BMW – 219, “Wrong Side of the Tracks”; February 24, 1995

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We begin with Shawn and some other girl. They don’t start speaking until the camera does a close-up. Shawn asks out this girl who we of course have never seen before, and she agrees. Cory praises Shawn for branching out and asking out a type of girl he’s never asked out before. All of the girls Shawn has dated before have been essentially the same person, so I’m not sure what Cory’s talking about.

Eric makes a move on a girl who isn’t available that often, because she’s a skater. Jason tells her that Eric can totally skate so they should totally go out. But Eric doesn’t know how to skate. Oh no! Also, skater girl is played by the same girl who played Topanga’s sister Nebula in that one episode. I’m going to pretend it’s still Nebula, but she’s just going by a less embarrassing name, and Eric doesn’t recognize her because her hair isn’t as big and he hasn’t seen her in a while. I mean, I didn’t recognize her, it’s plausible that Eric doesn’t either.

In Turner’s class, they’re writing biographies on people they admire. I always hated assignments like that. I’ve never really found I admire anyone anyone enough to write a two-page paper on them, and the people I did sort of admire in school were the kind of people you’d get made fun of for liking. Eh, well. Topanga’s writing about Katie Couric for her paper. Cory tricks Turner into letting him write his biography on Shawn.

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Cory starts his paper on Shawn over lunch. He begins by writing that Shawn was raised by wolves. That girl Shawn asked out comes in with that girl who revealed Shawn called girls icky in the class election episode, and says she doesn’t want to go out with Shawn anymore. She doesn’t give a reason, but the other girl – played by Shay Astar, who played August on 3rd Rock from the Sun, with a slightly different hair color – says it’s because there’s no way first girl – um, Jill, I think – …’s parents will let her go out with Shawn, because of Shawn’s family and what they do. All we’ve seen of Shawn’s family is that they live in a trailer park, one relative is on welfare, and another runs a bike shop. To be fair, Jill and Shay Astar (her character is named Mindy in this episode, I think, but I’m calling her Shay) are both dressed like the mean, rich girls you usually see in 80s and 90s teen movies (like after the Heathers died in “Heathers”, Jill and Mindy bought all their clothes or something). So she does look like the sort of person who wouldn’t associate with Shawn, and if this were a different media universe, she would probably be spreading lies about how Topanga eats cow poop because it’s organic and how Cory likes Shawn a little too much.

Cory tells Shawn he’s better off without a snob like that, and Shawn says he was a fool to think he could get a girl like that, because he lives in a trailer park. Later, Cory and Shawn are working on their biographies, by looking through Matthews family photo albums. There’s one picture of Cory playing in the sandbox at the old house. Shawn remarks that Cory’s always lived in a house, with Cory protesting that the old house was really tiny, and Shawn leaves to have dinner at his home. He invites Cory, but Cory declines when Shawn says they’ll be having smoked fish – because Shawn’s dad smokes the fish on his radiator. This makes Shawn feel worse about himself, somehow, even though in a much earlier episode he stayed for dinner at the Matthews home because he wasn’t a fan of what his mother was cooking for dinner that night (I think it was liver).

The next day at school, Cory asks where Shawn was during first period. It turns out Shawn was busy flooding the library (which, by the way, is one of the few rooms at this school that isn’t accessed through that one door on the right that has the bathrooms, principal office, etc). He also freed all the rats in the biology lab, and set all the clocks ahead twelve hours. We never had any live animals in my science classes. We did have dead rats embalmed in formaldehyde, though. I’m hoping that wasn’t the case for the rats Shawn freed and that they were actually live. The clocks ahead 12 hours speaks for itself, I think.

Cory’s puzzled as to why Shawn did this. Remember all the stuff Shawn did before? Blowing up a mailbox just because he had a cherry bomb, altering a school newspaper twice because he wanted to find his place in the path unwinding the circle of high school, and then altering a sign on a door in a similar manner for the same reason? Well, this time, it’s because Shawn wants to give Cory something good for his bio – “A mild-mannered youth until seventh grade, Shawn realized he was nothing but trailer trash, so he blew up the entire school.”

“Blew up the entire school.” You can’t get away with saying stuff like that on shows anymore. I’m not even entirely sure what he means by that anyway – usually when people say that something blew up, it either literally exploded, or else they mean it got really big, like it got popular or they took it to Kinko’s and enlarged it for a poster. Only the exploding definition makes sense in this context, and Shawn doesn’t actually blow up anything.

Well, Cory asks Shawn if this just about that girl who dumped him, and Shawn is all “No, it totally isn’t.” Then Harley, Joey, and Frankie exit the bathroom. We haven’t seen them in so long, they look so different. I mean, Harley looks like he’s being played by an entirely different actor!

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Shawn somehow convinces the guys to let him hang out with them. Cory’s like “Hey there’s still school you know!” but Shawn’s too busy being depressed about being a poor, dumb, trailer trash kid to get an education so he can learn enough to pull himself out of the poverty hole.

Later, Cory asks Feeny, who is gardening, if he can ask some questions for his biography paper. Feeny of course assumes that Cory’s writing the paper about him, because Cory did phrase his question that way, but he actually wants to talk to Feeny about his Shawn problem. Cory asks if where a guy comes from determines what he turns into. Feeny believes that no matter where someone is from, they determine their own path. Well said, Feeny. Just look at Steve Martin! He’s one of the famous and popular comedians of all time, as well as being a brilliant banjo player, and he was born a poor black child in Mississippi! Or maybe I’m thinking of something else.

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Joey tries to coach Shawn to get him to look meaner and more detached for their group. Shawn isn’t doing so well, but Joey tells him it’s only his first day, he’ll figure things out. Frankie reminisces about Joey’s first day as part of the group. He wore a suit. Shawn leaves to get bagels for the group (yes, bagels), and runs into Cory. Cory asks what’s up, and Shawn basically breaks up with him – they’re too different, they can’t be friends, they should stop being friends now.

Turner overhears Shawn’s increasingly loud break-up, and tells Harley that Shawn better be in his class tomorrow, or… else, I guess. Turner leaves, and Harley tells the other two that he just came up with the perfect initiation for Shawn. That doesn’t sound like something the previous Harley would say. Obviously he, Joey, and Frankie were a gang, but they never came across as like an actual gang. Also, how come they never seem to be in class? Don’t they kick you out of school if you skip too many classes?

Eh, well. I forgot to mention, but Jason gave Eric a subliminal “learn to skate in your sleep” tape. Eric makes a crack that he doesn’t want to learn how to skate in his sleep (i.e. skate while sleeping), Jason tells him he’s lucky he has a pretty face – is that for or against the “don’t write off people because they’re pretty” message from the last episode? – and explains it’s a tape you listen to while you sleep. His mom used it to lose weight. Eric points out that Jason’s mom is still really fat, and Jason says “Yeah, and in just 8 weeks!” I don’t know. That whole mess with Shawn happens, and then we see Eric sleeping and listening to the tape. And then he has a dream.

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Olympic figure skater Nancy Kerrigan! What are you doing here? The easy answer is that the Disney Company was apparently one of her sponsors for something (for the Olympics? I don’t know, I only started watching the Olympics in 2008). She teaches DreamEric to skate, and by that I mean she does a pretty simple move, tells Eric just to do what she did, and then Eric and definitely not a stunt double dressed up like Eric does a more complex routine, and then Nancy Kerrigan praises him and tells him to flip the tape over to side two. Ah, cassette tapes. Good riddance to those. Eric wakes up shouting “I can skate! I can skate!… And food has no power over me!” and then he runs out of the bedroom.

The next morning, Alan notes Cory seems distracted, as he’s pouring orange juice over his cereal. Cory says it’s because Shawn doesn’t want to be his friend anymore, and all for stupid stuff, like where he lives and because of what some stupid girl thinks. Alan theorizes that Shawn’s not actually angry at Cory, and says that sometimes people push you away just when they need you the most.

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Shawn’s initiation is to destroy Turner’s motorcycle. Shawn’s obviously a little reluctant, and the other three sense he’s too much of a chicken to be in the group. At the mention of chicken, Frankie leaves to get food. Cory enters the parking lot and says whatever Shawn’s about to do looks like fine, and says he’s going to take a shot. Shawn tells him he doesn’t belong here, and Cory says Shawn doesn’t either.

Shawn: Would you just let me do this?
Cory: If you’re gonna do this, Shawn, then I’m gonna do this.
Shawn: This is not your place, okay?
Cory: So what are you saying, I don’t belong here?
Shawn: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.
Cory: Look, if you belong here, I belong here!
Harley: Hey, Baboon, look, we got some business here, alright? So I suggest you walk away while your legs still bend only once.
Cory: Listen, Keiner, this is between me and Shawn, so take your greasy head and your rat-faced thug, and get away from my friend.
Harley: *stares menacingly*
Cory: *giggles nervously*

Harley’s about to rough Cory up, when Turner runs out into the lot. He says he just saw some thugs about to beat up his bike, and he’s glad they got their first to protect it. Harley and Joey leave, Joey asking what Cory meant by “rat-faced”. Turner than asks what the heck Shawn was thinking, making sure to point out that whatever he’s doing, he didn’t swing the bat.

Shawn goes into this whole “I don’t know who I am!” thing, which is seriously like the 10th time we’ve had someone wondering who they are just this season. Cory says he knows who he is – he’s Shawn Hunter, who was raised by wolves, and Cory’s friend! It even says so in his biography, what else does he need to know? Shawn needs to know what’s going to happen to him, and Turner tells him he’s going to come back to class and learn. Shawn’s all “boo hoo trailer park” and Turner’s all “you’re a good kid, if you’d think about it, you’d realize it.” He then tells Shawn as long as he never goes near Turner’s Harley or that other Harley again, Shawn will be all right.

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Eric’s skate date went well. Skater Girl asks Eric if she wants to go to Chubbie’s, and just as Eric’s about to accept, he suddenly says “food – HAS NO POWER OVER ME.” He says something similar when she mentions dessert. She tells Eric if he doesn’t want to go out with her, he could just say so, and Eric tries to explain. Then Jason enters the… wherever they are with some hot dogs. He offers one to Eric, who makes a sound like a dying seagull and falls off the bench.

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Jason continues taunting Eric with the hot dogs until Eric runs out of the room, and then Jason shares his hot dogs with Skater Girl, leaving Eric to push his unamused face against the door glass.

So… That girl Shawn asked out at the beginning of the episode. She broke off the date because her parents don’t want her consorting with such riff-raff. But… she must not mind if Shawn is poor, because she accepted when he asked her out. Shawn’s all upset because her parents don’t like that he’s poor even though she clearly likes him? Maybe she didn’t know he was poor when he asked her out. I don’t know. Whatever the case, there’s still an awful lot of girls who were happy to go out with Shawn and didn’t care that he was poor. Shawn decided to just be a failure his entire life because one rich girl didn’t go out with him? It’s not like she was the love of his life who he’d been pining after for ages or anything. This whole thing is kind of stupid.

Also, if they had destroyed Turner’s bike, Shawn could’ve told Turner to take it to his Uncle Mike again, thereby giving him and Mike some more income, bringing them one small step further to leaving the poverty hole. Why doesn’t Shawn just tell Harley, Joey, and Frankie to damage various vehicles, and then Shawn can go up to whosever car was damaged and offer them a business card, saying that they get a “Friend of Shawn” discount, and then Harley, Joey, and Frankie get a small cut of whatever profit Shawn would get from working at the autorepair shop?

…I wish I knew some thugs and worked at a small, family-owned auto shop.

Plaid:
Shirt – 11
Skirt/dress – 2
Backpack – 1-ish (plaid flaps, solid body)

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