What did I do to deserve two dramatic episodes in a row?
We’re at the official halfway point of season two, but “Movin’ On Up” was clearly intended to be one of the first episodes of the season. Lizzie and Miranda rave about the “first few weeks of school” being easy and Lizzie again gushes over how eighth grade is better than seventh. Interestingly, this episode also contains the briefest of hints that Lizzie has feelings for Gordo, something we’ve only ever seen in “Gordo and the Girl” before. I thought this season’s arc was mostly going to be Gordo’s unrequited crush on Lizzie and didn’t realize they were going to hint that it was mutual.
Gordo is a curmudgeon about eighth grade and says nothing will be different this year and then an announcement is made calling David Gordon to the principal’s office. Today in Bad Extras: one extra clearly understood her direction to seem gobsmacked that Gordo of all people would get called to the principal’s office, but she takes it too far and mouths “David??” which made me think she actually knew nothing about this show going in if she didn’t know Gordo’s name.
At lunch Gordo reveals that he’s been offered the chance to skip a grade. Lizzie and Miranda excitedly list off all of the great high school things he’d get to experience, like driving and going to concerts on his own and drinking coffee. Note that this community has the most independent middle schoolers in America, who hang out unsupervised all over town seemingly without needing to drive, and we’ve seen these characters drink coffee at least three times when it wasn’t a joke (Lizzie and Frankie drank coffee on one of their dates just two episodes ago, for example). The girls both say he has to go to high school to experience all the fun and Gordo points out that doing so would mean leaving them behind. When he leaves, Lizzie says she hadn’t realized that and Lalaine’s Serious Acting says Miranda didn’t either.
Sam attempts to fix a broken sink but makes it worse because dads are doofuses. Jo steps in and Matt walks in to cheer for her – “Mom! Mom! She’s our man! If she can’t fix it no one can! Gooo Mom!” – even though it’s clearly midmorning so he’s again skipping school. Sam gets offended that he’s not getting positive acknowledgement for doing nothing. Just when I was pondering why Sam was such a terrible sitcom dad stereotype and embarrassing representative of men, Matt reveals that he and Lanny are trying out for cheerleading and Sam is upset! Holy shit! This is a toxic masculinity subplot!!!
Jo expresses her support for Matt and continues fixing the sink, asking Sam to hand her a wrench. Sam complains that cheerleading is too girly. Jo’s all like “Why do you care if it’s girly and also I fixed the sink without you and these are pliers, not a wrench, you sad buffoon” and leaves her husband to wallow in his own inadequacy as she cheers, “Mom! Mom! She’s our man! If she can’t fix it no one can! Gooo ME!”
Go you, indeed, Jo!
After school, Lizzie and Miranda try to study but Lizzie says she’s worried about Gordo deciding to go to high school. Miranda assures her he probably won’t and they both decide that’s probably true, even though the last thing they said to him was that he should definitely do it. Neither of them entertain the possibility of calling Gordo and talking to him about it now that they rescind their encouragement.
Matt runs in and chants “Lizzie, Lizzie, she’s our girl! She’s the girl who makes me hurl!” even though they just used that joke last episode. Sam runs in and forcibly grabs his son and drags him outside for “traditional male bonding.” Jo rolls her eyes all “boys will be boys”-like instead of pulling her husband aside and telling him he needs to cut the bullshit and let their kid pursue his only interest that doesn’t involve wrecking the house or ruining people’s lives.
Sam tries to teach Matt to throw a football, grill steak, and play poker, but he’s such a doofus that Matt beats him at everything. Sam ends up injured all over, of course, and Jo says he should try supporting Matt – it’s probably safer! Well, that’s a confusing lesson. Tell him to try supporting Matt so he can be less of a shitty dad!
The next morning Miranda and Lizzie find Gordo cleaning out his locker and can’t figure out why on earth he’d do that. He says he’s going to high school and they’re blindsided! Lizzie asks how he could do that without discussing it with them even though he did discuss it with them and they told him to go for it. Cartoon Lizzie starts doing something she’ll do nonstop the rest of the episode – screaming “SAY SOMETHING!” or “TALK TO HIM!” That’s going to be going on in every scene from now on and it’s stressful to watch. Miranda tries to be supportive and encouraging.
Gordo reaches in his locker, pulls out a trilby for some reason (!?!), puts it on, and walks out.
This is not even one of the trilbies we’ve seen him wear before!!
This is a third trilby!!!
Gordo goes off to high school, where someone immediately says they’ll sell him their locker pass for $5 even though they’re usually $10. I expected the payoff of that joke to be a teacher giving him an elevator pass for free, but instead it was Gordo getting on an elevator and learning that you don’t need an elevator pass at all. So why did that other kid just have one on him to give to Gordo?
Anyway, the point of this montage is that high school is overwhelming and Gordo is small and scared.
The timing is again weird this episode, because Gordo cleans out his locker before the middle school day starts, then starts his day at high school, then Lizzie and Miranda talk about it at lunch – but they switch outfits after Gordo leaves so we’re supposed to believe that it’s a whole new day? Gordo just stayed home all day after cleaning out his locker and Lizzie and Miranda didn’t talk about him leaving for a full day, I guess. Lizzie misses Gordo and feels betrayed that he went to high school without them and we get more of Lalaine’s Serious Acting in response. But Miranda says that Gordo isn’t doing it to them, he’s doing it for him and that’s a good lesson for someone as selfish as Lizzie to get through her head.
Lizzie says she should have told him how she feels, and Miranda looks extremely interested and says “How do you feel?” so I thought we were going to get another moment of Lizzie grappling with her emotions like in “Gordo and the Girl” when Miranda asked if she liked him. But Lizzie just says “I just miss him, is all” and it’s not played like a lie and Miranda agrees so that’s dropped. If this is supposed to hint that Lizzie does have feelings for Gordo, they didn’t tell the actors that.
Meanwhile, Gordo eats alone at lunch. Did he really think he’d have a social life in high school? He’s only friends with Lizzie because their parents made them start hanging out immediately following her actual birth. He doesn’t have the people skills for this. We get a montage of his sad day being lonely and short. As always, keep in mind that Adam Lamberg is at least 17 here, possibly 18.
Lizzie waits for Gordo at the bus stop after school to ask him how his day was while Cartoon Lizzie screams at her to ask if he misses her. I want to point out that this is all played like a friend betraying a friend and not like Lizzie realizing she likes Gordo. I think it’s probable that the writers intended that subtext, but for the millionth time the directors either didn’t pick up on the subtext or didn’t communicate to the actors that they should play it.
Sam decides to support Matt’s cheerleading because he realized he was perpetuating a cycle begun by his overbearing terrible father. I hate Matt and generally think Sam is a terrible father, but this subplot gets an A+ from me.
Matt and Lanny crush their cheerleading tryout, doing about a million insane flips and tricks. I wonder if Lizzie would be jealous of Matt becoming a cheerleader since she failed her cheerleading tryout so spectacularly.
But in the end, it doesn’t matter because only one new boy can make the team because they only have one boy’s uniform. Now, if they really wanted to commit to the toxic masculinity subplot, Matt would volunteer to wear a girl’s uniform and Sam would support him. However, there’s an even more obvious solution, which is “don’t let the kid who doesn’t make noise be on your cheerleading squad.” Let Lanny do gymnastics or dance!
Instead, Matt refuses to join and says that no one breaks up Matt and Lanny. They put their arms around each other’s shoulders in solidarity then angrily backflip out of the room. This part made me hope Matt and Lanny grow up to realize they’re in love. I ship Matt and Lanny way more than Gordo and Lizzie, for sure.
Lizzie and Miranda sadly look at a scrapbook of pictures of them with Gordo and talk about how things change but they need to support each other and try to always be there for each other. This is actually a handy lesson for dealing with friends going to different middle schools or high schools, which is a thing that all kids have to deal with.
Gordo shows up and says, “Oh, the pictures from Coaster Kingdom?” It took me a second to realize that that’s a badly named fake theme park and not a store that only sells coasters for tables. They reminisce about how Gordo didn’t ride the rollercoaster until Miranda and Lizzie convinced him to do it with them. Gordo reveals that high school sucks and says that even though he could handle the more advanced classes and has the chance to speed through and start college at 16, it wouldn’t be worth it. He doesn’t want to go through high school until he can go with them, like the rollercoaster. It’s a good metaphor.
Lizzie really just wants him to say he missed them and Cartoon Lizzie keeps wailing about it until Lizzie says she missed him and he says it back. We get about a half second of Lizzie and Gordo making eyes at each other, but Gordo immediately says, “I missed both of you!” and brings Miranda into it. Again, this isn’t framed as anything more than resolution of a problem among friends. However, Cartoon Lizzie says, “I can’t believe I missed him so much…why did I miss him so much?” which is the only clear shoutout to that ship this episode.
Gordo says he’ll sell them an elevator pass and they all sort of laugh even though they wouldn’t know what that means and that’s the episode.
This one wasn’t as serious as “Inner Beauty,” but it’s still one where Lizzie and Miranda mope the whole time. Some episodes on this show are legitimately fun – “Lizzie in the Middle” was a good example of an episode that was flawed but still enjoyable to watch – but this isn’t one of them.
Unnecessary references: There’s a Hamlet reference that I actually really liked – when Lizzie thinks Gordo is in trouble with the principal, Cartoon Lizzie says, “Alas, poor Gordo! I knew him well.” It doesn’t really make sense that Lizzie’s subconscious would make this joke, but this is a well-done Shakespeare reference. I’ll take it.
Notable fashion moments: All Miranda this week. She wears two studded bandanas and a thick chain, which is a creative look. It’s nice to see the costume designer making her look more tough without relying on camo or British flags.
However, she also wears her worst Union Jack attire yet.
I think they might have just taken a pair of old jeans and painted that on for her. Which isn’t a worse homemade look than that necklace she made out of soda pop tops, but it’s still pretty bad.
However, that’s not even the worst part of this outfit, because her shirt has a milk carton on it with the slogan “I’M SPOILED.”
Note that Lizzie’s purse is made of jeans, but just the crotch part.
Finally, Miranda also wears this very well-coordinated magenta and green outfit.
Her earrings look like dancing turtles.
Other interesting tidbits: I don’t shout him out enough, but the actor who plays Lanny (Christian Copelin) is really fantastic.
Hilary Duff pronounced the word “totally” correctly this week! She says it very carefully and it’s during a Cartoon Lizzie bit, which makes me think someone working on her voiceover with her pointed it out to her.
I think this is the first time a Gordo-centric episode has been about him being a good friend, not an awful one. I wonder if the writers sat down between seasons one and two with a list of things to change and “Gordo’s unbearable personality” was one. He’s a drastically different character this season.