Season 2, episode 20: “Lizzie’s Eleven”

It’s begun: the exile of Miranda. Lalaine missed six episodes of the second season, including the finale, and was absent from The Lizzie McGuire Movie for reasons vaguely related to her music career and the filming of a completely forgettable DCOM. I don’t fully understand the timing on that, because they filmed the movie during the fall of 2002, when season 2 was already airing – you can tell the movie was filmed later because everyone looks noticeably older. It might be that I just want to invent a scandal here, but I wonder if Lalaine just got sick of being on Lizzie. It had to be hard getting stuck with the shoplifting and anorexia plotlines when your costar’s character got to date celebrities and whatnot. And Hilary Duff had already had a smash hit DCOM and was launching her music career by the end of the series, so I’m sure Lalaine was itching to get some of the same success.

It seems like a bad miscalculation, though. Lalaine got a clunker of a DCOM script and not much help from Disney in launching herself as a singer – her song for the You Wish! soundtrack was bland and grating, and her CD wasn’t widely distributed. She would have gotten a lot more exposure in an actual feature film. And writing her out of the series feels all kinds of wrong – Miranda is a central character and her absence is noticeable. Please discuss Lalaine’s departure in the comments. I find it all a lot more fascinating than this episode.

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“Lizzie’s Eleven” begins with Lizzie crawling around in a mouse costume for “pep club initiation.” When Gordo laughs at her for it, she explains that she’s trying to get into a lot of clubs so she can have more photos in the yearbook. What? Gordo already did that in “Best Dressed for Much Less” – and his method, just crashing the club photos, was easier. She says she doesn’t want it to be like last year, when she only had one photo in the yearbook, but in “Best Dressed,” she specifically said she was in three pictures last year.

Gordo calls her quest pointless. This stance is way more in character for Gordo, but he did this exact same thing! Lizzie points out that he did this exact same thing – “last year.” I am THROWN for a LOOP here. So season 2 is actually meant to be seventh and eighth grades? How does that make any sense even at all? The actors are all older and have different hairstyles from season 1! So…like….”First Kiss” was supposed to be Valentine’s Day of seventh grade? Or was it eighth? Gordo went from not caring about his yearbook photo to trying to be “most photographed” over the course of one year? And why did they all talk about “last year’s yearbooks” in “Best Dressed” and refer to teachers in this school if they would have been in elementary school the year prior? I am CONFOUNDED by this information!!

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Kate saunters up just to tell Lizzie that she’s decided to cut out all eleven pictures of Lizzie that were supposed to be in the yearbook and just use a picture of Lizzie having an allergic reaction because she’s yearbook editor and mean. She says the yearbook is going to print that night, so they can’t do anything about it. Kate has been such a useless bully for so long that this felt out of character to me.

Also, I’m getting tied up a lot here because this opening scene is a mess, but why is Lizzie going through pep club initiation the day the yearbook goes to print? It seems unlikely they’d get a photo in time anyway.

Gordo hangs out in the gym looking through CDs and saying “Lizzie won’t have a lot to work with when she DJs tonight” out loud for exposition’s sake. Kate and Ethan come in to scope out the best place to take a picture together that night, which Kate explains is Monte Carlo Night for exposition’s sake. She says, for exposition’s sake, that she wants a pic with Ethan at Monte Carlo Night in the yearbook and that the yearbook will go to print immediately afterwards.

Gordo calls Lizzie and tells her to give up on her yearbook dreams because yearbooks aren’t important anyway. “People are just gonna write, ‘Have a great summer! Love ya!'” he says, though this would have been a good time to set up that apparently every person in this school writes “You rock. Don’t ever change.”

Downstairs, Sam tells Matt, for exposition’s sake, that he’s also going to Monte Carlo Night as a greeter, and Jo adds, for exposition’s sake, that she was assigned to be a waitress but wanted to be a blackjack dealer. Never does anyone provide exposition on what the shit Monte Carlo Night is. Jo voiceover says she put herself through grad school working as a blackjack dealer on a riverboat while stunt Jo hands do lots of cool card tricks. Once again, I’m sad about how Jo’s life turned out.

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Lizzie asks Matt to help her come up with a plan to get her pictures in the yearbook, because, for exposition’s sake, “Miranda’s out of town.” Matt presents a list of demands, but Lizzie gives him a wedgie until he agrees to do it. I genuinely wonder if any kid ever laughed at bits like that.

Matt says, “It goes down tonight, at Monte Carlo Night,” and it switches to voiceover and shots of people at Monte Carlo Night. I thought this was one of those sequences when the mastermind describes the plan and it plays out in theory and then later they enact the plan and it all goes wonky. Nope, this was actually a transition to that night. It was confusing.

Lizzie is DJing, which seems out of character, and she keeps yelling extremely nerdy things like “Yo yo yo! Bustin’ some monsta jams!” and, even more oddly, “Kick it up, big baby!” (Perhaps it was supposed to be “Kick it up big, baby!” but that’s not how she delivered it and either way, what?) She keeps having to switch from “walkie-talkie” to “broadcast” on her headset. I wonder if that will cause problems later!

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This episode is honestly bonkers, so I’m going to describe it as best as I can. Monte Carlo Night is some kind of gambling night for middle schoolers that’s only in the plot for the Ocean’s Eleven reference. Lizzie is the DJ. Matt and Melina slink around in spy outfits. It’s all a heist caper, and an extremely confusing one.

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Lizzie begs Kate to put all her pictures in the yearbook, and Gordo overhears and yells that he’s fed up with hearing about the yearbook and doesn’t want to be Lizzie’s friend anymore. Cartoon Lizzie is upset about Gordo, which is weird because the fight is obviously staged. Lizzie throws Gordo’s CDs back at him – they didn’t really establish that he’d given her any – and he drops all of his chips when he catches them. Kate swoops down to take all of his chips, leaving her purse on the ground. Melina switches her purse with a duplicate purse that she has somehow.

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Matt and Melina search Kate’s purse and find the key to the yearbook room, which Kate has on a keychain with her own picture on it. Gordo meets Matt and Melina and they congratulate him on a convincing fake fight and hand off the key. This whole thing is peppered with walkie-talkies and hand signals and code words.

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I always feel bad for actors who can’t dance, because I’m an actor who can’t dance, but there’s a 3-second shot of Kate dancing that’s so painful I had to cover my eyes. Clayton Snyder is delightful as always. This is the second episode where we’ve seen Ethan intentionally dancing badly and it’s great.

Matt ruins all of Kate’s pictures with Ethan to stall while Gordo adds all of Lizzie’s photos into the yearbook. He seems to load them all onto a photo spread of just Lizzie, which seems…obvious.

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After lots of Matt’s shenanigans, Kate finally yells that she’ll take the picture herself after she gets her PURSE, a declaration that is definitely thrust into that sentence for plot purposes. This triggers a completely insane purse-switching sequence that involves Lizzie gliding down the halls on a library cart at full speed. She reaches the doors to the gym and I assumed she’d crash, because she’s Lizzie McGuire, human disaster. Nope! She flips off of the cart, cartwheels over to the DJ stand, then swings on the giant velvet curtains in their gym (?) to switch out the purses. Weird how they didn’t use Hilary Duff’s gymnastics skills in “I’ve Got Rhythmic” but we keep seeing them in episodes like this.

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Kate finally gets her picture, so Lizzie frantically yells for Gordo into her headset – but it was on “broadcast,” not “walkie-talkie” mode! Kate hears and drags Jo over because Kate’s a little bitch. They all go to the yearbook office, where Jo sternly supervises as Kate loads her picture into the yearbook – using some magic made-for-TV computer program that allows this to happen in a second – and then trots off to the printer with her CD.

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As soon as she leaves, Jo reveals that she was in on it and this was all part of the plan. Sam shows up and is all “What’s going on? I’m a doofus” and so, for exposition’s sake, they all go over everything that happened – the fake fight, the fake broadcast/walkie-talkie mixup, Kate dragging Jo into it, and Jo switching out the CDs using her blackjack dealing skills.

The episode ends with a weird monologue where Lizzie realizes that the experience of pulling off a high-stakes caper to illicitly get her pictures in the yearbook was more important than the pictures themselves all along, which is…a weird lesson for kids. Maybe the real dangerous escapade was the friends we made along the way.

This one was essentially a retread of “Night of the Day of the Dead” in that it involved a super convoluted plan to punish Kate, and in that it tried to trick the audience too. Cartoon Lizzie, for instance, kept popping up to feel sad about her fight with Gordo or freak out about the broadcast button mixup, even though Lizzie’s inner voices should have been saying “Yes! Another step perfectly pulled off!” The whole thing was pretty exhausting and Kate-centric. Not my favorite episode.

Unnecessary references: Sam makes a weird reference to then-President Bush. He says, “President Bush, if you don’t settle down, I’m going to have to ask you to leave!” and then explains the joke to Matt as being “Because he’s actually very nice.”

Notable fashion moments: Lizzie wears a suit, which I don’t think her character would pick out in general. It was definitely chosen for the Ocean’s Eleven aesthetic.

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It has a fascinating belt.

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She still looks lovely in it – Hilary Duff is a little bit more broad-shouldered than most, and she always looks smashing in blazers.

Ethan wears a tuxedo T-shirt, which is perfect. Gordo wears a shirt with cards on it, which I absolutely believe that he would own.

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Interestingly, I believe the costume designers found the shirt and liked it but thought it should have more cards on it, as one card appears to be a pin.

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Melina’s spy outfit is EVERYTHING!

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Look at those shiny flared-leg pants! It’s so Y2K I could scream.

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With big chunky sneakers and a turtleneck? Cast her in a Hackers sequel.

Other interesting tidbits: This episode was directed by Robert Carradine, a.k.a. Sam McGuire, and it’s literally the only thing he ever directed. I think he did a good enough job, apart from the transition that confused me and the very obvious substitution of stunt hands for Jo’s during the blackjack tricks.

Lazy prop alert: Kate is wearing the outfit she wore earlier in this episode in the picture on her keychain.

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Tudgeman’s hair appears to be at least slightly red again. We still don’t know why.

Normally I don’t mind the animation of Cartoon Lizzie – other than the fact that it looks nothing like Hilary Duff – but this week there were some very weird animated cartoon vegetables that really threw me.

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This episode didn’t have rights-free stock music! I don’t know how that worked out. It actually featured Shakira’s “Whenever, Wherever,” Hanson’s “MMMBop” and also some early 2000s Paul Oakenfold-type song that I cannot for the life of me identify because it sounds like every other song at the time and it might not be famous at all and I’m mixing it up with something that was because it sounds like every other song at the time.

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16 thoughts on “Season 2, episode 20: “Lizzie’s Eleven”

  1. It’s always odd when the BFF is suddenly not there for what seem to be important parties, moments, etc. But it was painfully obvious in the Lizzie McGuire Movie. Kate suddenly went from enemy to frenemy or maybe even friend and helped Lizzie get away with sneaking out etc. We all realize it was out of necessity because Miranda was no longer there, but it just seemed forced. They had to shoehorn Kate into a sort of friend role because, how else would they pull of the plot?

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  2. So … back in the day, this show actually had a fairly active internet fandom that I was involved in that was full of some very memorable drama that stemmed exactly from the rumor mill about this “scandal.” There was plenty of speculation that there was tension on set between Hilary/Lalaine and Hilary’s mom, Susan. Lots of rivalry and people being uninvited to birthday parties, etc. Those stories were always highly suspect, but I do remember Jake Thomas being rather salty about Hilary and her mom a few times when he had fan chats on his official Yahoo group. But yeah, the timing never quite added up in regards to why Lalaine had to leave the show for a DCOM movie, and to never return for TLMM.

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      1. It’s really strange. Lalaine said herself “you can draw your own conclusions” when asked about why she left Lizzie. Something definitely went down, but it’s all a blur exactly what that something was. I remember her having a cover of “Cruella De Vil” that was actually pretty awesome, but You Wish was one of the worst DCOMs out there, and that’s saying a lot.

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      2. Lalaine was a real singer! I’d say she had better chops than a lot of Disney kids – she was in the Broadway tour of Les Mis as a young’un! I can see why she’d want to lean into music more, but I don’t know if Disney backed her quite as hard as Hilary. Or maybe she wanted to break away from Disney and couldn’t get a record deal on her own? Who knows!

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  3. *gasp* I’m so insulted. “You Wish!” was always one of my favorite DCOMS and one of the most memorable, imo. haha.

    But, yeah. Never really cared for this one. I oddly like the dynamic of just Lizzie and Gordo in these “last” few episodes though. I got used to it pretty quickly. And omg yes little things like the yearbook sections “Around the school” and “Campus Clubs” being filled with only pictures of Lizzie always bothered me and made me cringe so bad… even as a 10 year old lol WHAT ABOUT THE POOR OTHER STUDENTS?! (Just wait until the finale. The yearbook is literally only pictures of Lizzie/Miranda/Gordo for flashback’s sake lol)

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  4. Miranda has always been the member of the trio I liked the least (she had potential but the writers kind of ruined it through the episodes imo) so her absence for a few episodes didn’t bothered that much, excepted that once again the broadcasting’s order has been awful. It just gives the impression basically that Miranda decided to miss school for a week, then came back, then miss school once again…, while if they had aired the episodes correctly, the idea of a Miranda’s absence would have been so much coherent. And personally, I remember some rumors talking about some problems between LaLaine and Hillary but I have no idea if they were founded or not.

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    1. I definitely like the IDEA of Miranda – the kinda punk rebellious one – better than the actual Miranda we got, who was kind of whiny and dramatic.

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  5. “This stance is way more in character for Gordo, but he did this exact same thing! Lizzie points out that he did this exact same thing – “last year.” I am THROWN for a LOOP here. So season 2 is actually meant to be seventh and eighth grades? ”
    ^ Huh, I didn’t even notice THAT episode was a season two, eighth grade episode as well. I was too busy being surprised that it was referenced. I expected Gordo to call out Lizzie for being shallow for wanting to be in so many yearbook pictures without the pair ever mentioning that Gordo did the same thing. I was so ready to call Gordo a hypocrite too… and then Lizzie was like “But you did the same thing last year!”. Boy, was I surprised. Only thing that could have had me more surprised is if Danny Kessler was at Monte Carlo Night.

    “It’s begun: the exile of Miranda. Lalaine missed six episodes of the second season, including the finale, and was absent from The Lizzie McGuire Movie for reasons vaguely related to her music career and the filming of a completely forgettable DCOM.”
    ^ When I was younger, I believed the reason discussed by the other kids was that Lalaine was just not into the show anymore / had issues. There was always talk that she wanted more out of the show. Disney Channel of the 90s was pretty meh so when Lizzie McGuire started in 2001, the channel hit off a big boom. Lizzie/Hilary was everywhere. I think maybe Lalaine thought she could be like Hilary – be just as famous and not relegated to her side character role. I don’t think Disney truly supported her decision – it was like a “Oh? You’re leaving. Well, we’re sorry for that and on behalf of the Walt Disney Company, we wish you the best of luck with your career” and then … well, Lalaine didn’t really kick off like she wanted to.
    She really should have been in the movie… I know Boy Meets World and That’s So Raven had gotten new life breathed into them via their sequels, so if Lizzie McGuire gets one, LALAINE HAS TO RETURN.

    “Jo voiceover says she put herself through grad school working as a blackjack dealer on a riverboat”
    ^ JO McGUIRE. FROM BLACKJACK DEALER IN NEW ORLEANS TO … housewife(?) and mother to these two children, one of them being the hellion Matt. #JoDeservedBetter

    “Monte Carlo Night is some kind of gambling night for middle schoolers that’s only in the plot for the Ocean’s Eleven reference.”
    ^ Yup. Same reason why Lizzie had “11” photos for the yearbook, cause otherwise the title “Lizzie’s Eleven” would make no sense. Not that they pay much stock to making episode titles make sense anyways, am I right?

    “Matt presents a list of demands, but Lizzie gives him a wedgie until he agrees to do it.”
    ^ That sounds… painful. I’ve never gotten one, but still… how do you just reach into your sibling’s pants, hook your fingers on their underwear and pull up? Imagine he did that to Lizzie! But nope, the network would never air that.

    “Lizzie wears a suit, which I don’t think her character would pick out in general. It was definitely chosen for the Ocean’s Eleven aesthetic.”
    ^ Based on your reviews thus far, you’d have loved to see Miranda/Lalaine wear the suit. She’s the real Danny Ocean of the group. Also… it would have been cool to have Tudgeman in the caper too, right? Give Kate some comeuppance? She went to Matt of all people.

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