Season 4, Episodes 1 – 26
Even though very few readers of Notes From The Avalon have any recollection whatsoever of Fifteen’s existence, it must have gotten fairly good ratings for the first three seasons. I can’t think of any other reason why Nickelodeon would have made the decision to shell oot a bunch more cash in order to double the size of the cast and the number of episodes for the show’s final season. Know what they got for all that cash? A steaming pile of dog shit. Now, you may be wondering how I can differentiate between good and bad when we’re talking aboot the most poorly produced and abysmally acted TV show of all time, but there are two distinct types of “bad” when it comes to productions of this nature: the type that lends itself to endless mockery and which we end up finding hopelessly endearing for this very reason, and the type that’s so bad that it doesn’t even deserve to be mocked. Fifteen’s unfortunate fourth season is of the latter variety. Even though over 5 years elapsed between the final episode of Fifteen and the premiere of Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place, it still boggles the mind that Ryan Reynolds managed to eke oot such a successful Hollywood career after having had such a ubiquitous presence in the 26-episode mess to which this post is dedicated.
As you know, Brooke is no longer in the show and neither is Courtney. At least they went to the trouble of writing Brooke oot of the script properly. For Headband, they use the exact same lazy explanation that was employed for Theresa’s sudden disappearance at the start of Season 2: “she’s off at that school for the arts”. I don’t have a clue what the fuck happened to Jake and Erin.
Let’s take a quick look at the horrible new Season 4 characters who, taken collectively, form the primary reason that I cannot re-watch these 26 god-awful episodes for individual analysis. First, there’s Pepper, Dave’s repulsive little sister. This rubber-faced, ginger-haired parasite serves no discernible purpose, but she gets more screen time than almost anyone else even though the only plot revolving around her is an ultimately successful bid to get on the boys’ soccer team. I used to wonder how she achieved such an undeserved starring role until I found oot that the actress’ full name is Pepper Binkley. Coincidence? Next, there’s Jennifer, an obvious but woefully inadequate Brooke replacement. Sure, she’s kind of a manipulative bitch, but she manages to be completely unentertaining in the process and the actress playing her possesses none of Robyn Ross’ unearthly emotive qualities. She has a brainy little brother named Jason who doesn’t piss me off nearly as much as the rest of the incoming cast, but he’s never involved in anything exciting. Micah is a kid on Pepper’s soccer team. Liz is… Liz. Characters don’t come more nondescript than this top-heavy anthropomorphic Valium pill. Loyal, who is introduced in the last few episodes of the series, is Billy’s new stepbrother. I’ll put as much effort into my critique of this character as the writers employed in the process of crafting him: he sucks. Russ is the only new addition to the Hillside student body that doesn’t piss me off. He was the nameless accordion player in round 2 of last season’s talent contest and even though he usually kicks around with the boring new characters I’ve already mentioned, I can tell that he would have fit in nicely had he been introduced sooner in the series and he also plays a pivotal role in the curious transformation of Chris towards the end of the season. Finally, there’s Brittany, a new arrival whose alleged sexiness I personally find to be very overstated. Regardless, all the guys at Hillside go absolutely ga-ga over this vapid, self-absorbed American dick tease, especially Deadpool who makes a first-class ass of himself in the desperate pursuit of her affections.
Now the good stuff. I’ll dedicate the rest of this post to a character-by-character summary of the Season 4 story arcs for each of Hillside’s veteran students – Dylan, Matt, Ashley, Billy, Arseman, Roxanne, Chris, Dave and Who Farted.
For the first few episodes, everyone’s favorite dropoot just sort of treads water in his self-imposed exile. Occasionally, Arseman drops by the garage to offer moral support and seek comfort after the death of her grandmother, leading to an inevitable and ill-advised romance between Leather Jacket and Sassy Pants. Eventually, Dylan lands a job at the 3-table café attached to the only clothing store in the mall that these little shits ever patronize. His uniform consists of an apron over a humbling bright pink shirt, but the worst part of all this is his frequent utterance of the word café, which for some reason, Corky Martin pronounces “c’fé”. Near the middle of the season, Dylan’s parents kick him oot, rendering him homeless. After spending a night sleeping in the park, Matt rallies to his aid and lets him move in and sleep on a couch in his basement. So now Hillside’s former mortal enemies have become roommates, something aboot which they both marvel aloud with such frequency that I honestly believe there is no limit to their oot-sized incredulity. While living on Matt’s couch and ostensibly dating Arseman, Dylan starts getting so cozy with Ashley – often right in front of Matt’s face – that I often expect them to just undress and start boinking right in his basement. Understandably (and far later than you’d expect), both Matt and Arseman reach the ends of their respective ropes aboot the shameless public treachery of their significant others. Arseman is so hurt at the sight of seeing her best friend and her boyfriend feeling each other up that she buggers off to Mexico and sits oot the last 5 episodes of the season. Matt, however, after briefly venting his justified ootrage at this turn of events, decides to forgive everyone involved and suffer in silent martyrdom, even continuing to let Dylan crash in his basement. Dylan, of course, starts dating Ashley and with her encouragement, enrolls in an “alternative school” to complete the remaining credits needed for his high school diploma. At one point, he punches the cool right oot of Chris at the mall café, but I’ll save the details of that plot for Chris’ overview. Finally, towards the tail end of the series, while still dating Ashley, Billy drops by the café and sees him hanging around with some hot chick he met at the alternative school. The series ends before we get the full story here, but the clear implication is that Dylan the Scamp is incapable of romantic fidelity.
St. Matthew of Hillside High. The writers take such pains to turn Matt into the quintessential “stand-up guy” that he nearly morphs into Dostoyevsky’s Idiot. For the first half of the season, he and Ashley are so in love that it seems nothing could possibly come between them. Then all the betrayal ootlined in the previous paragraph goes down, but our former eternally hassled drunk develops the ability to meet all adversity with Zen-like acceptance. Towards the end of the season, Matt finds oot that his father is being transferred, so the entire family will be moving clear across the country in the very near future. In the meantime, he continues to let Dylan crash on his sofa and molest his ex-girlfriend in plain sight. For his selfless actions throughoot the season, Dylan has a trophy made to memorialize Matt as an ootstanding role model or some shit, to be permanently displayed in Hillside’s trophy case.
I guess I kind of already covered Ashley’s story in the process of talking aboot Dylan and Matt, so I’ll simply add that my only regret at the conclusion of the series is the fact that we never get to see her reaction to Dylan’s infidelity. For some reason, though Ashley is still mentioned often, Laura Harris fails to appear in the last five episodes of the series.
Jesus, Ryan. How in the fuck did you manage to fight your way through the painfully ridiculous plots Ian Weir relentlessly threw at you in this season? To be as succinct as possible, since Billy’s bullying phase has come to an end, he now has plenty of time to dedicate to the development and fine-tuning of the qualities and skills required of a shameless whore. Deadpool works his way, respectively, through Who Farted (this is mercifully brief, but no less unforgivable for being so), Roxanne and Brittany. Believe it or not, it’s actually Billy that shit-cans Roxanne when his libido decides that newcomer Brittany is far more worthy of his attention. Brittany’s effect on Deadpool is to turn him into a blithering idiot of transcontinental proportions. Since she seems to have a thing for jocks, he joins the football team in an effort to impress her. Then he scores tickets to a Salt ‘N Pepa concert, neglects to invite Roxanne who he’s still ostensibly dating in the hopes that he can woo Brittany with an invitation, and ultimately has the whole thing blow up in his face, leaving him through a convoluted series of events to end up taking Jennifer’s geeky little brother Jason to the show. I am 100% convinced that Ryan Reynolds was giving a sly nod to his largely unknown participation in Fifteen when he made “Shoop” by Salt N’ Pepa such a centerpiece of the first Deadpool film. Oh, and then for a few episodes towards the end of the season, Billy also has to pretend that his stepbrother Loyal is anything but an unnecessary leap on water skis over a caged Great White.
Her grandmother dies and the writers spend at least the first half a dozen episodes of the season trying to make us care aboot the demise of an unseen character who’d never even been mentioned before she fucking croaked. Regardless, her habit of commiserating with Dylan over the loss leads to an unplanned kiss that leads to a relationship marked by betrayal and neglect. As I already said, Arseman’s reaction to Dylan publicly cavorting with Ashley is to take a trip to Mexico with her family (sans Grandma) and sit oot the last 5 episodes.
Roxanne mellows a bit this season, even treating Who Farted like a friend as opposed to the gnat-like annoyance she is. Early on, she counsels Who Farted to change her look, prompting her new tagalong to show up at Hillside dressed in black leather and chains, inspiring the justified mockery of her peers. At the onset, she’s still dating Chris, but when the already precarious couple gets their turn to perform a concert at The Avalon, it’s such an utter disaster that Roxanne breaks up with her perpetually antagonistic boyfriend right on stage in front of the entire student body. Shortly thereafter, she starts dating Billy until he fucks her over in favor of new arrival Brittany. Towards the end of the season, a short-lived plot develops wherein Roxanne hesitantly admits that her father hit her – once – and then apologized for it immediately thereafter. This hardly rises to the level of high drama, but they treat it with all the implied intensity of an After School Special. Finally, when she sees Chris develop a new compassionate streak in his budding friendship with leukemia-stricken Russ, she agrees to explore the possibilities of romantically reuniting with him, but only after they take some time to get to know each other better.
After being publicly kicked to the curb by Roxanne, Hillside’s resident dirt bag just sort of drifts along being a pain in everyone’s ass until he decides to show up at the mall café and provoke Dylan into a fight. Averse to jeopardizing his job, Dylan suggests that they meet up behind The Avalon the following day to duke it oot. When Chris and a crowd of gawkers arrive at The Avalon to find that Dylan failed to show up, they head to the mall to confront him. After several attempts to defuse the situation, Dylan finally knocks the swagger right oot of him with a single punch to the gut. Chris is never the same after this public humiliation. Shortly thereafter, he scrapes past Russ in The Avalon and is confused to see that such a slight bump causes Russ some pretty severe distress. After several episodes of Russ going to doctors and getting tested, he finally divulges to Chris that he has leukemia. From this point on, Chris starts wearing Matt-style polo shirts and showing up at Russ’ house to drop off homework and offer oddly antagonistic-sounding moral support to his new little terminally ill friend.
Believe it or not, Dave actually manages to adopt several more shades of boring for the fourth and final season. He essentially spends all 26 episodes getting repeatedly fucked over by Who Farted while simultaneously realizing that there’s not a chance in hell that he’ll ever win the affections of someone better. Also, since the hideous Pepper is his little sister, her frequent presence at his side transforms David O’Brien from inconsequential to utterly unwatchable.
I saved the worst for last. As bad as she’s been all along, in Season 4, Who Farted takes intolerable to a whole new level. She starts pseudo-dating Dave, then accepts Deadpool’s invitation to a party being thrown in Matt’s basement and claims that she had every right to do so since Dave never bothered to “officially” invite her. Whenever someone, especially Dave, dares to call her oot on her general shittiness and self-absorption, she reacts by confronting the individual with that ever-increasing motorized groan that prefaces her every word and in the snottiest of tones, sneering shit like, “I suppose you’re all mad at me now!” as if this somehow turns the tables and exonerates her for being a hideous douche canoe. Fuck you, Who Farted. Just fuck you.
Thus ends the greatest television show ever to grace a box of tubular cathode rays. On behalf of the entire Hillside student body and your humble narrator, thanks for watching.