“Bruce Patman’s Advice for Dating”

Actual product sold at the fund raiser*.

I find it interesting, since the last post about Lila’s Story, all the love for Lila coming through. I’m not excluding myself from this, you all know my love for Lila. In fact, so much that I role play Lila (halp!) I also know a good chunk of us would consider giving it up for Bruce Patman in the backseat of 1BruCE1 (again, myself included, god help me).

The question is, even today, as adult, smart, strong, independent women, we still find Lila and Bruce to be the “favorites.” Why is that? Shouldn’t we, looking back, realize that the characters we should like the most are, say, Olivia Davidson? She’s smart, artsy, independent and likes to go against the crowd? What about Liz, who is loyal to her friends, likes to write, and is passionate about issues? We still find them irritating. Yet we find a gal who is essentially a spoiled brat who gets her rocks off putting down others. (Sorry Lila, you know it’s true girl)

It makes sense for us as pre-teens to love them because as pre-teens we are told through peers and media that money and looks are what matters. True, that message is still around us all the time, but as adults, shouldn’t we have a better time seeing through that? I think it is that Francine (aka ghostwriters) did such a good job of consciously AND unconsciously validating the characteristics of the rich, good looking characters and making them the protagonists, and having the other characters always ruining their fun. So much to the point that even today, we as adults rereading them root for the Bruces and the Lilas of the story.

I’m not calling anyone else about that, because I consider myself one of these people. I find myself cheering when Lila makes a snarky comment or devises an evil plan and rolling my eyes whenever Liz brings up some issue about basic human goodwill. If all of us smart women of today are buying into that, what hope was there for us as awkward tweens?

Anyway, moving on to Bruce. I gotta say, I wanted more insight into Bruce’s mind. How does he feel about all the women he’s (supposedly) conquested? Does he keep a Barney Stinson-esque list? What are his techniques? How often does he look at himself naked in the mirror and talk to his cock? Does he even have any male friends? Does he actually talk to anyone in the senior class? Sorry, none of that. We get a watered down narrative about Bruce’s temper tantrums and his rich white man problems.

I want to take a swim in his chin cleft.

Furthermore, Bruce doesn’t even get the point of view narrative through the whole thing! The twins even get some screentime! And, as we are reminded for the gazillionth time, Roger has just moved in after he found out he is a Patman, and he is having a hard time adjusting to the new lifestyle. Ok, we get it. Just eat some caviar and enjoy it already. He is happy that Bruce is finally acting like a friend. The ice queen Marie Patman still hates him. Man, she is a piece of work.

Strangley, we get a Claudia Kishi-esque description of Bruce’s outfit:

Bruce was wearing a navy linen sports coat and an imported silk tie. The creases in his gray trousers looked as if they’d been cut with a knife. He had even slicked his hair back with a dab of gel. Bruce looked fantastic- his dark, chiseled good looks shown off to their best advantage.

Grandpa Patman is paying them all a visit, who started the big Patman fortune (I thought they were old money?) Gramps prides Bruce in being Bruce, and chides Roger for having his shirt untucked and not caring about the family business. Like Bruce does? He spends most of his time stroking 1BRUCE1, pressing pleats into his chinos and lightly brushing girls’ breasts.

A typical Friday night for Bruce.

Gramps proposes a contest between the two boys- he gives them two thousand dollars each, and gives them four weeks to see who can make the most profit off of it. What then ensues is some of the dumbest hijinks ever. Hold that thought.

Meanwhile, SVH has dopted project SAVE, and one member of each of the grades is selected to the committee. I’ll give you three guesses who the junior class rep is. Tracy Atkins is the senior class rep, and Bruce is getting a hard on for her because she just got a new haircut that according to him, makes her look like “a supermodel”. Bruce is obsessed with her, despite her disinterest in him. She’s got no personality, kind of a hybrid of Liz and pe-makeover Lynne Henry. Oh no wait, her “special needs” little brother goes to the Nicholson school that project SAVE is fund raising for. Apparently, the school needs five thousand dollars to stay open another year. Jeez. What sort of crap school is this? Taught out of a cardboard box? That pays for crayons, maybe.

Also, Regina is never mentioned by Bruce, nor is Bruce’s feelings about her death. Supposedly it happened during that school year, but either he is totally over it or the ghostwriters didn’t want to bother with that extremely important plot point. Also, he interacts with Liz, who finds him slightly annoying. Did he not remember the coma-date-rape incident? Tracy Atkins asks Liz for advice about Bruce, and Liz is all, “if you like him go for it!” What a friend.

Bruce has a 1BRUCE1 fender-bender and needs it fixed, so that’s $500. Then he decides to buy $100 concert tix to surprise Tracy with. Who declines him after Bruce shows up at her house unannounced expecting her to drop everything and go with him. The nerve of that girl! Bruce can hardly believe it either. Then Bruce plays poker with some guys from the country club, and loses seven hundred dollars. Roger meanwhile, is unsuccessfully at the stock market. Yes, this sounds riveting, doesn’t it?

Liz and her saint-in-training Tracy think of the perfect fund raising idea: Harbor Days! For two Saturdays, vendors will set up booths in the park and give half the profits to the charity. Any SVH student can also set up a booth. That is….not really a good fund raising idea. Plus, the four students seem to pull this together in about three days with no adult help. Chya right. Bruce first decides that he wants to sell copies of his black book of all hot girls’ phone numbers. For real, he really thinks this is a good idea. Luckily Tracy come up with the idea that Bruce should sell “Bruce Patman’s advice for Dating” books. So, he writes the book in like a day and they create copies and are ready to go. Here’s a sample:

What do you say to a girl you’ve just met who you want to go out with? A. You’re gorgeous, B. I dive a Porsche. Want a Ride? C. You’re in for the best night of your life now that you’ve met me. D. All of the above.

Roger decides to sell white caps that he will custom make for people. What? Who will buy those? Since when is he a good artist? Oh, it was the eighties. Bruce, being Bruce, sabotages his paint and trades the waterproof paint for water soluble paint and gets a kid to start throwing water balloons on them. Ruh-roh! For the second Harbor Days, Roger sells enlarged photographs taken by Jim, that guy who started the photography club. Bruce decides to sell homeade ice cream. Yes, it is that ridiculous. Bruce has a plan to once again sabotage Roger’s photo paper, but doesn’t at the last minute. That makes him think he is a hero.

Tracy finds out about Bruce’s antics and breaks it off with him, and Bruce gets a bit of a guilt complex and ends up just giving all his money to the SAVE charity. And, fior that matter, why is SAVE always capitalized? Is it an acronym? So, at his parents coming-home-from-vacation-surprise-party-that-for-some-reason-SVH-students-were-invited-to, Grandpa Patman wants to declare a winner of the contest. Turns out Roger also gave his profits to charity, so they are both broke. Grandpa Patman realizes the error of his ways and apologizes for the contest. Hank Patman also says that Patman industries will be the benefactor of the Nicholson school and it will never have to close. Seriously, he could have decided that sooner so the Project SAVE committee wouldn’t have to go through all the trouble. A tie is declared. Does that mean they will both run the company? Neither? Never really resolved. Are we surprised? Nope.

I wish this never existed. It didn’t do anything to redeem Bruce, and it didn’t to anything to make us hate Bruce, in a good way. Only when he is a secondary character in other books do we get his one-eyebrow-raised, smarmy remarks that we love so much. Here he seemed- developmentally challenged. And not just immature in the way he deals with girls, but seriously challenged socially and mentally. He is completely clueless on picking up the social cues of others, and not just because he was too confident. But because he just…couldn’t. And aside from a brief fling with Tracy and a poker game with someone he knew somewhat, no friends were mentioned. Really, Bruce? Is that why you try to fill that void in your soul with fast cars and innocent women? We can’t expect the ghostwriters to be that deep.

*Cover done by my amazing friend John who has an uncanny talent for creating fake album/book covers.

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34 thoughts on ““Bruce Patman’s Advice for Dating”

  1. maybeimamazed02 says:

    As someone who works in fundraising, I just say…gaaaaaah. So many things wrong here, I can’t even tell you. I get that 12-year-olds aren’t going to know the difference, but do your homework, ghosties!

    I like Bruce for the same reason that Blair and Chuck are my favorite characters on Gossip Girl, way trumping Serena, Nate and Dan. Also, same reason I loved playing “bad” characters in my acting days. It’s just more fun to love to hate a character. Also, villains are typically more multi-faceted than bland protagonists.

    Great post!

  2. Holz says:

    I always thought Bruce had a secret love for Liz, they always seem to be flirting and Liz understanding his “softer” side. ugh Liz is annoying.

    I always hoped this book would reveal Bruce as a bit more emotionally deep than a puddle. A girl can dream…

  3. opangster says:

    I loved your intro! I think the reason why I love Lila and Bruce is because they are “honest.” They are rich, beautiful and know it and don’t care who gets in their way to get what they want. I think deep down inside of all of us, we wish we had the balls Lila and Bruce did to do what we want and to get what we want.

    I personally hated these Superstar series books. I think the only one I liked was Lila’s story!

  4. Whallie says:

    Plus, how did Grampa Patman get so rich by having a stupid 5 year old idea of the two cousins competing for the family fortune. Wouldn’t it have been better if he viewd it as a family owned and operated co. that sticks together and works things out, instead of fighting with each other to the top. Of course SVH books were meant to screw with your head growing up. No wonder why my sister and I never shared anything or got along.

  5. Jen S. says:

    That cover promises so much Bruce Sexin’—and than he turns out to be Trucker Max, only even more icky and stupid, and has the “getting even” skills of a five year old. Hawt! How disappointing. I’ll just have to go on writing feetlthy Bruce/Lila fanfic…

  6. Neek1981 says:

    Bruce and Lila were never my favorites. I liked Liz, Enid and Nicholas, though I felt Nick and Enid didn’t get much air time or decent storylines. The reason I liked these characters best is that I often look for characters I think I could be friends with if I met them in real life. There is no way I could have put up with the conceit and bitchery of Jess, Bruce and Lila. Anyway, I read something on here about how Lila made a racist comment in one of the books. That really bugged me, even though I don’t remember her making comments like that ever again, and she did hang out with Maria Slater (a black girl) and Evie (Asian girl) in the Unicorn Club series. Lila and Bruce seem like the WASP-only country club type. I can’t relate to that, which is also why I don’t watch shows like Gossip Girl. I enjoy shows about down-to-earth people like Friday Night Lights. FNL = Best. Drama. Ever.

  7. girltalkread says:

    OMG I read this book over the summer w/ the intention of writing about in my blog but I could barely even finish it! It was such craptastic mess!!!! UGH! I do want to read Lila’s Story though just because Lila is the queen of awesome.

  8. sunstreakedblonde says:

    Shockingly, I don’t think I read this one. Or if I did, I must’ve forgotten it, because frankly it sounds pretty forgettable. A++ on the Bruce’s Guide to Dating artwork, though. Would LOL again.

    I think the reason we love characters like Bruce and Lila as opposed to characters like Liz or Olivia is, well, everyone loves a good trashy soap villain. Look at the popularity of soaps like Melrose and 90210 (original flavor, I mean). Rich, beautiful, self-centered, mildly sociopathic people make for great entertainment.

    I think another factor is that they’re flawed. Despite their wealth and looks, as people they’re not exactly admirable. There’s something refreshing about characters so straightforward about their less-than-pure motives. It’s the same appeal as characters like House, M.D. We all have a little of Bruce or Lila (or House) in us; we just don’t act on it because we could never get away with it (or else we’re just not sociopathic). Whereas there really isn’t anything relatable about characters like Liz or Olivia, with their unfailing moral compasses and who always do the right thing.

  9. gnatalby says:

    I think we love them because they are never self-righteous at us in ways that are deeply, uncomfortably wrong. No one is pretending Lila or Bruce are role models, but the reader is supposed to think Liz is a really good person, which makes it pretty uncomfortable when she decides it’s time to save the black people or uplift some sad unpopular with her condescension..

  10. The Kuus says:

    For me, the reason Lila and Bruce are so appealing is the same reason I like people in real life: their flaws are interesting. There’s nothing that annoys me more than “nice” people who bring nothing of interest to the table other than simply failing to offend anyone.

  11. Becca says:

    Given the way the ghostwriters handle “romantic” talk between Liz and Todd (or Jeffrey for that matter), I can’t even imagine what they’d do with Bruce talking to his cock. I mean, I’m dying to read it, but I can’t imagine it.

    This one was pretty bad – Bruce just seems like such a doof, and Roger – paint-splattered caps? Really?!

  12. Janelle says:

    Oh, the antics of those silly Patmans! Splattered paint and homemade ice cream…

    I agree that the Super Star books are a major let down. I think that there is (a little bit) more to Bruce than is usually let on, and, as someone said, it is typically in his interactions with Liz that it comes out. A match-up between those two (beyond that one steamy kiss in the Wakefield kitchen) would have been quite interesting! I do enjoy the Lila/Bruce hook up in SVU- that’s gotta be the hottest pairing! Anyways, this book does totally fail at letting us know more about Bruce and what he’s really all about.

  13. Roger Patman says:

    Am thinking that if the Patmans became so wealthy with the canning business, could I make that kind of money with selling my canned tomatoes? If so…dinner is on me at the Dairi Burger with shots to follow at the Shady Lady!

  14. Miss Moppet says:

    Count me among those who would give it up to Bruce, in the back of 1Bruce1 or…pretty much any car really. And for all of these years, I thought that was wrong.

    I love the detail that Bruce’s tie is ‘imported.’ I think we’re meant to infer ‘from Milan’ or ‘from London’ rather than ‘from Taiwan.’ Interestingly, it doesn’t mention a shirt, although presumably he’s wearing one.

    I’m with opangster: I like Bruce and Lila for their super confidence.

    The Guide to Dating cover is beyond fabulous.

  15. Miss Moppet says:

    Forgot to say: I think Bruce got watered down in the later books. I signed off long before SVU came out but later picked up one of my stepsister’s SVUs and was taken aback to read a description of Bruce ‘trotting’ up to someone. I was like: this is Bruce Patman! He strides! He swaggers! He might be known to saunter. But he certainly doesn’t trot!

  16. Vanessa Saxton says:

    I absolutely love the guide to dating. I would buy one at the fundraiser. And I totally had a crush on Bruce many years ago. Okay, I still do!

  17. Vanessa Saxton says:

    Not related to Bruce Patman but I was watching E! True Hollywood Story on Courtney Cox and she got her start modeling for YA books. So I guess that rumor that she modeled for Jimmy is true! 1Bruce1 site is going to have a chat with Jimmy. Does anyone know when it is scheduled for?

  18. Magpie says:

    I wouldn’t give it up to Bruce, because apparently he kisses like a dead jellyfish (according to Jessica in one of the later books). Also, he would totally be the type to tell everybody in school about it the next day. Regardless, I always thought he was hot on these covers. If John Barrowman didn’t model for these, then he has a doppelganger out there somewhere.

    As for why we find Bruce and Lila fascinating, in my case it’s simple: as a kid thinking it was so unfair to be told what to do by my parents all the time, it was great escapism to read about Lila and the total lack of discipline in her life. That, plus she is the only character who ever seems to score points against Jessica, which was something I wanted to happen far more often than it did! I wish Olivia or Enid, one of the “nice” kids, had been more fully developed, rather than just sidekicks for Elizabeth. Then maybe we could have actually seen a decent, well-adjusted role model who wasn’t sickeningly preachy.

  19. belledame222 says:

    Oh seriously. Look, the books overall are total boogie wet dreams anyway; why shouldn’t we root for the “evil” uberrich? The upper-middle-class Wakefields et al are already total snobs; what’s the point in Littlest Bearing it? (oh no, THAT”s TOO disgustingly pampered). Go Lila! Go Bruce! Go Nicholas whosis and um whoever the rest of the kazillion millionaires are that waltz through Sveet Valley! You don’t need those tedious middle-class types cramping your style…

  20. Karla says:

    I’m on the same page as everyone who finds Bruce and Lila fascinating because they’re honest and flawed and the “good” kids annoying because they’re so sanctimonious and dull. Seriously, why do the kids with principles have to be portrayed like walking PSAs? I’ve known plenty of decent people who also manage to take stands against racism, sexism, and white male corporate oppression (tm Sonic Youth) without being complete drips about it. Oh, and PS. – many of them have done drugs! And had teh sex! And sometimes they can be selfish and mean! You know, because they’re human?

  21. Julius says:

    I have to say this was really one of the betetr books in the series. Some of them were pretty bad. One of the best, really. In this humble fan and reader’s opinion, anyway.And memo to our beloved blogmaster Shannon to say that none of this really happened is more than just a little ridiculous. These books are all fantasy. ALL. None of them ever really happened. But in the universe of Sweet Valley yes. It was so. Todd and Jessica were together. On and off for a while, I believe.It was a big thing in the books. Jess was always kinda jonesin’ for Todd. Her and Liz. But Todd has his eye on the good girl. Liz committed many infidelities. Todd committed only a few. But one of those was with her sister the bad twin. And it was going on behind her back for some time. They didn’t want to hurt Liz, the righteous twin. But of course, they do anyway. And perhaps they must. If you read the book series quite religiously, much of the series’ dramatic theme (FAR TOO MUCH, in my opinion) was Elizabeth was how often Liz was unfaithful.And he would beat up the antagonist Popeye-Bluto style. He’d be furious with her. They’d fight and God, how many times did they re-work that gimmick?Todd and Jess it all makes a strange, sad kind of sense, doesn’t it? For Todd and Jess Forever, Dane Youssef[]

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