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