RJ finally turns sixteen, and Amy promises to give him a "birthday surprise," but only if she stands up to Max Owens. And he does so in a big way by inviting everyone who has ever been ... See full summary »



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Episode credited cast:
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Mark Alfa ...
Hooker bully
Greg Brown ...
Amy the Tutor
Robby George ...
Butch Tranny
Robin Pretnar (as Ciena Rae)


RJ finally turns sixteen, and Amy promises to give him a "birthday surprise," but only if she stands up to Max Owens. And he does so in a big way by inviting everyone who has ever been bullied by Max over to his sixteenth birthday party at his father's motel room. Written by Daniel Timothy Dey

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23 May 2011 (USA)  »

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References Sixteen Candles (1984) See more »


Happy Birthday Bitch
Performed by The Ruiners
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The Beloved
30 September 2011 | by (Finland) – See all my reviews

Hard Times… once again shows how teen shows have changed in the last 20 years: Max Owens' bullying of RJ *and* Amy's ultimatum that RJ "man up" if he wants to have sex with her will resonate for all viewers who've experienced the same things. Something that we didn't see in the shows of 20 years past. Also, we didn't see Suzanne and Jeriba share a cupcake…

The "good guys of the round table" gather again, and formulate a plan that will result in RJ "manning up". It is exactly what every bullied teen would want to do: to strip the bully of his power. Of course, in reality, it is very hard to do, and the writers acknowledge that by showing that RJ's "Max Bash" is not exactly the best idea. Added drama comes from RJ's parents' divorce: RJ doesn't want his dad to see his mom with the Coach at the birthday party. What's he to do? Comedy, on the other hand, comes mostly from Max's counter-plan (a clear parody of typical teen movies of the 1980s and 1990s) and its execution.

The end result is an episode which has a nearly perfect constantly ascending trajectory. It gets more dramatic and funnier by the moment, and, pardon the bad pun, climaxes beautifully. But it's far from perfect. The biggest problem is that Jenny has only two lines that consist of four words. In the entire episode. Even Max's grunt Patterson has more dialog! It was unexpected when she and RJ broke up, but in this episode one would have expected at least a scene where she congratulates RJ on his birthday. She clearly is proud of RJ when he announces the "Max Bash" birthday party. Yet we only get a glimpse of her at the party sequence. Then of course, this episode isn't exactly revolutionary, even if it is evolutionary. So, an 8/10 is still great, better than most episodes of most shows.

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