On ''Laguna Beach,'' Alex M. invites Jason to the winter formal, where he gives his supposed girlfriend, Jess, the cold shoulder

By Timothy Gunatilaka
Updated August 20, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT
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”Laguna Beach”: A very cold winter formal

I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: I miss last year. And I think I’m not alone. Watching this season and its new cast is downright maddening. Once again, an episode was dominated by the ever devolving relationship of Jess and Jason. Perhaps it was too poetically apt that Jess wore those cutesy hipster glasses on the first episode, before we (as well as she) had any definitive proof that her affection for Jason is misplaced. All looked well enough. But in the subsequent weeks, although the glasses disappeared, it became increasingly and depressingly clear: Jess is just blind as a bat. Dump him! Please!

Remember last season? Remember Dieter? Remember when Dieter graced Jess with the most needlessly elaborate prom proposal, given that he was asking a question whose answer was completely certain? Well, the excess of that moment now seems less romantic. Evidently, Dieter had to go overboard to get the message across to Jess; the girl’s just obtuse. Does Jason have to start hooking up with Alex right in front of Jess before she’ll get a clue? I doubt even that would work.

Anyhoo, it was winter-formal time in Laguna, and everyone seemed to be playing it up for the cameras, devising elaborate dance invitations, which I like to call ”Doin’ the Dieter.” In her ever decreasing role on the show, Kristin’s primary contribution to tonight’s activity consisted of setting up a sign to invite her friend Ian. (Who?) Perhaps this was intended to contrast the hugely ornate proposal proffered by Alex M. to Jason (scavenger hunts, fishbowls, balloons, girls hiding in boxes, the requisite giant signs — the works). But how the hell does a girl get away with asking someone else’s boyfriend out to winter formal? And how the hell does he agree? An Alex M. fan, I am not. (Also, how long do you think the girls stayed in those boxes? Days? Alex M. did look a bit emaciated.) While Talan, naive Talan, told Taylor, ”I hope there’s no drama” (ha!), Alex informed Jason, ”I know that sucks you have to go with me and not your girlfriend. You can take pictures of Jessica and stuff.” Huh? ”Pictures of”? Did you mean ”pictures with,” Alex? Unless Alex hoped to include Jess in the activities (hmmm, interesting twist), this did not bode well for Jess.

And continuing with the Dieter-throwback theme, don’t forget the uncomfortable salon sequence, which reminded me of one of last season’s more entertaining moments, when Christina and Morgan ran into Lo and LC at the salon after the former pair had excluded the latter from Christina’s birthday. In tonight’s edition of awkwardness, Jess asked Kristin, ”Where’s my stupid boyfriend?” in a Napoleon Dynamite depressed drawl before going on a frantic rant about the sorrows of dating Jason. (Perhaps this was foreshadowing, since Jess’s eventual date, Jake, kinda looked like the actual Napoleon Dynamite, no?) Jess’ misery metastasized as Alex M. and Co. walked into the salon (while annoyingly intoning ”Hollaback Girl”) and talked about going out with Jason in front of Jess. The tension was priceless, though undeniably sad.

Kristin once more reminded her friend that Jason was obviously straying. God, I hate having to side with Kristin, but what does she have to do to communicate the truth to Jess. Arrghh! And later, just when I thought I couldn’t get more frustrated, Jess told Jason: ”I’m not getting mad at you? Why would I get mad?” Why would you get mad? Baby, you have every reason to get mad! I’m sorry, folks, for I cannot convey in writing the ire I felt when seeing this scene. My neighbors heard it in the form of screamed four-letter words streaming from across the hall. Arrrghh!

But perhaps I focus on Jess too much. What does Jason get out of this relationship? After the scene where he passed out in the limo before being rudely awakened by a nagging Jess, I cannot understand his motivation for staying at all. He obviously likes Alex M. more than Jess and has grown completely bored, if not irritated, with Jess’ droning: ”Are you sleeping at my house? Are you sleeping at my house or not? What’s the situation? What’s the situation?” (At least, the girl has moved beyond ”Swear on our relationship.”) Part of me wanted to transcribe and dissect the entire ”You’re annoying”/”Why am I annoying?” conversation, but it’s all too tiring. The half laugh I used to be able to sustain through a half hour of Laguna Beach has turned to a full wince. Jess, we’re all embarrassed for you. But to be fair, my embarrassment is somewhat founded in empathy. We’ve all been there for such stupid, stupid moments. (At least, I think we all have, right? Or have I just revealed too much about my own romantic woes there?) Regardless, it’s been two weeks without LC and Stephen (three without Lo). End the madness. I can’t take it. Arrrghh!

What do you think? Will the Jess-Jason relationship ever end? Why didn’t Kristin make a play for Talan, especially when she had a fighting chance against Taylor? And why did someone bring an infant to the formal?

Laguna Beach

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