Sunday, February 22, 2009

BSC #64: Dawn's Family Feud

When Dawn's little brother, Jeff, comes to visit from California, Dawn is stoked. The Schafer-Spiers decide they're all going to go on a weekend trip to Boston, and that at the end of the weekend, they'll have a family portrait taken. Everyone's excited, but of course, all goes to hell because blended families are the devil. Mary Anne's father, Richard, tries to bond with Jeff over sports, but since he's athletically disinclined, it's a little awkward.

Mary Anne and Dawn start picking petty squabbles over this, and then eventually all three kids start acting super obnoxious. The kids end up doing most of their sightseeing with their respective parents, and everyone is very sulky. When they get home, their portrait posing starts to go horribly until they see the Polaroids of how bad they look. Then everyone has a good laugh and they all inexplicably make up.

The B-plot? The BSC is sitting for the Barretts a lot more often and having to deal with another family feud (Mrs. Barrett is engaged to a man called Franklin who has four kids of his own). The kids all hate each other, but learn to become friends with a little help from the BSC. Except you know that they're totally going to back to hating each other again the next time the DeWitt kids make an appearance.

  • Dawn and Mary Anne don't know what the Boston Tea Party is. They're in eighth grade and they still don't know? I've known since I was in second grade. Granted, that's because I knew all about this girl:

  • And she taught me a hell of a lot more than Dawn ever did. Like, you can rescue animals without being preachy about it (take that, Jiggy Nye!), and that taxation without representation is so uncool.
  • When Dawn and her family go to the movies, Jeff orders Junior Mints and buttered popcorn. I thought he was also a health food fanatic, like Dawn. Is everything I thought I knew and loved about the BSC wrong?
  • Dawn goes on a whale watching trip with her mother and Jeff. I'm impressed Dawn managed to get through the trip without worrying about whether they're impinging on the whales' right to exist without being watched by oppressive humans, or lecturing anyone about turtles getting stuck in six pack soda rings. (I guess she figured wearing her "Save the Whales" button and her "The Earth: Save It Or Leave It" shirt made up for it.)
  • Dawn tells Mary Anne that her father looks like a complete dork trying to play sports with Jeff. MA responds, "'Dad didn't have to take time off from work...He did it for Jeff." You just know MA's going to hold those two days off against Dawn and Jeff forever when Richard fails to make partner next year.
  • Dawn writes postcards complaining about Mary Anne to the other BSC members. Nothing says classy like airing your dirty laundry.
  • Has Jeff always been this bratty? The morning of the trip to Boston, he decides he wants to go to D.C. Then after the whale watching trip, he refuses to go to the aquarium and then says he doesn't want to go out to dinner with the rest of the family which makes Sharon and Dawn feel guilty enough to stay at the hotel with him. And then he decides he wants to go back to California early. Now I know why Sharon barely disputed giving up her custody rights back when Jeff wanted to go live with his dad.
  • Mary Anne's pretty bad herself, though. Sharon and Richard rent two rooms, one for them and one for the kids. But MA decides she'd rather stay with the adults. So not only do Richard and Sharon have to deal with the kids kvetching at them all day, they're also not getting any until the trip is over. Groovy!
  • A formal family portrait seems like a bizarre idea for people as casual as Sharon and Dawn. Maybe it was Richard's idea. Does anyone outside of books, sitcoms and inbred upper class British twits ever have a portrait commissioned for no reason? I have never participated in one but maybe I just come from a super non-photogenic family.
  • Mallory goes along on to help out on a day outing that the Barretts and the DeWitts are taking together. Mrs. Barrett starts falling to pieces because she doesn't know what to pack for a lunch, so Mal tells her to bring some bread and various sandwich fillings and that way everyone can make their own sandwich. It disturbs me that even someone as scatterbrained as Mrs. Barrett can't figure this out without the help of an eleven year old. It also bothers me that everyone always points out how Mrs. Barrett is so hot she could be a model. No, dressing like you're on the cover of Vogue does NOT make up for being so incompetent that even a middle schooler can solve your problems.
  • When the Barretts and DeWitts go on their day trip, one of their stops is a puppet show that begins at three. Mrs. Barrett is annoyed because, apparently, everyone knows that all matinees start at two. Tell that to the producers of Jersey Boys, Mrs. B.
  • Mary Anne thinks it would be romantic if Mrs. Barrett married Franklin DeWitt. And I'll bet the almost never heard from Mr. Barrett thinks so, too. And by romantic I mean a big relief now that he can cut off her alimony checks.
  • In the end, Claud and Shannon get the Barrett and the DeWitt kids to become friends by showing them that they need a big group of kids for fun games. Their idea of funny games? Red Rover and Mother May I. My idea of funny games? Let's just say they involve Michael Pitt, Naomi Watts and a nine iron golf club. (And you really only need a family of three for my game, so I win!)

Bitchy Remark Du Jour

Sharon thinks posing in front of the fireplace is boring and that they should pose on the porch. Richard to Sharon: "'I say it's elegant. Much better than a family of hillbillies on the porch." Go, Richard, go! Now I know where MA gets her adorably snarky streak from.