s so much more.

    –“Look in the mirror.” Elizabeth plowed on, determined to speak her mind. “Your eyes are kind of red and puffy now (!), but you’ve got a pretty face. A _very_ pretty face.” (55)

    –[Liz to self] : Why should Robin be kept out of PBA because she’s a little overweight? Alright, a LOT overweight. (11)

    murdermurdermurderkillkillkillkillmurderhate

    Now there’s the matter others have mentioned: overweight teenage girls simply do not indulge in front of their peers. Trust me. I remember. Fat is like an ethnicity–it’s a whole subculture that non-members will necessarily have trouble understanding.

    There is not even a snowball’s chance in hell that Robin would “rythmically chew” TWO LARGE chocolate bars in front of slim Liz, no matter how “Concerned (TM)” the latter is ; that she would offer the Phi Beta trinity CHOCLATE SHAKES, ECLAIRS, and ICE CREAM SANDWICHES (thereby admitting her kitchen is stocked with high-cal treats); or that (during-diet), her “plate, usually piled high with french fries and double burgers, now held only lettuce leaves, two tomato slices, and a hard-boiled egg.” (100)

    Bulllsheeeeeet.

    Francine Pascal and her ghosties just outed themselves as more out of touch than even we give them credit for. This is lifelong thin people’s idea of what fatties live like. In all probablity, Robin Wilson would have gotten up, skipped breakfast (while the Wakefields were pouring maple syrup on their stacks of pancakes), sat reading in the library or a classroom during lunch, and come home for an after-school snack similar to her peers’. She might snack through the evening and eat a large dinner, but by no means would she be chowing down 24/7, and by no estimations would she always be eating junk food, fast food or rich desserts. This is stereotyped, inaccurate cat caca, and I dare Pascal and the new ghosties to try to keep this in the 2008 version of Power Play.

    Others and IHW have also commented on the vomitous ending, in which Wilson gets back at her tormentors…by joining them. No, this is not an acceptable revenge fantasy on haters. Even Destiny’s freaking Child knows this. To wit:

    * And wasn’t it you that said that I didn’t look too good
    That I wouldn’t do too good
    I’d never make it out the hood
    I want you to know that I’m doing so good *

    “Make it out the hood” being the operative phrase here. A satisfying vindication fantasy that would have preteen readers cheering would involve R. Wilson escaping the backwater inferno that is Sweet Valley High and achieving non-appearance-related success in a big pond like L.A.

    Meanwhile, moving on to the sizeable shoplifting subplot, LIZ WAKEFIELD IS A 16-YEAR OLD VIGILANTE AND UNSOLICITED RENT-A-MOM. Hate, hate the part where she frogmarches Lila back into the Security Guard’s office and forces her to confess. The ghosties didn’t have a good handle on Lila yet, at this early stage. The essential, the real Lila Fowler would laugh in Liz’s face, and do a hair-toss and nose-upturn, to boot.

    And let’s not forget how the crackerjack reporter literally shoves herself onto the local newspaper editor and volunteers herself to write an article. And he identifies her on sight, by name. And agrees. Er, yeah.

    This is only the tip of a very craggy iceberg, but I invite anyone to offer a contradictory take on this book. You can’t. It’s poison.

    ‘Kay, well, I need to go take my blood pressure meds now.

    • Neek1981 says:

      You. Are. Awesome. It bugs me so much that Liz is supposed to be the nice twin, but she’s so condescending and smug. Also, hate how they gave us the idea that if you’re fat, you’ll never be good enough. So by losing weight, it seems that Robin’s problems were solved.

      • BartTempleton says:

        Heh, heh, thanks. Geez, my presha was really up when I wrote this, wasn’t it?

        You hit the nail on the head about Elizabeth’s fatal flaw. Isn’t it crazy how when we first read these back in the day, her obscene condescension didn’t jump out at us? If I had been in high school at the time, it certainly would have, but I read these early SVH’s in elementary school in the 80s.

  15. Vanessa Saxton says:

    First of all, I thought it was Liz in the gingham blouse. Would Jessica be caught dead in it??? It’s just a bad cover all the way because it has nothing to do with the plot! The 2008 covers are simply awful, though, yet the 2008 version of the book was still awful, yet much more realistic as it shows Robin having a gradual weight loss over a few weeks/months.
    I used to really like Jessica (after reading her diaries and the poor jessica plots) but I am really hating her after reading the re-releases.

  16. Fraser Sherman says:

    The takes on how fat teens eat in the comments above were really fascinating.

    The book sounds horrible.

    The teen dork/geek/loser/fattie who doesn’t realize the cool kids are setting them up in some fashion is an old plot for high school (and some college stories) so I can understand Pascal using it–but it really is stupid (when I was younger and much more insecure, I was a lot more wary of people who seemed to be nice to me).

  17. Massie Blockhead says:

    I read this book and there was a part where they described the girls entering the pageant.
    It said “no one was more beautiful than jessica wakefield with her natural beauty and blue-green sparkling eyes” BARF! SERIOUSLY THEY DONT APPEAR SO GORGEOUS ON THE COVER!

  18. Enid Rollins says:

    You know what bugged me? That the twins and the SVH gang ate just as much crap at the Dairi Burger, but didn’t gain anything and weren’t called out on it? Burgers, vanilla shakes, fries, Mexican food, HELLO? But apparently, if you’re already fat by high school, it’s wrong to eat junk, but if you’re skinny by high school, you can’t get fat in Sweet Valley??? Load.

  19. Sonnie says:

    HA HA HA! Speaking of dances. The 80’s SVH boardgame is about all the cute, skinny girls getting their hunky dates in time to go to the prom. Of course in the game, boring old, size 6 1/2 Enid is Winston’s date, because she can’t possibly have Bruce, Ken, or Todd as hers.

  20. Sonnie says:

    Also….Why the F does Todd put up with Miss “Oh, I can’t tell you my sister’s being a cunt again” Elizabeth’s shit? She strings the poor dude along until the very end. But yet they still love each other, they just don’t have enough in common to be together for another decade.

  21. gemma says:

    I just ordered this one off Amazon (funnily enough the copy I brought was published the same month and year that I was born) can’t wait to read this! It’s weird in books that when someone drops a few dress sizes they suddenly become popular…

  22. gemma says:

    Francine Pascal and her ghosties just outed themselves as more out of touch than even we give them credit for. This is lifelong thin people’s idea of what fatties live like. In all probablity, Robin Wilson would have gotten up, skipped breakfast (while the Wakefields were pouring maple syrup on their stacks of pancakes), sat reading in the library or a classroom during lunch, and come home for an after-school snack similar to her peers’. She might snack through the evening and eat a large dinner, but by no means would she be chowing down 24/7, and by no estimations would she always be eating junk food, fast food or rich desserts. This is stereotyped, inaccurate cat caca, and I dare Pascal and the new ghosties to try to keep this in the 2008 version of Power Play.

    That is true. When I was at school I was chubbyish (well compared to other girls in my year I was about a uk size 14 which in a US 10 and I was 5’6) and I’d usually have a jacket potato with tuna and a can of diet coke for dinner (on the very odd ocassion I did decide to treat myself to a cake or a packet of crisps I’d was met with disgusted looks by my peers) whilst the skinny girls would always have gravy and chips, a cake and regualar coke for theirs aswell as buying sweets and crisps from the tuck shop at break. There was a girl bigger than me in my year and I only ever seen her with a can of diet coke and some fruit.

  23. katie says:

    Hahaha! I love your blog. 😀

    I really dislike both Jessica and Elizabeth. Jessica is such a bitch..and Elizabeth…arghh..her condescending look and how she just has to be part of everyones lives. Francine makes them so unlikeable…yet good things happen to them. They get hot boyfriends, girls worship them ..and the fact they always get away with things. It’s so irritating.

    I felt so sorry for Robin, having to go through shit. I wanted to kill Jessica. Francine tries to focus on teenage problems…but haha. Going from overweight to slim in 2 wks? Wtf? Losing weight that fast causes big health problems.

    The fact the twins are perfect is ludicrous. No acne problems, weight issues, having ‘ ugly’ days. What a perfect world.

  24. Monic says:

    I wonder if Francine is thin with blonde hair and blue-green eyes. If she is, it might make sense why she praises that look so much. Another author I enjoyed reading was Nora Roberts, who has a fetish for red heads, and on the back of most of her book covers, she has red hair.
    Anyway, does anyone remember Lois Waller from the Sweet Valley Twins books? I remember Jessica used to pick on her. In one book, (I think it was the one where the twins are ballerinas) Jessica says she hates how Lois wears baggy dresses. Liz says something like, “she can’t help it if she’s fat Jess” and then Jess is like, “well, she CAN help being so ugly!” How screwed up is it that I remember that?

  25. gemma says:

    Francine Pascal is slim and blonde, not sure on her eye colour though. Theres a link to a picture of what she looks like today somewhere on this site. I remember seeing a picture of Lois Waller on a SVT book and she wasn’t big at all, yet they made her out to be huge.

    • Kanna-Chan says:

      Don’t forget, the twins thought it was a huge deal just because Liz got to go to 7th grade for a while. They made it seem like being in 7th grade was like living on another planet. So I’m pretty sure that being even 5 pounds overweight would have been a big deal to them. Sweet Valley is a place where nothing makes sense, like the Twilight Zone.

  26. Anisa(: says:

    oh. my. god.
    i havee this book. it maade me feel insecure as heck at times,
    now im over it. Elizabeth is suchhh a bitch its beyond words.
    & i wanted to pimp slap cara, lila, and jessica.
    & seriously, blonde hair blue eyes. whoa. gorgeous.
    and so unique, doncha think?
    im proud to be BRUNETTE(:

  27. Anna says:

    What I always thought was stupid was that in the Wakefield family, all the men were brown haired and brown eyed, and the women were all blonde and blue-green eyed. If you read “The Wakefields of Sweet Valley,” part of the Sweet Valley Saga series, you’ll see what I’m talking about. Um, Francine? Genetics doesn’t work that way! And what are the ghostwriters and Francine trying to say with that – men have to be tall, dark, and handsome, and women have to be thin, blonde, and aqua-eyed to be attractive???

    It’s been forever since I read the original version of this book, but I just read the 2008 reissue. It wasn’t as bad as what everyone here is describing, so apparently the writers realized that 25 years later, this book would offend a lot of people so they should change it significantly. And…I’m not defending this book, but you have to realize that it was 1983. This was a time when political correctness was not all that important, and the ideal of beauty was a blonde, blue or green eyed, slim girl, with almost no exceptions. Funny that many of the women who are considered the sexiest in the world NOW (Eva Longoria, Jessica Alba, Megan Fox) do not fit this ideal.

  28. Beckster says:

    OMG… this is the best blog I have found in ages! I am literally laughing out loud non-stop reading this. I was OBSESSED with these books when I was young and reading these recaps is so much fun. I think I might need to see if my mom still has my old books anywhere… I think I need to re-read some of them now that I can fully appreciate how absurd they are. Fanstastic!

  29. Emme Erics says:

    Anyone remember the later SVU books that came out in the nineties, when ELizabeth was dumped and got herself fat? Of course, she was still somewhat gorgeous, but without a boyfriend she started eating and she OMG gained weight.
    That was even MORE annoying to me than this story (OK,perhaps not more, but still), because she was descibed as some sort of pathetic person who made herself so fat and disgusting and eating all the time. Of course, once she got a boyfriend again (Tom? Todd?) she lost it all again and they lived happliy ever after.

  30. Goldray says:

    What is really sad about this book is that all of these teenagers at Sweet Valley High are supposed to be so nice, and perfect, and whatever… So, when Robin is told to run the track in a bathing suit, why didn’t one of the other characters walk up to Jessica’s smirking ass and explain to Jessica how completely out of line that shit was by slapping her hard enough to knock her on the ground. If they’d put a character like that in the book, that character would’ve been a favorite. Even if the character was- GASP!- a size 10.

  31. Anne says:

    I totally laugh at your comment on how the twins in the tv show resemble porn stars. Because as someone who works in the policy review department for an adult entertainment company, I can confidently say you’re spot on with that assumption. In fact….I swear I’ve seen them somewhere…. but not completely sure since they still have clothes on….

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