Saturday, June 1, 2013

Save Me, Season One, Episode Three: WWJD

Beth Harper is sitting in a diner thinking that she has not yet gotten used to the fact that she is a prophet of God.  Beth suddenly stand up and announces to the crowded diner that they are all loved. She informs one man that he is only going to be unemployed for a short time and this shocks him because he had no idea that he would be losing his job.  Beth then goes on to inform him that six weeks later, he is going to get his dream job.  He ignores the part about the dream job and demands to know who Beth has been talking to and how she knows that he is going to lose his job.  Beth tells him that he is missing the point, sits down and thinks about how her power didn't come with an instruction manual. Suddenly, it comes to Beth that there is an instruction book and she heads home to find a bible.

Beth calls Tom when she cannot find the bible and he is quick to dismiss what she is going through. Beth makes it clear that this isn't just a "thing" and asserts that not only does God talk to her but that she put his ex mistress into a coma. Beth then manages to find a bible and announces that they are good people.  When Beth opens the bible however, she finds it hollowed out in the center and a bag of pot in the middle.

Beth is back at the diner and is now reading the bible. She calls the relationship between Cain and Able a classic bromance.  Finally, Beth admits that she is not understanding a word that she is reading.  The waitress tells her that there are more accessible versions out there than the King James version.  Beth decides to get a children's bible. Back at home, she celebrates the fact that this new bible has pictures. Maggie and Elliot stop by to talk about Ruby leaving the neighbourhood.  Apparently, they have created a petition to get Ruby's house declared a public nuisance.  Tom is pleased to learn that he and Beth are the last two signatures needed.  Maggie points out that they all had problems with Ruby but that Beth has a truly special relationship with her. We get a flash to Beth and Ruby yelling at each other.  In one scene, Ruby threatens to shoot Beth with an arrow and in another, Beth is peeing on Ruby's front lawn. Beth signs the petition saying good riddance Ruby.  When Elliot and Maggie leave, Beth asks Tom if he remembers when they use to fantasize about a gay couple moving into Ruby's house and fixing it up. Really? There are no LGBT characters in this story, so they deal with inclusion by talking about throwing in a trope laden couple who will decorate.  I could have done without that altogether. The Harper family then goes on to fantasize about the jobs this imaginary gay couple will hold and how their work on the house will increase property values throughout the neighbourhood and result in visits from Architectural Digest. Emily even goes as far to imagine one of the men spending hours doing her hair.

The fantasizing is brought to an end when Beth gets a message to check out page 117 in her bible and realises that she has to help Ruby the rat face.  Tom asks what she means and Beth says that she cannot let Ruby be kicked out of her house and that she has to be the one to help her fix it. Tom says that she can't but Beth replies that God is telling her to be a good Samaritan.  When Emily brings up "the gays,"  Beth simply replies, "oh honey I know," before leaving.

With the bible in her hands, Beth heads to see Ruby, who immediately hoses her down.  Beth returns to the house this time with a lawn mower in tow, saying that according to the children's bible that once Ruby realises that she was trying to be a good person that it will soften her heart. Before Beth can even start the lawnmower, Ruby starts to throw empty cans at her. Beth screams stop and declares her intention to help but Ruby believes that Beth is just there to pee on something. Beth tells her about the petition and says that if she doesn't help, Ruby will get kicked out of her home.  Ruby's heart is not softened and she tells Beth that she does not want her help. Beth leaves and yells at God and Ruby calls her a nutcase and demands o know who Beth is talking to.  Beth replies that if she were a nice old lady with a horrible house that she would help Ruby out and she rants that you can't get blood from a turnip.  Ruby is surprised by Beth's choice of words and says that her husband used to say that.  Beth asked how long Ruby was married and she replies 38 years and that her husband Leon used to spend all of his time puttering in the yard. Ruby adds that when he was done, he would always come in the house and say that he just came in for a hug.  Beth walks onto the front porch and gives Ruby a hug.

Over at the Harpers, Pete asks about why Beth was hugging Ruby and Tom reveals that Beth got it into her head that she is supposed to help Ruby and be a good samaritan. Pete says no and reminds Tom about their fantasy about getting someone good in Ruby's house.  Elliot pipes up that he and Maggie have always had a fantasy about getting a gay couple on the block. Pete adds that he and Jenna have always had the exact same fantasy. Tom says that their fantasy couple are named Todd and Benitzio. Elliot adds that their fantasy couple are named  Steven and Rafe and that Steven owns several high end restaurants and that Rafe designs women's shoes. Pete adds that his are Kelly and Kelly and that one Kelly is a lipstick lesbian with a killer ass and that the other is another lipstick lesbian, who also has a killer ass.  Elliot points out that unless Tom makes Beth stop that no one has a chance of getting their "dream gays."  Tom replies that this is not the 1800's and that a man cannot stop his wife from doing something.  Tom adds that Beth thinks that this is God's will.  Elliot asks if Beth knows that God split a baby in half and suggests that Tom tell Beth that one.  Tom argues that Beth is making herself  a better person but Pete is not buying it and replies, "for the sake of me and Kelly and Kelly and their gay twin sisters, who I have not even told you about yet, you discourage her Tom."

Beth is on a ladder scraping the old paint off of Ruby's house, when a part of the trim breaks off.  She asks God if ze wants to put it back on but there is no response.  She hops down and says that she could use a few good samaritans.  Beth heads back to her house and asks, Tom, Elliot and Pete to help her fix up Ruby's house. Elliot responds by patronizing Beth and saying that it's adorable that she is helping Ruby.  Beth says that Ruby is not a terrible person and that she just drinks and smells like feet.  Pete points out that these might not be Ruby's worst qualities. Tom tells Beth that she has already proven that she is a good person and that as her husband, he has to step in and tell her that enough is enough. Beth asks him if they're in the 1800's. Tom then turns to Elliot and Pete and says that this is not the 1800's.  Beth says that in their heart of hearts that they know helping Ruby is the right thing to do and adds that if they put some cedar in their nose that Ruby smells like Christmas.  When that doesn't work, Beth says that she could really use a big strong man to help her with the man stuff.  Pete starts to break but Elliot tells him not to fall for it.  Beth then turns to Tom and asks if he is going to leave her hanging.  Tom says that even if they fix up Ruby's home that she is not going to take care of it and suggests that Ruby would be much better off going to some condo where people get paid to fix your stuff. Beth argues that Ruby wants to be in her home. In frustration, Beth says that God knows when they are naughty and leaves.

Emily opens up the bible and Beth catches her and says that it wasn't her pot in there after all. Emily claims that the pot is medicinal and that she has anxiety because she has a mother who talks to God. Beth says that she took a lot of fish oils when she was pregnant with Emily and adds that she would hate it if Emily killed them all off. Emily says that it's no big deal and that everyone does it.  Beth believes that it is a big deal and reminds Emily about how bad it was in the house before she got sober.  When Emily says that she is not going to be pathetic, Beth quips that no one sets out to be pathetic and that they just end up there.  Emily asks to be punished and Beth suggests that instead of getting high to stay away from her mother that Emily get high with her mother.  Emily quickly surmises that this is a metaphor and Beth quickly agrees and tells Emily that she will experience helping a neighbour in need.  Emily responds that this isn't fair and points out that her father doesn't have to help.  Beth points out that Tom didn't get caught with pot and Emily argues back that Tom got caught having an affair.  Tom joins Beth and Emily and says that though it might not be the 1800's that he cannot let his wife do "man's work."

The Harper's are all on Ruby's roof and Emily asks Beth how she knows that she is talking to God.  Beth says that she just knows and Emily says that God people always pull the faith argument like it's justification for not having any proof. When Beth asks Emily if she believes in God, Emily says absolutely not and Tom adds that he is on the fence as well and suggests that he and Emily talk. Beth asks if Emily thinks that she is crazy and Emily replies that if Beth's not crazy, then God is.  Emily adds that God cares so deeply about people that he allows wars but "he cares so deeply about humanity that he is going to tell some White suburban mom to fix up some smelly bitches house."  Ruby makes an appearance and Beth apologizes for Emily.  Beth admits to Emily that she does not have all of the answers but promises not to force her beliefs on her.  The ladder then comes loose from the roof and Beth falls on her back.

They take Beth to the doctor and he puts a brace on her neck and says that she is one lucky lady.  When Beth says luck, Elliot points out that she was lucky to walk away from a fall from that height  with only a sprain and therefore; someone must be looking out for her.  Beth gets excited but Tom tells her that Elliot did not mean it literally and Elliot adds that it was just an expression. Beth tells Elliot that he cannot take it back now.  Elliot says that as her doctor that he is ordering her to rest, which means no climbing, no lifting and adds that as "someone who really wants gay neighbours, no helping people who smell like feet."  Beth argues that Ruby is not a horrible person and Tom suggests that Beth falling off the roof is a sign that she needs to stop. Beth wonders if she stuck her neck in the wrong place.

Tom and Beth head back to the diner and Beth whines that she cannot believe "he/she" sent her in the wrong direction and how this doesn't make any sense.  They walk in and find Maggie, Elliot, Pete and Jenna celebrating the fact that they will soon be rid of Ruby. Pete quips that they're finally going to send the old troll back under the bridge where she belongs and Elliot adds that their lives will be perfect. Beth says that their lives are already perfect and that they have so many blessings and questions their desire to chase a poor old woman out of her home.  Beth reminds Jenna that she is a bible person and Jenna admits that she knows that it's wrong but says that she likes that everyone is happy. Beth says that Ruby might not be the neighbour of the year, or have the most beautiful house and have the most horrible smelling feet but Jesus used to hang out with people who had bad feet. Beth points out that Jesus was a carpenter and adds that Jesus once said, "when you're looking at the dark side, careful you must be."  Jenna points out that Beth quoted Yoda.  Beth says oh and adds, "we are the music makers, dreamers of dreams," and Pete and Tom struggle for a moment and realise that Beth got the quote from Willy Wonka. Beth says that the point is that they are looking at the house and seeing an eye sore, when they should be looking at Ruby and seeing that she misses her husband. Beth points out that no one is meant to go through this life alone and points out that all Ruby has is a neighbourhood which has turned against her. Beth asks if Honeysuckle Lane is a street that just looks good from the outside or a street that feels good on the inside.  Just then, two gay men interrupt and say that they love Honeysuckle Lane and ask if there is a house for sale there.  Beth quickly says no.

Back at the house, Tom tells Beth that she gave it her best try.  Beth says that Ruby smells of feet because of her feet. Beth says that she never thought about it before but when you get married you agree to a certain level of personal hygiene. Tom points out that Beth has thought about it before because she gave him a nose hair trimmer.  Beth responds that Tom gives her perfume every Valentine's Day reminding her that she is not supposed to smell like nature.  Beth says that she wouldn't know what she would do if he didn't have Tom tell her that she had food in her teeth or a tiny piece of toilet paper in her lady parts. Tom points out that they had promised never to speak of it again and yet Beth brought it up. Beth tells Tom that she is grateful that he helped her out today and for all of the days that he is close enough to smell her.  Tom calls Beth a werido and tells her to get some rest. Beth turns off the light and Tom stares at the ceiling.

The next morning, Beth says that after failing to rally the troops after her sermon at the diner that she woke up feeling alone. When she gets out of bed, she steps on a hammer and when she opens the window, she finds Ruby's house surrounded people who are fixing it up.  Beth walks over to Tom and asks him if he did this and Tom tells her that it was all her and that he likes seeing Beth get passionate about old ladies.  They all tell Beth how she inspired them.

When next we see Beth, she and Ruby are standing together and the house is complete.  Ruby asks Beth if she is going to leave or if she has to do and get the hose.  Beth asks if she can come over for a cup of coffee and Ruby says that she would like that. Beth then takes Ruby to her house and does a pedicure for her.  Beth tells Ruby to call her anytime she needs her and Ruby reveals that her daughter was trying to get her to move in with her in Florida. Ruby adds that she only held onto the house to keep "the gays" from moving in.

Okay, it certainly didn't take long for this show to get offensive.  It's only the third episode and it was filed with homophobia. The worst part about it is that I am sure that the writers thought they were being progressive, but all they really did is dehuanize gay people and turn them into pets.  Every time one of the characters said, "the gays," I was disgusted.  It made me glad that Save Me is only a 30 minute show because I cannot imagine how much worse it would have been had they had an actual hour. So for the record, gay people are not collectibles, nor should they ever be treated as such.

The other issue I had with the language in this show was the repeated use of the term"he/she".  I am fine with a gender neutral God and I actually find the idea very progressive, as the divine feminine is often ignored; however, using cissexist language to express this is deeply, deeply problematic.  What's wrong with the word ze for a pronoun?  It's a nice happy little word, which conveys the message just fine. 

This episode we didn't get any more hints regarding Beth's power.  She didn't control fire or electricity and spent her time merely taking to God.  I am going to give this show a few more episodes to see if it fits but to be honest, I am truly beginning to have my doubts.  To make matter worse, with all of the offensive language they managed to squeeze into a thirty minute episode, I was not even remotely amused.