Season 2, episode 29: “My Fair Larry”

So this is the second episode I messed up. After this we’ll be back on track with the actual airing order. Not that any of it matters, as the show’s airing order was completely nonsensical. But I’m disappointed in myself, because I like to think I’m better than the Disney Channel, you know?

Lizzie and Gordo are shocked that Miranda’s parents are letting her throw a “boy-girl party,” wording which amused me for its authentic middle school stupidity. Miranda says she toe-lee needs their help planning it. Her dialogue is peppered with “totally”s this episode, and again no one on set thought that necessitated a 30-second chat about diction.

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Miranda brings a long list of invitees into school the next day, even though they only ever interact with like 4 other people. She says she has to invite Kate because popular girls bring popular boys, who attract more popular girls who attract more popular boys. What popular boys? There’s just one! Danny Kessler disappeared and Ethan has no friends! I don’t even think Kate has friends! Half the time she hangs out with her own cousin!

Lizzie notices that Tudgeman isn’t on the list and Miranda says she’s not inviting him because he’s a weirdo. I can contest that that’s also pretty authentic. Not to humblebrag or anything, but I was kind of the “Larry Tudgeman” of my middle school.

Gordo volunteers to plan the music. Gordo would be a terrible DJ, right? Lizzie should get this job. She’s already done it at Monte Carlo Night, even if she was prone to bizarre hype like “Kick it up, big baby!” And she has to have better taste in party music than Gordo. If Gordo were to DJ, he’d probably just play the Shins and Modest Mouse and treat anyone who requested “Get the Party Started” to a lecture about REAL music.

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Matt’s class has to do community service, and he and Melina are both assigned to volunteer with the elderly. Damn, this episode just keeps hitting me with relatable content. This is exactly like when my class had to volunteer at a senior center when I was 14. It was almost Saint Patrick’s Day and we had to color in a picture of a pot of gold under a rainbow. A creepy old man told me he was gonna score some treasure of his own. His name was Leroy, but he called himself “the Love Appetizer” and invited me back to his room, and my teacher overheard and said “That sounds lovely!” so I had to do it. Luckily a male friend came with me so he could remove me from the situation when the Love Appetizer showed me his bed and asked me to come back without my teacher and bring a few of my hot friends.

Miranda and Lizzie hand out party invitations in the middle of the halls, so of course Tudgeman sees and asks for his. Lizzie tries to cover for Miranda, but Miranda bluntly tells Tudgeman he’s not invited. Man. Miranda’s a dick. I want to love her because she’s spunky and gives me very strong lesbian vibes, but she’s a dick. Tudgeman is clearly hurt but says he has a Starfleet Command meeting to attend that day anyway. I’m pretty sure that’s not a real thing. Just say you need to go to a meeting for the Star Wars And Also Star Trek Club that this school somehow has.

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Matt and Melina both complain about having to hang out with some dumb senior citizens, and the senior citizens, Mo and Marge, complain that they have to hang out with some dumb kids. Mo and Marge are basically the old Matt and Melina, and frequently say cranky things in unison with their younger counterparts. Well, this isn’t turning out like my experience with the elderly at all. But that’s probably for the best.

Lizzie tries to invite Tudgeman to the party, but he refuses because his feelings are hurt. Lizzie then tries to convince Miranda to invite him, which seems backwards. She just invited him and he rejected it 10 seconds before. Miranda continues to be horrifyingly unsympathetic. Lizzie says that Tudgeman can be cool, like when she went on a date with him. Weirdly, Lizzie’s dates with Tudgeman and Ronnie both seem to be actually canon, as the show references them whenever necessary, but her dates with celebrities are both treated like they were dream sequences. Miranda tells Lizzie to stop pressuring her, because she’s toe-lee stressed enough already.

When Miranda runs away to run more errands that she’d toe-lee forgotten about, Lizzie asks Gordo how he felt when he wasn’t invited to Danny Kessler’s pool party. Whoa, Danny Kessler’s existence was canon all along too? We haven’t heard about him since the second or third episode! This episode is blowing my mind with continuity.

Gordo says there’s nothing Lizzie can do to bring Tudgeman to the party, because “it’s not like you can disguise him and sneak him in or anything.” In a crazy twist never before seen in the history of sitcoms, Lizzie takes his sarcastic statement seriously and decides to actually try it!!!!

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Matt and Melina struggle to bond with Mo and Marge until the McGuire parents invite the senior citizens over for dinner. None of the four of them want beef stroganoff, so they all decide to skip dinner and go to the park instead for a zany montage of fun and pranks. I guess the lesson here is you should respect your elders because you might have similar opinions on beef stroganoff.

Lizzie tells Tudgeman that she wants to bring him to the party, and he replies, “Like a date? We’ve been down that road before, kid. It just didn’t work between us” and gives her a “buck up, pal” kind of soft punch on the chin.

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I fucking love Tudgeman sometimes. This bit made me laugh out loud in the public library I had to watch this episode in, which only called more attention to the fact that I’m a grown adult watching Lizzie McGuire in a public library. Anyway, Tudgeman ends up agreeing to the plan cuz he’s a lonely sadsack.

He comes over that afternoon to try on a lot of men’s clothing that Lizzie has in her room somehow. I was pretty annoyed with the absurdity of this subplot because of course they wouldn’t be able to render a kid from their school actually unrecognizable, but then they put him in a lot of costumes that were so involved they actually kind of did it.

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Of course, this was just one of those clothes-changing scenes that always happen on TV wherein none of the costumes are actual options except for the last one. They end with a pretty directly Justin Timberlake-inspired look that could maybe make him pass for Tudgeman’s brother.

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Wow, we finally got the reason why Tudgeman’s hair was orange 23 episodes ago. 

Matt and Melina learn that old people are people too. Remember how I said the show loves writing episodes about that?

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Miranda and Kate both get the hots for Undercover Tudgeman at the party. Ethan gets jealous, because he and Kate are a couple when it’s convenient to the plot. Miranda flirts with Tudgeman and he asks her to dance. They both talk in low, nervous tones and Miranda puts her arms around his neck and I toe-lee thought they were going to kiss, but instead Tudgeman reveals his identity and Miranda screams like she found out he was actually a werewolf all along.

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Sometimes the dialogue on this show is so awkward the kid actors can’t quite figure out how to make it land. Miranda drags Tudgeman over to Lizzie and yells, “You think this is funny, pulling a big one over on ME?” Wow, maybe that wouldn’t have come out so badly if they’d use a more common phrase than “pulling a big one over on me.”

Gordo says they thought everyone would win with their plan, and Miranda yells, “You know what?” and I braced myself for a real zippy comeback, but she just follows up with, “You’re absolutely WRONG!” Everyone at the party gasps like it was a real zippy comeback.

She follows this up with an extremely unrealistic pivot to her Very Serious Acting, when she says “Because Larry shouldn’t have had to disguise himself to get into the party. I should have invited him myself.” Groanz 4 dayz. Miranda says she was just so stressed about the party that she had to bully the saddest kid in school, so that clears that up.

Gordo gives Lizzie a heartfelt compliment on how cool it was for her to help Tudgeman. Whenever Gordo is just a side character, he’s actually sweet and normal. I don’t know why that disappears whenever the episode focuses on him.

This one was unremarkably boring. It wasn’t so bad that I could get worked up about it, but it definitely wasn’t actually good. The central idea of Miranda excluding a nerdy classmate could have been a realistic problem until the solution was a disguise caper.

Unnecessary references: This title is a correct use of a reference joke! Unlike “My Dinner with Mr. Dig,” this title actually references the plot of the episode. Cartoon Lizzie says to invite Britney’s hair dresser to the party, following in the pattern of always referencing Britney that I mentioned last week. She also says to invite Jennifer Aniston’s costumer, though I’d imagine they meant stylist, and Josh Hartnett, because this show really thinks tween girls had it bad for Josh Hartnett.

Notable fashion moments: Kate looks terrible, as always. Her jewelry looks like it came from a machine outside the Dollar Store.

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I never understand some of the biker-chick-adjacent looks Lizzie wears. It’s such a random aesthetic to throw at her.

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Mo’s and Matt’s costumes and Marge’s and Melina’s costumes are always visually tied together. It’s such an obvious choice, but I’m a complete sucker for that Costuming 101 stuff. I love it! I see what they did there!

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It’s not too over-the-top, but it tells the story they’re trying to tell: that Mo and Marge are the older Matt and Melina.

Other interesting tidbits: The actual older Matt and Melina don’t really look like Mo and Marge. Not yet.

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Mo and Marge are played by Dabbs Greer and Eileen Brennan, both established actors with long careers. This was Dabbs Greer’s last acting role before he died in 2007. 

There’s a sign in the background that says “PAWPOW”  in one scene, and it really threw me for a loop. I finally realized it’s probably “PAW POWER” as a reference to their fake school’s mascot being the Wildcats, but I initially thought it was weird onomatopoeia.

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There’s a strange, wonderful moment when Kate reacts to the reveal of Tudgeman’s identity. I’d expect her to yell “Ewww!” or mock Miranda for dancing with Tudgeman, but instead she is legitimately impressed and tells him to keep his stylist. Ethan compliments him too.

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As with the wildly adorable “How’s my hair? Good” moment from the finale, this bit makes me dream of the Kate and Ethan we could have gotten if their characters were ever actually developed. There’s just no “there” there to Kate, and Ethan is so stupid he never feels real, despite Clayton Snyder’s great performance. If only Kate were as airheaded as Ethan, and that Ethan was a real, fleshed-out dumb bro, they could be a really funny duo. (Kate would still need to be recast.)

In the bloopers, Tudgeman shows up to the party and the actor ad-libs “Welcome to Fight Club.” HA! His dumb outfit is Durden-esque. I appreciate Kyle J. Downes so much. I wish we’d gotten a spinoff series where Tudgeman and Ethan become best friends and tackle high school together so I could get more of him and Clayton Snyder.

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5 thoughts on “Season 2, episode 29: “My Fair Larry”

  1. Unless that dude was brand new to that senior center I highly doubt the people who worked there had no idea he was like that. I spent time at a skilled nursing facility working with patients for two different stretches and knew of a couple of different residents who tended to be pretty inappropriate with the female staff. News of these behaviors spread wide and quickly. Everyone knew who these guys were. It was treated differently by different people because, you know, the staff members were all ADULTS. It was amazingly irresponsible for that place to put you in that position. ugh.

    On a lighter note, I have definitely been the Gordo at times, wanting the opportunity to have music I liked at a party. I’ve never tried to hi-jack the entire length of a party, but I sure would try to mix in a few things that didn’t make me puke in place of the mind-numbingly shallow dance pop that often dominates school-aged get-togethers. Friends often found it funny when they saw me dance because they so rarely got the pleasure. I don’t dance to bad songs because I consider dancing to be a personal endorsement of the song…or maybe my dancing is just funny.

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    1. Luckily there were a lot of people around so I was never actually left alone with the Love Appetizer! He was also in a wheelchair, so I didn’t feel in particular danger. It was still a pretty wild experience for a service project.

      Shallow dance pop is made for middle school parties! I got invited to exactly one “boy-girl party” in middle school and I believe it was because the kid hosting it had to invite the entire grade. My dancing was so bad a girl laughed at me and told me to learn how to dance. I went to a wedding a couple years ago where her mom was a guest, and her mom ALSO laughed at my dancing. My moves got mocked by two generations at occasions ten years apart. Tudgeman status for life.

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  2. This episode made me ship Miranda and Larry, honestly. Oops. I actually like this one a lot for some reason. I’m assuming it was replaced on Disney’s website, otherwise you definitely would’ve commented on it… But, the song Miranda and Larry were originally slow dancing to is “I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman,” lol. Add that to the list of never ending Britney references.

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  3. Josh Hartnett starred in Pearl Harbor which released in 2002, about the time this show was still airing. He was also in O the year before that, a modern teen adaptation of Shakespeare’s Othello (which IMO was quite good).

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