Season 1, episode 28: “Lizzie and Kate’s Excellent Adventure”

Hey, everyone! Don’t vote for this stupid show in the People’s Choice Awards poll of the greatest Disney Channel show of all time.

So this episode has Kate’s name right in the title, which is obviously bad news. For months I’ve seen it waiting for me in the janky-ass online Disney video player and been dreading it without even knowing what episode it was.

Turns out I’ve seen it before when it originally aired. I didn’t know that because I was expecting an excellent fucking adventure of some kind. Apparently this one should be called “Lizzie and Kate’s Mediocre Experience,” because it’s just about them baking a fucking cake together. If I’d known that, I would have been like “Oh, right, that one I almost watched as a 10-year-old but quickly changed the channel to Nick instead.”

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Lizzie is home “sick,” but no one on set did a darn thing to make her look that way. She’s got her usual amount of makeup on, she’s sporting a hairstyle that may be supposed to be casual but who can tell with this show, and she’s wearing jewelry. Gordo and Miranda stop by to bring her her homework and break the news that because she and Kate were both absent that day, they got paired together for a social studies project.

Upon hearing this, Lizzie put a pillow over her face and thrashes around the bed screaming her head off. It’s a weird moment that made me realize just how low-energy Lizzie is most of the time. Hilary Duff just wasn’t big in her acting choices like Raven-Symoné was as Raven or Shia LaBeouf was as Louis Stevens, for example. So moments like this one or the time she wrecked a fashion show by dancing like a hillbilly monkey never work.

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Lizzie tries to skip school again the next day and her parents both ask if it’s about her project with Kate Saunders. How have they not cleared up the continuity on Kate’s last name by this point!!! My brothers and I used to make fun of the show for this when we were in elementary school but no adult on this set ever realized that Kate’s name changes all the time?  

Mrs. McGuire tries to convince Lizzie to be friends with Kate again, which Lizzie ignores. She complains that Gordo and Miranda didn’t prevent her pairing with Kate, though I don’t know how they could have.

Lizzie bitches about it at school, too. Kate and her posse show up to vaguely bully her as usual. Kate straight-up calls Lizzie unpopular, which is so bizarrely wrong. Nobody outright mentions popularity in middle school. Kate never actually insults Lizzie over anything specific like a real bully would – their interactions always feel like stock characters reminding the audience of who they are. “You’re unpopular!” “You’re mean!” “Yeah, I am!”

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Kate is dressed in the blandest outfit imaginable in this scene. I guess there’s some attempt at oppositional costuming here, with Lizzie dressing edgier than Kate, but if I found out that the costume designer actually fell asleep that day and the director just told the actors to dress themselves, I would not believe it.

Lizzie sticks her head in a locker to scream again and again a goofy moment doesn’t work.

Matt had a dream about his teacher canceling a test and it happens so he thinks he’s psychic. His friend Oscar is back, but Oscar’s only defining characteristic (repeating everything Matt says) is gone.

Lizzie snaps at her friends again for working together on their project instead of splitting up to prevent her from working with Kate. Who else would they have worked with, Lizzie? You guys hate all of your classmates. Cartoon Lizzie wishes they could go back in time to fix it somehow, and there’s a visual reference to the DeLorean instead of the time traveling phone booth from Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Why make the title a Bill and Ted’s reference if no characters are going to have excellent adventures and you’re gonna squander the only time travel reference you make?

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When Kate shows up, Mrs. McGuire makes small talk with her and Kate does her high-pitched, fake talking-to-parents voice again. As soon as Lizzie come downstairs, Mrs. McGuire hastily cuts off her conversation with Kate. I don’t get the joke there. I guess Mrs. McGuire hates talking to Kate? But why? Earlier this same day, she was encouraging Lizzie to be friends with Kate again, so you think she’d try to foster that.

Lizzie and Kate work together and there’s tension but they kind of connect. You saw this coming, right? You could probably also script the very forced and unrealistic scene of them bonding, too. They both bitch at each other, then bitch about their friends making them work together, then both say, “I hate my friends!” at the same time and laugh, then look surprised that they’re on the same page about anything. Man, this is lazy. Lizzie would never say, “I hate my friends.” I hate her friends sometimes, but even when they’re being annoying, Lizzie’s whole thing is making speeches about the importance of friendship. And anyway, the trio would have had to split up for this project whether she were absent or not, so this whole thing is so contrived.

This scene – this entire episode, actually – doesn’t work because there’s no real conflict between Lizzie and Kate, because they’re such poorly-defined characters. If you list out their defining personality traits, they’re actually fairly similar. At one point in this episode, Miranda says Kate is probably worried about breaking a nail, but it’s not like she and Lizzie are tomboys or anything. All of the girls on this show are defined by stereotypical girl signifiers. Just last episode Lizzie responded to her dad talking about the wonders of nature with a bored “Uhh…who’s ready to go to the mall?” and Miranda often shoots down Gordo’s interests by gushing about N*SYNC or Britney Spears. So the only real difference is that Kate is ambiguously “popular” and “mean” because the show says she is. There’s never a scripted motivation for her to be that way.

A scene where they both bond over hating their friends of all things doesn’t work because Kate’s only defining characteristic is pure antagonism and Lizzie is supposed to be kinder than that. But they can’t really bond over what they have in common, either, because the show isn’t really sure what makes them similar and what makes them different. For what it’s worth, neither actress can sell any nuance here either. They both pivot wildly back and forth between snarling at each other and giggling awkwardly.

Outside, Matt sets up a psychic booth and dons a turban and coke nail to make predictions that immediately come true.

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At school, Gordo and Miranda apologize for Lizzie ending up with Kate, reinforcing how shitty it was that Lizzie said she hated them, and Lizzie says that she has to go to the Digital Bean after school because it has DSL and she can’t download anything at her house because it’s 2001.

Sam becomes convinced that Matt is psychic so the McGuire parents test him and he passes all the tests. Is the show positing that Matt is psychic? Is this like how Tudgeman cast a spell last episode? This show is trying to handle magical realism when it can’t even keep track of a main character’s name.

At the Digital Bean, Lizzie marvels at the fast internet speed because it’s 2001. Miranda and Gordo show up to taunt Kate, then Kate’s posse shows up to taunt Lizzie. I guess this scene is supposed to show that Lizzie and Kate can’t be friends because of societal pressure or something. But pretty much all of the tension comes directly from Kate being a dick all the time for no reason. If she’d just chill out I bet everyone would get along.

Weirdly, everyone in Kate’s posse is black in this scene, but not any other time during the series or even this episode.

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At Lizzie’s house, she and Kate are both mad at each other which we learn from a helpful device: they each stick their head in the fridge and snap angrily at the food inside. It’s very realistic. Kate is wearing a slinky gold dress with lots of bracelets and heels. There’s supposed to be some statement here about Kate being prissy, but it’s undermined by the fact that Kate never dresses like this normally. She looks like an extra in a 50 Cent video. Compare this look to the plain white shirt and khaki skirt she wore earlier in this episode. I guess the costume designer woke up and decided to try extra hard in this scene so she wouldn’t lose her job.

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Lizzie and Kate reminisce about Kate’s 9th birthday party, which is supposed to be touching, and they both end up slipping on cracked egg and spilling flour everywhere and laughing. Sad music comes on when they ask each other why they’re not friends anymore. I was expecting Lizzie to mention the fact from the pilot that Kate ditched her once she got a bra and then they would both sadly ponder how they could be spilling flour all over each other everyday but for Kate’s boobs. But nope! In fact, neither of them mention any excuse or reason for Kate being so incredibly mean 24/7. They both just sort of sigh and say that things change. This episode completely punted its opportunity to fix some of the glaring problems with Kate as a character.

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Matt loses his psychic powers.

Lizzie and Kate present their project and go back to their respective cliques after class but end up catching each other’s eyes and smiling. Acoustic music plays and everything turns to slow motion as Lizzie and Kate make eyes at each other.

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Kate breaks the stare and Lizzie goes back to talking to Gordo and Miranda but looks back longingly and nervously at Kate as the episode fades out.

Are they in lesbians with each other?

This episode failed at everything it attempted. We’re supposed to care about what could have been between Lizzie and Kate but we got no reason for their fall out other than “things change” and no reason to care about their potential friendship other than “they both are bad friends and fall down sometimes.” Nice try, show! You can’t make me care about Kate.

Weird never-popular youth culture slang: “I gotta motor”

Unnecessary references: The fucking title, what the fuck.

Notable fashion moments: Miranda wears a shirt that says MISS UNDERSTOOD.

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Edgy!

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The costumers have started putting Miranda in a lot of classic punk-inspired outfits. That means at least one of her costumes will feature plaid, Union Jack, or safety pins each episode. This one has all three.

Other interesting tidbits: I don’t have any this week so I’ll take the opportunity to plug the LMR Facebook and Twitter!  Give me a follow and consider it a birthday present. I turn 25 tomorrow and I’m unemployed and I live with my mom and this is what I’m doing with my life. Next week Miranda has a crush!

8 thoughts on “Season 1, episode 28: “Lizzie and Kate’s Excellent Adventure”

  1. – Your 5-word wrap up of the Matt storyline made me laugh

    – People totally said “I gotta motor” to mean they needed to leave…at some point in the past. I’m not sure when it was, but perhaps the saying is not appropriate to the age of these characters.

    – Is Miranda wearing heels in the middle picture, because if not Gordo is getting taller and shorter in an alarming fashion.

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    1. I believe Miranda is wearing her big combat boots she’s been favoring in recent episodes! Haha, I didn’t notice how the screenshots make Gordo grow and shrink.

      “I gotta motor” was in Heathers, now that I think about it! Whenever Veronica finished her pâté she said it. So that was either organically popular then or invented as part of the not-quite-80s soundalike slang that the screenwriters came up with for Heathers and then perhaps it caught on after that?

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  2. Lizzie is too nice to Kate and she had that same ugly blue robe she had on “Picture Day”. The dad must have lied to her about that weather. It wasn’t cool out in Los Angeles. Not in that 2nd episode. But this different episode had Sam not lie.

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