Talking at Cross-Purposes, or The Single Entendre


On the Season 8 episode of (classic) 90210, “Crimes and Misdemeanors,” Steve and Brandon end up in a very confusing situation with two girls from the Peach Pit that they want to hook up with. But how confused could they reasonably be? Let’s go to the tape…

Scene 1: The Peach Pit

Steve: Is that your car that I’m blocking in outside?

Madeline: Not today, but you made my girlfriend late for work yesterday.

Steve: Oh, did she leave that lovely note for me?

Madeline: Yeah, she did.

Steve: Listen, don’t sweat the note, I deserved it. I’m Steve.

Madeline: Madeline. You know, I’d buy you a coffee to make it up to you, but you already have one.

Steve: Oh this? This isn’t mine, this is my buddy’s.

Madeline: Guess he doesn’t mind sharing.

Steve: Eh, what’s a sip of coffee between partners?

Madeline: Partners, huh? What you work together?

Steve: We work together, live together…

Madeline: No kidding!? That’s a lot of togetherness…

Steve: Chalk it up to desperation. You know, I think this is the only relationship we’ve both had that has ever worked. How about that coffee?

Madeline: It’s on me.

Steve: I have to apologize. What about lunch tomorrow?

Madeline: Um. I’ll check with my girlfriend, it was her car after all. Tell you what– you bring your boyfriend, we’ll make it a foursome. What do you think?

What do I think? I think shenanigans! First of all, Madeline is wearing a man’s denim work shirt, rolled up to her elbows, which immediately sets off the TV LESBIAN siren, and she makes sure to mention her girlfriend to Steve. Now, some women definitely do call their gal pals “girlfriends” but these people live in LA, and do not know each other, bare minimum, Steve should have asked, “Girlfriend girlfriend?”

But hey, boys are clueless… but even the most clueless straight men do not call other straight men their “boyfriends,” nor do they talk about their “relationship” working or not working.  There are ways this scene could have been written ambiguously, but this doesn’t cut it.

Scene 2: Lunch at a restaurant. Madeline and Libby, Steve and Brandon.

Madeline: So… you guys live together in your parents’ house?

Brandon: Yeah, have done for a couple years now.

Libby: And some people assume men are naturally unfaithful.

Brandon, sensitive over the fact that he’s been caught cheating by Kelly: So, seen any good movies lately?

Libby: Did I assume too much?

Brandon: You could say that.

Steve, putting his arm around Brandon: Yeah, but we’re getting past that, aren’t we, Brandon.

Brandon: Funny you should mention that Steve, because no, I’m not!

Libby: Is this something you’d like to talk about privately?

Brandon: No.

Steve: Actually, it is.

… Steve and Brandon go talk. Steve returns alone.

Steve: He’s a little uptight about work.

Madeline: I know, relationships can be really tough.

Steve: He’s a great guy, the problem is, he got committed at such a young age.

Libby: Oh, is he much younger than you?

Steve: No.

Madeline: You know, you guys just need to relax. Come to our house for dinner. We have a hot tub, Libby’s a good cook.

Libby: You bring Brandon, we’ll provide the romance.

Ok, it’s barely believable that Brandon wouldn’t notice something was hinky, given that he’s extra self-absorbed, thanks to the break-up. But Steve should have noticed the weirdness of the unfaithful line. When he returns to the table, oy, we are in the land of the single entendre. Why would Steve assume these girls know anything about Brandon’s past relationship? What does he think is going on?? In order for cross-purposes to work, we the audience have to see how each interpretation is equally likely. If it’s this obvious to the audience that these women are lesbians, then why don’t the guys notice?

Scene 3: The girls’ house and Brandon has just “figured it out.”

Steve: Libby and Madeline…

Brandon: Are gay.

Madeline: Wait… you’re not a couple?

Steve and Brandon act disgusted.

Brandon: Me and Steve? NO!

Madeline: But you live together, Steve said you’re his boyfriend!

Steve: WHAT?

Steve vigorously shakes his head, no.

Rude much, boys?  Way to act like there’s something repulsive about being gay in front of these two girls…. who are gay. If the writers now recognize that Steve calling Brandon his boyfriend is too much of a gay signal… why didn’t they know that 30 pages earlier when writing the peach pit scene? ARGH.

I’m all for suspending disbelief, but in this case disbelief has been expelled and forced to repeat a grade.



2 Responses to “Talking at Cross-Purposes, or The Single Entendre”

  1. doostyn Says:

    This plot line would be big time awesomer if instead of lesbians, Mad and Libs were bisexual swingers looking for partners. Then Steve and Brandon would have to juggle between being homophobic-ly opposed to the idea (and simply grossed out by the idea of fucking a friend) and being excited by the chance to score with two women at once. DILEMMA!!!…and mostly likely one more believable for the characters and the audience.

  2. gnatalby Says:

    YES. That totally would have made the plot the plot work. Why aren’t we rich and famous screenwriters?

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