What do you do when everyone starts dating except you? Particularly your best friend, who you relied on for companionship, and who had previously no dating record, but now is in relationship and has no time for you? These are the questions that Kevin is asking, as he suddenly finds himself as the sole single person he knows. First his dream girl, Winnie, “forgets” – as Kevin states it- about him and dates an eighth grader, and now Paul. Kevin is having hard time accepting that dating is now a part of his relationship with his friends. He longs to maintain the status quo with his relationship with Paul, which involved playing paper football and bickering. As the adult Kevin describes it, “Competition. Accusation. Common cruelty. These are things we understood. Why did it ever have to change?” In response to his jealousy and loneliness, Kevin hastily asks Becky Slater, the school gossip, to go steady, even though he has barely spoken to her. Soon he is in a relationship with someone he doesn’t like, and doesn’t know how to get out of it.
I liked that the episode touched upon the loneliness of being single, and how that feeling can lead to making bad dating decisions. I would have liked to have seen by the end of the episode Kevin learning to cope being single, e.g. to show it is possible to be happy even if everyone else in your life is coupled up. Perhaps that is an unrealistic expectation of mine, given that I am talking about teenagers, and the nature of being a teenager is to have heightened drama for an extended period. While the ending wasn’t necessarily how I would have idealized it to be, the conclusion had a very honest moment that I can appreciate. Kevin tells Becky the truth after she ends up dumping him when she realizes that he still likes Winnie. He is completely honest that he likes Winnie and felt pressured to date for the sake of dating.
The episode was not one of my favorites – perhaps, because my bias against Winnie made me want to scream towards Kevin to find someone else to like- but did have some memorable moments. First, the opening of the episode has to be one of the best for the series. Funny and completely spot on with respect to all the drama that goes behind trying to ask someone on a date in middle school. Adult Kevin is narrating the ritual as we see it unfold. A random boy has just left the bathroom, where his friends were helping him groom, and is about to ask his crush out. I’ve included a snippet of the narration below:
“Fully unprepared for his certain someone to be surrounded by three giggling friends, boy grows thirsty and proceeds to drink. He will continue to drink until the gaggle disperses or his stomach explodes–whichever comes first. Girl, acutely aware of boy’s presence, warns her friends that she will in fact die if they abandon her”
Second, I laughed at the scene in which Kevin and his classmates are singing in music class, and the music teacher is cringing at how bad they sound. I found this funny to watch, not only because of the intrinsic hilarity of it, but also reminded me of my own music classes in elementary school. I am sure we sounded just as bad, but my teacher was just too nice and professional to show off her reaction as strongly as Kevin’s teacher did.
As the season progresses, I will be interested to see if Kevin and Winnie get together, and if so, will the dating ruin some of the fantasies that Kevin has built up about Winnie, or will he find her to meet some of those expectations and good qualities he has idealized about her.