Season 2, Episode 6
Date of airing: November 8, 1995 (FOX)
Nielsen ratings information: 10.6 million viewers, 7.7/12 in Households
Maggie Beaton was as close as she could have gotten to become Bailey’s latest conquest. I have no idea if she becomes the predecessor to Pacey Witter’s high school teacher and sweetheart Tamara, but judging by Maggie’s age of 25, chances are Bailey will in fact have relations with an older woman for the first time, and I cannot imagine that Bailey’s story in this episode was just to make him realize that he isn’t smart and that his SAT scores will never raise above a 900. Maybe 1000 if he is lucky, but I don’t think Maggie’s introduction was just to make Bailey’s college dreams grow bigger, because PARTY OF FIVE isn’t a show that want to tell stories about dreams. This is still a weekly primetime teenage soap opera, and romantic relationships and issues about sex come first. Consider me weirded out by Maggie though — her friendliness and openness towards inviting students to her home for a study session is questionable, but would fit well for a teacher whose class is not older than seven or eight years. Let’s just hope Maggie isn’t starting to treat Bailey like a seven-year-old, and please for the love of comic book movies, don’t have her be his new girlfriend, even if I would appreciate a little bit of a complicated and complex story about how rumors destroy a teacher and the student, and how it’s the teacher who will have to pay for whatever mistakes everyone thinks she did.
It’s great though that the writers managed to create a continuation fo the story that had Bailey do his absolute everything to get the hell out of this city and go to an East coast college. Four episodes ago it seemed like just a story development to keep Bailey away from women for a while and focused on his studies for a change, but now it actually looks like it’s a season-long character arc for the kid and for this episode the writers included what Bailey’s family should think of his school work and his instances of giving up stuff. Maggie was not wrong when she mentioned that Bailey does not have a parental system at home that notices when something changes with Bailey at school, and the writers were not wrong in making this obvious by having Bailey specifically ask Charlie if everything is fine with him only getting a 900 on his SATs. When Charlie isn’t even interested in trying to fix Bailey to become a better student and go for a college that is not a state college, then why should Bailey even try from here on?
The story of Kirsten’s parents in San Francisco bored me. There was a noteworthy idea behind Charlie recognizing that Kirsten’s mother is taking the dreams of Kirsten’s father away, but it’s not like this was a story that put a mirror between Charlie and Kirsten and changed them as a couple. At the end of the episode the two were there were they were at the beginning of the episode. Besides that, it’s not like PARTY OF FIVE is known for straight-up story and character development throughout the show. It’s still quite procedural-like in its approach to tell stories, which means you could miss a few episodes and not miss anything about character development, and this episode showed it perfectly with Charlie and Kirsten who were not bothered at all with her parents’ arrival. All you got was more of Kirsten’s weirdness about the people around her.
Meanwhile, Julia went down the path of hypocrisy, as she mauled over Claudia for not respecting Griffin, followed by her mauling over Griffin for spending too much time with Claudia. The girl should make up her mind and Griffin should maybe think about whom he is dating, because if he accepts that behavior like Republicans accept Orange Hitler Donald Trump’s constant asking of foreign countries to meddle in his elections, his brain may get friend and he can’t help himself feeling stupid and underappreciated over a woman. The way Julia behaved in this episode was utter crap, and if Griffin had just one ounce of a solid character in him, he would have realized it and he would have called it quits with her. But alas, the writers think Julia needs a boyfriend, and they obviously think that Julia needs to be the “aggressive” one in that relationship — which by itself is not such a shady idea at all (instead of cheating on Griffin that would end this relationship, it’s her behavior, which I don’t think is a normal way for a central character to fail in a romance, because it’s usually the guest character partner whose crappy behavior leads to an end of the story), but it’s not really a story that makes Julia look good. Besides that, she battled against her little sister here, and Claudia better not accept Julia’s apologies. I wouldn’t mind if Claudia and Julia start fighting over something minimal at first and it turns into a civil war after a few episodes.