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High School Reunion 2: Blond Streaks Make Everything Better!by Kara Wild -- 03/18/2004
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Are ten years really long enough? For the graduates of Round Rock High, the answer is: High school ended?
When they last parted, the women were thin, brunette, and popular. When they reunited, they were thin and popular, but now with blond streaks in their hair to bring out that special "I'm a woman of the world now, can't you tell?" gleam. The men, meanwhile, left Round Rock looking as though they did their weekly shopping at BALCO, and reunited even bulkier. Half of the time I struggled just to tell these people apart. There were obvious exceptions, like petite, black-haired Denise, gangly Lenny, and Daniel, whose odd beer gut and flashy see-through pants set him apart from the other himbos. Otherwise, it was the Stepford Reunion.
How their post-grad lives and jobs have molded them, we couldn't tell, and the episode did not make it a priority to show us. We did learn that Denise and Gabe had gotten married and divorced since high school, and that Jessica the "teen mom" had an 11-year-old daughter. However, before the episode delved too deeply into their lives, it chose to give us copious amounts of LouAnn.
See "the homecoming queen"'s apprehension as she is the first one at the reunion! Hear her glass-shattering shriek as she discovers that she is rooming with the popular people! Watch her and "old flame" Johnny as they exchange such clever bon mots as:
(As they meet)
LOUANN: Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh!
LOUANN: You were, like, the first guy I ever had a date with. You were like my first date.
LOUANN: Oh yeah, you were my first date.
JOHNNY: Was I?
I found myself wondering if LouAnn had read a book or talked to an adult over 18 since high school. In vain I waited for an original thought or an interesting quirk that might explain her appeal, but sadly, while LouAnn may have been queen of her school, she is proving to be the dullest person at her reunion. At least Laura "the drama queen" has her cattiness to fall back on. Which brings up the question of why this installment of High School Reunion chose to make LouAnn such a large focus of the first episode.
One of the most obvious reasons is to establish itself firmly within the reality genre, where pretty, self-absorbed people occupy center stage. LouAnn manages to satisfy both requirements. Early on, she confessed without remorse that she used to either ignore the unpopular people or be mean to them. At the reunion, after exchanging some insincere hugs with "the others," LouAnn honed in on her old popular chums and left everyone else in the dust. Appearance-wise, Stepford blond streaks or no, LouAnn probably has the thinnest body and most flawless features of any woman there. Personality in this case is not a necessity, though as any fan of Survivor could tell you, it is a plus.
Focusing on LouAnn, her friends, and her potential relationship with Johnny also helps establish the tone. This is not your "My So-Called Life" reunion, where angsty twenty-somethings sit in a dark room and vent about their past experiences. This reunion is supposed to be fun for guests and viewers alike – so sit back and enjoy the bikinis, the tropical drinks, and the oversized Smurf house by the ocean. This is Hawaii! If you want depression, go someplace cold.
However, since the episode does provide glimpses of resentment towards the popular people, one needs to ask: Are they focusing so much on LouAnn to establish her as someone we should hate? By setting her up early as a self-absorbed twit, the story editors could then build up her sins episode after episode, until she at last receives a satisfying smackdown in the season finale. Clearly there are a few reunion guests – like Jessica, Heather C., and Jeralyn – who would not object. Regrettably, it does not seem very likely: The editing of LouAnn and Johnny's sweet but bland reunion does not hint at any upcoming malice, and LouAnn herself has done nothing interesting or objectionable enough to launch the "Bitchometer."1 2 Next-->
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