The Seventh Heaven Journal

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January 25

CD: So, Seventh Heaven last night. The big break-up. Matt's buggy-faced trailer trash love Shawna packs up her efficiency apartment and gets ready for NYU. "NYU is great. All the buildings are in different places," she observes. Matt sullenly hangs out and helps her pack. Back at the ranch, his parents are second-guessing how he feels and betting how he'll handle the break-up. "He'll probably want to keep up a long distance relationship with her," suggests his mom. How the hell does she know? She's seven kids and twenty station wagons away from her dating years. How is she supposed to relate to Matt's pain?

Anyway, the show almost turns racy: Matt and Shawna are licking each other's tonsils, there's an ad break, and we find out that Matt ... spent the night. It's the next morning. Shawna's walking around in her bathrobe making coffee and glowing slightly. Matt just looks disheveled and confused. Yep - looks like he lost his virginity.

But we find out half an hour later, and after he's discussed the whole thing with his dad (of course), that Matt spent the whole night on the couch.

Yeah, right.

Elsewhere, remember Simon's little girlfriend? You were asking earlier whether they had broken up, but no - she reappeared last night, and has turned into a controlling snipe - she and Simon got in a fight because she asked him to wear clothes that matched hers, and he forgot about it. Since when do girls start controlling their boyfriends at that age? I thought it was all about stolen kisses and memories of the soda fountain. Instead, she's acting like his wife of ten years. No fun. They squabble and get pissy but make up at the end.

There's actually a funny scene where two of the Camden kids are waiting for their significant others to call, and they're sitting around looking miserable and watching shitty cartoons on TV, and it turns out the whole time that the phone was off the hook. I don't know how that fits into the whole story. But it was a mean thing to do to them and I got a real kick out of it.

By far the worst part of the episode was the mom's storyline. She's been overworked, and she gets pissy and loses it and announces she's going to take a day off and go to the beach. She and the dog (?) drive off and get a hotel room. Mom Camden is sitting on the beach, mulling over their problems, when an older, chubby black woman shows up. Mom and the woman get to talking, and mom spends all night complaining about her problems - her seven kids, mom with Alzheimer's, husband with a heart attack - I guess she does have a lot on her mind. The older black woman smiles and nods and says reassuring things. The whole thing plays into a weird thing I've noticed about white women in TV and movies: they all want to have black women to lean on. Someone reassuring and/or sassy to support the white character's lack of real problems. Like Calista Flockart and what's-her-face on Ally McBeal, or Holly Hunter and Queen Latifah in Living Out Loud, or people in that Touched by an Angel show, or Jennifer Love Hewitt and Brandy in I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Or the fascination of white college girls with "soulful" black performers like Tracy Chapman. I don't know what that's all about. I'm no sociologist. But for whatever reason, everyone needs a mammy.

But here's the creepy part: Mom checks out the next morning and asks the guy at the desk to say thanks (no tip) to this woman who made her dinner and talked to her the night before. "We don't have any employees by that name," says the guy at the desk. Huh? Nobody works there by that name. The woman must have been an angel!

"So the truckdriver dropped me off at a diner, and the folks all asked, 'What brought you out here?' 'I got a ride out from Big Joe.' And there was a hush. 'Son - Big Joe done drove off a cliff this very night ten years ago.'"

But no - turns out the black woman just goes by a different name at work. Mom sees her on the beach and they say good-bye.

By the way, Simon's moustache is out of control. Yes, we've all been 13 and claimed that we're too lazy to shave, when really we're just proud to have grown new hair somewhere we can show it off. But Simon, get a grip, okay?

Next week, one of the singers from N'Sync guest stars and goes on a date with Lucy. You have to watch that one - I'm not that strong.

January 31

BM: I saw "7th." Did you? Let me pass on my thoughts for the column.

The producers should've entitled this one "The Camden Girls Get Down and Slutty." I was reminded of the famous 1980 US-USSR Olympic Games at Lake Placid, NY, with all of the tonsil hockey going on.

Mary has that guy she likes who is a small time thug, that her parents wisely aren't letting her be alone with. Knowing that they likely will never get past the point of "studying" on the family couch, the two separated lovers decide to make a stand and attempt to get out on their own. Mary and the punk decide that they are going to attempt to "double date" so that they can go out in public. Lucy and the thug's brother, who is no doubt a castoff from N' Sync, are to be set up as dates, and Mary and the thug will be left to their own devices. Mary pitches the idea to her parents and to an unknowing Lucy, who is put on the spot. The parents somehow agree to a date which consists of "going out to a movie and coming right back." Full well knowing that two teenagers can accomplish a lot of clandestine groping in the time span of today's movie (currently 85 minutes to 3 hours, depending on if Lorne Michaels has anything to do with production), the Rev ain't pleased but lets his two potentially impregnatable daughters go with the two potential fatherhood candidates.

Lucy, no doubt exercising her verbal chastity belt, calls the thug's brother on the phone, introduces herself, and verifies that their role in the double date will be strictly platonic. "Justin," (from N'Sync. Backstreet Boys, 98 degrees, Savage Garden or wherever), strengthens the overshadowing "I'm not givin' up no booty!" attitude of the date by telling Lucy he's got a girlfriend. Looks like the kids are all set and only one Camden girl is ineligible for the nunnery, right? Keep reading...

This is where the kooky hi-jinks ensue...

The guys show up on the front door and exchange hellos with the girls and the parents. Mrs. Camden offers the two boys a "drink", anticipating that they'll need their liquids for a busy night of not making out. The thug, Mary's dates, says "No thanks, we don't drink!" No lie...very funny there, especially while you see his brother groan. The parents share a concerned glance, Mary takes her cue and says, "Ok, we're outta here." The Rev asks what their plans are, to which the thug replies "I'm testing out my homemade roofies on your daughter." Actually, the kids are going to "that artsy movie house to watch a western, 'cos we're on a budget." Mary cracks wise by adding, "And we're on a schedule too...bye!" Off they go to watch a "western" at the "art house". I'd imagine that such a combination of criteria describes a movie about two gay cowboys eating pudding. Here's where the show gets juicy...during the previews, which are showing Joan Crawford classics, like the unforgettable "I Beat My Adopted Children with Wire Coat hangers", Mary and her horny thug are already graphically tongue-ing each other. It's no secret I've got a crush on Jessica Biel, but this was disgusting. Apparently, it was disgusting to Lucy and her former Mouseketeer as well, because as Mary removes her coat and tosses it on her sister in a fit of passion (no lie), Justin says "let's talk outside!" Off they go, outside to continue their discussion about their significant others, just as Trojan Man makes his entrance into the theater to assist Mary in selecting a prophylactic with the correct religious implications (what sect are the Camdens, anyway?).

Outside, Lucy and Achy-Breaky-Bad-Dye-Job fall into heat over one another and start sucking face right there in public. At this time, the Rev happens to walk by...he was out for a "walk" in order to spy on his daughters. Well, he got what he was looking for. He was drinking a to-go cup of coffee at the moment he saw his pseudo-slut of a daughter, but you know he was wishing it was his personal stash of the Communion Wine at that point, so he could off the edge.

When Hosebag #1 comes out from the depths out the movie theater and finds her sister out there, she invites her to "go inside and freshen up." Lucy, who at this time looks like a two-dollar prostitute after the Tailhook Convention (you know, smeared makeup, hair askew, the socks stuffing her bra all akimbo) declines, and the kids return to the Camden Stronghold for their respective kisses goodnight and to face the parents.

When the girls enter the house, Mary thanks her parents for allowing her to explore her growing sexuality and gets ready to head upstairs. The Rev makes a classic comment about "Well, we all know what Lucy's been doing, and it's not the first time, is it?" revealing that he saw her out on the street, displaying her not-so-ample wares. The girls, all pissy because dad was spying on them, retreat to their room and discuss the evening's events. Lucy apparently enjoys the thrill and naughtiness of being the other woman. Mary reveals that she doesn't exactly trust her thug.

We change scenes over to the thugs house, where the brother's are heading inside, predictably to watch a porno flick. Just then some raggedy-looking girl runs up and yells at Mary's thug, asking where he'd been. Thug-boy easily plays out of this one, saying "Why would I be back so early if I was out with another girl?" Believable, since it's about 5:45 pm at this point. Into the house he goes with his scorned ho.

In other plot lines, Simon and Urkel (the corresponding black Christian kid whose name escapes me) decide to write a paper on underage kids buying cigarettes. They manage to get sold to at two places, and decide to go smoke one, since they are "older now". The Rev is also on a mission to bust his son for smoking, so he sees the two messing with the cigarettes, and later on the two reveal that they tried smoking again, and were working on a paper. The Rev tells them "no go" on their research, and Simon and his fluffy little moustache (which has guest star status, I might add) think that maybe their efforts in buying smokes could lend to a sting operation with that guy at the police station. "You have to be 15 to be involved in a sting, so no dice," says the Rev. We all know he was one of those pissy narcs in college, so when he describes the parameters of being a narc, it's best to listen.

The best line of the show was delivered by the Other Corresponding Christian Black Kid who is Matt's roommate. Matt is really torn up that Shauna didn't call him back the night before- the long-distance lovers trade off nights to talk, and it was her turn to call, and didn't. So Matt is sitting around, looking extremely glum, and his roomy informs him that he's invited the two racially-matched hotties from upstairs down to dinner. When the two babes arrive, they are invited in, and Matt breaks down in tears. In a scene stolen right from "Swingers," the two girls console Matt and ignore the roomy. The great quote comes in when the vapid blond says to Matt, "She'd be lucky to have you. You're totally dedicated to your relationship and you work in a hospital." The roomy jumps in with "Well, he doesn't exactly heal the sick, honey. He wears a hair net and serves Jell-O!" Finally, a character who makes a realistic comment on this show.

Later, Matt feels better, and guess who calls? Shauna, who's freshly returned from the Monster-Truck show and checking up on her jell-pusher. And who answers? The dumb blonde! Matt has to explain this one, and standard 70's sitcom cheese is brought into play to round out the plotline. Incidentally, the plotline ends when the ladies invite the guys up for dinner next week to apologize for ruining the evening. I though it was Matt's fault, personally, but at least the guys are getting a free meal out of it.

The last plotline is actually enjoyable, especially since it involves the Mailman's Little Oopsy-Bastard, Ruthie. She has a science experiment in a brown bag in the fridge, and watches it like a hawk. Anyone who wants to know what's in the bag must pay the sum of 1 dollar, and she whispers the contents to that person. The reaction is always the same..."Oh, that's good, I like that!" etc.

Simon is the last sucker to pay turns out that experiment is in alchemy (I think that's the word...the approach is "turning straw into gold"). Basically, Simon peeks in the bag, sees a bunch of rotting asparagus, and Ruthie flashes all of the bills she's picked up from showing off her experiment in being a sucker. I guess she realized that you really can't get free Microsoft stock, a Disney Vacation, or Gap Clothing by forwarding emails to fifty people you know.