You may recall that in my review for this season’s premiere I said, “I bet a few weeks from now we’ll get a ‘we’re in eighth grade now!’ episode aired completely out of order.” I had actually almost forgotten about it, because we’re almost halfway through the season and the timeframe still hasn’t been established. Well, here it is! This episode begins with Gordo and Miranda complaining about all of their difficult new classes and Lizzie countering excitedly, “But we are eighth graders now! Eighth graders!!”
So this is it: what was obviously supposed to be the first episode of season two, fourteen episodes in. The whole first scene is a lot of hoopla about how different eighth grade is, with Lizzie gushing about how they’re more confident and experienced now and everyone in school now looks up to them. Though Miranda unkindly tells Lizzie she’s not very confident, this scene made me wonder if they were setting Lizzie up to be cooler this season. That would be my dream, of course: that they’d abandon the pretense that beautiful, stylish, well-liked Lizzie is at the bottom of the social ladder and stop pushing “woe is me” plots that make no sense. They even pan to a group of seventh graders and cut back to Lizzie, and the difference in their costuming clearly portrays her as more outgoing and self-assured than them.
The point of this scene is that Lizzie has befriended a meek “sevvie,” or seventh grader. (This piece of invented slang is particularly weird, because Gordo and Miranda have no knowledge of the term and the only other person who uses it without it being explained to them is Kate. It links Lizzie to Kate in their segmenting the social structure of the school, and again positions Lizzie on a higher tier of popularity and social knowledge.) Lizzie says that this girl reminds her of herself at that age – “a little conscious, kind of shy” – which again reinforced my idea that the show was transitioning Lizzie out of her clumsy awkward schtick.
Anyway, this odd self-declaration of confidence from Lizzie is undermined in the next scene, where Lizzie smacks herself in the face opening her locker and falls to the ground. She’s done this before, and it never makes any sense, but at least here they commit to the damage she’s doing to herself because she sees double for a bit afterward. I know there are millennials clamoring for a Lizzie McGuire reunion, but it would be such a bummer to see her dealing with her post-concussion syndrome in her later years.
Because this was very obviously intended to be the first episode of this season, Lizzie explains who Kate and Ethan are to Andie the sevvie. Lizzie talks to Ethan and then Cartoon Lizzie marvels at how she actually spoke to Ethan Craft for once. I’m making a new tag for Lizzie talking to Ethan and then marveling at how she actually spoke to him, because it happens almost every episode and you’d think her wonder would wear off eventually.
Andie is played by Amy Castle, who deservedly won a Young Artist Award for this episode. She’s very sweet and plays neediness really well. Andie showers Lizzie with compliments and calls her a role model, which delights her.
At home, Matt worries that he’ll be demoted from Wilderness Cadets because he hasn’t earned a merit patch on his own, so Jo insists that Sam help him earn a patch. Matt is so despondent that he doesn’t even care when Lizzie walks in and tells him he’s ugly. I hope the point of this episode is that Lizzie is a terrible role model, because exchanges like this are always unpleasant to watch.
At school the next day, Miranda walks up to someone who is obviously not Lizzie and calls her Lizzie. I thought the point here was that Miranda is confused about where Lizzie’s locker is this year, but it was apparently that Andie is now passable for Lizzie. She’s really not!
Granted, Andie was rustling around in Lizzie’s locker – because she has the combination somehow? – to organize it for Lizzie as thanks for all of her help. Still, Miranda should have known that the person she saw was not her best friend, and the costume designer could have done a much better job putting Andie in a more Lizzie-like outfit to justify Miranda’s mistake. I get that she’s supposed to be the more shy one here, but Lizzie was supposed to be shy last season and she dressed exactly the same as she does in this scene.
Miranda decides she wants a sevvie to do her bidding. In a weird bit of writing, Gordo says, “Look, I’m just going to cut to the chase: I really think you should stop copying other people and forge your own path.” Then Andie compliments his film from last year and Gordo loves her. It’s like the writers threw in a Gordo-like reaction just so they could say they did it but then they chuck out his personality traits for the rest of the episode.
Sam tries to help Matt earn a nature patch, but after they find a weird leaf Sam starts itching everywhere! He doesn’t know why so he keeps scratching by rubbing the leaf all over his entire body! That makes him itch more! They can’t figure out why! This goes on for an excruciatingly long time until it’s shockingly revealed that the leaf was poison ivy!!
Sam scratches so vigorously that he trips over a lawn gnome and falls down the porch stairs, spraining his ankle. I guess Lizzie’s absurd clumsiness is genetic. I wish they’d do something with that.
The next day, Lizzie meets Gordo and Miranda at the Digital Bean and finds Andie with blonde hair, dressed exactly like her. I have no idea how Andie would have accomplished this other than climbing the tree in Lizzie’s backyard and watching her get dressed that morning and then sending a team of personal shoppers to hunt down every article of clothing and accessory.
Miranda and Gordo find nothing confusing or wrong about this. In fact, they ditch Lizzie to go hang out with Andie at the mall. In the creepiest moment of what ends up being a fairly creepy episode, Gordo tells Lizzie that Andie “wears you well” and confides that he would ask her out if she weren’t a sevvie. When Lizzie says that that would be like asking her out, Gordo is disgusted by the idea.
In a plot device we’re seeing an awful lot of this season, Lizzie tosses and turns in her sleep that night and has a terrible dream where Andie takes over her life.
First Gordo and Miranda tell her they don’t need her anymore (which they already kind of did that day. Dick move, guys!), then Ethan asks Andie out, and finally Andie takes Lizzie’s place in her family. This scene is edited badly, because the sequence with Gordo and Miranda has a blue filter and trippy depth-of-focus that makes it seem very dreamlike, but the Ethan sequence is shot completely normally so I thought it was the next scene and not a dream.
Sam sets himself on fire helping Matt with his camping patch.
The next day, Lizzie says she’s done with Andie but Gordo and Miranda beg Lizzie to keep her around. Gordo says one Lizzie is nice but two is way better and I am again creeped out. Miranda compliments Andie’s outfit but ignores Lizzie’s even though they’re completely identical. Their behavior feels exactly like gaslighting at this point. It would honestly make more sense that they were consciously fucking with Lizzie than that they actually approved of Andie’s actions. Lizzie tries to talk to Andie, but Andie misinterprets everything she’s saying because Lizzie doesn’t state her problems or wants directly.
That afternoon, Lizzie comes home to find Andie already at her house, talking to her mom and yelling insults at Matt. Andie’s definitely been watching Lizzie through the windows of her own home every night, right? Jo yells at Matt for being rude to Lizzie’s friend, but she should really be more concerned about the stranger wearing her daughter’s clothes and harassing her young child.
Lizzie snaps that Andie’s not her friend and Jo yells at her for that too. How is Jo not weirded out by Andie? Lizzie goes into her bitchy shouting mode, viciously tearing into Andie. This is a bad acting choice that should have been directed better, because the point of this scene is that Lizzie’s been pushed to the edge and is now exploding, so her yelling should be more emotional and less nasty, but that’s a standard criticism I have of this show.
Frustratingly, though, no one is on Lizzie’s side and it makes no sense. Lizzie yells that she’s not Andie’s role model and Gordo yells forcefully, “YES, YOU ARE!” The first time I watched this episode for this review, I involuntarily yelled “Fuck you!” at Gordo here. Lizzie goes on to monologue about how she shouldn’t be a role model because she’s actually a big clumsy human disaster and Gordo continues to yell at Lizzie on Andie’s behalf. It’s so strange. The blocking is even weird, with Lizzie on one side of the room and Gordo and her mom standing next to Andie, positioning everyone against Lizzie. (Miranda is next to Lizzie, but also trying to stop her talking). It ends with Andie snapping bitchily and storming out – she is learning from Lizzie! – and this shot showing how disappointed Lizzie should be with herself:
Matt tends to so many of his father’s wounds and maladies that Jo realizes he can earn his first aid patch. This ends with Sam sitting on a rolling chair to relax his sprained ankle and accidentally rolling out the door and down the stairs. It’s edited in a way that it’s not very noticeable that Matt’s room isn’t close to the stairs, so Sam would have to roll out the door and down a hallway. It’s very dopey and unfunny.
The next day, the trio discovers that Andie has decided to Single White Female Kate instead. Don’t expect continuity on that one – as I mentioned in my season one review, Kate’s posse is a rotating group of extras. You’ll notice that the black girl in the background is neither Davida Williams nor Kat Graham, but rather the black extra in the posse this week. There’s always one.
The trio has a meaningless talk about Being Yourself and Friendship and it’s supposed to reset the fact that Gordo and Miranda treated Lizzie really terribly this episode.
I don’t really understand why Andie couldn’t just be a pest that follows Lizzie everywhere, with Gordo and Miranda helping Lizzie shake her off. It’s obviously way creepier and amps the conflict considerably to have her also befriend Gordo and Miranda and be welcomed into her home, but it also makes no damn sense.
Once again, the ordering of the episodes is nonsensical. This is obviously intended to be the first episode of the season (there’s even a flashback to this episode in “Best Dressed for Much Less”). Interestingly, Gordo flatly rejects the idea of dating Lizzie here. That’s a big difference from his confusion over his feelings for her in “First Kiss,” which I would reckon was intended to air much later in the season. The calendar year is also all over the place this season – “First Kiss” was set in February, “Just Friends” was set in September, and this episode is definitely supposed to be August or early September. Last season’s airing order was also a nightmare, but at least they didn’t specify actual holidays to call attention to its messiness.
I honestly wonder if there were discussions of making Lizzie more confident and cool this season. It would explain the big change in costuming but not any of the plotlines.
Weird never-popular youth culture slang: fucking “sevvie” for seventh grader, “soc” for “social studies (The Outsiders usage doesn’t count), “see ya on the flip side!” (has anyone ever actually said this in real life?)
Notable fashion moments: Amy Castle wears a brown wig in the beginning before she “dyes” her hair, but it’s a pretty good wig.
Could they have picked a less Lizzie outfit for her second look, though?
There’s more cherries from Miranda. We’ve seen cherries on her a few times. Other than that, we get all her greatest hits: British flags in one scene, camo in another.
Lizzie says she wishes she’d had a role model to save her from fashion disasters in seventh grade, and we get a flashback to a lot of outfits we never saw her wear and which she never would.
This is condescending to the audience. We SAW what Lizzie was like in seventh grade. That’s been presented to us. This wasn’t a flashback to fifth grade. We’ve also seen Lizzie demonstrate how much clothes and fashion mean to her. Why not just show Lizzie getting lost in the hallways or some other marker of awkwardness? Presenting Lizzie as a fashion victim is another way of trying to elicit unearned sympathy for her as a nerdy outcast when she’s really not.
Besides, that first outfit isn’t that far off from the aesthetic of this show in the first season, and Lizzie wasn’t presented as badly dressed then but this look is now. See my costuming rant post. It’s impossible to tell what they’re going for sometimes.
Lizzie and Andie wear a shirt that seems to be inspired by Lichtenstein, but it’s not, from what I can tell, an actual Lichtenstein.
Lizzie wears an outfit that’s similar to her all-denim one in “First Kiss.”
I think the “First Kiss” version was much better.
I noticed recently that Lizzie changes backpacks frequently. Above she has a pink snakeskin bag. She wore two different backpacks last episode.
Lizzie wears a pajama shirt that says “BOXING CLUB.” Why.
Lizzie wears two outfits this episode that are toned down for this show – the above white button-down with the denim skirt and the first scene’s pink shirt with the brown skirt – so it’s weird that those weren’t chosen for Andie’s mirroring. She could easily wear a different white button-down and different denim skirt, for instance, and it would still convey the idea that she was copying Lizzie. It’s just completely nonsensical that she would be able to exactly replicate the much crazier Lizzie looks that she does here.
Other interesting tidbits: There have been lots of Lizzie McGuire-related stories online lately. I share those on Facebook, so like the page to keep up with them! While I’m asking for things, here’s the Twitter and tip here if you want to.
A few times this season, Gordo has used a big word and confused and annoyed Miranda and Lizzie with it (this week it’s “altruistic”). It grates on me. I just don’t think it looks good to have the female characters always complaining about their male friend using big words and begging him to dumb it down for them.
Gordo’s attraction to/protection of Andie this episode was very weird. I didn’t like how his arc played out at all.
Andie is a lesbian, right? She claims to like Ethan here but she’s really just saying that to suck up to Lizzie. Her scene where she’s complimenting Lizzie made me think of it, but this is the comedic epitome of “do I want to be her or do her” confusion. And she’s probably searching so desperately for another identity so she can seem more straight and avoid middle school bullying! This is headcanon for me now. As a reminder, Miranda is definitely bisexual.