waynepygram.com: Jessie Reviewed: G.I. Jessie

waynepygram.com: Jessie Reviewed: G.I. Jessie

Now I know not to watch this again. And knowing is half the battle. 



I just want to say that if Ray sees this at some point and never gives his two cents, it would have all been for nothing.



I say that because you would expect Ray to review an episode of Jessie, not me. But I figure it was time for a change of pace from talking about Dan Schneider shows and avoiding the Thundermans write-ups for several months, long after people have already forgotten about the existence of the series (I just need to find the last couple episodes and I'm straight). The good news is, this episode has a lot to talk about and unpack. The bad news is, most of the discussion today will be negative so it's almost like unpacking an enormous beehive and hoping you won't get attacked. It's not good for me or anyone else who reads this to try rolling that dice, but I have to roll them anyway.



So at this point, we're all aware of what Jessie is, right? I don't need to bring anybody up to speed? Great. The thing is, even though I remember it, and I remember being a fan of it, I don't remember it being one of my favorite shows. I always thought it was decent, but I was more interested in Good Luck Charlie and A.N.T. Farm, mostly because they were better shows with more entertaining characters. Also, I used to have a big crush on Bridgit Mendler so that might have played a role in it too. Eventually, I became less interested in Jessie, mostly because it went from decent to mediocre after a certain point and it was never something I was that interested in to begin with. It also doesn't help that the show was surrounded by much better competition, and the fact that I was becoming disinterested in both Nickelodeon and Disney Channel as I was getting deep into high school. I remember thinking the series finale was mediocre, and then instead of letting these characters die, they gave them a spin-off at a summer camp. And believe me, if I ever review that show, it will be a sign that I'm no longer getting enough oxygen. At least it's over.



I saw that this episode was on TV the other day so I decided to give it a shot. I remember a lot of people hating it when it first aired because the characterization was off, especially from the kids. I didn't think much of the episode either, but it had been a long time since I had watched it. Maybe things would be different this time?



And they were. They definitely were, because this episode is much worse than I remember it being.



The plot here is that Jessie takes the kids with her to her father's military base in Texas for the weekend. Jessie sees it as an opportunity to make peace with the old man after she ran off to New York to pursue an acting career. While in Texas, she finds out that her father is not only getting married again, but he is marrying his commanding officer, who just so happens to be the mother of Darla Shannon, Jessie's greatest enemy. Meanwhile, Emma finds love when she falls for Darla's brother Caleb, and Bertram has his own plot that's not worth getting into because the episode would pretty much be the same without it.



One of the biggest problems in this episode is the behavior of the kids. They're complete brats for 44 minutes, and they don't let up at all until Jessie gives them a speech about how awful they all are. Then they go back to being brats, and save the day in spite of all the trouble they caused, while also potentially making it worse which I'll get to soon. I can't remember how the kids acted consistently from episode to episode, but their characters here are insufferable beyond compare. All they do is complain about things, destroy whatever they see, and run off at the mouth when someone should have smacked them for having loose tongues. And they do all of these things unsupervised. For 44 minutes, nobody is watching these children, which gives them free rein to act like they have no common sense or ability to restrain themselves. But that's the thing. I feel like they would normally behave like actual human beings, but they don't.


I get what the show is trying to do here. Jessie needs to have her breaking point and dress these kids down like never before, so in order for the story to work, Luke, Zuri, and Ravi have to be irredeemable pieces of shit. But that just makes things worse because of how far they go to accomplish this goal. We're not seeing an actual story here, the kids are just acting out, blatantly defying Jessie's authority multiple times, and making the experience worse for her for no apparent reason. And it's not like they don't know any better. They're told multiple times not to play stupid games, sometimes by Ravi himself, and they continue playing stupid games. So when Jessie gives them their stupid prize by quitting her job, I don't feel bad at all. They brought this on themselves.



I'm not done talking about these stupid kids just yet because the whole review could be about breaking down every terrible thing they do. But the other big problem in this episode is Jessie's father. I have no reason to identify with him or see things from his perspective because he has no likable qualities whatsoever. He still harbors resentment towards Jessie for leaving Texas, which is fair enough, and there's always this underlying feeling that this resentment is what is weighing down all of his conversations with her. But he does everything wrong. He invites Jessie to Texas without telling her the real reason he brought her there. He expects her to get along with Darla for no apparent reason, which is ridiculous because Darla is another piece of shit that has no intention of getting along with Jessie. And then he just announces that he's getting married to Darla's mother. What the hell is happening here?


This episode really wants me to feel sorry for a man that misled his daughter into thinking the Texas trip was so they could reconnect, tried forcing his daughter to get along with a woman she clearly didn't like and didn't like her back, and then just decided to drop this marriage bomb on her. He was going to wait for Jessie and Darla to get along before revealing the marriage, which was all supposed to be in one weekend. And the episode acts like Jessie is in the wrong for having resistance to this whole situation. Again, what the hell is happening here?



Under normal circumstances, Jessie would want nothing to do with her father, and take the kids back to New York before telling them that they can find a new nanny. But neither of those things happen because we're supposed to act like all of these characters are good people. Except for Darla, who we only hate because we're told to. To her credit, she is a terrible person, but she's not the only terrible person in the episode. In the end, Jessie's father says that he's sorry for springing everything up on her, and that's it. That's his only act of contrition in the episode. The kids are also remorseful, but that's only because they got faced with actually having to deal with the consequences of their actions. And it's all forgotten about within minutes. Jessie snaps at the kids for everything they did, quits her job, and minutes later, she's in the B.A.T. with the kids bonding over the snow cone machine inside it. At least they halfway try to bring Jessie closer to her father, but after everything the kids have done, there's no reason why Jessie should be their nanny again. It's just something that happens, and only because the kids were stupid enough to press buttons inside of an ATV they were never supposed to touch in the first place. Why do I hate almost everybody in this episode?



The last thing I want to elaborate on is the length of this episode. It was one hour, but it felt like six hours, because all I wanted was to review this episode as quickly as possible. A regular decent episode could help mask some of the show's flaws, but with 44 minutes, everything gets exposed quickly. The characters are almost all full of smart-aleck quips that don't really work, and none of them are that well-written to care about what happens to them either. It's just exhausting to see a bunch of kids act like spoiled sociopaths for an hour, and a man try to manipulate his only daughter into accepting his decisions because of his resentment over a past transgression. The pacing really doesn't work at all. Half the time, it feels like I'm watching the same scene. I guess I could give them credit for the scene with Jessie and Emma in the bunker, but that would have been great if the episode justified it.


Like I said, Jessie's father deliberately withheld information from his daughter and forced her to accept what was coming to her because he couldn't let the past go, so this was his attempt to manipulate the situation in his favor. And the episode plays it as if Jessie was being unnecessarily cruel to her father, her future stepmother, and her future stepsister for no apparent reason. Wait, I forgot, that's how this story usually works.



You know, Disney sitcoms seem to get a bum rap everywhere I look. A lot of people point them out as being especially bad. I find it weird because Nickelodeon sitcoms really haven't been that much better in the last five years or so, but Disney Channel's live-action shows carry a bad reputation like a terminal illness. Like, a Disney sitcom having poor quality is treated like a stereotype. Episodes like "G.I. Jessie" are proof to me that this stereotype exists for a reason. For 44 minutes, Jessie goes out of its way to give you the worst episode they could come up with. The characterization is awful, the overall writing is poor, the motivations are weak, the jokes are mediocre, the resolution is stapled together with bits of fax paper, and the feeling you get overall from watching this is shame. Shame that they thought this was good enough to air on television.



The interesting thing about "G.I. Jessie" is that it is an awful episode, but it's a different brand of awfulness. It's not the same kind of awfulness like those Nickelodeon one-hour holiday specials. You know those specials are going to be terrible going into them, and you feel like your soul is exiting your body as the minutes go by so when you're done watching, it's like you let your family down because you watched it. When I watched "G.I. Jessie," I didn't feel that way. I thought it was a bad episode, but I was thinking more of a C grade for it. It wasn't until I started writing this review and looking back at everything that I realized how terrible it was. It was the kind of awfulness that sneaks up on you, and when the clarity kicks in, you can't think about the episode the same way ever again.



Episode Grade: F
Episode MVP: Peyton List. If there was any bright spot here, it was Emma because she was the only character I could tolerate, and she was also the one that helped Jessie understand things from her father's point of view. Now I know the whole reason Bunk'd existed in the first place. 



EXTRA THOUGHTS 
-Seriously, if Ray sees this, I would like him to share some thoughts on it. Especially since he believes Jessie fell off a cliff in the last two seasons. But this was the 27th episode of season two, so.....maybe this was a harbinger of things to come? I usually cite Ravi going through puberty as the time to stop watching.



-"HEY JESSIE!" I forgot the way this theme song used to climb inside your ears and stay there. It was like catchy garbage.



-Initially, Jessie was supposed to go to Texas by herself and Bertram was supposed to watch the kids. Honestly, since this episode is a personal story about Jessie and her father, it would have been way better to do it like this. Instead, Jessie decides to take the whole family with her after the kids destroy the roof and an entire water tower with a rocket. That's literally the first thing they do in this episode. Actually, this entire scene serves as a microcosm for the whole 44 minutes: The kids do something awful, and their response is to act like they didn't do anything wrong, or be proud of what they did, or find a fall guy (usually Ravi).



-Emma and Caleb's story makes no sense. Jessie and Darla bring up this longstanding feud between their families, with decades of history. Under these circumstances, Jessie's father and Darla's mother shouldn't want anything to do with each other romantically. If anything, that should have played a part in Jessie not wanting her father to get remarried. Instead, this "feuding families" plot is pushed on someone that's not a part of either family (Emma), so there's no reason to care about this. And the whole thing is null and void because Jessie's father is marrying Darla's mother so........go to hell for paying attention, I guess?



-Alright, let's go over the kids' activities: They commit property damage four times (destroying the roof/water tower, knocking down a 70-year-old statue, creating a hole in the wall at the rehearsal dinner using the B.A.T., and causing the munitions bunker to self-destruct), attack Darla with experimental weaponry unprovoked, and inadvertently set off the bunker's self-destruct button after firing a missile at it, with Jessie, Emma, and Caleb locked inside. Had they not used the grappling hook to get the door unlocked, they would have been responsible for the deaths of three people, and the bunker ends up destroyed anyway because they forgot to turn off the self-destruct button. So, on top of three people almost being killed, the bunker is destroyed anyway, resulting in what I have to assume is years worth of military equipment blown up. What's Jessie's response to realizing this? Blame Ravi.



-The kicker is that Emma was the one who locked herself, Jessie, and Caleb inside the bunker because she didn't know what else to do. The most tolerable character in this episode and she couldn't even get off scot-free.



-Seriously, I can't get over how terrible the kids are in this episode. Their behavior is disgusting in a way that I haven't seen in a long time from TV characters. And I know they're still children, but again, they knew what they were doing the whole time and didn't care about the consequences until they went way too far. And it's not like they were really sorry for what they did. They just didn't want to lose Jessie. Luke and Zuri even blame Ravi for not keeping them from doing the things they did. At the end of all this, how am I supposed to root for them? They make Jessie's life a living hell and they love it. I don't know how Ray was able to stick around after this episode.



-The only reason I don't hate Jessie's father as much as I should is because the kids were far, far worse. But after everything he did, I really don't think Jessie should have tried to meet her father halfway. It was clear he didn't respect her, while also expecting her to have eyes in the back of her head and watch the kids at every turn. He literally blames Jessie for the kids finding the B.A.T. and committing property damage. You know, even though Jessie had a role in the rehearsal brunch and probably didn't even see them leave. And they were sitting there unsupervised because apparently, nobody else was capable of watching them. And they had easy access to a military vehicle that should have been locked away. And they were told already to stay away from the B.A.T. so they intentionally went against basic instructions.



-Zuri has such a weird line in this episode that I really don't understand. I'm just pointing it out because this was an actual line that Skai Jackson had to read off the script, memorize, and then repeat on camera during filming. So, when Jessie and the kids go to save Emma, they find out that the B.A.T. can fly and they go to the munitions bunker. When Ravi questions if they are in heaven, Zuri sarcastically quips, "Am I playing washboard for the late, great country legend Tammy Wynette? Then no."



-That line was said by Zuri, a girl that shouldn't know anything about country music or who Tammy Wynette is. I didn't even know who Tammy Wynette was until I looked her up. Besides that, it's just a really unnatural response to someone questioning the danger they are currently in, and they give this weird line to someone who wouldn't know anything about Tammy Wynette for the sake of a joke. It's one of those lines that only sitcom characters say because nobody talks like that in real life.



-The weird thing about this episode is that Jessie's father insists that Jessie get along with Darla. But how come nobody says anything to Darla? She antagonizes and talks down to Jessie for the entire episode and nothing happens. It's not like she's putting on a facade, like she's overly sweet to the adults and mean to Jessie behind their backs. She's openly disrespectful and catty towards Jessie regardless of who else is nearby, so why does she never get talked to? Why is Jessie supposed to put up with this? Why is everything in this episode making me want to stop reviewing?
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