Joan of Arcadia
Do The Math

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The math teacher arrives and says he's glad to hear her talking about A: "Approach the board, please." Joan glares at the back of Iris's head as she gets up. Hey, this was directed by Rob Morrow. And he did a damn fine job, too. Just like Timothy Busfield did with "Jump." Those aren't my favourite guys in front of the camera, but they sure did fine jobs behind them. The teacher asks Joan to show them the Pythagorean theorem. He draws a square on the board, bisects it and labels it. Joan looks nervous and says quietly, "Um, Pythagorean. That's…someone from Pythagorea?" Oy. Don't mind me while I slap myself senseless. I know they want to inject some laughs into the show, but do they have to be at the expense of Joan's intellect? So often she's made out to be a ditz which, despite many pop culture manifestations to the contrary, is not appealing or endearing but merely tiresome. It's also is rather inconsistent with the way she's characterized at other times. For instance, she's comfortable using the word "acerbic," but doesn't know what "oxymoron" or "pariah" mean, or what the difference is between "anti-climactic" and "anti-climatic," or between a "messianic complex" and a "miscellaneous complex." Please, find some other way to make us laugh. This is cheap and it diminishes Joan's character. She can be ordinary in some ways without being clueless. She doesn't have to be Marilyn vos Savant -- I wouldn't buy that, either -- but could she be smart about something? Good at something? Really interested in something? She either sucks at everything she tries (boat building, chess, band, laundry) or she's accidentally good at it (jumping rope, debate, roasting the garlic, throwing a party). Well, she was really good at wrecking Adam's sculpture, but…let's not get into that. Actually, I'd love to see her get interested in some activity on her own and be all annoyed with God for trying to take her away from it to do some other project. Maybe she could turn out to be a champion kick boxer.

Anyway, the peanut gallery murmurs and titters; Iris folds her arms and looks smug. Shut up, Iris's expression. Adam looks troubled on Joan's behalf. Is Iris blind? Can she not see how crazy in love with Joan he is? There are people in the Amazon jungle who've never even seen a television set who can see it. The teacher blathers about math, saying that Pythagoras taught that all life is connected through math: "The study of prime and square numbers not only built the basics of geometry but also music, astronomy…" Joan asks in a quiet, hesitant voice, "This is about music…?" Mr. Math says, "My! Showing some interest, Ms. Girardi? Finally trying to, mmm, pass the class, are we?" Joan says -- without much conviction -- that she's going to pass. He asks her to show that the square of the hypotenuse is equal to the sum of the sides squared. After hesitating, Joan points out, "I can add fractions." I think you all know what that slapping sound is.

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Joan of Arcadia

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