Sunday, 10 July 2011

Popular - I prefer to spend my time with people who openly despise me.

Popular: 1x12 The Trial of Emory Dick.

This one’s short again, not for lack of material in this episode, but because I’ve had a pretty awful week and it wouldn’t translate into an even remotely adequate review:

  • Emory, after failing a test, is going to fail bio, and decides to sue the school because being constantly bullied and being in an environment that sort of doesn't exactly discourage bullying hasn't contributed to his academic success.
  • Does Emory have a point? From what we see in the episode, he does. Nicole trips him in the hallways instinctively, without putting any thought into it; and we get the feeling that this really is his reality from 7.10 to 3.05. Does Emory’s weirdness and unsocial behaviour justify that he is being bullied? No. Is it the reason why he doesn't have friends who are willing to stand up for him? Yes, it probably is.
  • Emory is granted the right to have a trial on school grounds: someone among his peers will prosecute, and he will face a jury composed of students. Sam and Lily decide to take up his cause (after Harrison points out that nobody likes Emory, and is astonished to find out that Emory considers him a friend); Brooke is picked by Principal Hall to defend the school against Emory.
Sam: This is not why we’re doing it This case isn't just about Emory. Hundreds of kids have been persecuted and never said a word.Brooke: Oh please, I’m so sick of people tagging us as evil. I mean why should we be constantly targeted and used as scapegoats, like you guys aren’t a group.
    Lily: Not like yours.
    Brooke: Oh Lily, come off of it, there’s plenty of kids at school that we don’t exist just to make other people’s lives miserable.
    Lily: Really?
    Brooke: Carmen, am I right?
    Carmen: I think I’m gonna take my brownie to go.
  • Carmen, who is enjoying her first days as being part of the cheerleading squad, finds herself in the midst of the conflict: Brooke wants her as a witness to the fact that the cheerleaders aren’t evil, and Sam wants her to testify that the climate in school really is toxic for outsiders like Emory. They both decide to keep Carmen out of it and tear up her subpoena.
  • And once again, Brooke points out that Sam’s clique is just as exclusive as her own; Emory, just like April Tuna, could never be part of it.
  • Harrison, when interrogated, has to admit that he was present when Josh and Sugar “flushed” Emory, and decided not to intervene. Emory feels betrayed, and Harrison is deeply ashamed.
    Lily: Listen, Emory. Are you sure you wanna go through with this?
    Emory: Why wouldn’t I?
    Sam: We were just beginning to wonder if it’s worth it. I mean, you’re obviously hurt.
    Emory: I’m not hurt. I’m disappointed. I can handle that. I’m used to that. Look, I don’t assume anymore that people are going to understand me, or like me, or even notice me. That doesn’t mean I don’t have the right to be heard.
    Lily: Okay.
  • Brooke points out to Sam that Emory is very likely going to end up more alone at the end of the trial, regardless of the outcome, but Sam truly believes that Emory was wronged (she isn’t so keen on winning because it would mean beating Brooke).
  • Principal Hall, the only person in school who calls Sugar “Michael”, has to tell him that he can’t be part of the Wrestling team (something he’s looked forward to for a long time) because of his weight; she tries to frame his weight as a disability, Sugar reacts violently.
    Carmen: How is it going in there?
    Harrison: I think your side is winning.
    Carmen: My side? How do you know which side I’m on?
    Harrison: I don’t. Do you?
    Carmen: You know, Harrison, from what I saw yesterday, you’re one to talk.
  • Carmen finally ends up on the witness stand, but Brooke soon finds out that she isn’t going to help her cause: Carmen argues that Emory wants attention – “I mean, we all do”, in a social environment that tends to alienate everybody who doesn’t fit in.
  • Carmen: I’m trying to figure out who I am and where I belong. And I am not afraid to be sitting at Emory’s table, whether people think that he is a freak or not. I mean these days if you’re alone at lunch, or wear too much black or fail two tests in a row, they open and FBI file on you, they automatically assume you’re dangerous. Well that’s too bad, I kind of envy Emory. He lives in his own universe and he doesn’t care if anybody ever visits. Maybe that’s what we should be paying attention too.
  • Carmen then decides to return her pom poms after approximately one week of being a cheerleader, because “I’m starting to miss people who didn’t care about what shape your head is”. Brooke admits (to Sugar) that Emory probably has a point: her group IS more exclusive, and sometimes violently antagonistic, whenever its individual members come together. She ends up giving emotional comfort to Sugar, who is so sad over not making the Wrestling team – and that’s what groups should be about: giving comfort, helping, acceptance.
  • When the entire jury owns a personal planner kindly donated by the Cherry family, Emory decides to drop the charges because he realizes that this has all been about respect (“If I could walk away from this with an F and three people that I can trust, I feel like I won.”). Harrison admits that he was thrown by the fact that Emory considered him to be his friend, and that he would act differently in the same situation with that knowledge.
Random notes:

I just have to ask, because it’s so alien to me: are there actually late-night commercials for LAWYERS on television? I assume this is a real thing, since I’ve seen it on Breaking Bad too. So weird.

Principal Hall is pretty bad-ass: “If you’re not off my campus in five minutes, you will have to have my cane surgically removed from my bowels.”

Principal Hall: Ms Julian, when I speak to the Organ grinder, I do not expect the monkey to answer.

I think the show actually builds really elegantly to the point at which Nicole stops being Brooke’s first officer.

I can’t decide if the fact that Josh and Sugar submerged Emory in a toilet fits in with their characterization so far. I can’t really see Josh doing this. Brooke tries to frame it as defending the school spirit “in the men’s room”, but really, it’s sort of a disgusting and horrible thing to do to another human being and I’ve gotten the impression that other writers have a different idea of who Josh is.

Mary Cherry: I’m really good at making myself sob and wail. Once, at my Uncle Roy’s funeral, it took three cousins and an organist to carry me out.

Of course, Mary Cherry requires the same amount of man-power to be removed from the lunch hall.

Obscure pop cultural reference:

Emory has a sort of Doctor Evil fantasy about the people “on his list” – but Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog was conceived years later…

Mary Cherry: Oh, if it ain’t Miss Atticus Finch!

Sam: I’m not mocking. I’m simply drawing a parallel between the witness and my client. Both are known around this school as fearless flamboyant eccentrics, and I believe that Emory Dick and his teacher have a lot more in common than Miss Glass cares to admit. Isn’t that the truth, Ms Glass? Isn’t it?
Bobbi Glass: You can’t handle the truth. I am still the teacher here, and if I want to, I can squash him, and YOU, LIKE A BUG.

Obligatory movie reference:

The Trial of Joan of Arc, The Trial of Oscar Wilde, The Trial of Donald Duck… Either one of those, or something completely different.

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