Season 1 Episode 2

Karma Chameleon

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Mar 19, 2004 on FOX

Episode Fan Reviews (1)

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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.