I’ve always thought Jaye’s trailer to be fairly luxurious. OK, she’s only got one room, but she certainly seems to have the nicest silver caravan in the park. It’s definitely preferable to living in a bedsit or at her parents’ house. They have a maid and a washing machine and probably a garbage disposal unit thing, but day and night surveillance by one’s parents? No thanks. At 24, most people have stopped using their parents to do laundry, but I’m sure Jaye sees it as a way of keeping in touch. At least she’s not a full-time blagger like her brother Aaron, still living at home under the semi-sham of studying for a PhD in Comparative Religion. He is the family member most like Jaye in his part-slackerdom and laissez-faire attitude, yet still similar to the rest of the family with his deeply concerned and intrusive attitude. In this episode, he ends up in therapy in a misguided attempt to help Jaye. Aaron may mock Jaye for her trailerpark lifestyle but isn’t his ridicule caused by the fact that his life with its ‘meaningless meaning’ is so, erm, meaningless, and he therefore feels he should interfere with hers? Mahandra thinks Jaye stalks Fat Pat because he is a bigger freak than she is. Isn’t Aaron subconsciously doing the same thing? He tries to meddle with Jaye’s life because he needs to prove that he is better than she is. But he is doing as useless a degree as she (Jaye studied philosophy, he is an atheist theologian), but whereas Aaron is confused about the world, Jaye isn’t. She knows the grim unrealities of life – “Nobody knows anybody; not really” “Isn’t everybody really alone?” whilst Aaron is still discovering them, much to their older sister, Sharon’s glee. “Are you two not getting along?” she asks happily. Sharon’s ultra-competitive over-achiever stance at family games night contrasts nicely with Aaron’s childish niggling at Jaye – his competitive streak wants to make her the loser of the family, not just at games.
The therapist that Aaron sees is great. Very calm and understanding, but still unnerved by the theft of his brass monkey by Jaye. The details are a delight – the untouched jellybeans in his office, the mini snooker-for-one plastic game in Pat’s caravan, the amusing trailer trash ‘family’ (the transvestite in the decorated wheelchair, the bearded men accessorised with cans of beer) compared to Jaye’s successful family (“You have such a good heart. Just make sure you establish boundaries.” “I guarantee this will make the Christmas letter.”) and the lovely un-PC fat jokes (“I couldn’t find a mirror my size”, “A turnstile! Why would somebody do that to a person!?”)
The main plot is similar to the other outcasts/miscasts Jaye has helped: the weird nun, the stalker girl and (next episode) the precocious mail order bride order-er. Not-Fat Pat is not the most interesting of helpees, but Mariannemarie and her disability cheque problems make up for him: “It’s not been the same since the hysterectomy”. The fat story didn’t do much for me although I guess Pat’s insistence that he is fat, despite evidence to the contrary is similar to Jaye’s assertion that she is a self-centred person, despite her good deeds. I love the way that Jaye now just obeys the animals’ weirdest demands without question. “Untied shoelace: staple it”, orders barrelbear and off she goes with the staplegun, her task bringing her thanks, gratitude, an employee of the month certificate and a small piece in the local Native American newspaper. All of this is just anathema to Jaye: “Who are you talking to? I don’t help people!” “Now everyone’s going to think I’m a babsaver!”. The animals use this in her next helpful action: “Give the lady a chair,” commands the wall-pike and Jaye just takes the nearest one, little caring that someone is using it. Of course the AA person sat on the chair then finds rum in his spilt drink and thanks Jaye for saving his sobriety. She can’t win. She can’t do wrong for doing right. She is desperate to keep her self-image as a misanthropist, but when it really counts, she’s there - willing to make herself look daft when breaking into Pat’s trailer to make him feel better about himself. “I’m not a stalker and I really wasn’t making fun of you. And that’s really all I got”. And in the end, the fat-free muffins lady and the fat-free Pat get together to revitalise Mariannemarie’s baked goods business and as usual Jaye herself benefits from her kind deeds – no longer will Marianne be hassling her or Pat trying to bed her.
Finally, the sub-sub plot; Eric and Jaye’s upwardly mobile romance. Sweet Eric’s insistence that Jaye is a nice girl coupled with his hurt confused face when Pat is convinced that Jaye is in love with him was adorable. Oh, Eric with your skinny indie body and your lost razor! I admire you so. I'm just as bitchy and sarcastic as Jaye! I listen to animals even when they’re not talking! I’ve read Are you there God, it’s me Margaret! We are meant to be together.
Maybe this should be the end of the review.