Season 2, episode 21: “Dear Lizzie”

With Miranda out of the way, this show can finally get on with its true endgame: making Lizzie and Gordo happen, for some reason.

Hey, remember how Lizzie worked on the school paper last year? It only factored into the plot for “Random Acts of Miranda” and tangentially in “Here Comes Aaron Carter” “Aaron Carter’s Coming to Town” and then disappeared for plotlines like “Lizzie worries that she doesn’t have any hobbies.” Well, now she still works on the paper, and also so does Gordo, and also he’s the editor of the paper, and also there’s a weird faculty advisor named Miss Dew, and all of those are important in this episode and no others ever.

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Lizzie shows up to a meeting late, and Gordo says he didn’t know that she wanted to be involved in this paper’s edition. Lizzie says Miranda was supposed to sign her up, but she was “sick” (this week’s excuse for Lalaine’s disappearance). I don’t think that’s really how clubs work – Lizzie should have been a writer on this paper for two years. Unless this is a completely different organization because it’s for their online “E-Zine”? Who cares! Not the writers! This episode is a steady march towards Gordo confessing he likes Lizzie and we have to get there, no matter how convoluted and convenient the plot devices!

Gordo says he doesn’t have a story for Lizzie to cover, so she asks Miss Dew, who says that Lizzie asking for advice is exactly like the people who asked her for advice when she was her school’s advice columnist. So Lizzie realizes she could be the school’s advice columnist! That was easy.

She tells Gordo and he immediately scoffs at her. “You?” he says. “You don’t give advice! You take it.” Guess who’s still not on board this ship! It’s me.

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Gordo shows up to lunch late, because he was printing out the dozens of requests for Lizzie’s help after he’d put “a small ad on our webpage.” It seems like they should have nothing but spam at this point but apparently everyone in school is constantly checking the school’s online E-Zine for new content during the school day. Lizzie reads the first letter, from someone who complains about her little sister always ruining her stuff. Lizzie thinks about it for a second, and then suggests that the girl get a lock for her room and plan on going to an out-of-state college. “Not bad!” says Gordo, and Lizzie counters by saying her advice was actually great and decides that giving barely mediocre advice is her new calling in life.

Matt shows up to class late and finds another student burping the Pledge of Allegiance, which is usually his signature move, and he begins to worry that this kid, Adam, will unseat him as the king of obnoxious pranks.

Lizzie shows up late to meet Gordo at school the next day. Why does every single scene begin with someone showing up late to something? Gordo says her advice column is brilliant and Cartoon Lizzie freaks out because Gordo never tells her she’s brilliant. Lizzie, I have some advice for you: respond to Frankie Muniz’s emails and pick your whirlwind relationship back up before you settle for this asshole.

Gordo compliments her on her work on a letter signed “Queen Tween,” and then we see said letter and it was signed “Clean Tween,” so that was an actor mistake. Every time a letter is read in this episode, we get a sequence of who actually wrote it. Clean – not Queen – Tween was Claire, who complained that her best friend (Kate) didn’t use deodorant. Lizzie suggests buying her friend perfume, which would definitely not fix the problem. Lizzie continues firing off bland advice like this and getting accosted in the halls by people with no common sense asking for her subpar insights.

Matt confronts Adam over stealing a prank he came up with, and no one in this scene is late. Adam says he only tried one of Matt’s pranks because he admires Matt so much. Matt is flattered until it’s revealed that Adam put glue on the teacher’s chair, which gets him a lot of attention and applause, and Matt finds out he’s been glued down too because he’s a sucker.

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Remember Veruca? I don’t know if I’ve even mentioned her. She had one line in “Election” – that Lizzie had the mathletes’ vote – and showed up in the D&D ripoff club in “Gordo and the Dwarves.” She’s the female Tudgeman, more or less, and she shows up covered in garbage to reveal to Lizzie that she was the letter writer who’d asked for advice on a bully recently. We again get a reenactment of the letter, where Veruca keeps running in to a bully. And the antagonist is a tall black girl who never gets any lines but is instead given snarls with animal noises dubbed in! Holy shit, show, this is the second time this device has been used to signal that a white girl is being picked on by a black girl! It! Does! Not! Look! Good!

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Lizzie had given her the advice to stand up to her bully, which resulted in the bully assembling a group of friends and chasing Veruca down until she had to hide in the cafeteria garbage to avoid them. Lizzie finally realizes that giving two-sentence tips to people might not solve their problems.

The next day, Lizzie tries to step down as advice columnist right as Gordo says that he got Principal Mr. Moseby to give them more space on the server so she can make her columns longer. Ha! That’s not how servers work. Sites crash for lots of reasons (like mine did this weekend!) but Lizzie writing a few extra sentences a week wouldn’t be that cataclysmic.  He convinces Lizzie to agree to do one more column before retiring.

Matt berates Adam for stealing his pranks and says he has lots of new ones up his sleeve, and then we see a flashback of him putting wheels on the teacher’s desk – and putting glue on Adam’s seat. That one’s not a new prank! That’s Matt stealing Adam’s prank! The teacher comes in and leans on her desk, sending it gliding off, and Adam takes the credit. He also reveals that he switched their seats so now Matt is glued in. In case you’re wondering, the prank is not comedy gold and doesn’t warrant being used in this episode so many times.

At home, Lizzie searches her email for a safe letter to answer but keeps visualizing people taking her advice and it going awry. She pictures telling Ethan not to focus on his looks, only to cause him to shave his head.

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She pictures telling Kate to be nicer to others, leading to her joining the Peace Corps and getting eaten by a primitive tribe. Hmmm, that’s also not super racially great.

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She pictures telling Tudgeman to try to get involved with people, only to have him get involved with supervillains and take over the world.

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They really got their money’s worth out of that bald cap this episode.

Lizzie asks her parents what to do and Sam suggests just doing the best she can. Lizzie and Jo are impressed with his good advice. Sam asks Lizzie what she would tell a letter writer with this problem and Lizzie thinks about it, then says she’d say to do the best she can. She seems to be considering this idea for the first time even though Sam just told her to do that seconds before.

Lizzie goes upstairs and sees that a new letter has come in. She excitedly decides that it’s the one to answer.

Matt pranks Adam by dumping a bucket of maple syrup on his head. That subplot was exactly as enjoyable as you might have guessed.

Lizzie sees Gordo the next day and the show reveals that HE was the letter writer she answered.

The sound quality isn’t great, but I wanted to include this clip because I laughed out loud at Gordo’s dumb slow-motion smile with the angsty teen music. It’s just so overdramatic and he looks so extremely uncharming.

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It’s another example of straight-up wish fulfillment for girls who want someone to think they’re amazing just the way they are. This episode is weird. It ends on the above clip, which feels like a cliffhanger. Pausing on the clapperboard during the blooper reel reveals that this was supposed to be episode 30 of the season, but instead we get it here, in the middle, with relatively little buildup.

While the idea of falling for someone who’s been your best friend your whole life is very cute in theory, Gordo and Lizzie don’t make a good pair at all. First of all, she’s way hotter than him. She doesn’t need to settle. And even setting aside his petulant outbursts in season one, he and Lizzie just don’t have much in common. He’s constantly frustrated with her relatively shallow interests, and she’s generally disinterested in his philosophical ramblings. I think they’re much better off as friends. Gordo can date hipsters and vegans and one day settle down with a historian who does cosplay on weekends, and Lizzie can date hot guys and celebrities and eventually settle down with someone cute who actually notices when she gets a new outfit.

Maybe that will happen, actually. They’re in middle school. I think they’re the type of couple who “dates” in eighth grade because it’s a thing to do and they break up by the middle of freshman year of high school but they always stay friends and never mention it and get deeply embarrassed when friends bring it up later.

Unnecessary references: Cartoon Lizzie suggests all kinds of stories she could take on for the paper, including “gonzo journalism,” and there’s a visual reference to Hunter S. Thompson.

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Tudgeman’s villain scene was a super obvious Dr. Evil reference, complete with Austin Powers theme- soundalike music. Kyle Downes was excellent as always in that scene – he’s such a great character actor.

Notable fashion moments: Lizzie is very ingenued-up this episode. Everything she wears is soft and pretty, with immaculate hair and makeup…

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… until the end when she looks much sexier than usual in a midriff-baring sheer black top and tight denim skirt. (I couldn’t get a non-derpy screengrab with the midriff-baring aspect exposed, so trust me on that one.) You can tell they put some thought into making her look like the romantic interest this episode.

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The sequence where she worries about Tudgeman becoming a supervillian features Ethan as president and Kate as first lady. They both look aged-up….

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…in costumes we’ve seen before (in “Over the Hill”) to indicate their future careers…

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….but Lizzie looks the same? I can’t tell if she’s supposed to look older and it’s a bad costume or if she’s supposed to be herself, at the age of her current predicament, traveling to the future.

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Other interesting tidbits: I’ve said it before, but Matt is such a stereotype that seeing him around other children is genuinely unnerving.

The kid who plays Adam is the voice of Mac on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends!

And the girl who played Veruca was one of the kids in Matilda!

I thought that the girl who wrote to Lizzie about her younger sister bugging her was Parker McKenzie, who’s been a mostly background player in a few episodes and had bit parts in “Obessesion” (she was the annoying vegetarian) and “Gordo’s Video” (I think as the girl who picked a wedgie?) so I checked on it and it was indeed. The weird part of that scene was when we got the re-enactment of it, her little sister read her diary and yelled “ooooh, who’s Gordo?” I think that’s a callback to an episode we haven’t seen but which should have aired earlier.

14 thoughts on “Season 2, episode 21: “Dear Lizzie”

  1. Ok straight up that first email to Lizzie looks like someone asking if it’s okay to murder their younger sibling. Also!! This episode is so deeply ingrained in my stupid middle school soul because of Gordo’s dumb confession UGH. I much prefer Bridget Jones’s handling of this trope (which I ALSO watched as an impressionable middle schooler and definitely didn’t help my hopeless romantic tendencies).

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  2. I’m surprised you didn’t note that Ms. Dew was played by Jake Thomas’s mom. Don’t know why, but his parents got a couple of credits during that last season of Lizzie. (I think they wrote or directed an episode too?)

    Oh how I love that Austin Powers spoof with the Tudge. Also, given how Ashlie Brillault is a lawyer now, it’s rather amusing to see these political portrayals. And, despite how annoying her character was on the show, the actress who played Parker McKenzie seemed to be a sweetheart in real life when I communicated with her. She’s also had a very successful career in both politics and business in D.C.

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    1. Whoa! I didn’t know that she was Jake Thomas’s mom! I even looked at her imdb to see what else she’d done and missed that! Thanks for pointing it out.

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  3. “While the idea of falling for someone who’s been your best friend your whole life is very cute in theory, Gordo and Lizzie don’t make a good pair at all. First of all, she’s way hotter than him. She doesn’t need to settle. And even setting aside his petulant outbursts in season one, he and Lizzie just don’t have much in common. He’s constantly frustrated with her relatively shallow interests, and she’s generally disinterested in his philosophical ramblings. I think they’re much better off as friends. Gordo can date hipsters and vegans and one day settle down with a historian who does cosplay on weekends, and Lizzie can date hot guys and celebrities and eventually settle down with someone cute who actually notices when she gets a new outfit.”

    ……..You know, it’s one thing to describe why two people shouldn’t be together because they’re too different in personality or one of them is a jerk or whatever, and MAYBE the writers of this show should have done a better job setting up the relationship. But saying “she’s too hot for him?” As if looks matter more than what’s inside? Really?

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      1. I agree, I don’t think anyone has to settle. Character is very important. I do agree with you that if the writers wanted to ship Lizzie and Gordo and for the audience to be on board with it, it should have been done more consistently and their characters should have been more likable and written better.

        I just took that paragraph as if you implied that average-looking guys don’t deserve hot women, and that’s something I definitely do not agree with.

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  4. “Holy shit, show, this is the second time this device has been used to signal that a white girl is being picked on by a black girl! It! Does! Not! Look! Good!”

    Um, black people can be bullies too. I have seen that happen A LOT in real life and have experienced it myself. This shouldn’t need to be said – there are good black people and bad black people, just like there are good white people and bad white people.

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    1. No shit, but the show doesn’t have a lot of black representation otherwise. So twice they cast a black extra just to be around portraying aggression.

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      1. And the real issue here is the ANIMAL SOUND dubbed over the snarling black extra, which plays into decades of very, very ugly stereotypes.

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      2. I don’t know, though. It’s been a while since I’ve watched the show, and I actually can’t see any of the photos now. Wasn’t that extra one of Kate’s lackeys at some point? So I feel like the mean-spirited-ness of it was still consistent.

        Wasn’t there a lion roar dubbed over Lizzie’s facial expression at the kid bully in Sibling Bonds?

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