Tuesday, May 27, 2008
The Paper, Episode 7: MICHAEL JAN!
I'm going to tell you right now and make so secret of it: I am a believer in Michael Jan (sorry: MICHAEL JAN), the most well-rounded student in the history of secondary education. I mean, think about it: this kid was the first person to really put a dent in Amanda Lorber's armor. She's been able to deal with the back-biting antics of Alex, Adam, Giana, and Trevor with her relative dignity intact, but MICHAEL JAN gets under her skin to the point where she's reduced to petty jealousy ("he's conceited and arrogant!") and the ultimate indignity, going to the dictionary in order to prove his picture's not there:
Though who could blame her when faced with the formidable and "well-rounded" MICHAEL JAN? Did you hear the way Adam dropped all thought of any conversation he may have been having at the moment and bellowed "MICHAEL JAN!" as the man himself walked into the room? I'm pretty sure Alexander the Great got that kind of reaction. Also Norm from Cheers.
As a public service, here's every honor and activity the show attributed to MICHAEL JAN: tennis, track, violin, "art," AP Math, AP Psychology, AP Physics, perfect SATs, Honor Society, web design, "popular," and "genius." Plus, they totally forgot to include how he's Asian and being Asian is so hot right now. How can Amanda, with her hyper-fixated and scary focus on only one extracurricular activity compete with that?
Ultimately, the team-building excursion subplot can't really live up to the rest of the episode, since it includes roughly 0% of MICHAEL JAN, but I suppose it was worth it to see Trevor remind Alex that no matter how big his britches may have gotten in his position as "The Nerd We Prefer To Amanda," he's still a gawky beanpole and Trevor is still the Greek God of Brushcuts (Under Six Feet Tall Division).
And as successful as the team-building stuff seemed to be, I have to say I'm with Adam: that shit is lame and stupid. Yes, I realize this also puts me on par with Giana, but I'm willing to put up with Her Liplessness* in order to chill with Adam and Amanda while the other dorks do trust falls.
Also of note in this penultimate episode:
-- Adam's grades dropped and he's not in the top 12% anymore? That's a price worth paying for the Homecoming King!
-- Dan continues to become more and more appealing, which I never, ever would have seen coming at the beginning of the season.
-- I have to say the Well-Rounded Olympics at the end were kind of unfair to MICHAEL JAN. I mean, where in that montage o' accomplishments did you see "rubix cube solver"? Nowhere, is where. And how does the fact that Trevor (apparently) spent three full years in his basement learning to solve rubix cubes make him more well-rounded?
All kidding aside, though, how perfect was the kids' raging hero worship of MICHAEL JAN? As I've said from the beginning, the appeal of this show is that it's about popularity and power struggles and social dynamics among a self-selected group of a priori overachievers and nerds. And how utterly perfect, then, to have their idol at the school be not a football hero or head cheerleader orall those stupid cliches, but rather the cute, smart kid who does a billion extracurriculars. You couldn't script it better.
Thoughts on last night's second episode (and season finale, sniff!) later on.
* I'm saying: