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Joe Loves Mary Cherry

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He knows how to dance, and he's not gay...

The Novak. Nicole, Mary Cherry and Brooke -- the original Blondes -- are alone together. Okay, remember that unbecoming haircut that Jodie Foster got in The Accused, after she'd been raped on a pinball machine? You know what haircut I'm talking about -- the haircut that screamed, "I cannot feel any worse about myself as a woman and as a human being, I'm going to get my hair styled so I'll look just like a lesbian cafeteria worker and straight men will leave me alone for the rest of my life!"? Well, Nicole has that very same haircut. What happened? We were seeing some nice hairstyles from her this year! I mean, she's tempered it a bit with some glam make-up, but what possessed her? I'm serious, she looks like someone who'd work in an Alaskan salmon cannery. Oh yeah, and the purpose of this scene is to show that Mary Cherry and Nicole's popularity is plummeting. Everyone thinks that Mary Cherry is a callow retard, and Nicole is no longer a Glamazon. Brooke is also suffering popularity-wise. Her boyfriend is no longer the star of the football team. Since Nicole's popularity depends on Brooke's popularity, Nicole tries to convince Brooke to start dating George, who is, as you'll recall, the new star football player and is basically a black Riley from Buffy. I mean, literally, the man is so dull that you zone out watching him and completely forget that he conveniently fulfills the WB's new racial quota. You'd think he was...well, Josh! Nevertheless, dating George will be the antidote to Brooke's declining popularity, and therefore it will also prevent Nicole's popularity decline osmotically. "I'm sorry guys," says Brooke, wearing a really nice heather-green clingy sweater. "Josh means more to me than power." She exits, presumably to go deliver more pizzas with her man. "She has to remain popular," says Nicole, retouching her opalescent make-up. "Our future depends on it," shrieks Mary Cherry, wearing a black T-shirt that says "I [heart] me." Heh.

Credits.

It's starting to occur to me that Popular is basically evolving into The Dukes of Hazzard. Chem is basically Boss Hogg in a lab coat and a That Girl flip, and this week she's just out to give those kids a hard time just 'cause. Everyone gets Fs on their exams because they have "failed to grasp the fundamentals of chemical compatibility. Oh God, I just had a revelation. What if these things that Chem brings up in her class week after week aren't just the goings on in a normal suburban California classroom? What if there's symbolism lurking inside these "science" lessons? And what if the hidden meaning in these lessons wasn't supposed to be all that hidden? What if this is all some sort of self-conscious cheeky irony that is meeting and yet challenging our expectations of a show that is about teenagers? Nah! I'm sure that it's just a coincidence that Chem is talking about "chemical attraction" just as Brooke and Josh gaze winningly at each other. "Isn't it possible," says Sam, gazing back at George, "that attraction is a mystery even science can't solve?" Nicole chimes in with her theory that attraction is based on free will, and one can either bond with a substance that makes one powerful and explosive or with a substance that makes one inert like table salt. This, of course, is a shout-out to Brooke and her inert "bonding," and it makes Brooke think...hard. Chem then informs the class that a computer will pair them all up tomorrow to see if each couple bonds or repels. As if. Oh, and Sam's hair looks okay right now. They straightened it, it's a little longer, and it's kind of cute. Then again, it's still early in the episode.

Cafeteria. Sam and Carmen sit eating their lunch while Carmen sings that annoying "Sam and George sitting in a tree" song. Sam is all, "Stop!" Carmen is all, "I have never seen you like this: all girlish and stupid." Girlish, no. Stupid, yes. At that, Sam smiles so hard that her gums and teeth threaten to annihilate everything around them with their sheer size and brightness. Sam talks about how attracted she is to George and how great he is. "And he can dance," says Carmen. Um, when have we seen George dance? Or are you just assuming he can dance because...you know, the black thing? And since when do you know from dancing in the first place, Carmen? "I think about him all the time, it scares me," says Sam. "What if my atom were to bond with his but his atom wants to bond with..." "A more magnetic atom like Brooke?" says Carmen. As if anyone wants to bond with Brooke more than Carmen does. This prompts Sam to have an anxiety attack over the idea that George would get together with Brooke, since they're both so popular. Carmen does some "comic" backpedaling. Sam is crushed nevertheless. Carmen shoves some more food into her mouth, because it's very important to remind the viewers that she's fat, in addition to having no impulse control.

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