Reader, I ask of you: who can keep up around here? I’m struggling to think of a ship – romantic or just friends – that hasn’t been shot to pieces yet. (Hang in there, Farrah and Bruce.) This week saw multiple blowups in the Amy-Karma-Liam-Shane square, while Lauren called things off with Theo. I am genuinely unsure who’s actually on good terms with who at this point. For real: Shane and Karma slept together while remaining committed to their firmly established dynamic of hating each other’s guts. Let’s review the state of things with these sad, angry children and their labyrinthine love lives.
- LAUREN COOPER, YOU GUYS. I love her so much. She was by far the most mature and considerate in her actions this week, laying out all the perfectly legitimate reasons why she and Theo don’t work. This was a beautiful scene with great character work, both in terms of Bailey De Young’s performance and the actual writing. It’s too painful for Lauren to have yet another huge secret, carefully carving away parts of her life and being unable to really express who she is or what people matter to her. Lauren has the best dance of her life with Tommy, an ex-boyfriend she doesn’t even like most of the time, and it inspires her to tell Theo that enough is enough. She loves herself too much to devote the rest of high school to a relationship that would need to be hidden. Plus, you know, Theo is 20 and an adult police officer and shouldn’t be going out with her anyway, but I guess the show is continuing to pretend that’s not an even more serious issue here. (On a similar note, I don’t even want to talk about Sasha’s presence on this show. Why are you insisting on romanticizing all this underage weirdness, writers’ room? Why waste a talent like Lindsay Shaw in such a gross unnecessary fashion?)
- Have Shane and Liam ever really fought before? Is this the first time? Wow. I’ll confess to not being super invested in this particular conflict, mostly because it feels like the writing is either recycling issues that other, more interesting characters have dealt with already – someone is mad at their best friend for sleeping with their love interest! Oh dear! – or leaning very heavily on Sasha to create drama without actually treating her sexual harassment of a high schooler seriously at all. It just doesn’t feel particularly organic or necessary to to the advancement of either character. I would rather see Shane continue to work on his control freak tendencies (really, the kid has a problem at this point) or watch a subplot about Liam still wanting to find his birth father, since that story hasn’t been relevant outside of a single episode this season. They both need a lot more cohesion and growth in their storylines, so I’m not sure why they’re fighting about current sexual partners, of all things.
- In contrast, Amy and Karma’s clash concerned many of the same details, and yet it worked SO! MUCH! BETTER! There’s nothing quite like a solid Karmy argument on this show. This time, we’ve essentially revisited their conversation about Reagan in “Future Point,” this time with tables turned — now Amy doesn’t want Karma to sacrifice who she is just to prove a point to herself, while Karma feels like Amy is trying to push her into a box. “You get to be happy,” she snaps. “Liam gets to be happy. When is it my turn?” I really love the weird, complicated emotional path these two have been on this season. They’re both making bad decisions, but it’s the kind of narrative situation that needs to get worse before it gets better. I can’t wait to see what’s going to force them to finally come clean with each other.
Two episodes left, everyone! I’m freaking out just a tiny bit. (The last half of that sentence is a lie.)