Listen: I refuse to even entertain the notion that Jeremiah and Kortni would make a good couple. I don’t care that people have caught them sharing long and seemingly profound glances. I don’t care that Jeremiah has the power to sort of neutralize her crazy, like he’s a vet who just shot a rabid animal with a tranquilizer dart. I don’t care that it would probably be good for Kortni to date someone normal – especially a man who could conceivably act as a bodyguard and protect her from a lunatic she actually needs to be protected from – and I really don’t care that it might prove interesting to watch Jeremiah shake up his life by cuddling with a woman born with limited bladder control. I don’t even care that Jeremiah clearly has a bit of a savior complex (you didn’t think those Clark Kent glasses were just a fashion statement, did you?) and that Kortni would be his toughest assignment yet. These two together as anything other than friends is pure idiocy, but I suppose contemplating the will-they-or-won’t-they is at least more interesting than wondering if Codi will ever actually bang Candace (he won’t) or if Kirk will puke all over the floor of another dining establishment (he will) – and it’s definitely more comforting than wondering if Kortni is pregnant with Lucifer’s child.
Since we blessedly found out last week that Kortni is not knocked up, the group has decided to throw her a congratulations-for-not-ruining-your-entire-life-and-the-life-of-an-innocent-baby party. There are blue and pink balloons and they’re setting everything up on the beach, including a cooler filled with the single most frightening beverage my terrified corneas have ever borne witness to. This Kool-Aid concoction is a Butts family recipe – yup, Codi’s last name is Butts – and the drink itself looks like runny hemoglobin. I’m all for family traditions, but in my family, we bring shit like spinach and artichoke dip or a nice Merlot to parties. I’m quite sure that nobody anywhere near my line of ancestry would ever be welcomed at this particular beach party. Someone who is not mixing the dime-store cherry-flavored moonshine is Candace. She’s at the house and on the phone with her mother and she actually says the sentence, “GatorJay231 declared himself my official man.” Can we just stop for a moment and imagine what it must be like to have your child say those words to you? To have your beloved offspring tell you that an idiot with a made up name has declared himself to be anything in her life? Ugh. But Candace’s mom is wise, see, and she lets her daughter know in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t see any sort of need to give anyone named “Gator” any sort of chance and I would hereby like to take this opportunity to cordially invite Candace’s mom to my very next family gathering. I hope she enjoys spinach and artichoke dip.
Also: Stuck working a shift at Shore Dogs with Aimee and Kortni – both inexplicably wearing terrible wigs, both inexplicably lazy as fuck – Gus ends up doing all the work. He also ends up exhibiting excellent restraint by not decapitating either one of them. Gus has turned out to be a good guy and I find myself rooting for him and for his hair. I hope they both find true happiness.
Also: Kortni believes if she’s not pregnant by twenty-five, something must really be wrong with her. Being that she’s already in her early twenties and she just announced she spends every single day hammered almost beyond comprehension, I’d recommend that she reevaluate her personal timeframe and settle on a new one that makes sense and won’t lead to C.P.S. visiting her home biweekly.
Once Kortni is finished not working, she arrives back home and Gus leads her out to the beach so she can attend the party thrown in her honor. She brings her best friend from home away from the group for a moment to let her know that she’s single now and she’s maybe becoming smitten with Jeremiah. Libby very kindly doesn’t laugh in her face or blurt out, “That’s a horrible fucking idea!” and I suppose such a thing means Libby is either a really kind friend or a truly shitty friend. And speaking of hideously shitty, Candace calls her moron of a boyfriend and tells him her mom doesn’t exactly approve of their relationship. “What she don’t approve of?” GatorJay231SouthsideGawd wonders aloud, and I think his response alone and the fact that it requires subtitles perfectly encapsulates why Candace’s mother isn’t dancing a fucking jig of joy that this felon is courting her child. “What do you do when nobody approves of the person you fall for?” Candace asks during a confessional, and I think the answer to this question should be that it’s not often that everyone except you is wrong. If everyone feels this way, perhaps all of these people are on to something you’re missing. Now, we met Gator. We all saw the way he yanked a telephone out of his girlfriend’s hand. We therefore know that every person who is cautioning Candace from committing to this dude has a point and I hope Candace sees those points (and then factors in the other shit he has said to her, like how she doesn’t need to have any friends except for him) and chooses only to run far away from the swamp her mother is certain this particular Gator crawled out of, probably during a lunar eclipse. Candace does tell Kortni that she doesn’t see her spending her life with this guy, so I believe she will eventually be okay. Still, there seems to be no time like the present to cut this possessive shithead loose.
Before the group gets ready to head out for another night at the bar, one of Kirk’s visiting friends decides Gus is all sorts of dreamy. Because he’s learned so much from the romance novels his face appears on the covers of, he begins feeling her up on the sofa in front of everyone, an act Nilsa doesn’t particularly appreciate. At the bar, the sucking of Flora’s face continues, so Nilsa begins searching for anyone with a decent face and a penis. There’s no time for her to locate a temporary testosterone fix; after only thirty minutes, the group heads home because they’re exhausted and bombed already from all their day drinking. One of Kortni’s friends pees in the shower because the toilet is being used, Kirk can hardly walk, and Kortni passes out on the couch until Jeremiah – once again rocking his pineapple shirt and that savior complex he wears as an accessory – carries her upstairs to bed. Jeremiah? If you actually end up with Kortni, hauling her up flights of stairs will be your future. Choose wisely, kid.
Also: Nilsa decides Gus must only be hooking up with Flora to make her jealous.
Also: Codi tells Nilsa she’s wrong.
We learn the next morning that Gus did not end up sleeping with Flora. “She was too drunk,” he tells Jeremiah. “I didn’t feel right.” I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Gus is a decent guy.
It’s a new day and it’s time for Candace to call GatorJay so she can collect even more reasons as to why this man will suck her future dry. She explains to him that she didn’t care for the way he told her she shouldn’t have any friends and he responds that it’s the WAY she has friends that is the “dang issue.” See, GatorJay’s Rule For Friendship With A Man means the guy can only telephone Candace before ten at night. Any later and the phone will be ripped from his horrified girlfriend’s fingers. When she expresses concern about such possessiveness, he (shockingly) is not able to communicate effectively – not even through subtitles! – and their call ends. Candace heads outside and becomes vulnerable with her roommates for the first time. It’s sad that it took a relationship with a man that her mother correctly deems “ridiculous” to cause her to finally be open with others, but it’s nice that they’re all there for her as she explains that she has no idea what she’s doing in this relationship and that she’s tired of not knowing what she’s doing in general. “Let it out, girl,” they tell her. They also tell her that they love her, and you know what? I believe them. Yes, the construct of their living situation (alcohol + cameras + fleeting fame = collective mass psychosis) is nothing short of unnatural and incredibly unhealthy, but these are not terrible people. It’s nice to see them rally behind a person who needs some support.
Once it’s nighttime, the group gets ready to go out. When Kortni comes down the stairs, Kirk basically announces that she and Jeremiah should just fuck. “That’s my sister right there,” Jeremiah protests, though he’s quickly told that, well, they are in the south. Now, I’m not sure which image is more disturbing: that of siblings fucking or the tiny cutoff cropped “shirt” Jeremiah chose to buy and then actually wore outside of the home. Could that shirt have been a dare? Has a particularly angry salesperson declared vengeance on him? If so, that vengeance has been achieved tenfold. When they arrive at the bar, Gus runs into Flora. He was looking for a Flora-free evening, but once he’s drunk enough, he invites her back to the house. But if anyone believed that coming home relatively early would equal a drama-free night, they haven’t been watching this show carefully. Back home, everyone continues to tease Kortni about how she should just go ahead and sleep with Jeremiah and Candace mentions that they should use a condom. She also says that – as far as baby daddies go – Jeremiah would make a good one (he’s got a savings account!) and Kortni pushes Gus out of her way and heads upstairs. She’s upset because she had a miscarriage last summer and she isn’t sure she can have children and she’s annoyed that everyone mentions the pregnancy scare she just experienced (the one she told everyone about) and somehow her sadness devolves into her slurring words like, “If they fuck with me, I will murder every fucking one of them.” I have no idea where these threats of murder came from, but Nilsa dries Kortni’s tears as Aimee walks in. Both Nilsa and Aimee have suffered miscarriages; they can empathize with Kortni and her fears. But then Codi walks in and Aimee tells him that they’re having a very serious girl talk and Codi – because he’s kind of a walking fool – decides to get angry that he was dismissed instead of reading the room and just leaving these women alone.
Kortni eventually heads outside racked with sobs and Jeremiah leads her away and comforts her. She’s very honest with him and explains the horror of her miscarriage and that she maybe wanted to end up pregnant this last time even though nobody would think of the situation that way. Jeremiah could not handle this situation any better than he does. He listens, he affirms her feelings, he tells her he loves her, and he cries a few tears of his own. I’m serious when I say that I do not think these two should get together romantically because I think the crazy Kortni will bring to a typical Tuesday will drive Jeremiah clinically fucking bonkers in three weeks flat, but I do think they make wonderful friends.
It’s dreary and grey the next morning when the phone rings. Jeremiah’s brother is calling with the sad news that their grandfather has died. The first person to walk into the room and see Jeremiah after the phone call is Codi and when he hears what happened, he wraps his arms around his friend (and his sometimes enemy) and tells him how very sorry he is for his loss. The rest of the guys filter in and do their best to comfort Jeremiah before he wanders outside for a bit of solitude. Kortni then hears what happened from Kirk and the episode ends with her hugging Jeremiah in the very same spot that he comforted her just last night.
Also: As I believe in the value of honesty just as strongly as I believe that GatorJay needs to be sent packing to a swamp in another hemisphere, I will admit that I teared up four times during this episode. Four times! Several of these people are without a doubt nuts, but I wish them all peace.
Nell Kalter teaches Film and Media at a school in New York. She is the author of the books THAT YEAR and STUDENT, both available on amazon.com in paperback and for your Kindle. Her Twitter is @nell_kalter