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High School Reunion 2: Inside-Outby Kara Wild -- 03/25/2004
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This week, High School Reunion shifted focus from the dilemmas of the once-popular students to those of students who were on the outside looking in.
We have Daniel "the gay guy," who confessed to having missed out on a normal high school social life. Then we have Trevor (new character!) the former "pipsqueak," who is supposed to be way sexier than he was in high school, but I don't see it. Then last, but certainly not least, we have Gabe's ex-girlfriends, Heather F. and Stacy, who felt that the senior girls were mean to them and Denise stole their honey and they want revenge, dammit, REVENGE!!!
First Daniel – a character whom I want to root for, if only because I sympathize with his tales of alienation. He never dated, never took anyone to prom, and never had the type of high school experience that the brochures promised! (Sadly, Daniel, that fate isn't exclusive to homosexuals.) He wants his money back, preferably in the form of acknowledgement from T.J., the redneck, who refused to share a room with him in the first episode. I just hope Daniel hasn't staked his entire happiness at the reunion on whether T.J. does a two-week turnaround. While on a scripted show, Daniel and T.J. might wind up clicking beer mugs and weeping, "I love you, man!," in real life – even stylized real life like a reality show – T.J. could just as easily grow more defiant in his prejudice. Maybe for Daniel, it's enough that he can finally confront the people he once hid from, but if he has higher hopes than that, I just hope he doesn't come away from the experience more resentful than before.
Second up, Trevor's arrival! Now the reunion can truly begin! Except that Trevor used to be really uncool with big ears that stuck out and short hair. Eww! Because we know those types are never sexy (ignore the Clark Gable behind the curtain). And the guy who arrived to be Daniel's new roommate... has blond-streaked hair to cover his giant ears, so of course no one recognized him and the girls thought he was gorgeous! To me, while Trevor could make a good living playing Macaulay Culkin at parties, there is nothing special about him. Yes he is cute, but as opposed to whom? Gabe? T.J.? Johnny? Hell, I'd have rather seen Lenny with his shirt off than Trevor, because at least then we'd get more than one body type. My theory is that if Mystery Boy hadn't shown up late in a cool SUV, he would have faded quickly into the woodwork like many other reunion attendees. Chalk him up as another pretty face unburdened by a personality.
That brought us to the main event of the episode – the wronged exes! We see from her high school photo that Heather F. is, like so many of the others at this reunion, a former brunette. May I ask what these people have against ordinary brown hair? Was there some sort of prohibition against highlighting at Round Rock High? Whereupon all of the students, once graduated, went crazy at the nearest salon? "Whooeee! Blond streaks for everyone!" Were the streaks a prerequisite for appearing on television?
Anyway, Heather F. is REALLY MAD that Denise took Gabe from her… and Stacy. Yes, apparently Gabe dated all three of them at the same time, which would imply that Gabe was “the player,” not Tre. As Daniel noted, dating three women at once is rather "inappropriate" and if true, Gabe should be confronted about his dalliances. Which sort of brings up the question of what the women still see in Gabe that they would go to so much trouble – Denise to win him back, and Heather F. to humiliate her?
Denise, I could understand to an extent. Of the three women, she was the only one who actually married Gabe, had children with him, and lived with him for six years. Not only would she have a much greater sense of who Gabe really was, but she likely has many good (perhaps rose-colored) memories of him. At the same time, nothing Gabe has done on screen, apart from some romantically-inclined hugging and smooching, explains why he is worth keeping. He practically ignored Denise when he first arrived at the reunion, which, even if you dismiss it as a trick of editing, is really cold. During the romantic dinner, Gabe just sat back blandly and went along for the ride, letting Denise do all of the hoping and planning. While I would not go so far as to call Denise "unstable," she does seem to be rather deluded in her quest to get back something that possibly never existed.
If Denise is deluded, then Heather F. and her hanger-on Stacy are nothing less than pathetic. Thinking their high school flings rank alongside a marriage? If Gabe ultimately chose Denise, then what reason would Heather F. have to believe she still had a claim on him? Even if that reason were a good one, why in God's name would she hold on to it for ten years? Did Heather F. decide to renounce men after sophomore year? Did Stacy join a nunnery? Did neither of these women ever learn to care about another man? Seriously, the only conclusion one could draw from their fixation on Gabe and Denise is that their post-high school lives have been a huge disappointment.
And even so… why wait until the reunion to stir up trouble? I assume that sophisticates like Heather F. and Stacy have mastered the art of using a phonebook. If they already knew that Gabe and Denise were divorced, why not call up Gabe and ask him out, or find Denise's address and leave a flaming bag of excrement on her doorstep? Better yet, why not call up the nearest therapist and schedule an appointment? Or… read a really good book.
It's as if Heather F. and Stacy have spent the last ten years sequestered in Heather F.'s bedroom, plotting their revenge while sitting on her frilly pink bedspread, next to the stuffed unicorns. By contrast, the one person who seemed like an adult in this situation was LouAnn. Yes, LouAnn. While she might not have the chops to carry a lead role, she does well as a supporting player – probing Heather F. and Stacy's motives, trying to get them to understand that what Gabe and Denise do is their business.
If I had any advice for Heather F. and Stacy, it would be to take a page from the other reunion attendees, and at least pretend that they've changed over the past ten years. Maybe by their own tenth reunion, they'll have mastered the skill.
Next week's teaser suggests that Gabe might try to get together with Heather F. Ugh, just drop him, Denise.
Kara doesn't care if you agree with her. She considers herself to be a contrarian, which means she's technically not allowed to agree with anyone. You can reach her at email@example.com, or visit her website, The Contrarian's Corner.
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