Pre-Credits Gag: Michelle and her friend Denise (THAT’S her name! Thanks, comments section!) watch an advertisement for an expensive call-in service that provides jokes to impressionable children with rich, unwitting parents and they are immediately brainwashed into calling it. Denise wonders if it’s ok for them to be calling such an expensive ass number but Michelle says that she asked Danny for his permission while he was vacuuming, and since he didn’t hear her he couldn’t say no. How is that any better than just not asking him at all?
Stephanie walks into her classroom and greets the Jennifers, who were introduced in an earlier episode. Wow, actual continuity! One of the Jennifers is played by Topanga, which reminds me that I would bet anyone 5 dollars that every single person who has ever read this blog is going to watch “Girl Meets World” when it premiers. Here’s to all of us, and our unsatisfying upbringing’s in the 80’s and 90’s, which we are cursed to forever relive! Here’s to our doomed existence as slaves to sub-par pop-culture nostalgia! Here’s to Girl Meets World, and Topanga, and angry reviews of Full House, every Friday for about another year!
Anyway, this kid, Charles, walks into the room and immediately starts talking shit to Stephanie and the Jennifers. Stephanie delivers a biting retort and then their teacher tells everyone to sit the fuck down because it’s time for class. It was at this point that I noticed that there are only two black kids in the entire class and they’re sitting together in the front of the room, presumably so the teacher can keep an eye on them. I can’t say I’m surprised to see racial profiling discreetly on display on this show. Usually ethnic minorities have no presence whatsoever, so it’s less than shocking that they’d receive such shabby treatment on the rare occasion that they’re seen.
The teacher says that she was inspired by Stephanie and Charles being assholes to each other and gives the class an assignment where they have to interview each other to find one another’s best qualities. Naturally, Stephanie and Charles are paired together.
Jesse and Steve spy the last apple at the same moment and have a moocher showdown. Both are seasoned veterans, but in the end Jesse wins because he lives in the house rent-free, therefore he is more entitled to the last apple that Danny paid for.
Jesse then discovers that he and Steve are reading the same book for school, The Catcher in the Rye, and they agree to each read half of it and compare notes for their reports because neither of them can be bothered to read a whole book. Joey comes home with the twins and Jesse asks them, “did you have fun with uncle Joey today,” which reminded me of all of the comments I’ve gotten over the years about how I always refer to him as Uncle Joey even though they never do on the show. Well, they just did, so suck it. Anyway, Joey tells the twins to show Jesse what he taught them and then they spit in his face. Seriously, what’s with Joey and spitting in people’s faces? Now he’s passing this behavior on? Man, those twins have no chance of turning out to be people that can make a positive contribution to society. None whatsoever.
Danny comes home with Stephanie, who is filling him in on what a total asshole Charles is. DJ comes in and gives Stephanie a pep-talk about finding the good in obnoxious people, which doesn’t really have much weight because the central thesis of this show is that some people really don’t have any redeeming qualities whatsoever. Seriously, just two minutes ago we saw Joey teaching two babies to spit in their father’s face. What further proof do you need? Charles arrives a few minutes later and immediately makes a snide comment about Danny’s stupid face, which makes him my personal hero. I want Charles in charge of me!
Stephanie and Charles go up to her room to work on their reports and then Michelle walks in and tells Stephanie that she’s in hella trouble with Danny because she forgot to take the garbage out. How come Danny didn’t mention this 30 seconds ago when he saw her himself? After Michelle leaves, Charles starts making suggestions to Stephanie about how to cope with being hit by your parents and then she realizes that he’s routinely abused by his father. He denies it and says that he wouldn’t admit to being abused even if she swore on her mothers life not to tell anyone and then Stephanie tells him that her mother isn’t alive and, surprisingly, the audience does not go, “aww.”
I would obviously be the last person on the planet to admit something like this, but this scene is actually pretty well done. The kids do a good job of effectively conveying the right tone and the writing is atypically tasteful. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still pretty bad, but it’s about as bad as your standard shitty tv show, like the Facts of Life or Diff’rent Strokes or something, not the special kind of extra bad that’s usually reserved exclusively for Full House. So after well over 100 episodes, it seems like they’ve finally achieved an actually human moment on this show. At the end of the scene, Charles realizes that he forgot to tell his dad that he was going to be home late so he runs out the door, but not before making Stephanie swear not to tell anyone about his abusive home life.
At school the next day, Stephanie’s teacher tells her that Charles had an accident and wont be at school for the rest of the week. The Jennifers make jokes about it but Stephanie tells them to shut their whore mouths. Stephanie then approaches the teacher but, remembering her vow to Charles, says nothing.
Michelle and Denise continue to regale the family with jokes they’ve acquired from that expensive phone number and then Jesse and Steve convene to compare notes on The Catcher in the Rye. Steve completely fails to summarize the first half of the book and then they both realize that their proposed shortcut was idiotic and decide to read the whole book. Thus concludes the Steve-and-Jesse-each-read-half-of-The-Catcher-in-the-Rye subplot. Valuable lessons were learned, y’all. Read the whole book. That’s a hella valuable ass lesson.
Danny gets an enormous phone bill and figures out that Michelle has been calling the Funny Buddy line. He sits her down and asks her if she knew that it cost money to call the number and she admits that she did and was calling it anyway because she didn’t think she’d get caught. He tells her that she has to go to bed early all week as punishment and then she gets super fucking pissed and storms off to her room.
Michelle complains to Stephanie about what an asshole Danny is and then Stephanie tells her to shut the fuck up because some kids have it way worse. Jesse comes in to see what all the fighting is about and notices that Stephanie is all worked up about something. She tells him that she promised not to tell what it is and then he goes into a long and contextually tasteless routine about how some rules should be broken, like not swimming after eating. After Jesse rambles for way too fucking long, Stephanie finally tells him about Charles’ abusive dad and then Jesse immediately picks up the phone to alert the authorities. Stephanie tries to stop him and then he explains that she’s only helping to perpetuate the situation by keeping quiet and then she asks him what will happen to Charles if they report his dad. Jesse replies by asking what will happen to him if they don’t report Charles’ dad, which is really skirting the issue if you ask me.
Stephanie comes home from school some time later and Jesse tells her that Charles has been taken from his father and placed in a foster home. Stephanie gets all pissed at Jesse but he explains that it’s the best thing for everyone and that Charles and his father are going to get the help they need now. The music comes on as Jesse explains that they did the right thing because Charles father can’t hurt him for at least the immediate future and then the two of them wonder why anyone could be so shitty as to hurt their kids. Then they go into the dining room and eat pizza.
Well, they certainly avoided any larger issues about how we live in a society that doesn’t really do anything to accommodate kids like Charles, and that his whole life is probably fucked now, but this was still the most tasteful very special episode ever. Usually when this show tries to deal with issues it’s offensively preachy and ignorant, but this time it was merely naive. I was actually a little bit surprised that Charles didn’t move into the full house at the end, like the time Zack Morris adopted that homeless girlfriend. And like Zack Morris’ homeless girlfriend, I’m sure that Charles will never be mentioned ever again.