Here’s what’s going on: a soap opera called The Young and the Beautiful (gee … doesn’t sound familiar or anything) is looking to hire a pair of identical, “California girl” twins for a special week-long storyline on the show. This immediately sets up a typical “Jessica vs. Elizabeth” storyline: Jessica freaks out and immediately begins scheming her way to the top while Liz takes this opportunity to look down her nose at her sister and proclaim to anyone who will listen how utterly shallow soap operas are and how much better than that she is. She is INSUFFERABLE for the rest of the book. Shut the fuck up already, Liz. Can you ever get your panties out of a wad long enough to relax and enjoy life? Just curious. Must be tough running your own personal Judge Judy show in your head all the time.
Ned and Alice have, believe it or not, given the twins permission to audition for the show despite all the school they will miss. But Liz just refuses to do it because she is against the shallow storylines … because her own SVH storylines are so much more deep, right? Jess gets upset because she can’t audition for the show without Liz but Liz is too busy talking about how she won’t stoop to that level, not even after Todd reminds her how they wouldn’t be back together if Jessica hadn’t exposed Kris Lynch in the last book.
Lila Fowler is bored, so she helps Jessica figure out a way to get Liz to agree to audition for the show with her. Lila tells Jessica she should first act as though she’s given up on trying to get Liz to come to the audition. So Jessica drops her needling, and makes sure Liz overhears her telling Steven she’s given up. Then, Jess and Lila will type up a letter from a fake research company and address it to the twins, inviting them to join a discussion in Los Angeles on what it’s like being a twin. The idea is that Liz will consider this scholarly enough for her personal approval and that once she realizes she’s been tricked, she’ll go ahead and complete the audition rather than make a big scene at the studio. Jessica and Lila put the letter on official looking letterhead in George Fowler’s study and mail it off. Jessica makes sure Liz opens the letter, proclaims it worthy of her precious attention, and decides that they will go. That’s right, Liz really believes that in the same week Jessica has been begging her to attend a Los Angeles audition for twins, an L.A. research company wants to also hold a research session for twins. Liz doesn’t question how these people got their information in a pre-Facebook, pre-Google age. She is a moron and doesn’t even know it. She says she will do the research session and Jessica agrees to come along. Liz starts feeling bad that Jessica is accommodating her, and thinks she should maybe give the audition a second chance in return, but she doesn’t tell Jess she’s considering doing it yet.
The girls drive to the “research session” where Liz takes 10 billion light years to realize that this is a Jessica scheme. It’s obvious when they show up what is really going on – what with all the pairs of identical young twins – but Liz has got a skull thicker than Lois Waller’s ass. She just sits there going “Gee, I thought the twins were supposed to represent all demographics and age groups … hurrr duuuurrrrr…HERP DERP” She finally figures it alllllll out just as an agent or producer or something named Natasha, who wears her hair in a unicorn horn (…the fuck?) comes in the waiting room to call in the next set of identical blonde twins. Liz jumps up and tells Jessica off and they have a really over-the-top, theatrical, ridiculous argument right there in the waiting room. As Liz stomps off, Natasha claps and proclaims that these are the twins they want and that was perfect. She thinks that was their “act.” Natasha is almost as dumb as Liz.
Natasha thrusts a bunch of paperwork at Jess and invites her to come to some cast events that coming weekend, and that’s pretty much it. Liz is super hurt and pissed about Jessica tricking her, but Ned and Alice don’t really give a fuck. They even agree to let Amy, Lila, and Jessica go to L.A. together and stay in George Fowler’s hotel suite while he’s there on business, all so Jessica can attend a soap opera cast luncheon. I call bullshit on that one. In the past, Ned and Alice complained that Mr. Fowler didn’t keep a close enough eye on his daughter and hesitated to let Jessica stay with Lila for long weekends. For real! I’m thinking they didn’t really mean that shit. So Jess goes and she and Amy and Lila crow about having a whole weekend to themselves, but nobody talks about doing anything exciting like sneaking into a club underage or drinking all the wine in the in-suite fridge or even doing some frickin’ sightseeing.
The cast luncheon is totally boring, but even though she’s easily the youngest person there, Jessica somehow fits right in. 22-year-old soap star Brandon Hunter immediately begins flirting with her and bragging about all the great stuff he’s done, and Jessica just takes it because he’s famous. Brandon invites Jessica to a party at this rock star’s house later, and get this … Jessica actually calls up her parents and asks them for permission to go. JESSICA WAKEFIELD is in L.A. and CALLING HOME FOR PERMISSION TO DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING. …The fuck!!! I’m not convinced that this isn’t Liz! Of course, Ned and Alice let her go with maybe one whole second of hesitation, so I don’t know why she even bothered asking. Seriously, what in the hell? Their daughter is 16 and they’re all, sure, you can go to this cocaine-and-hooker-fueled party.
Okay, so Jess and Brandon go to the party and cue naked people swinging from chandeliers, right? Noooo … this party sucks. I’ve been to job interviews that were more stimulating. The rock star – Bill Lacey or something – is about as wild as my old math teacher. The next night, Brandon takes Jessica to a movie premiere. Soon the tabloids are all a-buzz that Brandon has seduced a 16-year-old, or at least that’s what they want us to read into it because the book won’t just come out and say it. Instead we get vague references to Steven having to defend his sister’s “honor” against his slobbery college buddies who think she might want to bang them too. In reality, Brandon hasn’t made anything resembling a move on Jess. Of course, Ned and Alice don’t give a flying fuck about all this.
Sam, of course, is pretty jealous that his girlfriend keeps going out with this adult dude and all, but Jess gets all mad at him for even giving a fuck and accuses him of being jealous of her TV show fame or something. Of course, at this point Jessica may not even GET any real TV show fame because Liz still doesn’t want anything to do with it all. Ned and Alice like the idea of whoring their kids out for fame because then they can use some of the money to buy the kids a new Jeep (and Liz can get her word processor that I do believe she’s been whining about for at least 80 books now… what in fuck!). To get Liz to finally agree to do the show, Jessica mails her writing samples and shit off to the fucking Los Angeles Times with a letter offering to write an article for them about the soap opera. And of course they call her and tell her how brilliant she is and how impressed they are by her “roundup of student activities” – what in fuck, how well-written can a roundup of student activities be to impress the LA TIMES?!. So Liz agrees to do the stupid show since at least now she can make something intellectual out of it. And Ned takes her to go buy the family’s new Jeep, and since Liz is just oh-so-smart she gets to do most of the talking to the salesman and talk about all the great features Jeeps have to offer and how stylish and versatile they are. You guys really ought to see this part, it’s seriously like a couple of pages of free advertising for Jeep. Not that I’m convinced it was free. I’m pretty certain they paid to have that shit put in there.
Filming begins. The twins play quiet, demure Heather (Jessica) and wild, scheming Tiffany (Liz) and Brandon has to choose one of them as his lady love in the final episode of the week. Brandon is a horrible shitty actor and a huge douchebag to everyone on set, including both twins, but Jessica thinks he’s the best thing since … well, since Sweet Valley. He even comes to her house and meets her parents who approve. Liz thinks he sucks. Can’t disagree with her! Sam and Jessica have lots of fights about how he wants her to care about his dirt biking but he doesn’t care about her soap opera acting, or some shit. This whole plot is so stupid and contrived. The Wakefields throw a dumb surprise party for Jessica and Elizabeth to congratulate them on their newfound D-list fame. Sam shows up dressed as Batman and asking Jessica’s forgiveness then speeds her away from the party so they can make out on the beach. But then Jessica just gets pissed at him again for daring to ask her to choose between him and Brandon, and she speeds away in her new Jeep and leaves him by himself to find his own way home. Wow, nice going.
The next day on set, Jessica overhears Brandon bragging about how he’s just using her for fame, and then he’s going to ditch her and go after the show’s director’s daughter, Sandi Starr, next. Jessica freaks out and runs off. She and Liz decide to get back at Brandon by deliberately making him mess up his acting on set using dumb hijinks so the director will get more annoyed with his prima donna antics than usual. But when Brandon demands that they re-do the whole episode, the director caves and has the girls come back and re-shoot the episode live. During the last scene, where Brandon’s character Jeremy declares his love for Jessica’s character Heather, Jessica doesn’t deliver her actual lines and instead throws water on Brandon, tells him she could never love him, and declares her love for Sam, the boy she loved before or some shit. The director loves it and everyone thinks it’s creative or some bullshit even though Jess just completely fucked up their show. Of course, she’s a Wakefield. LIFE SURE IS EASY WHEN YOU’RE A WAKEFIELD.
Jessica is offered a permanent part on the show, but tells them she’ll “think about it” which essentially means no. RIGHT, like Jessica Wakefield would ever turn that down. Jessica gets back together with Sam. Elizabeth realizes that soap opera actors are (mostly) intellectuals, too, or something, and worthy of her passing attention and is sure to say so in her stupid article. Speaking of which, the LA Times thinks she’s so great they want her to write for them more, but Liz is too busy and tired to do so, even though she of course won’t be shooting a soap opera next time. So she turns the LA Times – her dream employer – down. Gee, I bet she’ll regret that in say oh, 10 years …
Sub-plot: None really. Does the Jeep advertisement count?
This cover: Jessica, PLEASE get a new hairstyle. Her face is freaking me out for some reason. Brandon is wearing a full bottle of hair gel and/or a hairpiece. Love the way they’re supposed to be on the red carpet but are in front of a Sears portrait background instead.
WTF? Lila and Jessica wrote in their fake research company letter that the twins should confirm their participation by phone. That seems kind of dumb. Did they have a fake number set up with an operator standing by for Liz’s call, in case she got to it before Jess could?
Sweet Valley is apparently really close to L.A. The girls are able to drive there, shoot for a few hours, then drive back and still have enough time for half a day of school.
Ned the super-lawyer: Everyone on the set is so impressed that Mr. Wakefield was carefully looking over the contracts for the twins. Right, lawyers are so impressive in Hollywood, because they’ve never met one before.
Liz getting annoyed at Jessica interrupting her: “I’m working on my career here” Liz makes my high school self feel like such an underachiever.
Liz is so smug in this book! It’s pretty unbearable. We can’t even see her at some dumb picnic with Hugh and Enid without hearing her pat herself on the back for putting them together.
I don’t really get all the arguments Jessica and Sam have in this book about how she isn’t interested in watching him race or whatever. I thought she loved watching him race; she just didn’t want it to be all they talked about.
In one scene, Sam and Jessica eat at the “Beach Cafe” and argue. Beach Cafe? Wasn’t that the one in Malibu though, where Frankie LaSalle stabbed Tony Sargent? Hahaha (See Malibu Summer)
Amy tells Jess that if she had pulled the kinds of tricks on her own sister that Jessica did, her parents would ground her – Thank You! So would mine! (by the way, I’m not sure if Amy’s trying to say she has a sister or just saying that if she DID have one …)
I remember 1992 having some crazy outfits, but this one is a little over-the-top. Liz wears some big baggy peach chinos outfit and Jess wears something with a neon green mini dress and filmy knotted shirt tied over it. Let’s not even get into Natasha, the unicorn lady. (She wears her hair-horn tied up with ribbons.)
In case you were wondering, no one even mentions Cara or even gives two shits that she’s gone. That includes Steven.
Reader of the Month: Jennifer from New York says that “If anyone ever asked me what high school I want to go to I would definitely say Sweet Valley High.” Jennifer, I sincerely hope no one ever asked you.
Coming up next: At long last, the second Sweet Valley Saga!