the best friends you’ll never have

There are several character-memes in the BSC fandom, and one of them is “Stacey is a ho.” I.e., you will find Stacey underneath the bleachers sucking off the basketball team LOL. I have always found these meme to be unfair and distasteful. Yes, as we saw in Stacey and the Boyfriend Trap, Stacey sure has had a lot of boyfriends for an eighth grader. But to be fair, Stace was in eighth grade for a very long time. (Oooh, another fandom meme!) Really, is it so hard to believe that someone who is smart, attractive, and pretty damn nice would be attractive to the opposite sex? And wouldn’t have a hard time finding a boyfriend (or seven)?

SOmeone on the BSC boards, however, pointed out that they didn’t really like the message that it sent that Stacey moved right on from one serious relationship (Robert Brewster) to another (Ethan Carroll). This criticism kind of threw me for a loop, because I’ve done the same thing. I am what a women’s magazine would call a serial monogamist. I don’t have one night stands. I date people for about two years, and enter into a relationship state known as being Brooklyn-married. The longest time since I’ve been seriously dating that I’ve gone without some sort of romantic attachment: two weeks. Shortest: twelve hours. So as you can see, for me Stacey’s serial monogamy that occurs later in the series doesn’t strike me as odd at all, and I never even thought to fret about the messages that Stacey’s boy-attachment sends to young, impressionable readers.

Then, like in Beavis and Butt-head when their very small and ineffectual brains begin working, a dim, small lightbulb appeared above my head. Out of all the BSC members, Stacey is the one whose family situation most resembles my own. My dad has always worked a lot, my parents got divorced, and he found his own Samantha Young while my mother is still single. I can say, easily, that things that are easy for my friends with parents in loving stable relationships (getting over things, breaking up with someone), are very difficult or near impossible for me. I then began to think about some of the other members of the BSC, and their attitudes toward men and relationship.

Mary Anne, Jessi, and Claudia are probably the healthiest. Jessi’s parents seem to have a really great relationship, and Squirt is still a toddler so you know their marriage is still Hot. Jessi is usually pretty level-headed, and she tells Quint where to go when he wants to take their relationship further and more serious than she is comfortable with at age eleven.

As far as Mary Anne goes, well, my hatred for Logan is still strong. Despite her meekness, Mary Anne is able to stand up for herself and dump the dead weight and bossiness to rival Kristy Thomas that is Logan Bruno. Yeah, she takes him back a few books later, after he promises to smother her less, but she finally realizes that Logan is not the guy for her in Mary Anne’s Big Breakup. She knows that she needs to be her own person, and having Logan Bruno around will hinder that. It is easy to criticize Richard Spier for being nerdy and over-protective, but I think that Richard, especially later Richard, is one of the BSC parents who is actually the most tuned-in and active in their kid’s life. It was Richard’s help, after all, that Mary Anne recognized that she needed to dump Logan–for good this time. Even her friends in the BSC blew her off, but Richard recognized that the relationship wasn’t really working for Mary Anne anymore.

Claudia is someone who should be on the same boy-attractiveness plain as Stacey, but she doesn’t even have a boyfriend who’s not a Vacation Boyfriend until Mark Jaffe. Janine dumps her Hottie Boyfriend Jerry and have her pine after her for the rest of the series. Go Janine! The Kishis, like the Ramseys, have a really strong marriage.

On the divorce side, we also have Kristy and Dawn. While many pin Kristy as a lesbian, I don’t think that not caring about clothes and a love for sports automatically defines someone as a lesbian. Kristy manages to keep Bart as her sort-of boyfriend until Kristy + Bart = ?. Bart gets fresh (Peter Lerangis’s memorable makeout scene!), Kristy freaks out. Kristy realizes that she is not ready for that kind of action yet. Some people read this as Kristy will NEVER be ready for this kind of action if a penis is attached, but I think that might not be necessarily true. I think it has far more to do with the fact that her father abandoned her. Kristy: probably should go to therapy now that she has a millionaire stepdad who can afford it.

Finally, we have Dawn. Dawn is one of the more contradictory characters in the BSC, and perhaps in children’s literature as a whole. We are told over and over that Dawn is such an individual, but yet she often changes her California Casual self to satisfy what she perceives as what other people would like. The two most glaring examples of this involve boys: Travis and Lewis. Dawn did everything Travis told her, because she thought that Travis liked her and if she cut her hair and pierced her ears again that he would like her even more. And then she made that kind of psychotic-sounding phone call–”I was already a beauty!” And for Lewis, Dawn did that weird makeover/personality transplant, and then immediately went back to Old Dawn when he revealed that he liked Old Dawn more. Insecurity stemming from the fact that her parents, who for most of her life seemed to be happy and loving, very suddenly got divorced and her family was ripped in half? It’s the only explanation I can come up with that makes sense.

I am sure that there are people with divorced parents who are OK with relationships, and people with happily-married parents who are messed up about them, for various life factors. But it sure does seem to be an explanation for a lot of what goes in BSC lovelife land.

8 Responses To This Post

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nikki said, December 1st, 2008 at 9:18 am

Poor Mallory. Not even a mention here. Which kind of proves my theory that after Mallory and the Trouble with Twins, she pretty much became a non-entity in these books.

greer said, December 1st, 2008 at 4:19 pm

Mallory will be her own entry. The disappearance and subsequent “Ben becomes a client” is too weird for a brief mention in this blog post.

Jess said, December 1st, 2008 at 11:02 pm

In re: Stacey’s alleged ho-ishness: I think it’s also worth noting that “boyfriend” doesn’t mean much when you’re 13. How many of those Vacation Boyfriends did Stacey have more than a few days and one chaste kiss with?

It’s not exactly a parent thing, but it’s possible that Dawn has abandonment issues due in part to Jeff leaving. She’s lost her father and her brother; maybe she changes for boys because she she’s afraid they’ll leave unless she bends over backwards trying to please them, or because she’s afraid to let them see (and reject) the real her? Armchair therapy, I has it.

wanderingfrog said, December 2nd, 2008 at 7:29 pm

I very much agree that Stacey isn’t a ho. Yeah, she kissed a few guys while she went through eighth grade about ten times, what’s wrong with that?

I really like your analysis in the context of the BSC, although my parents have a stable relationship and I’m also a serial monogamist. Well, that wouldn’t always have been the best way to phrase it, since I used to cheat on people, too, but I don’t do that anymore. I like what Jess said about Dawn and Jeff, as well.

My shortest time between boyfriends was about thirty seconds — an ex and I had decided to get back together, but I was waiting until after my then-boyfriend’s birthday to dump him, because it seemed like the polite thing to do. But he broke up with me over the phone like two days before his birthday, and then I happily jumped up and down some and called the other guy.

Dominique said, April 22nd, 2009 at 9:07 am

Blast that Abby! Why should Dawn move back to California and be replaced by Abby?

charmecia said, January 14th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

it was because dawn missed california so much
if you read most of the books
you could see that dawn was homesick for her hometown
and that she misses it too much
(i would feel the same way)
and the reason why she was in stoneybrook
was because dawn’s mother was from stoneybrook
and that her grandparents
(sharon’s parents)
still live here
which explains why damn moved there
plus also
sunny’s mom was dying from lung cancer
and if you read dawn’s book
and most of califonia diaries
you could see that dawn was very close to sunny’s mother too
even visited her many times in the hospital
when she moved back to califonia

charmecia said, January 14th, 2010 at 7:52 pm

and dawn’s father has just remarried
to carol
(whom dawn cant stand at first
now now likes her)
and she wanted to get to know carol more
and as well as help sunny out more too
so that explains why dawn left califonia
and why she was replaced by abby

charmecia said, January 14th, 2010 at 7:54 pm

i like abby
abby is really nice
and fun to be around with
she share a lot of things in common with dawn and kristy
most likely kristy
since they both like to speak their minds
and both like to be in charge
and both sports fanactics
and you never see abby making snide comments about dawn
and same for dawn either
since they barely know each other
so why hate abby

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