Sunday, June 30, 2013

Summer TV Rewind: Wonderfalls 1.03: "Karma Chameleon"

“How do you know what league my irony is? Were you stalking me at Brown? Were you the girl who stole my meal card?”

“Karma Chameleon” really dove into the narcissistic side of Jaye and also the meaning of the life of low expectations that she has created. Most of the time, Jaye is prickly but endearing, but in this episode she crossed the line to hurtful. What makes it work is that the other characters called her on it. When she does especially spiteful things to her doppelganger who shows up in this episode, the looks on Mahandra, Eric, and Sharon’s faces speak volumes. And yes, I said doppelganger. Said doppelganger is a (kinda creepy stalker) up and coming journalist who wants to do a story on the disaffected gen y youth (what we call Millennials today) and use Jaye as her model. The doppelganger-ness and the wanting to write 5,000 words about Jaye both unfortunately hit Jaye’s narcissistic button. She loves that the journalist wants to be like her and write a whole article about her…until she starts moving in on Eric. In the end, Jaye puts that Brown education she constantly complains about to use and solves the problem in quite spectacular fashion. To her chagrin I’m sure, though, she can never take credit for it.

Jaye’s big ego hit happens near the beginning of the episode, when the Tylers are out to dinner celebrating Karin’s new book, “Thumbing Through the Finger Lakes.” The about the author blurb on the book flap has extensive detail about each member of the family except for Jaye. Jaye gets a measly five words, just giving her age (so really four words and a digit, as Jaye points out). To make things even worse, cell phones and beepers start going off for every member of the family but Jaye, and they all rush off to do important things, leaving Jaye sitting alone at the table. Speaking through a fish on the wall this time, the Muses start telling Jaye to “get her words out,” but Jaye tries to ignore this to keep perseverating on her five words.

The major guest character in this episode is Bianca (Sarah Drew), who for some inexplicable reason prefers to be called “Binky.” When we first see her, she’s in a creepy white unmarked van taking creepy stalker photos of Jaye. We next see her at Wonderfalls, where Jaye and Alec (aka Mouthbreather) are slammed thanks to another employee quitting. Binky gives Jaye her wallet, trying to play it off like Jaye lost the wallet and she found it. In actuality, Binky stole it from Jaye to get more of Jaye’s personal information. Binky has a bad stutter, but with Jaye’s help manages to get out that she’s a runaway and lives in a van. She seems to reflexively start folding t-shirts, and she’s so good at it that Alec wants to hire her. Jaye is supposed to train Binky, and Jaye uses the opportunity to make Binky do all the work so she (Jaye) can just lounge around. She also treats Binky to some drinks at the Barrel Bar, where predictably, Binky starts to take a liking to Eric.

The next day at Wonderfalls, Bianca is no longer stuttering, and she’s also acting suspiciously like Jaye. Gone is the good work ethic, and in its place is snark and a scowl. Jaye later tells Mahandra about this, and Mahandra thinks that Binky is going all “Single White Female” on Jaye. This can’t possibly end well. Jaye tries to brush off Mahandra’s concerns, but then Binky starts going beyond just acting disaffected like Jaye. She starts looking like Jaye, too, with similar clothes and straight hair. At this point, Jaye has to have a confrontation. She tells Binky that her attitude and style are hers, even if she is flattered by the imitation. At that moment, Darrin stops by Wonderfalls to say that Sharon and Aaron have each offered to give up five of their words in Karin’s book blurb, so Jaye will have fifteen words total. Jaye is also going to be allowed to write her fifteen words.

Later that night, Jaye sees Binky hitting on Eric at the Barrel Bar again, which makes Jaye even more surly than she usually is. Deciding it’s time to bring in the big guns, Jaye goes to Sharon for help. The discussion is interrupted when Mahandra calls to tell Jaye that Binky is sitting on her Barrel Bar stool. Jaye storms down to the bar with Sharon in tow, and she chews Binky out. Binky says she was just trying to help Jaye write her fifteen words, and Sharon and Mahandra tell Jaye that she’s just plain being mean. Jaye soon gets vindication, though. She sneaks into Binky’s van, and she sees all the stalker photos. The place is super creepy, like some sort of shrine to Jaye. When confronted with this, Binky has yet another story. She’s a journalist who is trying to write an article on the typical disaffected gen y-er. Jaye bites at the chance to have 5,000 words in a magazine all about her, so she decides to give Binky an all-access pass to her life.

Jaye’s decision to give Binky the all-access pass backfires. Big time. Binky accidentally-on-purpose leaves her story notes by the cash register, and Alec finds them. The notes contain plenty of documentation of Jaye slacking off and Jaye insulting people, so Alec decides to fire Jaye. Jaye goes to her parents’ house, pretty dejected that she even managed to get fired from a crappy retail job, and of course Binky is already there waiting for her. To make things even worse, Binky says that she’s not going to write the article after all. She likes Jaye’s stress-free zone, and she has completely lost the stutter as a result. Jaye and Binky get into a huge argument, and having acted like an idiot in front of her entire family, Jaye decides to go to the Barrel Bar for a drink. Eric tries to cheer Jaye up, and it’s yet another example of the great chemistry between Caroline Dhavernas and Tyrone Leitso.

The fish on the wall at the Barrel Bar again tells Jaye to “get her words out,” and Jaye finally has the idea that will solve all her problems. She decides to write the 5,000 word article on gen y and submit it to Binky’s magazine herself, giving Binky all the credit, of course. It’s the first time we’ve really seen Jaye put that Brown education to use. It gets published, and Bianca only protests slightly at the idea of launching her career based on someone else’s work. She finally leaves Niagra Falls, ready to take the journalism world by storm. With Binky gone, Jaye gets her job, and her life, back. There’s a nice closing scene where the Tylers are having a celebratory dinner for the article’s publication (the other Tylers don’t know that Jaye wrote it, so they’re giving it high praise), and Jaye reveals that she has finally written a new fifteen-word blurb.

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