Season Two: Exploring GLITTER AND GOLD
Britrock website copyright EA Woolley
GLITTER AND GOLD
This episode is probably as good a “standalone” episode as Truly Outrageous in the sense that it does not seem to fit the chronology quite squarely. From the abundance of “advertising” in this episode it should probably be placed at the start of the second year, but it surprisingly does not introduce us to the year’s two brand new characters, Jetta and Raya, therefore confining itself to the end of the first year. When it first aired in the United States I do not know. If it aired as the end of the first year’s episodes, the advertising seems to have been in vain since Clash and many of the fashions did not hit the stores till 1987. Equally, the story opens with Jem and the Holograms having taken a lengthy break away from the spotlight - suggesting the start of season 2. Jury is still out on where it belongs.
This episode is an interesting one from the point of view of Jerrica’s mental health. It’s discussed from time to time where Jerrica begins to see Jem as a separate persona and no longer as part of herself - well, by the time Glitter and Gold rolls around the separation is already beginning to be apparent. The episode begins with Jerrica overseeing the video of a new Starlight Music band, and Jem is nowhere to be seen. It’s clear from Jerrica’s own mouth that she’s fed up with Jem and all the attention the singer side of her split personality gets - when Kimber or Rio try to bring up the subject, Jerrica firmly tells them “I don’t want to talk about Jem!” The situation is so severe that even the mention of the Misfits topping the album chart is not enough to get Jerrica back in the mood to perform. It’s clear here that she feels Jem and the Jem phenomenon are taking over her life.
When dealing with issues of pride, I usually refer to Jetta or one of the other Misfits who quite often allow pride to dictate their actions. However in Glitter and Gold the pride being tested is Jerrica’s own pride - for it is the Misfits telling the press how Jem and the Holograms are nobodies that sparks her back into her pink haired persona. The entire motivation for Jerrica taking part in the Glitter and Gold contest is based in wanting to prove to the Misfits, to the fans but also - perhaps most importantly - to herself that she hasn’t lost the knack. We don’t know how many months have passed between the previous episode and Glitter and Gold, but enough to allow the Misfits to gain a strong upper hand. The situation proves two things - that Jerrica is more of a threat to Jem and the Holograms with her resentment for Jem than the Misfits are, and that only something extreme - the goading of the Misfits in public - convinces Jerrica that she HAS to become Jem again.
The suggestion is that Jerrica feels that she’s had her fun and wants some normality. She’s promoting a new group in order to keep Starlight Music successful, but no explanation is made about what has happened to the Starlight Foundation. It seems unlikely that the new group would agree to plough all their takings into a charity organisation, so who is paying for the Starlight girls at this point is anyone’s guess. I find it hard to believe that Jerrica would simply let things go, after she fought so hard in the first five episodes to protect her foster charges. And yet there is no indication of how Jem and the Holograms' demise has affected the girls at the mansion. It's something not addressed and something which would not leave Jerrica in a favourable light should it come under scrutiny.
It's also possible to say, perhaps, that this as much as anything else motivated the Starlight Girls to buy records in the contest - they know their fates are tied up with the group's, so they're doing their bit to help themselves!
THE MISFITS' PSYCHE
Well. Deep, dark and often traumatic is what you get when you usually delve into the psyches of these girls. This is a different sort of an episode though. In this ep, they are not the reactionaries but the instigators. They are the valid entrants in the Glitter and Gold contest, and Jem and the Holograms are the latecomers, trying to jump in on Misfit popularity. It sounds a strange turn of events, but that is how the episode begins.
And the most interesting thing about all of this?
Pizzazz and the others are content.
There is no violence, no bad behaviour, no obscene rudeness or shoving of press out of the way. They are photographed, interviewed and they behave like perfect citizens. Why? Because this is what they wanted all along. To be the best - unchallenged and in the public eye. Jem and the Holograms are the frustration in their careers that is forever fuelled by Jem's constant success, but when Jem is NOT there, the Misfits are not half as antagonistic as they can be when she is. (Proof positive that this is a two-sided rivalry, and that Jem provokes as much as the Misfits in her own way.)
"How Does It Feel" is the Misfits' song in this episode, and again we find a song much on the same wavelength as what I have already said. This is one of those songs which comes straight from the heart of the group - about how they feel about being famous, being in the public eye and how much they love it all. It's not a vengeful hit, it's not even really a show-off hit. You can easily interpret the questions as "press" and then their own answer at the end - "it feels dynamite, it feels like you're a star".
In a way this too is an intruguing choice of words. "Feels like", and not the definite article. Is this, then, the first time that the Misfits actually feel like they have hit the big time? Despite all their boasting and struggling in the first season of episodes, is this when it finally hits them, when they're no longer focusing on what Jem is doing but on their own musical careers and the success that it can bring? Whatever the reason, this taste of stardom is enough for the Misfits to know that they do not want to let go of this feeling. And so, when they inadvertently goad Jerrica into reviving Jem and the Holograms, the battle is fierce all the way.
RIO, KIMBER, LIES and THAT POT PLANT
This episode is also one of those episodes where you'd quite like to throttle one of the characters for their blatant hypocrisy and stupidity. Funnily enough in this episode Jem is not the character I want to throttle - that honour goes to Rio and his absolutely awful handling of Kimber's love life.
Kimber is always depicted as something of a flake who dates several guys but never means to upset them, she just doesn't think about the consequences. In this one we encounter Jeff Wright again (the stuntman from Starbright) and a friend of Rio's called Matt Connolly, whom Kimber inadvertently arranges a date for the same night with. Of course, not only are they not amused with her, they are very much unamused with each other, and the encounter ends in fisticuffs, with a distressed Kimber looking on.
Rio seems to style himself as a pseudo big brother to Kimber on occasion and this is one of those times. Perhaps partly angry over the treatment of his friend, he rounds on Kimber, telling her in dulcet tones how he "hates liars" and "hates deception". In doing so, not only has he denounced Kimber's behaviour but also his own double-dealing with Jem and Jerrica, AND jeopardised his relationship with Jerrica all the more. See, in Glitter and Gold Jerrica is getting up her nerve to tell Rio the truth, tired of the deception and secrecy. But, of course, once she hears him lay into Kimber about lies, her nerve fails her and she finds she can't tell him after all. Though why he'd have a right to be angry at her is beyond me, since he is just as much at fault ^_^.
Of course, mention of Rio in this episode would not be complete without alluding to perhaps his most stupid onscreen moment (and trust me, it's up against some prettty stiff competition through the series!). For absolutely no reason whatsoever, Rio decides to lash out and kick a pot plant. Well. Okay then. I guess those anger management classes of his hadn't quite taken effect!
WHO REALLY WON THE GLITTER AND GOLD CONTEST?
Geez. Fans argue this one out tooth and nail. Jem fans argue that, because Eric paid people to buy Misfit records, Jem has both the moral and actual victory in the contest. Misfit fans counter that Rio and the Starlight Girls buying records was a blatant form of cheating in full view of the judges and that Rio at least should have gotten the Holograms kicked out of the contest by buying a record even though he was a Starlight employee. Furthermore, there is the debate as to whether it matters which record crossed the scanner first (the misfit one) and whether the Hologram record Ashley took from Rio to give to the last customer was really store stock or simply stolen from Rio so that the Holograms could win.
My honest, truthful appraisal of the contest is that neither group deserve to win. Neither one has a particularly good strategy of cheating - Eric's plan backfires when at least one woman buys a Hologram album instead of a Misfit one with the money (who knows how many more were bought this way?) and he is unable to destroy all of the copies of the Holograms' album before it hits the shelves, thanks to Rio's interference. As far as Rio himself goes, either he is very, very stupid, or he's just so mad at the Misfits he really doesn't stop to think - but blatantly buying a record to win the contest when you are the Holograms' road manager is a big no no. And I must say that, if his sale was voided off the count, then the Holograms would have lost, because there were no more Hologram records left without Ashley taking Rio's from him. This was no longer store stock ;). And furthermore, with the Misfit record going through the scanner first, the shop clerk essentially gifted the Misfits a victory...which was never stopped and dwelt upon.
HOWEVER. Even as a Misfit fan, and even though Eric's doubledealing was never discovered, the shenanigans in the store at the end compel me to say that neither group deserved to be awarded the prize in the end. Clash's blatant attempt to bribe a customer to buy a Misfit record was as much under the noses of the judges as Rio's purchase (they were not very vigilant judges, it must be said.) All in all the contest was a farce...and the car should have been donated to charity. After all, considering all of the above, neither group retained the moral high ground.
In honest truth, I don't think either band needed to cheat. In my mind the episode proves one thing and one thing alone - an equal number of people love the Misfits and Jem and the Holograms, and there is nothing to choose between them. On the day the Misfits were unlucky, but over the course of the episode there is every indication that they are as popular as each other. Whatever was suggested in the first line of episodes, Jerrica's "break" has allowed the Misfits to gain ground. They will begin season 2 as equals :)
Apart from the blatant advert-a-thon that this episode represents, it also nicely reintroduces the characters and explains a gap in episodes which can only have come about if this was the first episode to air from the second season (or perhaps was one on it's own in the middle of the series.) It gives us a great chance to see how Jerrica is struggling with her alter ego, and also a shot at the Misfits when they're not being hostile, confrontational or violent in order to get public attention!
And of course, there is that scene with the pot plant. ;)
Still, there are a lot of things unexplained. What happened to the Starlight Girls while Jem was not in action? What prompted Jerrica to decide to retire Jem - was it a sudden decision or one she gave a lot of thought? And what would have happened had the Misfits won the Glitter and Gold contest? Would it have kicked Jem back into hiding, or would it have inspired Jerrica to fight on and to find the courage to confide in Rio about her secret identity?
Episode rating: 7/10.
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Britrock website copyright EA Woolley