BMW – 115, “Model Family”

Aw, yes, I think I know what this episode is. We never did any of these kind of “model family” things – where they pair up people and they have to pretend to be married and other classmates are their children – in any of my schools. We also never dissected any frogs (we did dissect a rat in one class, though; I have trouble with the rodent section of pet shops now), we never had to take care of a sack of flour or an egg or a doll and pretend like it was a real baby for a week only to have wacky hijinx where the egg broke or someone ate the egg or baked with the flour or ripped the batteries out of the doll.

I guess the tradeoff was that we got an actual education instead of like 5 minutes of learning every week. Oh well. On to the episode.

By the way the tv they were watching looked different from the one that's always in the classroom.
By the way the tv they were watching looked different from the one that’s always in the classroom.

We start with the Beaver, of “Leave It to Beaver”, reading a poem about how he wishes he were a duck because ducks are lucky and don’t have to go to school. Ugh, Leave it to Beaver. That would be a prime candidate for one of these review shows. Beaver and Wally were all right, but the parents…

Feeny asks the class – which once again includes Topanga – how they feel about Leave It to Beaver, and Ward and June Cleaver. Cory and Shawn say they feel those two are too perfect and 50s, and Feeny actually agrees with them. I don’t think they’re too perfect, just REALLY awful. Even accounting for the values dissonance between 1956 and 2013, Ward and June seem really off. Like there are a bunch of episodes where June is all upset about Wally liking girls. Not being out too late, or joining a gang, or dating several girls at once. Just having a crush on a girl. At 16 years old. Most of the episodes seem to have Ward getting overly upset about something Wally or Beaver did, and June just sitting there like “Oh Ward I don’t know what to do!” I personally prefer Jim and Margaret Anderson of “Father Knows Best”. Both of them were sort of clever and were involved in raising the children, and didn’t overreact to things most of the time. And Margaret Anderson had that awesome transl-Atlantic accent you always hear people talking in on radios in the 40s and 50s.

BUT enough about that.

Feeny begins to give out the assignment, but Cory stops him, saying that last year, in 5th grade, they were already divided up into families and had to make decisions and solve problems and stuff. It’s 6th grade, Feeny, so change things up a bit!

Feeny relents and says he’ll allow them all to form urban gangs, and that each gang will have a mother, father, and two children. Feeny pairs Minkus and Shawn up as brothers.

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Cory laughs and says he’d hate to be the guy who had THOSE two crazy kooks as sons, and Feeny tells him “Funny you should say that.”

So, yeah, Cory gets assigned to be Minkus and Shawn’s father, and of course Topanga is paired up to be his wife.

My mom said my sister had this dress before Topanga wore it.
My mom said my sister had this dress before Topanga wore it.

All right, so… so far Cory and Topanga have kids named Chewbacca, Plankton, Shawn, and Minkus (or Stewart, as his first name really is). Still don’t see Riley or Elliott being brought up anywhere! [I kid, of course].

After the opening credits, during which presumably Feeny paired up the other kids in class who don’t say anything – by the way I think there’s only one or two other girls in class this episode. Perhaps there’s a very special lesson going on for one person who has to be a single father, or maybe there’s even a family with two dads! We’ll never know – we return with our first on-location shot, which is of some mall.

Are those Christmas/holiday garlands up? When does this episode take place??
Are those Christmas/holiday garlands up? When does this episode take place??

Eric and some guy we’ve never seen before are in the food court, which has some radical 90s neon lights on the walls, are cruising for chicks. But none of the chicks are noticing them!

Eric’s friend is Jason Marsden, played by Jason Marsden. Jason Marsden is in a buttload of animated series, including a few Disney ones. He played Max in A Goofy Movie and An Extremely Goofy Movie, as well as Kovu in The Lion King II, and DJ’s rich boyfriend on Full House. And unlike Cory’s and Shawn’s friends, I know for a fact he will show up in more episodes – before inexplicably disappearing at the end of season 2.

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Jason wonders if it would be too much to ask if just once a pretty girl would come up to him and say “‘Scuse me. I’ve had my eye on you. Are you aware that you’re unbelievably handsome?”

Right after that, a beautiful woman comes over and says to Eric, “‘Scuse me. I’ve had my eye on you. Are you aware that you’re unbelievably handsome?”

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She asks Eric if he’d like to be a model, and to come visit her booth if he wants to get into the modeling biz.

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Back at the Matthews home, the Model Family – hey I get it, Cory’s part of a model family, Eric’s going to be a model – have gathered in the kitchen, because the other three don’t have houses, I guess (seriously, besides the meta fact that they’d have to build another set, why is everyone always in Cory’s kitchen and never in their own house?). They’ve all written down what their model husband/wife/brother is like and are exchanging the paper, so they know how they’re supposed to act for the little project. Topanga’s ideal husband is calm and in tune with nature and the Navajo or something, Cory’s ideal wife doesn’t care how messy his room is and will always let him win at video games and will always be available to play street hockey. Topanga asks why Cory doesn’t just marry Shawn (which is really funny considering later seasons treat it as a joke that Cory IS married to Shawn), but Cory says couldn’t get married because their kids would look like horses.

Looks more like a frog, or a tree kangaroo, to me.
Looks more like a frog, or a tree kangaroo, to me.

Minkus has like a whole journal of instructions for his new brother. He says it’s because he’s an only child and has spent a lot of time imagining what the perfect sibling would be like. Shawn says “Probably like this” and throw the journal across the room.

Then Eric comes in, and after being weird for a minute, announces he’s become a model. The kids ask if it’s the one with the kiosk at the mall, the one where you pay them $90 and then you never hear back from them. Eric says that’s the one, and the kids tell him he got ripped off, because that modeling agency is a total scam. Minkus tells them that there’s no way it’s a scam, because he was discovered at the mall too. Eric then realizes what an idiot he is and collapses on the kitchen counter.

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Cory tells his parents, who just walked in, that Eric spent $90 on modeling photos, and Alan gets really angry before Amy takes Alan outside to talk to him about it. She tells him to let Eric make mistakes with his own money and let him learn. Alan says since he’s been a parent for 15 years, he thinks he knows better than to do that, but then Eric comes out and admits he was stupid and says he’s going down to the mall to see if he can get his money back, and thanks them for not jumping on his case about his stupidly spending all that money. Boy Alan feels like a fool now!

Back at the mall, Eric tries to be strong and firm and is about to tell the model agent lady that he wants his money back, but then she reveals she’s already got a job booked for him. It’s a real modeling job that pays $50, and she can get him more next time if the clients like him. Pretty sweet deal, there.

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Later, Cory is sitting on the floor, reading about Navajos. He asks Alan if he knows what the hardest part about being married is. Alan suggests that actually being married is pretty hard, but Cory says that it’s learning to be the type of husband your wife wants you to be. Amy coyly asks if Alan is going to say anything in response.

Then Eric comes in and tells his family that he got a job as a model, and is quitting his job at the grocery store. Amy admits perhaps she made a mistake earlier, and let’s Alan go yell at Eric about how stupid he is, quitting a steady job for one modeling gig and not thinking things out all the way. But Eric really wants to be a supermodel, so oh well.

Cory tells Alan that he knows a thing or two about raising children, and if he did things the way Alan just did them, he’d get an F on his assignment. Alan says something about letting kids learn from their mistakes and that it doesn’t matter if he or Cory see something some way, what matters is that Eric sees it. There’s some back-and-forth between Cory and Alan about how Cory is supposed to learn to be a good father if Alan changes the rules on him as a son, and Alan tells him if he wants to know how to be a good father, just ask his wife.

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With the Model Family at school, there is a crisis! Older, cooler brother Minkus wants a tattoo. Shawn doesn’t think it’s a good idea. Topanga says that Minkus lives under their roof, and follow their rules, so no tattoo, but Cory says a person’s body is a temple and they should worship however they want. Topanga says she’s decided without consulting her spouse – because that’s the kind of husband she knows Cory will be – that Minkus definitely cannot get a tattoo, ever. But, uh-oh!

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Minkus already got one! Topanga and Shawn are impressed at Minkus getting a tattoo, but Cory is upset – they had decided that Minkus wouldn’t end up getting the tattoo, and now Minkus has screwed up their whole assignment and the way the family discussion was supposed to go.

But Feeny says, hey, that kind of stuff happens in real families. There’s no such thing as a model family. Topanga suggests that the only way you can really just a family is based on how much love there is in the household. Cory points out that Ward Cleaver was always perfect and predictable, but Feeny says that Ward wasn’t real, and real fathers don’t have a script to read from. Cory concedes this point, and guesses it would be really easy to sound smart when you’ve got the best writers in Hollywood writing everything you say.

But if, say, Fran Drescher or Dave Coulier were saying the lines, they wouldn't sound nearly as poignant. No offense.
But if, say, Fran Drescher or Dave Coulier were saying the lines, they wouldn’t sound nearly as poignant. No offense.

Feeny says he wouldn’t know about that.

One abrupt scene change takes us to the mall, where Eric is flanked by two pretty girls, about to start his first modeling job. Eric tells Jason to make sure the girls stay to watch him model, and he goes to get dressed.

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He is a lobster.

Cory and Shawn happen to be at the mall as well, and Eric tells them to get the two girls to leave so they don’t see him in that embarrassing costume. The two of them try, but an announcement comes on over the… mall’s PA system…? about how you can win a free lobster dinner if you successfully hit the target and dunk Larry the Lobster into the Tub O’ Butter, and the girls totally want a lobster, because everyone always wants a lobster on tv and movies.

Jason successfully dunks Eric on the first try, and I guess none of the people who seemed to have gotten there first get a shot at a free lobster dinner.

How is this the last screenshot of the review?
How is this the last screenshot of the review?

Later at the house, Eric is being an exemplary box boy to Alan, who asks if he’s doing this to get his old job back. Eric says yes, and he’s willing to beg and plead and grovel if he needs to. Alan tells him the position is already filled and he can’t just fire somebody because Eric wants his job back. Alan tells him that Eric decided he wanted to make his own decisions, and thus his own mistakes, and so Alan won’t fix things for Eric anymore. But he tells them there is an opening for the weekend night shifts, which was Eric’s old job and not great for the dating scene. Cory points out that after that lobster job no one will want to date him anyway.

Then Cory and Alan have a short chat about being great fathers, and Cory says something about tattoos, which leads to Alan asking repeatedly if Cory got a tattoo. Considering he’s only 11, it seems likely that Amy or Alan would’ve had to have gone with him for him to get a tattoo, and I don’t think most parlors let people under 16 get tattoos anyway.

The end credits gag has Cory flexing outside the modeling kiosk, before he finally just asks why the modeling agent isn’t interested in him. She asks if he has $90 and Cory says “See ya” and walks off.

This episode was pretty much just about Eric. I think it would’ve been more fun to focus more on Cory’s model family, but oh well.

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