The one where Jessica wins the fashion show and the boy or #49 playing for keeps

So this one really bothered me. I mean, all of them bothered me, but this one had my head spinning.

A.J. is cute, for a SVH boy. His hair needs some layering and less feathering. Also, I was promised that he was a redhead. So I was thinking Prince Harry redhead, so I am let down. Also love the matching bland-colored shirts. Jessica needs a better bra.

So after the Slam Book fiasco was resolved, A.J. Morgan and Jessica are dating. But Jessica is putting on the pretense that she is shy, quiet, and studious…like Liz. Everyone is telling her to be herself, but she knows that A.J. doesn’t like obnoxious borderline cases like the real Jessica, and she wants to keep him. I don’t even know why they are dating, because she acts a fool all the time. She reads him bad poetry and tries to talk about wordly things. They even go to a Save the Whales meeting.

Meanwhile, some rich girl Pamela who goes to a private school is trying to steal A.J. A.J. totally wants to bone her, but is trying not to cheat on Jessica. He enjoys Jessica’s seriousness, but is really torn up because he’s a teenage boy and wants to pork a girl. So he is kind of attracted to Pamela.

Meanwhile Lisette’s (you know, the super classy store in the mall) is having a fashion show contest, and the winner gets a custom-designed wardrobe. How does this help the store? Publicity, I guess? Everyone and their mother kisses Jessica’s ass and tells her she would obvs win this thing (ugh) but she thinks A.J. wouldn’t approve. After an awkward double date with A.J., Jeffrey and Liz, she decides to enter. Jessica, honey, it was probably awkward because Jeff is a closet case, not because of you.

So Pamela chick enters the contest, and tries to trip up Jessica by ruining her outfits. The show was ultimate cheese. Pam rips the back of one of Jess’ dresses, so instead of turning around, Jessica “dances” backwards. Also, she models a denim dress that zippers up the sides (classy) but Pam jams the zippers, so Jess belts the dress with it open on both sides. Gross. Finally, she and Pam have a shrieking fight that the audience overhears, and A.J. realizes that Jess is a firecracker and they live happily ever after. And Jess wins a wardrobe of cheap mall attire.

Okaaaayyyyy, so you think the message here is that you should never compromise who you are to get a boy right? Don’t think so fast. Well, you shouldn’t change yourself if you are already shallow, superficial and slutty. So on the one hand we are getting the message that Jessica should be herself, but on the other hand her “act” of being smart and serious is not going to get the guy. Being a superficial, flirtatious slut is what gets the guy. See the twisted logic? This kills me. It’s like Francine was almost on a roll with sending an important message, but then fucks it up with her deluded superficial bullshit.

Other thoughts:

Why the hell doesn’t A.J. hear old stories about Jessica? He doesn’t seem to have any friends. They could give him some general-friends like Aaron Dallas and Tom McKay (when he was straight). Also, I don’t really get what is special about him. He seems rather boring. He makes Todd look exciting, and that is saying something. He’s outdoorsy, we’re told, but whatever.

Elizabeth feels bad that Jessica has to pretend and wants her to be her true self. She “misses the scheming, manipulative Jessica”. And I quote. Wha? She really misses the Jessica that steals her boyfriends and calls people fat? I hate the Wakefield family.

Pamela is a total vixen. She lures A.J. to her house- and get this- one of the straps of her sundress slides down. This is the closest we get to talking about sex since the Bruce-Liz-amnesia thing.

Amy Sutton doesn’t enter the fashion show because she thinks she’s too fat. She has to sit on Lila’s lap in the Fiat and Lila complains how much she weighs. Great friends.

When Jessica enters the fashion contest, the salesperson asks her size and Jess is all “size 6, duh”. As if the salesperson is supposed to have read the series.

Grade: D

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40 thoughts on “The one where Jessica wins the fashion show and the boy or #49 playing for keeps

  1. Aseya says:

    I’m pretty new to this site but absolutely love your take on it. I remember reading this when I was 1o/11, i thought it was great. Re-reading this at the grand old age of 26 i laugh out loud at some of the crap the writers come out with. Liz is always moaning about what a bitch Jessica is, why would she want the Jessica to be herself – i think it a great improvement on a brainless bimbo she usually is in all the other books

  2. nichole says:

    oh my gosh – I totally remember reading about the denim dress with the zippers being jammed. I remember thinking back then that just belting it so it gaped on the sides was a bit odd.

  3. Amy Slutton says:

    I’m surprised you didn’t mention the rainbow prisms sparkling in Jessica’s hair like diamonds, or whatever it said, at the end of the runway show!

  4. Rita says:

    I liked this book when I was younger and thought it was really cute, but I read it again a few months ago and got frustrated with how dense Jess is.

    And haha Amy Slutton, that was one of the only parts I remembered – Jess with the water shimmering in her hair. Gag.

  5. Megan says:

    I was reading this recap thinking that I hadn’t read the original book, thankfully since it seemed kind of lame. Then I got to the description of the dress which I remember vividly NOT understanding when I read the book originally.

    I actually still don’t. And how does Jess belt it in a way that is not just skanky? My head still hurts and its been ten years since I read it.

  6. Stacey says:

    “When Jessica enters the fashion contest, the salesperson asks her size and Jess is all “size 6, duh”. As if the salesperson is supposed to have read the series.”

    Funniest shizz ever!!!

  7. Ellen Riteman says:

    What happens to A.J. anyway? Did they break up in Two Boy Weekend, and then he dissappeared into SVH’s halls along with Jeffery French?

  8. Stacy says:

    Is that one of the hardcovers? I had two hardcover SVH’s…I think one one the Todd/Jeffrey choice one (boo to that choice)… don’t remember the other one off the top of my head.

  9. Magenta Galaxy says:

    ^Ellen Riteman- that’s about the gist of it!

    “Jessica, honey, it was probably awkward because Jeff is a closet case, not because of you.”
    Yet, he’s still a billion times better than Todd.

    As for the belted zipper dress…wouldn’t her underwear or bra totally show on the sides??

  10. Deathy says:

    “As for the belted zipper dress…wouldn’t her underwear or bra totally show on the sides??”

    She probably didn’t wear any. ^_^ Here’s a thought. After Jeffrey and A.J. disappeared, they became “secret friends.” ^_- It fits. How they never show up again. They broke up in SY and to get his mind off it Jeffrey decided to become a D.J.

  11. jms says:

    “Being a superficial, flirtatious slut is what gets the guy.”

    Well… if there’s any truth in SVH at all, this might be it. In high school, the girls most popular with boys were Jessica-esque in some way: blonde or hot or just groomed to look hot, and/or flirty, suggesting possible sluttitude.

  12. Cheryl Slade says:

    I remember going ‘wtf’ at the outfit descriptions, too. Slutty outfits being made even worse, and Jessica working them like she was at a porn-star convention. BTW, did anyone else read Jessica’s poem and secretly think Liz’s poetry was just as bad?

  13. Magpie says:

    Cheryl Slade – yes, I thought that about Jessica’s poetry, too! It still makes me laugh that the ghostwriters must have been sitting there so proud of their achievements with ‘Liz’s’ poems, when they were in fact on a par with their attempts to write bad poetry.

  14. toni says:

    I kinda loved AJ Morgan. Jessica is evil evil evil for breaking his heart.

    Do we know what happened to him later on? It’s not like his family moved again right?

  15. kiwimusume says:

    Yeah, when I read it, since it was basically identical to Liz’s poetry, I thought it must be good. Then Liz mentally snotted about it and being the very naive, unassuming reader I was, I was like “Oh, OK.”

  16. The Kuus says:

    Question for you.

    Is this the same skanky, dark-haired Pamela that Bruce ends up “falling in love” with later on in the series?

  17. jms says:

    Whoa, there are TWO skanky Pamelas? I just assumed this was the same one. And let’s not forget Pamela Jacobson (with the heart condition) in SVT.

  18. "Kitten" Whitman says:

    I liked A.J. for the simple fact that he had a Southern accent, which to my twelve-year-old Jersey self was “exotic”. His sendoff, however, was just so disgustingly lame, even by SVH GW standards. Jessica cheats on him, lies about it for weeks, then dumps him at a dance or something held in his honor. His response? That’s okay, I still want you by my side as Queen of the Dinner Dance or some equally lame obscure title. Even as an enamored preteen I remember chucking the book across the room and yelling “Come ONNNNN!” hateeee

  19. MaggieCat says:

    “When Jessica enters the fashion contest, the salesperson asks her size and Jess is all “size 6, duh”. As if the salesperson is supposed to have read the series.”

    Actually, if Lisette’s was nearly as good as they claim it is, the saleswoman should have been able to tell what size Jessica is. I’ve done both theatrical costuming and retail fashion sales, and in both of those you need to and/or are expected to be able to estimate what size a person wears by looking at them and compensate for any sizing fluctuations your specific store/line has, since lord knows it’s not consistent throughout the industry. (Word to the wise: when you confirm the size, say one size lower than what you think is correct. Especially if you’re working on commission.)

    Just more proof that Lisette’s is not the fabulous store they claim it is, I guess.

  20. Amber Tan says:

    “Why the hell doesn’t A.J. hear old stories about Jessica? He doesn’t seem to have any friends.”

    Maybe the poor boy had been in a decade-long coma that the ghost writers neglected to mention…or was it just understood that A.J. recently moved to SV from “Somewhere in the South”? That might also explain his being an outdoorsy type. ‘Cause you know everyone in the South is totes nature fans, right? [eye roll]

    “…if Lisette’s was nearly as good as they claim it is, the saleswoman should have been able to tell what size Jessica is…. Just more proof that Lisette’s is not the fabulous store they claim it is, I guess.”

    What MaggieCat says is true. I too remember the need to be able to assess the client’s size on sight from the time I spent in the schmatta buusiness. Shoot, the nice saleslady (Bernie) in Pretty Woman even did it when the hotel guy sends Julia Roberts to her.

    Come to think of it, ol’ Julia was also a size 6 in that movie too. Was being a size 6 a national fad during the 90s or what?

  21. MaggieCat says:

    “Was being a size 6 a national fad during the 90s or what?”

    I think it was that decade’s version of ‘small enough that it seems remotely plausible, while still being juuuuust attainable enough that the audience doesn’t immediately think “I hate her”.’

    Horrifyingly, the go-to size for fiction seems to be a size 4 or 2 these days. *gag* Apparently they simply gave up on the ‘plausible’ part.

  22. Tiny Pants says:

    “Okaaaayyyyy, so you think the message here is that you should never compromise who you are to get a boy right? Don’t think so fast. Well, you shouldn’t change yourself if you are already shallow, superficial and slutty.”

    ihatewheat, this line made my day!

  23. Amber Tan says:

    “Well, this obviously was not playing for KEEPS. Maybe it should be called “Playing for chance to slut it up for temporary boyfriend”.”

    BWAH! 🙂

    “Horrifyingly, the go-to size for fiction seems to be a size 4 or 2 these days. *gag* Apparently they simply gave up on the ‘plausible’ part.”

    MaggiCat, if reading the SV books has taught me anything, it is to suspend my disbelief. 😉

  24. Sophie says:

    Who the frick “wins” a fashion show? That makes Miss Teen Sweet Valley redundant, kinda. Winning a fashion contest would mean whoever designed the best collection, right?

  25. Sarah C. says:

    I remember this one! Jessica is supposed to model some hideous “nubby” (the ghostwriter uses some really unappealing word to describe the texture–I wish I could remember it) ivory sweater dress thing and Pamela intentionally catches her bracelet in it, putting a big run in the back of the skirt, hence the sideways shimmying.

    I actually really like Project Runway/Pretty in Pink style moments like this one: they give me almost the same level of satisfaction as a good makeover sequence.

    I think we should start a list of girls who are more sociopathic and self-centered than Jessica. The burning question is whether Lila should be on that list?

  26. Magenta Galaxy says:

    Hmmm…Lila is spoiled, that’s true, but I don’t think she’s sociopathic like Jessica is. I’d nominate the first selfish sociopath (other than Jess) to be Margo. I think the sociopathic part, at least, is pretty clear.

  27. calico drive says:

    Yes they break up in #54 two boy weekend – AJ goes away for a weekend and jess cant last an entire weekend without a man. so she picks up a guy at the beach who ends up being quite loony(hello recycled plot device a la #19 showdown..)

    • Regina Morrow says:

      Whoa How is 110 lbs fat? does that make the Wakefeild twins 100 lbs then? at 5’6″? Wow talk about unhealthy. Good job Francine! thanks for giving us the idea that 110 lbs is even close to fat!

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