TV Article

Deal With It

On ''Laguna Beach,'' Rocky and Tessa renegotiate their relationships with their former exes at prom; then Chase's band gets signed by a major label

LAGUNA MATATA Chase made getting a record deal look easy
LAGUNA MATATA Chase made getting a record deal look easy

''Laguna Beach'': Closing deals

Unfortunately, I'm feeling a bit pensive this rainy New York evening — and this thinking-prone mood does not mesh well with watching Laguna Beach. Yet here I am, doing it for you (and with a double dose of Laguna at that), but I'm afraid that means you'll have to suffer through some actual musings. Sorry.

See, the prom episode (followed by the record-contract-signing episode) got me thinking about scripts. We talk a lot about those here in Lagunaland, mostly because we think all this crap must be made up/staged/storyboarded frame by frame to look this good and plot out this well. But I was really pondering how high school kind of follows a script, even when it's not being shot by MTV crews — and that's why so many of these girls end up acting like total doormats or complete bitches. It's like you sign up for one camp or the other, and that's that. If you're a girl who thinks she must have a boyfriend to be complete, you end up, say, following some idiot around with your big brown puppy-dog eyes, hoping he'll hook up with you again. If you're a bitch, you just decide you're not giving any guy a chance (even when he asks you to prom using a movie marquee — come on, Lexie, for all Derek's faults, that was cute) or you're going to make out with boys and then pretend you don't care about them afterward.

Rocky, bless her, breaks the mold. Her repentant ex, Alex — who was calling her a slut not too long ago — was suddenly Mr. Sensitive Hugging Guy and wanted to meet at the beach to reunite. ''I want you back, plain and simple,'' he said, clearly expecting her to weep with gratitude. But thank goodness, she at least said, ''You don't just get me back.'' And then she later told her mom it was ''suspicious'' that he wanted to reconcile right before prom, to which his friend was taking her BFF, Tessa. And now we know where Rocky gets her wisdom: Her mom told her, ''There's a lot of risk when he's a boyfriend.'' And Rocky's response was startlingly insightful: ''But I like the risk.''

I was so flummoxed by this almost deep thought that I had to rewind the next scene twice to understand it. And I still didn't, really. All I could tell was that Tessa was stringing fake flowers onto a volleyball net with Alex — an exercise that later revealed itself to be part of his prom-asking ritual for Rocky, but that doesn't make it much better. Incidentally, this prom-proposal stuff — plus all the dance trappings, like limos and corsages (honestly, what are those about?) — just goes right back to the scripted-high-school-life thing. It's like your teen years are nothing but a string of elaborate rituals designed to make you think things are happening when they're really not. Oh, life is just empty and meaningless. Crap, did I actually type that? Sorry, I'll try to have my existential crises on my own time.

Here's a little something to snap me right out of that. Kyndra, on Cami's suggestion that she wear red lipstick to prom: ''I'll just look like a hooker.'' Cami: ''No, you'll look like a glamorous hooker.''

Oh, and here's one more. Rocky, upon seeing Tessa in her dress: ''Look at you. Vanna White in the making.'' Um, seriously, Vanna White? If these two exchanges don't tell you everything you need to know about the difference between Kyndra-Cami and Rocky-Tessa, I don't know what will.

Just stick with me now here while I download a bunch of completely random tidbits about prom, because it went by in a blur, and I wasn't even drinking, you know, any beverages in red plastic cups. Here goes: Tessa went with this Cory person who was evidently Alex's friend, looked like a Ken doll, and appears unlikely to ever pop up on this show again. Derek was wearing some sort of sash thing that may have been for prom king or a similar honor, or may have been a joke — I doubt we'll ever know. Chase clearly had a date, who never got even the briefest on-screen introduction (so as not to ruin the perceived romantic tension between him and Tessa?). The camera crews apparently had to hide in the bushes to catch some of the action from far away — and, as with previous school dances, they obviously weren't allowed inside. There was lots of Rocky-Alex drama — basically, she was making him pay for breaking her heart by demanding his undivided attention, a tried-and-true girl tactic. Also, I still don't understand why all of these people who don't like each other continue to hang out together.

Phew. Lots of totally irrelevant info there. Back to the sorta relevant (at least in Laguna) stuff. Lexie, quite unsurprisingly, bailed on Derek early to go to dance class the next day, thus teaching Derek the most important prom lesson ever: It will never, ever live up to your expectations. Another way prom is sorta like life: Sometimes, after the date you actually wanted ditches you, it's likely you'll find yourself with a second-best choice who's far more willing but just not the same. And so it is that Derek and Tessa ended up kissing and then disappearing into the basement.

In the second half hour, we learned another important lesson: If you want a record deal, it helps very much if your band appears prominently on a popular television show. Yes, the boys of Open Air Stereo went through the motions of playing at the Roxy, and it seemed to go fine, but let's be serious. Bands just as good are playing gigs all over the country for nothing but a free round of beers and the chance to be on stage in front of 12 people. These kids play a few okay songs, then get a magical phone call from Epic? Yeah, right, and some girl from Laguna Beach can get an internship at Teen Vogue with no magazine experience. I'm just saying, if you're stuck trying to get your career started, MTV reality shows are proven game changers.

Well, except if you're Tessa, who seems to have gotten nothing good out of this experience, and she's the freaking narrator. Case in point: The bitchy girls spent a good portion of their boat time bashing the poor thing again. ''I say once you've used a boy, you're done with him and you should just get over it,'' Breanna huffed, in reference to Tessa's claim on Derek. ''You know Tessa's going to be cleaning out our senior class,'' Cami snarked, in reference to...I don't even know what. Like Tessa's had any luck at holding any guy's attention?

Hardly. And here's why: We could literally see her eyes following Derek around the club from across the room. It just kills me that this girl is so pretty and this is how she wastes it. I suppose this is why all the girls bag on her so much — because they can see how adorable she is but girlfriend does not know how to use it. ''Is Tessa looking for someone to get together with?'' Alex asked Rocky. ''No,'' Rocky answered. ''Um, really?'' I responded from my living room.

I mean, seriously, Derek? This guy is, at minimum, not all that. Chase, on the other hand — at least I see the attraction there. I'd sign him to my record label, too, if you know what I mean. Clearly Tessa agrees with me. ''I don't trust guys anymore,'' she told Chase, while, you know, casually hanging out on his bed with him looking ridiculously cute. ''I trust one person.''

But if anyone wonders what's next for Tessa's love life, I'd say Rocky pretty much summed it up when she told Alex she was looking forward to the summer: ''It's gonna be fun — like, Tessa, you, and then me.'' Yep, that's pretty much it.

What do you think? How long will Rocky and Alex last? Why aren't Tessa and Chase together? How are the producers going to wrap it all up on the season finale? And have you already pre-ordered Open Air Stereo's debut album?

Originally posted Nov 09, 2006
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