This show got cancelled.
I’m pretty bored right now. And my fantasy team ate it this week. Forgive me if I veer off course once in a while. I’ll try not to.
“C’mere, my little chickadee!” WC Fields was funny.
Oops. Sorry. OK, My Generation.
STEVE’S MOM’S HOUSE
So this episode starts out with a flashback to an interview of 2000 Steve, when he was a wide-eyed high school valedictorian about to CHANGE THE WORLD.
“I think I’ll probably become a doctor/lawyer/President of the United States. Then I’ll teach.”
He really does say the thing about wanting to become both a doctor and a lawyer. You’d think this is meant to be absurd, but I do remember a few people in high school with that mindset. And they all got exactly what they wanted!
70 years ago in Berlin Steve would be running the Hitler Youth
Then it cuts to Steve’s Mom’s house, where he’s staying for the duration of this trip. He’s enjoying a cup of coffee, and she asks him if he plans to look for a job—this is probably because she has no idea about the real reason for his visit, (i.e. his new son), and thinks he’s had enough of Hawaii.
He says he’s not planning on staying in town very long and leaves it at that. Then his Mom tries to guilt-trip him into paying a visit to his Dad in prison. He turns it down and she asks if he’s going to hate his Dad for the rest of his life. He says nothing, then abruptly changes the subject. The new subject is quite the whopper—does his Mom think he’ll be a good father?
She’s taken aback. He promises it’s only a hypothetical question, and she advises him not to have a kid until he’s grown up.
Then he goes out to the backyard deck and calls Caroline again to see if she’ll give him another chance to make an impact on their son. She’s been screening his calls. He starts leaving another message, but she picks up, and seems to be receptive now. She and Tom will be at a playground this afternoon. He’ll be there!
A HOSPITAL (HUH?)
First we follow Jackie the Ex-Beauty Queen around. No idea what she’s doing at the hospital. She’s a nurse? Volunteering? Whatever.
She chats with a coworker about how she never has to cook because Anders does that, and he made a crazy meal again last night. Here’s the picture. Anders makes her pose with everything he cooks before every meal:
Go for it, Jackie! No jury would convict you!
The coworker gets totally wet for Anders because of that, and she asks Jackie how his “equipment.” Jackie doesn’t follow.
“What’s the problem? I was told to expect girl talk.”
Luckily this exchange just ends when Brenda comes walking in. Jackie’s surprised to see her because she doesn’t know Brenda’s Mom had the stroke. They briefly catch up. Brenda mentions she heard Jackie married Anders and asks how it’s going, and Jackie says Brenda should know, because she and Anders were together longer than they are now. Jackie can’t even feign enthusiasm about being married.
“Anders and I stopped fucking, too. Unlike you, I’m not even remotely sexually attracted to him. I’m also not usually home during the day at all, when he is. Well, great seeing you! (Pssst you should have sex with him. With Anders.)”
Rolly is vlogging to Dawn again. Today he’s taking her around the camp to introduce her to his unit. Here’s where they sleep, here’s where they eat, here’s a room full of guys who grunt loudly you prompt them to, etc.
God, what a disaster I’m having in fantasy football this week…had to pick up Marshawn Lynch for an emergency start and he gets me no points, Michael Vick gets injured, and my receivers don’t even show up. There goes my undefeated season.
Sorry, back to Rolly.
Then he talks about missing Dawn and how he can’t believe he’s not there for her and the baby.
I did some research into this, and it turns out a lot of soldiers really have fought the entire nine years since 9/11, like our Rolly here has. Part of me thinks they were going to explore this on the show. But another part of me thinks it’s just convenient to the story, to have him do the Pat Tillman thing and still be at war now. We’ll never know, I suppose.
Dawn is finishing watching Rolly’s vlog when Kenneth comes in with a box of cupcakes for her. She grabs one to munch on and he reminds her they’re supposed to attend a “hypno-birthing” class, whatever that is. She groans.
Then she takes her shirt off, right in front of him.
He has now seen her tits 1,714 times this week.
Shifting the cupcake box to conceal his boner, (I wish), Kenneth changes the subject to a call list he’s making for Dawn’s delivery day. He suggests adding her mother, and she reacts as though he not only came onto her, but suggested a threesome while doing it.
“Well, the woman is going to be a Grandma,” Kenneth suggests.
“If you call her I will seriously never speak to you again.”
“Women! Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em, can’t live with myself! I’m gonna go rub one out and then put a gun in my mouth.”
Steve’s on his way to meet Caroline. The documentary edits in some footage of him and his Dad from 1991. His Dad is trying to teach him how to hit a wiffle ball and getting way too frustrated. This is to give us a glimpse of Steve’s upbringing. His dad was Too Demanding
“Son, I’m only hard on you because it’ll provide motivation for when you’re a character on an ABC mockumentary. You’ll understand some day.”
Then we cut over to the jail, where the documentary crew has gone to visit his Dad, Michael, without him.
Michael introduces himself and is already a smug bastard you’re supposed to hate, but you know, I kind of like him. The filmmaker asks him why he’s in jail, and all he says is he used to work for Enron. He won’t comment on why he was convicted. He’s been in jail for over four years and is counting down the days until he’s released.
“My parole board hearing is in three weeks. I’m looking forward to life on the outside, because [prison-rape joke].”
The filmmaker asks when he last saw Steve, and he reveals he hasn’t since he’s been in jail. He seems like he’s trying to play the victim, too, claiming Steve “abandoned him.” We learn also that Steve has an older brother, RJ, who’s “no longer with us.”
The filmmaker seems surprised because she didn’t know Steve had a brother, either, and Michael acts as though this is evidence Steve is a horrible person. “He’s never MENTIONED RJ?! What a dick my son is for not talking to strangers about his missing brother.” Clearly he’s a dick, and not just emotionally distraught about it.
I have to say, I’m still disappointed in my son. Wait, hang on a second. [grrrrrrunt]
“Hey! My new horns grew in! The old ones fell out last week.”
Here they edit in some interviews with Dawn back in 2000 so we can get to know where she’s coming from. Back in 2000 the filmmaker caught up with her hanging out around an a laundromat. She’s got a general slacker vibe, but she’s also got her little brother Vincent along with her. We are supposed to like her.
Falcon is also loitering with them. When he hears the documentary crew is here to interview Dawn, he pops in front of the camera and says, “Yo, shoot ME! I’m the one you wanna shoot!”
I really really really hope this line is a little bit of self-awareness from the writers of this show.
Then they cut over to her in the office of the school guidance counselor/principal/truancy officer/whatever. He’s here to chase after Dawn for skipping so much school. She was caught cutting out of school early with Vincent, plus has eleven unexcused absences.
He puts a question to her in helpfully blunt terms: “DAWN DO YOU WANT TO MAKE SOMETHING OF YOURSELF?”
She says, “Nope!” And leaves.
Why do teenagers always answer the question that way? That’s not how it went in the training videos.
After that, Dawn is over at her after school job, manning the counter at an ice cream stand. Vincent is there doing some homework, as is Falcon, who’s there to hang and have some free frozen yogurt. They both tease her about how her life is going nowhere and she’ll probably end up a stripper, but it’s good-natured. She turns it around on them and hops up on some milk crates for some pretend-stripping.
You know, this show isn’t all bad. No really, the slice-of-life stuff is quite fun. And not because of the stripping. Not just because of the stripping.
Falcon cheers her on, but Vincent gets appropriately grossed out. As this is going on, Young Rolly and some of his buddies show up and catch an eyeful. Rolly’s intrigued. He asks Falcon who Dawn is. Apparently he’s never noticed her before. This is probably supposed to be the spark that leads to their marriage. (Which is actually a quite hilarious “how we met” story).
Dawn excuses herself to make a phone call to the school. She’s pretending to be her mother on the phone with that school official from earlier. She tells the guy she appreciates how he’s handling her “daughter,” and then drops in a hint how it’s hard being a single mother. The ploy works and Dawn seems to have bought herself some time.
Now it’s time for some exposition! Back in 1981 Dawn’s mother Robin met a dude named Lane Barbuso. Here’s a Polaroid.
Lane was in a hair-metal band called Sleeper Hold. Dawn probably has about fifty half-siblings she’ll never know about.
This is the standard “fell-in-love-with-a-guy-in-a-band” story. Dawn was the result of that.
And we cut back to Dawn as she is now, pregnant, stuck in her home town, obsessively checking the news for reports from Afghanistan.
Steve arrives to meet Caroline and Tom. He’s brought a toy for Tom and flowers for Caroline. He’s changed. Tom already has that toy, though, so he’s not too impressed.
Tom runs off to play, so Caroline and Steve sit at a table. He apologizes for screwing up last week. She decides to play the guilt card… “Oh, it’s no big deal…he just really wanted to meet you is all.”
Next Steve learns Kenneth is Tom’s teacher. Awkward! (Not really).
We get to see how much they contrast in parenting experience when Steve realizes he can’t see Tom anywhere on the playground, but Caroline nonchalantly pinpoints him behind the slide without having to turn around. Mommy radar. Then, rather than discuss how the fuck they’re going to deal with having a kid together, they overhear Tom squabbling with another kid, and Caroline tells Steve to jump on in and settle it. Better start somewhere!
So he jogs over and calms the kids down…I think they were fighting over a toy, but the show never really specifies. They he and Tom play for a while and Caroline sees how maybe Steve would be a good Dad.
We get more home movie footage of Steve’s Dad being a dick. Now he’s trying to get Steve to improve his sprinting? I think. Steve’s doing it wrong so Michael asks RJ to show him how it’s done.
Back at the playground, Caroline and Tom leave and the filmmaker asks Steve for his reaction. Feels pretty good! Then the filmmaker tells Steve she’s been to see Michael. His face drops. She asks Steve about RJ, what happened to him and why he never mentioned him. Steve is stunned and offended and storms away from the interview.
JACKIE AND ANDERS
More marital discord going on here…Anders has cooked another ridiculous meal and regales her with all the amazing things he’s accomplished…the mint sauce for the lamb is homemade! The salad has wildflowers in it! Jackie tries to tell him to stop doing this every day, saying she’d be happy eating pizza, but Anders takes that to mean he should buy pizza stones and install a flipping pizza oven outside.
I’m guessing Anders doesn’t have to have a job what with his family wealth…they’ve dropped that bullshit from the pilot when Anders said in high school that the secret to life is happiness, and the only thing he needs to acquire that would be Brenda.
Maybe then the inexplicable night terrors will stop
As they eat, first Anders mentions lunch with his Dad. His Dad says he missed Jackie at dinner the other night—Jackie skipped that so she could go grind on Steve at that bar, the filmmaker helpfully reminds us. And his Dad also asked him to ask Jackie if they’ve thought about having kids yet. I imagine a conversation where his Dad said to Anders, “Oh, make sure next time you see Jackie you ask her about the two things that’ll make her most uncomfortable.”
She’s not ready for a baby, she says. She then tells him she ran into Brenda at the hospital and tells him about the stroke, prompting Anders to nearly choke on his asparagus or whatever it is he cooked.
Quite a good little marriage saboteur we’ve got here in Jackie.
Speak of the devil. Here Brenda is in the kitchen, on a work phone call, while her sister cooks some breakfast. Her sister is pretty funny. She comes right out and says sardonically, “So, I decided you should move back to Austin.”
Brenda points out how she has a career and everything, but Little Sis Who Doesn’t Get a Name Yet persists. Mom’s been sick for a while, and her last dying wish is to see Brenda get married.
God, family blows.
Little Sis switches over to Spanish for a second, (probably just to remind us that they can speak it), and asks what Jackie said yesterday when Brenda ran into her. Brenda brushes it off, not ready to talk about it, so her sister goes on to explain how Jackie is married to Anders, and the reason why is because their fathers went into business together.
While that’s going on, who should be outside but Anders himself!
Oh man, it’s true! The love of my life is back!
Here Steve’s Mom is consulting with a lawyer. The lawyer asks Steve if he’ll testify at his Dad’s upcoming parole board hearing as a character witness, but Steve declines. He wouldn’t feel comfortable doing that.
The lawyer sleazes his way through an explanation that, because of the current “unfriendly climate” towards white-collar crime, he needs all the help he can get. Then they explain that this lawyer isn’t just any lawyer: he’s an Enron lawyer. After trying to sweet-talk Steve, he turns directly to the camera…
Byron Charles: Enron Lawyer needs to be its own series RIGHT NOW. Fuck that Jimmy Smits show, and the Maura Tierney one.
Steve then notices a box of RJ’s home movies on the kitchen table. Byron Charles explains Michael asked him to create a “family tragedy” video for the trial. As he says, “We make a small movie, add a sad song…I’m surprised your father’s trial lawyer didn’t do it. Might have shortened his sentence.”
Please please PLEASE make this show. Think about it: every week Byron Charles has to spring a different ex-Enron executive. It’s PERFECT.
Steve refuses to allow this and takes the box from the room. But whatever. I’m into Byron Charles a million times more than Steve.
Back in 2000 Dawn, Falcon, and Vincent are at the ice cream stand when that school official guy drops by. Ohhhhhh, snap!
He’s caught her skipping school again and makes another threat—be in his office tomorrow morning, with her mother, or else. Falcon tries to placate him with some free ice cream, which the guy actually accepts…
“I’ll take the free ice cream. But I won’t accept any free toppings. That would undermine the respect you kids have for me.”
Kenneth is doing some laundry, so Dawn comes by and drops her pants so he can put them in with the wash.
The filmmaker asks Kenneth if he minds her undressing in front of him all the time, (and edits in several clips of her doing that). He claims it doesn’t bother him at all, that he doesn’t think about her that way, which everyone watching this knows is a lie. Not that he sells it well.
I’d really like to see the filmmaker ask Dawn about this. I’m pretty sure she thinks they’re just friends who used to date but have progressed to something beyond that. How else is she this oblivious?
You know, the only other person I know of who has the name “Rolly” is Rolly Fingers, the Hall of Fame relief pitcher with the mustache.
Four-time winner of the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year award
Here Rolly and his soldier friends are shooting the shit. Rolly’s getting his gear ready and puts on his helmet, and then he gets shot by a sniper.
Good news for Kenneth!
But Rolly only got knocked out. He’s not dead. They revive him and boy, is he pissed. He grabs his gun and lets the Taliban have it.
Take that, you jerks!
Kenneth and Dawn are attending the aforementioned hypno-yoga class or whatever this is. Kenneth is once again in a shitty position because he feels obligated to tell the couple next to them the baby isn’t his, but also has no explanation for why he’s there.
For her part, Dawn doesn’t want to be there and makes jokes about needing a cigarette. Kenneth mentions her husband is in Afghanistan, and that prompts the couple to coo over her and then spread the word to everyone else in the class about how Dawn needs their pity. The classmates then talk about how they couldn’t imagine going through a pregnancy without the men helping them.
That pisses Dawn off and she decides it’s time to go.
Actually, is probably the most accurate depiction of the war and its effects the show has done thus far. I could totally see a yoga class hearing someone has a soldier husband, paying lip service to how difficult that must be, and then moving on and talking about themselves.
The battle is over. Rolly is shaken. He gives us a Contemplative Stare.
Man, I so don’t want to be doing war anymore.
INTERVIEW WITH CAROLINE
Caroline is sitting down with the filmmaker, very happy with how the visit with Steve went. It’s good to see Tom so happy.
Then the filmmaker asks Caroline how they’ll handle the issue of visitation rights. Caroline gets flustered. They haven’t talked about it. The filmmaker acts like she can’t believe Caroline and Steve haven’t addressed this yet.
“Oh shit. Thanks for reminding me. Man, I don’t know where we’d be without you, documentary filmmaker. You make us be good parents.”
Steve looks through the box of RJ home movies and finds one in particular that sheds light on what happened. First, though, the tape shows young Steve playing a prank on his big brother…
That’s pretty hilarious, actually. RJ is on his way to college, so these tightie whities will be packed away for a while before he finds them
Then Young Steve hears some voices downstairs, so he goes to the top of the staircase to see what’s up. His parents are talking to some cops. RJ has gone missing.
Also, we find out RJ is only 15. He’s going to college early because he’s a child genius.
Know what? That’s way cooler than having RJ just be dead. Too bad we’ll never know what happened to him.
Dawn is outside the school in her car, about to go to that meeting with the school official. She’s sobbing. She manages to pull herself together and heads inside, but the filmmaker stops her and asks her what she plans to do without her Mom being there, and then, what happened to her Mom, anyway?
It’s rude, and Dawn reacts that way, but she does explain the situation. Her Mom left her and Vincent and Dawn now misses so much school so she can earn rent money.
Then more backstory from the filmmaker…Lane left the family when Dawn was six, right after Vincent was born. Now alone, Robin got stuck on a partying-crashing cycle, so Dawn had to more or less raise Vincent. And at the beginning of Dawn’s senior year, Robin checked herself into a mental hospital for severe depression.
When Dawn comes out from the meeting, she tells the filmmaker she just dropped out of high school. Her plan now is to find a job and start saving for college—for Vincent.
Does everyone like Dawn a lot now? OK, good. We’re supposed to.
After all that, we next see Dawn approach Kenneth to apologize for storming out of the yoga class. She explains her reasoning…she’s feeling awful because she has no job and Rolly could get killed. Her kid might grow up with the same instability she herself had. She’s dreading that.
Kenneth takes action. One of Dawn’s ideals is that kids should get dinner every night. It’s now six o’clock, so he’ll fix dinner for them both. All he has in the house is peanut butter and bread. It’ll do. He tells her Uncle Kenneth will be there for her.
Steve is heading inside when Caroline steps out from the shadows. She’s been waiting for him to return home so she can talk to him. She has a hard time saying this, but her reason for the visit is to tell Steve he doesn’t have to stick around if he doesn’t want to. She and Tom are doing fine.
He gets pissed. She called him in Hawaii and demanded he come visit. He takes all this to mean she thinks he’s a loser, also. He throws in her face the fact that she didn’t tell him about Tom for nine years.
She takes that to mean she’s made a mistake, so she gets in her car and heads off. Leaving Steve looking after them, realizing things are screwed up again.
I hope this is the structure they envisioned for this whole series. Steve makes minor inroads toward establishing a relationship with Caroline, but then she maneuvers him into screwing it up, and the episode ends with her driving away in a huff. I’ll so miss that.
Steve goes inside and finds his Mom on the couch watching the news. There’s a story on about the BP oil spill. Topical! She says how “awful” the spill is, and then we get on with the scene.
Now’s the time when Steve decides to unload the news that he’s a father on his Mom. He blurts it out. She reacts the way I imagine most mothers would, with stunned horror. But then when Steve tries to initiate a conversation about it, she decides to leave, because it’s late and she’s tired. Good luck, Steve!
Now wonder, right? If this is how his family deals with conflict, how could Steve be awesome at it himself?
You know, I was hoping this show would continue, if only so we could get more awkward references to things happening in 2010, with no impact on anything.
“Can you believe Senator Cornyn thinks the Republicans will take twelve senate seats in the midterm elections? Oh, by the way, I have AIDS.”
INTERVIEW WITH AN AUSTIN POLICE DETECTIVE
Here the filmmaker goes to talk with the cop assigned to find the missing RJ. This cop believes RJ ran away from home, not that he was kidnapped. He chalks it up to RJ’s bad relationship with Michael.
Let’s see what Michael thinks about that…
The filmmaker asks Michael for his reaction. He thinks it’s bunk that RJ ran away from home.
Also, he wasn’t too hard on the kids at all. He just made sure they reached their full potential.
The filmmaker then asks him if he knew Steve dropped out of school and became a bartender. Michael clearly didn’t, and asks to go back to his cell.
What is this? I’m not supposed to get sad! I’m Satan Hitler!
OK, time to wrap up the episode…
The show cuts back to that interview with Steve when he was fantasizing about how awesome his future was going to be. More sound bites of him saying failure is not an option whatsoever.
In 2010, Steve looks at pictures of himself playing with Tom.
Rolly makes a video promising Dawn he will be returning home, no matter what.
Brenda and her sister are at the hospital. They receive a floral arrangement. It’s from Anders. He’s included a note that says, “Whatever you need.”
ANDERS AND JACKIE
He chops some carrots. Jackie actually hangs out with him as he does this. He kisses her. They both seem happy, which seems totally out of character.
She looks at Tom as he plays with the toy Steve gave him. She appears Conflicted!
Steve watches a video of himself playing soccer with RJ when they were kids.
KENNETH AND DAWN
They have dinner and be friends.
I think I’ve thought of the perfect post-mortem for this show.
Being that this show is a mockumentary about nine US high school students and how they’ve changed, my first thought when I heard the premise was, wouldn’t it be better to just watch an actual documentary like that?
I didn’t put this in last week’s recap, because I wanted to make it look like I was at least TRYING to give My Generation a chance, but yeah, it would be better. I know because I found a documentary like that this week. It’s British series called The Up Series. Back in 1964 they started following fourteen British seven-year-olds from different backgrounds, and every seven years since they check up on them. The next one, 56 Up comes out late 2011 or early 2012.
I started watching it this week. It was good! You get to see how people’s lives can change wildly over time. The people in the documentary aren’t all focused on fucking each other, too. You should check it out.