Season 2, episode 25: “A Gordo Story”

This one gets a dubious honor. Of all the episodes where Gordo throws a tantrum, it bothers me the least.

Gordo, Lizzie, Ethan, and Miranda play basketball in a very, very small PE class. Ethan easily blocks what should be Gordo’s buzzer-beating basket and Lizzie and Miranda gush about him when he leaves. Gordo is dejected. Lizzie wonders who Ethan will ask to the dance. How many dances does this school have every year? It seems like they have a dance every month. The trio agrees to go together.

Parker McKenzie, who’d been watching the game, walks up to tell Gordo he did a great job and was robbed on that final basket, then leaves. Gordo decides to ask her to the dance. I always feel like this show is at its most realistic when its characters are being dumb middle school idiots, so Parker’s awkwardness and Gordo’s instant crush all felt right to me. Gordo says he might as well take a chance. I agree. Why not? Why not take a crazy chance? If he loses the moment, he might lose a lot…so why not…why not…

The girls realize they’re stuck going to the dance together but don’t mind. Lizzie says Miranda is a good dancer anyway. YESSSSS! Ditch him! Go together! Put Miranda in a suit! LEZ 👏 IT 👏 UP 👏

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Matt asks Sam and Jo what their heritage is because he needs to know for a school project. We’ve already seen a plotline based on this! This season, in fact! Lizzie had to do this before. The parents aren’t as confused about their heritage as they were in that episode; last time Sam could only confirm that he was “something like” Scottish or Irish, but this time he insists that the family is the descended from William “Braveheart” Wallace until Jo reveals that it’s bullshit. Matt gets mad that they’re not related to anyone famous, since Lanny was related to Crispus Attucks, the first person killed in the Revolutionary War. Matt complains that their family is boring, and Jo seems offended even though the color she came up with to describe her family’s personality last episode was plain white.

At the Digital Bean, Gordo tries to get up the courage to ask Parker to the dance. Miranda and Lizzie don’t get why he’s nervous, so he asks if they’ve ever asked Ethan to a dance and they both scream “NO!” and seem horrified by the idea. So clearly this one was supposed to air before “Just Friends.”

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Gordo sits down next to Parker and she seems weirded out by him being there. This is odd, since she ran up just to compliment him that morning. Gordo starts to tell his “king of Norway” joke, a long, rambling mess of a joke we saw him begin to tell in “The Longest Yard” and which is never actually told onscreen. It’s a funny bit of continuity. It seems to be going well, but she shoots him down when he asks her to the dance and says she has to go.

Matt realizes that no one would be able to tell if he lied about who he was related to.

Parker hovers around the Digital Bean for no clear reason, even though she just said she was going to leave, as the trio dissect why she could have turned Gordo down. Lizzie decides to go up and ask, which seems weird and possessive, and Parker says super bluntly that it’s because he’s short. Lizzie points out that Parker is also short, but she still says she doesn’t want to go out with a short guy. Gordo overhears and gets sad and leaves.

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Gordo comes to school the next day in cowboy boots. This is presumably because they make him taller, but that’s not established. I suspect that they didn’t actually make him that much taller or else they’d show him in comparison with the girls, but instead he sits down next to them. He claims to be over Parker so Miranda shares that she heard that Parker and Ethan are going to the dance together. This makes Gordo all sullen and sulky and he tells them that they’re part of the problem because they like a tall guy too. Miranda says they don’t like him because he’s tall and Gordo snaps, “Why, then? Because he’s smart?” and storms off. Miranda, shocked, says they’ve never seen Gordo act this way. False! I have a whole tag for Gordo acting this way.

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Lanny shares his project – somehow – and everyone in class is impressed that he’s descended from Crispus Attucks. Matt goes next, even though “Onassis” comes after “McGuire” alphabetically, and he immediately upstages Lanny by claiming to be related to George Washington, Davey Crockett, and Elvis Presley.  He should have just stuck with the somewhat believable Braveheart story.

Someone asks how he could be a descendent of Davey Crockett if Davey Crockett died at the Alamo, which should have ended his family tree. Couldn’t you say the same of Crispus Attucks? Yes. You can. I looked it up. Attucks doesn’t have any documented descendants, but Davey Crockett actually does because he had a family before dying. So why not give Lanny an ancestor who wasn’t also famous for dying at a significant event? Anyway, Lanny gets pissed at Matt for stealing his thunder.

We get a super weird montage of Gordo being too short for things that turns out to be a dream sequence when he dozed off in class. He’s about two inches tall in two clips, then his regular height, then about two feet tall. It’s bizarre.

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After school, Mr. Dig plays one-on-one basketball with Ethan, which makes sense only because Mr. Dig does everything at all times in this school. Gordo walks in for no established reason after Mr. Dig beats Ethan. He does not speak to Ethan, even when Ethan tries to say hi to him. Perhaps Gordo’s hostility is another reason girls might prefer the much more easy-going Ethan. Gordo asks Mr. Dig for advice and he just tells him to be comfortable in his own skin, blah blah blah. It’s fine, but I just wish I could see why Gordo was motivated to talk to Mr. Dig. How did he know he’d be in the gym? Maybe Gordo could have been in the gym moping and Mr. Dig came in and talked to him. It just all feels too convenient.

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Matt tells his parents that Lanny is mad at him, and Sam suggests he try apologizing. Stunning parenting work.

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As Lizzie is getting ready for the dance, Gordo comes over and apologizes for saying she was part of the problem for liking Ethan. We can assume that Miranda got no apology and had to go to the dance by herself.  Gordo says that even though he usually tells Lizzie and Miranda not to worry about appearances, his problem is legitimate because he can’t control his height. Yeah, that’s a lot more serious than an eating disorder. Lizzie says he’s great because of his personality – agree to disagree, Liz – and they have a goofy pillow fight and go off to the dance.

This is one of those episodes that’s not overtly romantic but could sort of go either way. If you want evidence for that ship, it’s there; if you think of it as just an issue among friends, that’s also a feasible reading. Cartoon Lizzie never expresses jealousy when he asks Parker out, for instance. At least, none of that shows up until the end….where something happens but I don’t actually know what.

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At the dance, they meet up with their sad third wheel and see that Parker is having a terrible time because Ethan is such a bad dancer. I know I say this every episode, but Clayton Snyder is so delightful. I love his awful dance moves. Parker sees Gordo and runs up to tell him that she made the wrong choice. They all make her feel bad about it and Miranda and Lizzie gloat about how they’re both with Gordo, which is one of those things that would actually really weird people out in real life. Parker asks him to at least dance with her, so he does, and Miranda seizes the opportunity to dance with Ethan.

Lizzie just stands there….meaningfully. I don’t really know what the meaning is. Cartoon Lizzie asks “Why am I not happier?,” which is a pretty heavy question that they don’t try very hard to answer. Before she leaves, Miranda asks if Lizzie is cool being left alone and she says yes, and then when Miranda is gone she just stares at everyone and whispers, “I’m cool.”

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And that’s the end? The only explanation that makes sense is that she’s sad and jealous seeing Gordo dorkily dance with Parker, but she doesn’t look sad because she stares at Gordo – and Parker, and Miranda, and Ethan – smiling. There’s a close-up, but not just of Gordo, and we don’t get any editing cues as to what she’s thinking even though this show is usually heavy-handed with slow-mo or eye contact to signal romantic feelings. That was the weirdest cliffhanger ending yet. I don’t know why we’re hanging from the cliff or where the cliff is.

Unnecessary references: Cartoon Lizzie says that Parker “has some ‘splainin’ to do” and Hilary Duff can’t do a Desi Arnez impression to save her life

Notable fashion moments: Miranda wears a shirt that says REBEL on it; to be clear this is different than her shirt that says ATTITUDE on it or her shirt that says ROCK on it; she is a rockin’ rebel with attitude and she wants to let the people know

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I don’t particularly love their outfits for the dance! Lizzie’s isn’t as flattering as it could be and Miranda’s, being two pieces, looks too casual.

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Remember how I said Gordo tends to look like a dweeb when he needs to wear a suit? This episode is a great example. Look at this dweeb!

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He’s like a blander, sadder version of Duckie from Pretty in Pink. Oy. Gordo is the sadder, blander version of Duckie from Pretty in Pink. 

Other interesting tidbits: Some sources – not super reliable ones – list this episode as being called “Inner Beauty II: A Gordo Story.” That actually makes sense as a title. It’s tied to “Inner Beauty” in that they both deal with body issues, and it actually focuses on the idea of personality (inner beauty) more than the other episode did.

The bloopers always include a fake blooper from Cartoon Lizzie. Weirdly, though, the blooper from this episode ended up at the end of “Clue-Less.” I am probably the only person on the face of this earth who would notice that besides the Cartoon Lizzie animator.

I have lots of Cartoon Lizzie tidbits this week! Cartoon Lizzie never interacts with other cartoon people, which makes sense – they don’t want to have to animate a Cartoon Miranda and Matt and Gordo who interact with her in her own mind. Therefore, we only ever see things like stomping feet or hands reaching into the frame in Cartoon Lizzie bits, never full people and especially never their faces. Until now! Cartoon Lizzie said if Ethan were smart and hot he’d be Super Ethan and we see a glimpse of the animated Super Ethan’s face.

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It looks like Clayton Snyder! I kind of feel like this was a mistake that wasn’t caught. I don’t know how that could happen, but it feels wrong.

Finally, we get my favorite Cartoon Lizzie animation ever. She’s cheering on Gordo when he asks Parker out and looks deranged.

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I don’t know if Parker is supposed to be in any particular clique in school, but at one point Miranda just says, “It’s Parker. She’s weird” when trying to analyze her. I feel like that’s important information to know about any girl who pursues Gordo.

When Matt comes in the kitchen to ask his parents for advice, they’re working on some giant fucking model airplane or something and it’s never acknowledged.

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This episode was #215 and “Just Friends” was #218, according to their clapperboards. If these were to air in order, there would be two dances three episodes apart.

One of Lizzie’s collages in her room just says DOGS.

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Miranda’s dancing is always good and enjoyable.

I didn’t need to use this screenshot in the post, but please look at Ethan in the background:

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12 thoughts on “Season 2, episode 25: “A Gordo Story”

  1. It’s true, this show only has three guys in it – Gordo, Ethan and Tudgeman. Parker needs a date to go to the dance with so of course it’s Ethan, the guy every girl in the whole school has a crush on. He and Kate must be “off again” if he goes with Parker.

    The “Lizzie and Miranda have the same crush” phenomenon is weird. You’d think there’d be one episode where they clash over it, but the writers only address Miranda’s crush when convenient. I wonder if the writers view it more as Miranda copying Lizzie. Or maybe she crushes on Ethan *because* every girl in the school does and she doesn’t want to stand out. Both cases support the theory that Miranda actually likes girls.

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    1. Is it not an unspoken rule of female friendship that you can’t crush on the same guy? That would have caused major drama in my friend group in middle school, but no drama has ever come out of it here. If ever there was an excuse to write in some conflict, this would be it, writers!

      But maybe it’s a non-issue because Miranda likes girls. #MirandaSanchezLikesGirls #SpreadTheWord

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      1. Though it would have been interesting if, after Lizzie and Ethan decide they’re “just friends,” Lizzie gives Miranda her blessing to go after him. Miranda and Kate could have added another level to their hostility.

        But that would have required continuity and remembering to add conflict. Never mind.

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      2. Now THAT’D be a finale – Lizzie and Gordo getting together and Miranda scoring the hottest guy in school, to Kate’s horror.

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  2. Another big reason that the family can’t be descended from William “Braveheart” Wallace is that the only place he has that nickname is in the wildly inaccurate Mel Gibson movie. If you were actually descended from “Braveheart,” that would mean you were descended from a guy named Robert the Bruce. He was in the movie with his nickname as the title, but another guy (the guy played by Gibson) got the name.

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  3. Having seen these episodes out of order (and recently), I recognized Parker right away (she’s the girl in “Dear Lizzie” who wants to be an only sibling as her little sister goes through her diary and says “Ouuu, who’s Gordo?”.) So I guess there’s our reason for that – she developed feelings for Gordo after this dance. Also, she was namedropped as Parker in “Obsession”, where she calls Lizzie “meat-eater!” & storms off.

    I was gonna mention how IMDB lists this episode’s alternate title as “Inner Beauty II: A Gordo Story” but you already caught that, so… 😛

    Most Disney Channel shows usually lack continuity for the most part, so when Matt asked his family where they came from, I remembered the episode where Lizzie asked the same question. I remember Jo saying she was from Walla Walla, Washington and that Sam was from Kalamazoo, MI. At least in this episode they mention once more that Sam hails from Kalamazoo. Yes, Jo doesn’t mention Walla Walla, but her statement that her family came from Poland during WW2 doesn’t mean they didn’t end up in Walla Walla … although when Lizzie asked, she did not tell her daughter about the WW2 Poland bit and said something like ‘Oh, Switzerland, Hungary… countries with heavy foods” or something like that (I’m paraphrasing off memory).

    Also, that bit of Gordo & Lizzie in her room, where he asks her out and she says she doesn’t DATE guys with blue eyes but how’d she make an exception followed by the “cute” pillow strike is one of those images that spreads around those 2000s “childhood” tumblr/twitter accounts that make Gordo seem like the best male friend/crush ever and the Lizzie-Gordo ship to be the pinnacle of 2000s television romance history. But like you said, if you’re looking for hints of a ship, it’s there. The end where Lizzie seems solemn and watches the others dance can be construed with her wishing she were dancing with Gordo instead… or it could mean wishing that she was the one dancing with Ethan… or maybe she’s jealous of Ethan for dancing with Miranda. Or maybe she’s just sad she has no one to dance with at all.

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  4. Also, this must have been a slightly weird/touching home episode to Adam Lamberg, who was like what, 18, when this episode was filmed? And the episode touches upon how the average 14 year old male is 5’4 but that he was only 5’1. Gordo might have been 14, but Adam was 18… and passed that growth spurt Gordo says would occur at age 15.

    I feel ya, Adam. From one short person to another.

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    1. I so agree with your point about Lizzie/Gordo. People view them as this super cute ship and the best ship ever, but if you really think about it their “moments” only have little hints of it being romantic.

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