The Hard Times of RJ Berger: Season 1, Episode 12

The Right Thing (23 Aug. 2010)

TV Episode  -  Comedy
7.7
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With Lily on life support at the hospital, RJ's decision regarding who to take to the winter formal has been made for him(see episode #1.11, "Lily Pad."). Despite feeling guilty over the ... See full summary »

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Title: The Right Thing (23 Aug 2010)

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With Lily on life support at the hospital, RJ's decision regarding who to take to the winter formal has been made for him(see episode #1.11, "Lily Pad."). Despite feeling guilty over the manner in which that decision was made, RJ promises Jenny that he'll make this the best formal ever. Unfortunatley this effort proves to be difficult for everyone when she and Miles find that Max is taking Robin Pretnar to the dance, even after Robin seemed to accept a date with Miles. Can he still make this a night he and Jenny can both enjoy? Or will other distractions bring their lives to ruin? Written by Daniel Timothy Dey

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23 August 2010 (USA)  »

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The Years of Decay
22 October 2010 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

They actually managed to invent a way out of "The Male Character Does the Right Thing" Ending! But before delving into that, a few words on the series in general.

The makers intended the series to be a cross between The Wonder Years (1988 – 1993) and Superbad and they've succeeded admirably. As someone who grew watching The Wonder Years, I can say that The Hard Times... updates that show perfectly by roughly the 20 years that have passed since it was on. The Guardians of Morality might see this and Superbad as a sign of the moral decay in entertainment over the years, but luckily they can't change the fact that the times *have* changed and what was once completely unacceptable is now just raunchy. Besides, The Hard Times... truly has a *heart*, even if some viewers have a hard time seeing it for all the rudeness. That said, this really needs an *unbleeped* release (I see it's out on DVD, but the release is said to be of low quality).

So this is the Season Ender. Picking up from the wonderful cliffhanger of the previous episode (although those who have seen Final Destination and Mean Girls might see the surprise coming), it's now time to deliver. And this does. One thing *hasn't* changed since The Wonder Years was on and it's "The Male Character Does the Right Thing" Ending: In the beginning the guy wants the hot girl, but by the end, he comes to see that the ordinary girl is really the right one. Take American Pie, for example. The problem with such an ending is that this kind of behavior is *completely* too mature for youth aged roughly 15 to 18. Therefore all believability is lost. Let the scholars argue why this ending is almost the only one existing in American TV and cinema, but elsewhere in the world, the other ending is just as viable. The ordinary girl may just have to stay a virgin.

The cliffhanger threw the cards into the air: with Lily hit by the bus, it suddenly became possible for RJ to get it on with Jenny. The show-runners had found a way out of "The Male Character Does the Right Thing" Ending! But then they chickened out: Lily was not killed, only hospitalized. Deduct one star. Then RJ got Lily's mother's blessing to go and have fun. Add one star. Then Jenny kissed RJ who didn't seize the moment, but rushed to Lily's side. NO YOUTH IS THAT NOBLE. Deduct two stars. Then Lily woke up and RJ had sex with her, being on top of her despite the injuries she had suffered. Deduct one star. Then Lily died (apparently). Add one star. The result: 8/10. The show-runners had a chance to do something almost unheard of: to kill Lily when she was still a virgin and to have RJ do what hormonally hyperactive teens do. That would have been nothing short of revolutionary, but they compromised by shuffling the cards in a way that the ending would be deemed morally righteous, as the title already informs us. This is an opportunity squandered. Life is not fair and even a teenage sex comedy (maybe *especially* a teenage sex comedy) should reflect that. Miles, Max and Suzanne are acting like *real* teenagers - why is RJ so noble? Especially considering his parents example? Even Jenny is believable since girls mature faster and girls *do* break up with A-holes like Max. Let fairy tales be fairy tales - The Hard Times... is, after all, taking place in the real world. Exaggerated, but still real. Here's hoping they don't manage to resuscitate Lily. That may sound harsh, but unless RJ starts dating Jenny in Season Two, this series is going nowhere.


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