Season 1 Episode 2

Karma Chameleon

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Mar 19, 2004 on FOX
out of 10
User Rating
164 votes

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TV.com Episode Review


    Wonderfalls Episodes 3-4: Stalk it Out / Nun of Your Business

    Jaye helps out a sister and gets a taste of the sincerest form of flattery in Episodes 3 and 4.

  • Episode Summary

    Karma Chameleon
    While working another shift, Jaye is approached by a young girl who, after an introduction, tells her that she stole her wallet. As she gives it back to her, Jaye notices that she has a stuttering problem and a stuffed chameleon tells her to "get her words out". This eventually leads to the girl - nicknamed Binky- getting a job at Wonderfalls, with Jaye as her mentor. Unfortunately, Binky starts to take the mentor idea too seriously and seemingly takes Jaye's identity: Her job, her friends, her family, her looks, and her personality. With the animals still telling her to "get her words out", Jaye decides to take matters into her own hands.moreless

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    • A pressure-free stress-free expectation-less zone.

      Ah the Tylers. Darren, Karen, Sharon, Aaron and, erm, Jaye. A doctor, a writer, a lawyer, a PhD student and, erm, a shop clerk, where the only skills needed are an ability to count backwards and make Gap corners. But, as Jaye asks: Should I be ashamed?

      Once upon a time, I worked in a small private consultancy and one Friday before a Bank Holiday, people were discussing where they were going for the long weekend. One girl was off to Paris, another to a women’s’ holistic retreat. I was going to Mablethorpe, on the Lincolnshire coast. The scene was not unlike the one in which the family leave the restaurant, Darren to the hospital to perform a live-saving operation, Karen to prepare for her book launch, Sharon to the gym and Aaron to work on his dissertation. Jaye reckon she’ll just hang out and get drunk. This plan is in reaction to discovering she only has 5 words in the blurb in her mother’s new book, namely: “Jaye, a daughter, is 24”.

      Shortly after this, we are introduced to the hero/villain of the piece, Bianca (Binky), a peculiar stalker-cum-journalist, who gives Jaye her last 8 dollars after stealing her wallet (Jaye gives 5 back). She integrates into Jaye’s life surprisingly well, making a great retail clerk (“like you’ve been at it your whole life, but managed not to have your soul crushed”), gets on well with Eric, the cute bar-tender, impresses Jaye’s family and even manages to win over Mahandra, Jaye’s as equally unambitious and cynical friend. Soon, she is picking up all of the slacker lifestyle: being rude to the customers, shooting the supervisor with a rubber dart, adopting the ‘tude and style of, to her, the ultimate idler, Jaye which leads to a showdown of “whatevers” and each trying to out-slack each other.

      Of course, it transpires that Bianca is not just a lonely girl with a stutter trying to take over Jaye’s life, but an investigative writer doing a piece on disaffected 20-Somethings/Gen Y Losers/Winners Who Haven’t Won Yet. The stuffed animals’ insistence that Jaye “get her words out” is not only about Bianca’s stutter but her magazine article:- Binky is in writers’ block purgatory and slipping further into slacker-apathy.

      To help her, Jaye further extrapolates on her life, which leads to her re-evaluating it. Instead of 5 words, she now has 5000 to explain herself. Instead of just prefer her time with her relatives “in short controlled bursts”, she finds that she wants to be part of her “well-meaning but over-bearing” family. Binky’s assertion that Darren, Karen, Sharon and Aaron are the sort of family she wants to have one day makes Jaye see them as something other than people put on earth to hassle her – they are “a calm pool where a father’s wisdom, a mother’s compassion, a brother’s protection and a sister, 35, all combine to show [Jaye] she is not alone”. (But she still doesn’t go to family games night). Instead of being someone who has deliberately fallen through the cracks, using “Ivy-League Irony” and “refusing to make eye contact with children or the elderly”, she has created a pressure-free stress-free expectation-less zone where everything she does is for one single purpose – to avoid engaging with the world around her. Her slouch and sneer repel others effectively, leaving her happily “inward and uninvolved”. OK, it doesn’t sound so great. But it’s *Jaye*’s life, her very own construction and to have someone try to nick it is appalling to her.

      Even her crap job becomes appealing when she is sacked after Binky accidentally on purpose leaves notes about Jaye and her dislike of the the shop lying around. And as will become apparent as the series goes on, when the chips are down, Jaye will come up trumps. She writes the 5000 word article, proving that if she wanted to be a Someone, she could be, she *just don’t want to*. She instead retires to her trailer, the perfect metaphor for her life – designed to go someplace, but never filling its potential but never breaking down either.

    Tim Minear

    Tim Minear

    voice of Karma Chameleon [uncredited]

    Guest Star

    Kathryn Haggis

    Kathryn Haggis

    Annoyed Customer

    Guest Star

    Sarah Drew

    Sarah Drew


    Guest Star

    Neil Grayston

    Neil Grayston


    Recurring Role

    Scotch Ellis Loring

    Scotch Ellis Loring

    Muse Voice

    Recurring Role

    Jeffrey R. Smith

    Jeffrey R. Smith

    Muse Voice

    Recurring Role

    Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


    • TRIVIA (11)

      • Bianca says she stole Jaye's wallet from her pocket the night before. However, the night before, Jaye was wearing a skirt with no pockets.

      • Notice nobody from the family leaves money for their meals before leaving?

      • In the teaser at the table, Aaron puts down the book, then it cuts to him with the book in his hands without picking it up, and then is cut to him eating from his plate.

      • More bafflying math: During the book blurb discussion, Jaye says that Aaron got 26 words and Sharon got 19. Sharon says she counted 22 words for herself. If Jaye's count is right, the total word count for Aaron and Sharon is 45. If Sharon is right, their total word count is 48. However, when Jaye pouts to the Eric the bartender and Mahandra, she says her siblings got 51 combined.

      • OK, one last addictiion to the trailer park thing: Aarons five words are "and lives in a trailer-park". With a little hyphen. That makes makes ,Trailer-park' one word.

      • Response: Actually, you could have it grammatically correct by saying "Jaye, a daughter, is 24, living in a trailer park." I think that is what he meant, because the word "and" signifies here is what you would add.

      • Nope, Aaron says, "and living in a trailer park." Otherwise the sentence would be lousy grammar - "Jaye, a daughter, is twenty-four living in a trailer park." He's supposed to be a smart one.

      • On pizza night, the very first shot we see coming back from the commercials, Sharon and Aaron are about 1 good meter away from each other. Then for the close-up shots, they're suddenly about 30cm away.

      • The Wax Lion looks to be a different colour.

      • When Sharon gets into her car, it's a silver late-model Lexus RX300, but in the last episode, after she comes to get Jaye after the fight with the Texan woman at the motel, her car is a Range Rover. In the series' DVD audio commentaries, it is revealed that this is because they did not have enough money to continue using the Range Rover.

      • Actually, it's Jaye who seems to be mathematically illiterate. Several times, she complains that one of the words in her blurb is a digit. "24" is a number with two digits. This is equivalent to confusing a word with a letter.

    • QUOTES (23)

    • NOTES (8)

      • Music from this episode:

        New Day - Sounds from the Ground
        Extraordinary - Liz Phair
        Just a Ride - Jem

      • Jaye's next victim (although not a near-death): Alec, The Mouth-Breather, hit in the eye with a foam dart.

      • Jaye's computer in this episode is an Apple iBook (Tangerine model).

      • Immediately after Bianca & Jaye first go to the bar, an exterior shot is shown of the Wonderfalls store. It looks more like Toronto than Niagara Falls because of the wind turbine that is seen for a split second before the camera pans down. The wind turbine is a landmark not at Niagara Falls but at Toronto's Exhibition Centre - where the store's exterior is filmed.

      • Jaye talks with a mounted fish on the bar wall, a stuffed iguana, and a barrel bear.

      • Jaye's birthdate, according to her license: January 22nd, 1980.

      • Actress, Sarah Drew who guest starred as Bianca in this episode is best known for providing the voice of Stacy Rowe on the MTV series, "Daria." She is also the second cousin of actor, Benjamin McKenzie who plays Ryan Atwood on "The O.C."

      • Although this was one of the last episodes produced, executive producer Tim Minear says it was written to go second. "This was the luxury of not being up against air dates. I was able to look at what we had, and with an understanding that only comes with making ten episodes (and actually testing two of them - a story I will relate after we air episode two), I was allowed to create TWO of the later episodes to go earlier."

    • ALLUSIONS (3)

      • Jaye: "You're like that girl in that movie who liked the life of the other girl so much that she killed for it!" "Grease?" "Single White Female!"
        Single White Female was a famous 1992 film starring Bridget Fonda and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Leigh was obsessed with Fonda's life, and tried to steal everything, including her husband. The film inspired plots for many other movies and TV episodes (see also the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode "Faith, Hope, and Trick" for another Single White Female reference).

      • Bianca: "Grease?"
        Grease was a famous 1978 adaptation of a stage musical starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton John. I was made on a low budget, but became one of the highest grossing films ever made. Together with "Welcome Back, Kotter!" and "Saturday Night Fever", it made John Travolta a superstar.

      • Jaye: Stitching a skin suit out of my corpse...

        This is a reference to Ed Gein the American murderer and grave robber. He skinned and multilated human corpses fashioning items such as lampshades made from human skin, soup bowls made from human skulls and a mask made from the skin of a human face. He was the inspiration for the fictional serial killer Leatherface in the 1974 film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, as well as Norman Bates from Psycho, and Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.