Season 2, episode 30: “The Gordo Shuffle”

Hello. How’s everyone doing? Not great? Well, let’s channel our anger constructively, with rants about what an asshole Gordo is and how MIRANDA IS GONE AGAIN.

This one’s called “The Gordo Shuffle,” and I don’t know why. It starts with another one of the show’s lazy, nonsensical jokes about how dumb Ethan is. This week, he thanks Lizzie for helping him in Spanish class because he thought ¿Cómo se llama? meant there was a llama in school. But he says with a perfect Spanish accent that a) makes him sound way more intelligent than he should be, and b) means he doesn’t pronounce llama as “llama” so the joke doesn’t even work.

Gordo says a credit card came in the mail for him, pre-approved with his name on it! Oh, I know how this episode is gonna go. This is your standard “adults will send you credit cards in the mail but if you use them, you’ll get in trouble” episode. It feels like every TV show had an episode on this, even though that issue never happened to me or anyone I knew in real life.

Ethan says that having a credit card could get Gordo in with the ladies, and Gordo says that he’d rather impress the ladies with what’s in his mind than what’s in his wallet. Spoiler alert, ladies: you’re not gonna be impressed with his mind this episode. Lizzie says he could keep the card to use in emergencies and that it shouldn’t be a problem since he’s so responsible. That’s an interesting perspective, because at this point Gordo’s most defining characteristic to me is his hot-headedness, which is like the opposite of responsibility.

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The staging in this scene is really hilarious to me. They walk down the hall in a triangle, with Ethan in the back because he’s so damn tall. This is like the only time that blocking could possibly work apart from a scene with an adult walking with two small children.

In Matt’s class, everyone works diligently on science fair projects while Matt slacks off. Melina asks him when he’s gonna get his ass in gear and he replies that he doesn’t need to worry, since the science fair isn’t until the end of the month. Melina points out that the end of the month is the following week and Matt shits a brick. Oh. Oh no. I’m relating to Matt this week! I may not have known anyone who dealt with spending a pre-approved credit card in middle school, but boy howdy have I let a month get away from me without realizing a big obligation was ahead.

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I know that feel, kiddo.

At the Digital Bean, Gordo tries the card to see if it works and finds out that it will actually be valid once he signs the back. He chooses not to use it, though, because he’s responsible. So he asks Lizzie to pay for both of their drinks, because he’s a freeloading oaf.

Matt brainstorms science fair ideas, but it doesn’t seem to me that the science fair has any real rules or guidelines. Melina is making a cardboard skeleton, and Matt says one kid is making a “knuckle-cracking display.” I’m unsure of how that would work, other than the kid standing in front of the class and cracking his knuckles once. Sam and Jo worry about Matt’s procrastination, and, shockingly, ponder the question I’ve been wanting them to ask about Matt for a while now. “Maybe Matt’s procrastination is a reflection of our parenting,” says Jo. Yes! It is! So is the fact that he steals oranges from the little old neighbor lady and ruins his sister’s clothes and skips school and is hated by everyone he meets! But then the punchline is Sam asks if Jo wants to see what’s on TV, and they do, because they don’t actually care about their parenting.

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Lizzie and Gordo talk on the phone and a throwaway line reveals that Miranda is on “vacation.” Miranda better watch her absences if she wants to graduate from middle school. Lizzie vents about trying to put an outfit together, and Gordo dismisses her and says he’s not interested in her problems, as per usual. He says he’s writing a screenplay, and Lizzie, an actually supportive friend who does care about the interests of those around her, says she’d love to read it when he’s done. Gordo scoffs at her that you don’t read screenplays. You definitely can, you fuckin’ dick!

This conversation makes Gordo realize he could actually produce his movie with the credit card, which freaks Lizzie out. You can guess how the rest of the episode is gonna go.

Gordo recruits Tudgeman to be a sci-fi consultant for his movie, even though Tudgeman’s only credentials are thinking that goddang motherflipping Jar-Jar Binks is a good character. Lizzie warns Gordo about spending too much money, and Gordo is the condescending nightmare we’ve come to know and hate. “It’s called a credit card, Lizzie,” he says, as if there’s anything in the phrase that explains his point. He says that credit cards are easy to pay off, and Lizzie points out that he’d have to pay it back with interest, which impressed me until Cartoon Lizzie said, “Whatever that is.”

This is a Miranda problem, right? This definitely seems like a plot that was pitched for the irresponsible rebel of the group. It doesn’t make any sense that Gordo is recklessly spending money and Lizzie has to be the cool-headed one explaining fiscal responsibility.

Gordo casts Kate as his lead, for some reason. Why not Lizzie? She took that one acting class that I guess she dropped after she met Frankie Muniz. That’s one more acting class than we’ve seen Kate take. Claire is hired for wardrobe, hair and makeup. I’ve missed Claire, played by Davida Williams, who follows me on Twitter.

Lizzie, calmly and kindly, asks Gordo to consider how all of his purchases might add up and says she just doesn’t want him to get in trouble. Gordo responds by yelling at her. He tells her this is his DREAM and she’s not SUPPORTING HIM and she can KEEP HER NEGATIVITY OFF HIS SET.

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This aired after Gordo spilled his guts about how much he liked Lizzie, after Lizzie realized she liked him too, and after the finale where she kissed him. This isn’t an episode from season one, before they decided that this couple was going to happen. Take a second to ponder how on earth this episode was written.

Matt and Melina try out a bunch of science projects, and since I had to try watching this on three different websites because of my computer issues this week, I discovered that the original music in this montage was the Weird Science theme and not the dumb stock music used here in Disney’s janky online player. Matt ends up just making a big Rube Goldberg machine. I don’t see how that’s scientific, but I suppose it’s just as educational as a knuckle-cracking display.

Gordo, having built an exorbitant set, approves every purchase suggestion or demand made by his cast and crew. Lizzie paces around anxiously outside the set, feeling terrible that Gordo is mad at her. Yeah, this isn’t a good relationship. That’s a red flag.

Somewhat hilariously, the show tries to alleviate the weirdness of Miranda’s absence with a very weird shoutout from Cartoon Lizzie, who says she wishes Miranda could help her.

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Ethan, big-hearted doofus that he is, asks Lizzie why she’s not helping out with the movie since she and Gordo are such good friends. Lizzie in turn screams at him, rudely spelling out that Gordo thought she wasn’t being supportive so now they’re in a fight. Am I having déjà vu or has this exact scene happened before? Ethan asking Lizzie if she and Gordo are fighting and Lizzie, who supposedly likes Ethan, taking it out on him? I can’t keep track of how many times these asshole characters treat people badly.

Ethan points out that Lizzie isn’t being supportive if she’s not helping with the movie. Ugh, fuck this. This is definitely not the first time the show has set up a false equivalence where Gordo actually treats his friends like garbage but it’s framed as a fight where both parties are in the wrong.

Gordo’s movie shoot is a disaster, mostly because Kate is a bad actress. Like, in-universe, intentionally. Again, why did he cast her? We get a montage of Gordo yelling at all of the actors and making everyone on set feel stupid. I don’t support his directing dreams.

Gordo eventually maxes out the credit card and everyone storms off set angrily, except for Ethan, that beautiful soul, who swaggers off set with appropriate solemnity. Gordo seethes and I wonder for the millionth time how we were ever tricked into thinking Gordo was a fun goofball of a character.

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Lizzie, concerned for him, starts to talk to him but Gordo snaps, “Don’t! Don’t say anything!” and storms off, leaving her to feel even worse about herself. I hope she calls Frankie Muniz and cries on his shoulder about it on a big pile of Malcolm money.

Matt shows off his Rube Goldberg machine to his parents, but Sam of course trips and falls and sets it off. It’s an almost identical scene to the obstacle course part of Gordo’s Video when Matt wanted to be a stuntman, except this time Sam doesn’t get quite as hurt. Y’all, this show was only on for two seasons. Why did they have to recycle so many jokes, scenes and plotlines?

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Gordo waltzes into Lizzie’s house that night to apologize, and Lizzie says, “You? Apologize to me? I feel like I should be the one apologizing to you, Gordo!” and I yelled the word “UGH” so loudly it broke the sound barrier. Gordo sadly talks about the lesson he learned, which was of course not that you shouldn’t yell at your friends for warning you of possible consequences to your actions and that you should thank them for their input and resolve to listen better when those consequences actually come to pass. It was that he should follow his dreams more responsibly, which won’t be hard because he’s very smart. He says his parents yelled at the credit card company because they shouldn’t send kids credit cards – another message to kids from the writers that this is a real problem and you shouldn’t fall for it!! – but says that his allowance got cut off forever. So I assume that means Lizzie will be buying his drinks for the rest of his life now.

He says they’re just gonna hang out at home doing nothing since he won’t have any money, but I don’t feel sorry for them because that’s what all middle schoolers do. Most of us didn’t hang out at coffee shops every day. Lizzie jokes about how much it will suck and he… playfully hits her…. and then…playfully…. steals her homework and won’t give it back…. and that’s the end.

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An excellent ending! A reminder that Gordo always treats Lizzie badly, because he likes her and it’s funny!

Unnecessary references: Is “The Gordo Shuffle” a reference to something? Something about credit card debt?

Notable fashion moments: Lizzie wears a flowery peasant top, the type you’d never see last season but see a lot this season. That look was so huge in my middle school. But she pairs it with a purple camo backpack? Honey. Come on. You own like seven backpacks. You can do better than this.

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However, she wears the hell out of a flawlessly coordinated green ensemble later on. What a look! I love it. Super 2000s, but not in a tacky way – which is extremely rare for this show.

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Kate wears a KHAKI SKIRT. I refuse to acknowledge her as a popular girl anymore. Look at the white-hot chartreuse dream of a LOOK Lizzie is serving and then look at this sad little khaki skirt with a flap over the button and flower appliques.

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This skirt is a horror show. Lizzie and I have the exact same reaction to it.

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Look at Claire’s hot pink top with snakeskin pants and a Peak Y2K metallic backpack, though! It is a crime she’s not the head bitch in charge at this school!

Finally, Lizzie wears a shirt that says….wait for it…..”Hollywood Flea Circus.”

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Commentary on the ugly, sullied business Gordo is getting himself into? Or just a weird fucking shirt? You decide!

Also, I just want to shout out how full and shiny her hair is and how flawless her Y2K makeup looks.

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It’s so interesting to me how they toned down her outfits between seasons from wild and funky to trendy and aspirational. Honestly, she should be the head bitch in charge at school. It just doesn’t make no sense, y’all.

Other interesting tidbits: Amusingly, Hilary Duff cannot do a Spanish accent and struggles to respond to Ethan in Spanish when they banter about Spanish class in the first scene. It’s extremely endearing – Hilary Duff is at her best when she’s just a little awkward – but it really undercuts the scene’s joke about how Ethan is so dumb that he doesn’t understand basic Spanish.

The description for this episode in the Disney online player says: “Normally conservative Gordo gets an idea on how he can use a credit card for the betterment of mankind — to finance a movie and create his own ‘big break’.” Uh, no. He doesn’t decide it’s for “the betterment of mankind.” I feel like Disney made some sad 16-year-old intern watch all of these shows and caption them over the course of a few days. It’s the only explanation for how clunky they are.

Matt McGuire remains an insufferable character, but Jake Thomas really is a great kid actor. This episode is a good one for him because Matt isn’t actually antagonizing anyone, so he’s not as annoying as usual. He’s just making funny, weird choices and they land a lot better.

This episode features on of my prop pet peeves: empty boxes that are supposed to be full!

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They throw this stack of pizza boxes around like they’re full of feathers. I directed a show this summer and had techies put a book in a pizza box so this wouldn’t happen. It’s not hard! You just have to care even just a tiny bit about what you’re doing, which always seems way too difficult for this show!

11 thoughts on “Season 2, episode 30: “The Gordo Shuffle”

  1. I believe “The Gordo Shuffle” is a reference to the movie Hollywood Shuffle. A pretty funny movie, actually, that Robert Townsend funded by charging up his credit cards.

    I’m with you on the empty boxes thing. If the actors don’t believe that they’re full, then we won’t believe that they’re full. You see it way too many times in TV and movies.

    Also, I want to commend you for staying on task with this review. I’m pretty sure I know where your frustration is coming from and it would’ve been so easy to use this platform to air your frustration and take this blog off topic, but you didn’t. You stayed true to the blog.

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    1. Interesting! I just looked the movie up and the Wikipedia page even mentions it being funded by credit cards. Thanks for clearing that up!

      The other empty prop that I always see is coffee cups. It shows up on so many shows!

      Also, thanks for your last paragraph. It means a lot to me.

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  2. Telepathic conversation between Gordo and Claire in the top 4-shot with Lizzie and Kate:

    Gordo: “So…I’m standing here by myself with three girls and they’re all too good-looking for me.”

    Claire: “And too tall”

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    1. Poor short Gordo. In the scene where he yells at Lizzie, I actually tried to figure out if I needed to get a different screenshot because he looks so much smaller than her it seems like forced perspective.

      It worked out fine for the actor, though! He was 18 playing 14 and probably making a fairly hefty salary…. Hilary Duff made $15,000 an episode and he was one of the stars too.

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  3. I think hanging out with girls gave Gordo a bad case of “Nice Guy Syndrome.” He wonders why girls never go out with him when he’s so much smarter than the likes of Ethan Craft. He blames it on looks alone but it’s really because he has an ego and a temper that causes him to lash out or talk down to everyone around him. (That Nice Guy Syndrome might be mixed with a healthy dose of Napoleon Complex.) He probably affects Lizzie’s self-esteem more so than Kate and her clique.

    Come to think of it, his parents yelling at the credit card company instead of him explains a lot.

    Anyway, I also agree that this would work better as someone else’s story line. I can better imagine Lizzie going on a spending spree while Gordo does the actual nice/responsible thing by teaching her how credit cards work.

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  4. I never noticed before reading these reviews how big of an asshole Gordo is in some of these episodes.

    And poor Kate/Ashlie Brillault. I did find while digging around what everyone was up to this month that she’s apparently a criminal defense attorney now so good for her.

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  5. I still feel like this show (especially Season 2) was written thinking of them as high school students, but Disney just slapped “junior high” on there to appeal to the target demographic. Which would explain them constantly gallivanting off to the mall unsupervised, the costuming, impeccable hair/makeup, certain storylines, etc lol. That could also play into the aspirational aspect you’ve mentioned before, because I was nothing like them in middle school. But I thought Lizzie and Co. were ~so cool~ and they always felt way older than me.

    A lot of people thought the characters were in high school growing up, and were shocked when they revisited the show and discovered they were actually middle schoolers. So yeah, haha. Just an idea I always had.

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    1. It’s really odd, because I feel like setting it in middle school should be one of its strengths, because it does make it more relatable to kids to see younger actors than the ones on shows like That’s So Raven. But they make it extremely not relatable by adding in plotlines that make no sense to middle school.

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  6. One other reason I don’t believe this episode works: when a credit card company sends you a credit card, don’t you have to call and activate it? That would certainly have been a problem for Gordo, since he’s way under the age of 18 and doesn’t have a bank account.

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