CTV Airdate: 2/3/02
The-N Airdate: 6/10/02
MANNY PLOT SUMMARY: Paige and Hazel have started up a cheerleading squad, and Manny wants to try out. She’s excited about it, but she has to deal with the fact Emma is constantly telling her how dumb and sexist it is. At first Emma thinks about writing an article in the Grapevine about her hatred for cheerleading, but decides not to. Manny tells Paige and Hazel that Emma might write an article, so they decide to woo Manny by having a girl’s night at her house. While hanging out, Emma calls and asks why Manny she hasn’t come over to her house to study. Manny says she’s sick, but Emma overhears Paige in the background and hangs up.
The next day, Emma confronts Manny, Paige and Hazel, showing them a copy of the article she’s written against cheerleading that will be published in The Grapevine. Manny is furious because the article refers to cheerleaders as “bimbos,” and she crumples up the article and throws it at Emma before walking away. Emma thinks that Manny is dropping her as a friend to become friends with Paige and Hazel, who, Emma is convinced is using Manny. Later, Manny finds Hazel and Paige ripping Emma’s article out of every copy of The Grapevine. They convince Manny to do the same, but she feels bad about it. When Emma finds out, she brings it to Mr. Simpson’s attention. Manny feels guilty and wants to confess, but as she’s about to Paige steps in and says she saw Hazel doing it. Manny doesn’t like that Paige backstabbed Hazel, and Paige threatens to do the same to Manny if she tells anyone what happened. Despite Paige’s threats Manny stands up to Paige, who eventually backs down and storms off. Emma, having watched Manny’s confrontation with Paige, apologizes to Manny for not supporting her wanting to be a cheerleader. Manny wants to quit the squad, but Emma encourages her not to.
Though Manny is the focus of this plot, there’s quite a bit of depth within Emma’s role in the story. I once described this plot as “Annoying Emma at her best/worst.” By that I mean this plot is a really good example of how Emma’s personality has the ability to do more harm than good. This story is really broken up into two segments: the first is Emma showing disdain for cheerleading because she believes it’s sexist. While that remains true throughout, the second segment is more about her sticking it to the spirit squad because she feels betrayed by Manny.
There’s never any indication that Manny had “changed,” or was ditching Emma to hang out with the popular girls…that was something Emma just assumed, though Manny lying to Emma while hanging out with Paige and Hazel only strengthened Emma’s case in her mind. Manny’s words “I want to become a cheerleader, that’s all,” during a heated discussion with Emma feel genuine, plus we never see her slowly begin to go into that “nice person that is suddenly an arrogant prick” transformation that typically happens. Instead, we watch her spend most of the episode cowering away from confrontation.
The fascinating part of this plot is watching the dynamic of Emma and Manny’s interaction. Since they’ve been friends for forever Manny knows the drill, and actively tries to change the subject as Emma goes off on cheerleading rants because, as we all know, Emma thrives on forcing her opinions down the throat of everyone around her. We’ve all been in a situation where someone we’re close to craps all over something we’re excited about…it’s not a fun feeling. While Manny is thrilled at the thought of being a cheerleader, it’s understandable as to why she’d avoid talking about or exclude Emma from that part of her life.
However, there is truth in Emma’s words about Paige. While Emma may be forceful and overbearing, she knows that the friendship Manny had with Paige (and kept gushing about) was superficial, something Manny had to learn on her own. The opposite of Emma in that she is calm and avoids conflict, it’s interesting that Manny’s able to stand up to someone as callous and intimidating as Paige. There’s irony in Emma and Manny having different stances in regards to cheerleading in this episode, yet the situation caused both of them to believe in something that they’d essentially made up in their heads. It just goes to show that there really is no reality; only perception.
JT/TOBY PLOT SUMMARY: JT and Toby are seen eating cans and cans of Pringles chips, and people can only look at them in confusion. They have a mission: find two cans, one with the ace of spades and another with the ace of clubs at the bottom of them, and they’ll win a million dollars. They already have the ace of spades when they ask Liberty for their can. She finds that she has the ace of clubs, and now wants a piece of the pie. JT and Toby agree to split it 50/50 with her until someone else wants in…Spinner, who has been watching JT and Toby’s adventure from afar until now.
Spinner holds onto the ace of clubs, and JT agrees to bring the ace of spades the next day. The only problem is he’s lost the can. He can’t find it anywhere, which causes Toby to freak out, and Liberty and Spinner to want to kick JT’s butt. JT remembers he left it in his locker, and when he retrieves it everyone realizes that he didn’t have the ace of spades…just an ace of clubs. Spinner’s annoyed at JT’s stupidity and that he wasted his time on this, and Liberty and Toby just stuff him in his own locker and walk away.
Before getting on board with JT and Toby’s scheme, Liberty and Spinner give them that “What the hell are you doing?” stare, an accurate feeling one gets when it comes to the random and bizarre things teen boys do in their free time.
As the four of them stood there at JT’s locker realizing that they didn’t have the winning cans, the feeling is “Congratulations guys, you just wasted your time on this futile quest!“ This plot is a time waster indeed, however, it’s not a bad plot. The ending was really amusing, but overall it doesn’t do anything to make itself stand out. It’s a lighthearted filler subplot that does its job of filling in the gaps in this episode and not much else.