The one where we learn that sluts don’t make good cheerleaders, or #10 Wrong Kind of Girl

Annie looks like Brittany Murphy, pre-anorexia and cocaine. Like in the Clueless days. Jessica’s smirk and stupid wavy bangs make me want to punch her directly in her size-six stomach. Ugh.

Okay, just a warning: I’ll be quoting verbatim from many parts of this one. Because it is so fucking horrible you won’t believe it. First:

The cheerleaders at Sweet Valley High were the cream of the crop- the prettiest, most sought after girls not only in the school but in the town of Sweet Valley, California. They included Robin Wilson, the current Miss Sweet Valley High; Helen Bradley, a stunning redhead, Jean West, a pixie brunette; and Maria Santinelli, who could do backflips that took everyone’s breath away. Finally, there was Jessica, who at five feet six, with a crown of glorious, sun-streaked blond hair, and sprakling blue-green eyes, was the envy of most of the girls in Sweet Valley High…..Of course, looks were only part of it. It took more than that to make the SVH cheering squad…you had to keep your grades up…and the cheerleaders had some indefinable style….above, all she had to have talent.

Great! If they are unique women, they shall only be known by hair color and looks. Second of all, there doesn’t seem to be an adult coach or anything overseeing the team, so wtf? Can a school really allow the students to pick their own members based on looks? ARRRGGGHHHH!!!

So Jessica labels Annie a slut because she has “dated” several different guys, including Rick Andover, Bruce Patman and others. As far as I know, Annie hasn’t slept with any of them, but gets the nickname “Easy Annie”. And she doesn’t want a tramp on her team, because others will start thinking they are tramps. Is it REALLY not possible that someone at SVH does not already think that Jessica is a slut? Can someone PLEASE call her out on her hypocracy? I think the real reason she doesn’t want her on the team is some jealousy thing, because Annie is really thin (we have to hear about it every page) and talented and may move in and steal the attention from guys.

Oh another reason Annie is a vile outcast: she lives in AN APARTMENT! AND HAS A SINGLE MOM! OMG! THE HORROR! Her mother had her at sixteen (wow, at least some teenagers in SVH are having sex) and kind of doesn’t act like a mom and I get the feeling this is why Annie gets her validation from male attention. Which, is a legit reason, but can we please have some characters with non-traditional family structures that are well-adjusted? Because, you know, it does happen. And by my calculations, Annie’s mother is my age. Wow. I need to sit with that thought for a while. Again, Francine implies that if you don’t grow up in a family with 2 straight parents, 2.5 kids and a dog, you are a ruined and tainted person.

Liz is tutoring Annie to get her grades up to she can be eligible to try out for the cheerleading team. And Liz can’t stick her nose out of people’s business and thinks that without her help people will fail.

Oh right, Annie and Jessica have a dance-off at the Beach Disco. How Britney and Justin of them.

Oh, Annie did some modeling when she was thirteen. Who HASN’T been a model in Sweet Valley? The hell? The writers need to understand that pretty people don’ t automatically become models. There is an in-between on the scale of attractiveness.

Annie makes it through the semi-finals and finals and impresses everyone, apparently she is good. And thin and pretty. But Jessica schemes and wines and bullies the rest of the team to pick Cara Walker and Sandra Bacon. I wish Robin Wilson, as co-captain, would stand up to Jessica. I wonder how she even puts up with her.

Also to mention that the team has a manager, Ricky Capuldo, who is shy and is afraid of dating girls, but loves to hang out with the cheerleaders. Um, gay much? But he does have a major thing for Annie. And calls Jessica out on her shit, so that put him on my short list of SVH characters that are bearable.

So Annie doesn’t make the squad, and she tried to kill herself. I guess I should feel bad, but I feel like this does not do justice to the notion of suicide, and glosses over it and suggests people try to kill themselves are just overreacting about an event, and ignores any deep-rooted depression and issues. But why would I even expect Francine to take this seriously? The doctors say she has “no will to live”. Jessica suddenly feels guilty and realizes what a cruel, heartless, selfish wench she’s been. However, that doesn’t carry past the last page of this book, so don’t get too excited.

The twins come in and explain the situation to her doctor, and

Dr. Hammond pressed his hands together and stared at Jessica for a long time. “Do you really want to help Annie?” he asked….”I don’t know” he said slowly, “Perhaps…it’s possible. Now Jessica, you must tell me something. Are you willing to have Annie on the cheerleading squad? If you aren’t, then please say so right now. It would be terrible to raise her hopes and then let her down again. That would be quite traumatic.”…

Wtf? Why does the doctor even entertain this thought? Seriously, if someone was brought in because of an intentional overdose, they would be sent to psych to be under observation for a few days, and here this doctor is prescribing a talk from a stupid teenager to help Annie. HE THINKS THAT BECOMING A CHEERLEADER WILL OVERCOME A SERIOUS MEDICAL CONDITION. Someone take his license away! ARRGGHHH! THE RAGE! So anyway, Jessica asks Annie to be on the team and that wakes her out of her coma or whatever. And all is happy and well. You’d think that maybe Jessica would learn something, but we have a hundred or so books after this that prove she learned nothing.

So…[taking deep breaths]…what is the moral of this one? If you want to change your life for the better, you need to be validated by an exclusive group that bases people on looks. That’s one. The other one is, just as we saw in the Robin Wilson weight-a-palooza, was that the best way to get revenge on those that are being mean and judgmental is to become just like them and be accepted. Seriously, if Robin and Annie are that talented and good looking, they could go off by themselves and make their own clique. Thirdly, if you are blond and pretty and come from an upper-middle class home, it is okay to date around. However, if you are poor and brunette and come from a single family home, it’s considered slutty. These are great messages, Francine. Thank you.

Other thoughts:

They mention that Mr. Collins is in his late-twenties. So, Mr. Collins is actually younger than I am. Yikes.

Want to hear some gross Lizz-Todd lovey dovey talk?

Elizbeth felt Todd as he put his strong arms around her, hugging her tightly. “When we hold each other like this, I believe you. But you had me scared.” “Scared? You? The star basketball player of Sweet Valley High is scared by little old me?” she teased. “I’d better run right down to the Oracle office and stop the presses.” Todd’s response was a tender kiss. “if the opposing team had five beautiful blondes exactly like you, I’d be helpless,” he confessed when they finished their embrace. “But that’s be impossible, because there is no one exactly like you, Liz”.

I threw up in my mouth when I read this. Also, what Todd says is actually kind of gay when you think about it.

Grade: B-

Rage factor: 146 million

40 thoughts on “The one where we learn that sluts don’t make good cheerleaders, or #10 Wrong Kind of Girl

  1. Club X says:

    “I threw up in my mouth when I read this. Also, what Todd says is actually kind of gay when you think about it.”

    Todd really is The King of Saying Gay Things That No Teenage Boy Would Ever Really Say.

  2. Linared says:

    Why doesn’t anyone ever called out Jessica on being slutty? There are countless books were she randomly meets a guy and makes out with him on the spot. No one in SV thinks that is trampy behavior? And usually those guys are drug addicts, date rapists, stalkers, and murderers. So clearly Jessica has some lousy judgment.

    I love this blog. Thanks for pointing out all of questionable moral lessons learned from SV, I’m surprised I’m not even more warped from reading thm.

  3. grace says:

    I don’t even understand the Liz-Todd pukefest. He’s such a tool. Is there something earlier in the book that refers to the being afraid of Liz bit? Why do I even want to know? GOD I hate and love SVH in this cruel, neverending cycle.

  4. Magenta Galaxy says:

    Yup, Todd’s gotta be gay. No question. Liz must be some kind of cover-up because as we learned with Tom McKay, it’s NOT okay to be gay in good ol’ SV! And he’s just annoying, too.

    I hated that no one called Jessica on her hipocracy. She kissed more boys in a week than most people kiss in their lifetime.

    Suicide is a big deal in the land of teenagers. This could’ve been done sooooo much better. And after all that, Jessica doesn’t learn her lesson, and Annie still wants to be friends? Yikes! Talk about no self-esteem…

  5. Kellie says:

    Maybe back then, books were more for fun as opposed to giving teens meaningful life lessons?

    Because honestly, the SV books were negative on so many levels.

  6. Dwanollah says:

    Do y’all remember the horrid cheers they did during tryouts? There was one that went “We, who are about to win, salute you!” How would that make a good cheer?

    And also, Annie wears short skirts and tank tops. So clearly she’s a big ol’ slut. Never mind that she dates THE EXACT SAME GUYS JESSICA DID… Rick Andover and Bruce Patman.

  7. kiwimusume says:

    Oh wow, wtf is with that doctor?! He’s basically ENCOURAGING this little trend of dealing with bitchy, judgmental people by becoming just like them. But then, this hospital is in Sweet Valley, so what do you expect? They should’ve taken her to a hospital in a different town, one with a little Earth Logic…

    Btw, for those appalled at Jessica’s hypocrisy in calling someone a slut when she’s one herself, she gets her comeuppance biiiiiiig-time at the beginning of the Sweet Valley Seniors series…

  8. Magenta Galaxy says:

    True, she does get her comeuppance…but she gets it for something she doesn’t really deserve to be attacked for. She was slutty with Will, but he lied to her, so although I didn’t feel bad for Jessica then, I felt more like Melissa was just a psycho witch hell-bent on believing Will.

    And I agree that these books were clearly not written to be serious about serious topics, but suicide? That’s pretty heavy. I feel like they should either treat it appropriately or not use it.

  9. Linared says:

    Also have many times did Jessica realize that she was being a huge bitch to people and vow to change? That plot point seemed to happen every 5 books or so.

  10. Jennifer says:

    Seriously, why wasn’t Mr. Collins the cheerleading coach? It seems like something he would do. I have never ever (Except for movies or tv) heard of a cheerleading squad without an adult coach. At my school, we had a coach, and also had to try out in front of adult judges, not the other cheerleaders. Of course, I was one of the only cheerleaders that didn’t get pregnant during highschool. So Annie and Jessica would have fit right in on my squad!

  11. Jessa Fields says:

    Wow, this one is way more horrible than I remember. Then again, my defining memory of it is asking my mom what “easy Annie” could possibly mean. (Hey, I was nine!)

  12. coquelicot says:

    If Annie’s supposed to be so thin, why does she look like a *gasp* size 8 or 10 on the cover? 😉

    Don’t throw rocks here, I’m a 10-12 myself.

  13. Winnie Egbert says:

    D’you know, the Jessica/Annie double standard is actually true to real life. If you’ve ever read the amazing ‘Queen Bees & Wannabes’ (on which the film Mean Girls was based), popular girls and especially queen bees can get away with hooking up and sleeping around as much as they like but anyone on a lower social strata is subject to severe judgement for doing anything half as ‘slutty’ as the popular crowd. Even a real-life Robin wouldn’t call a real-life Jessica out on her shit because she’s too new to the upper social eschalons and could easily lose it all for doing so. Shallow bitches, all of them.
    God, I am so glad I’m not a teenager anymore.

  14. EnidRollins says:

    Merrie–because she’s thin, shallow, and blonde!! DUH! I mean, check out the Dallas Cowboys cheergirls! (Okay, maybe that was a little harsh…the Cowboys have athletic girls. But they are mostly for show).

    OMG, they actually brought up the “sun-streaked blonde hair, blue-green eyes, and size-six figure” again? God forbid they should only say blonde hair…it has to be SUN-STREAKED!

  15. Kellie says:

    [i]If Annie’s supposed to be so thin, why does she look like a *gasp* size 8 or 10 on the cover?

    Don’t throw rocks here, I’m a 10-12 myself.[/i]

    I wondered the same thing.

    Oh and about Jessica’s come-uppance in SY? That was a completely different series in my view. The characters all had the same names, but they weren’t the same people we knew in the original SVH. Jessica completely lost her bitchy streak, for one thing.

  16. kiwimusume says:

    @ Magenta Galaxy – yeah, but it was pretty good karmic payback for all the times she and her cronies launched completely undeserved bitch attacks on other people. And it forced her to think about the way she’d been treating people and stop being such a bitch.

    @ Kellie – I could be remembering wrong, but I seem to recall that Jessica lost her bitchy streak after she learned what it was like to be on the receiving end. I remember one of those diary entry things where she reflected on the way she’d treated people up until that point and vowed “never to laugh at another nerd again”. And she stuck to it that time, because she’d actually been in their shoes. So, while I felt sorry for Jessica, I really liked it as a plot point.

    @ Jennifer – please, please don’t give Pervy Collins any ideas…

  17. Merrie says:

    But they had an advisor later in the series. I read a recap of a later book in the series and she’s a little crazy, to say the least.

  18. MaggieCat says:

    “God forbid they should only say blonde hair…it has to be SUN-STREAKED!”
    I take comfort in knowing that after spending so much time working on their tans, they will both probably have faces like crocodile skin handbags by the time they’re in their 30s.

  19. Lily says:

    coquelicot said:
    “If Annie’s supposed to be so thin, why does she look like a *gasp* size 8 or 10 on the cover?

    Don’t throw rocks here, I’m a 10-12 myself.”

    In those days, sizes 8 and 10 were considered thin. Seriously. I know it’s hard to believe now that we are in the Time of the Zeroes…

    And Todd saying, “But that’d be impossible, because there is no one exactly like you, Liz”. LOL — except maybe her identical twin, right, Todd?

    (I know their personalities are different, but it still seemed like a dumb thing for him to say to a twin.)

  20. Mya says:

    So what I have learned from this book:

    If I don’t get what I want I should try to committ suicide (or at least threaten).Hmmmmm-I need a job promotion!

  21. Rio says:

    Would anyone here ever date a guy who used lines like Todd does?

    Actually, I probably would, just so I could say something mean in response and make him cry.

  22. katie says:

    well i guess it is sweet if a guy was as romantic as todd…but thats just overboard. i dnt know any 16 yr old guys that acts like that. guys at that age mostly think about sex. but this is SV after all. lol. gah

    i remembered wanting to kick jess in the face.

    i know…:/ trying to kill yourself to be in a cheerleading squad. francine should of left suicide out of this.

  23. Janie says:

    OMG thank you for this website. I tried and could never get through any SVH books when I was little because all the characters filled me with rage. I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t even like Elizabeth, and it seemed like you were supposed to. Really, reading this all has been a very cathartic experience. See, Francine? You scarred even those who DIDN’T read your books.

    Plus, in the Liz-Todd puke-fest:
    “Elizbeth felt Todd as he put his strong arms around her, hugging her tightly.”

    WHAT is Elizabeth feeling? I mean, maybe Todd’s not gay.

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