Growing Pains Season 1, Episode 4, “Carol’s Article”


Episode Four finds our scintillating Seavers in the kitchen once again.

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Why am I not surprised?

Maggie asks Mike to call Carol to dinner and Carol shouts back that she’ll be right down because she has to finish a paragraph for her tryout for the school paper. Mike being Mike makes a snarky comment about Carol’s response. Maggie asks if he could keep his comments to a minimum.

And for his response, wouldn’t you know it, another snarky comment: “So what, three or four?”

Carol joins the family with Jason commenting on how hard she’s working on this article. Carol responds that she’s working on it so hard because it has to be THE BEST!

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If you haven’t figured it out already, Carol is the perfectionist in the family. The type A first child. She then goes on to say how Mr. Simmons is looking at everyone’s papers tomorrow and deciding who gets the job. Jason replies with, “Not Simmons. He’s the teacher who locked the kid in the closet for not closing a quote.” Carol then asks Maggie if she’d look over her article and…be honest.

Maggie agrees and…

I have to wonder where this is going…

Next scene, in the Seaver living room, Mike is talking to Jerry “I swear she was 18” Delish (as he’s preferred to later in the episode) on the phone about betting on a racehorse. Mike wants to put down 20$ and Jerry asks him if he has 20 dollars to which Mike replies, “Of course…what kind of ‘scuzzbag’ doesn’t have 20$.”

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Well apparently, Mike is that kind of ‘scuzzbag’ because moments after getting off the phone, he tells Ben who walks into the room wearing his pjs to give him the money. Mike first tries to convince by telling Ben that “Mom needs an operation.”

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Good one, Mike.

Except Ben isn’t buying it. Mike explains the real situation and Ben only accepts on a “70/30” term, which means if they win, Ben gets 70% of the winnings and Mike gets 30%. Mike agrees, not that he has much of a choice, and Ben goes upstairs for the money.

Maggie and Jason are now in the living room with Maggie reading over Carol’s article, which is about people digging for clams.

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Digging for clams. Are you kidding me? In what universe would this be a winning article for a school paper tryout. Maybe Science American, but this is the school newspaper. Teenagers read this in their spare time.

Besides the subject matter, the problem she has according to Maggie is her wording, which is Carol over the heads of most of the other students. Maggie goes over to the bookshelf and grabs her “Introduction to Journalismbook. Jason says that she should start out with the strengths of the article then go into how it can be improved.

Standard critique for writers.

Maggie goes upstairs to talk to Carol and OH MY GOD! Another setting. ONE OF THE KID’S Bedrooms! Carol proclaims how she’s been waiting for Maggie to come upstairs to tell her what she honestly thought about her paper. While Carol was waiting on Maggie she supposedly “fixed” her article. And by “fix,” she means she changed one scientific word to another. So she didn’t really “fix” anything at all.

Now Carol is ready to hear what Maggie honestly thought about her article. Except she doesn’t really want to hear what Maggie thinks.

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To her credit, Maggie does exactly as Jason said and “accentuates the positive.” Carol thinks by that, she means the article is perfect. Then Maggie elaborates and explains how it’s not “newspaper writing.” Carol immediately overreacts. She says how much Maggie hates it. Even though Maggie never said that. Maggie says this is just how Mr. Simmons is going to act only meaner. She hands Carol her “Introduction to Journalism” book and leaves the room. Carol acts all tough, but she really isn’t.

Little Miss Perfect is upset with herself and she shows the audience by her attitude and throwing the book into the trash.

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Next up, Ben and Mike are debating what horse they should put Ben’s money on. Mike wants to go with Ungulate because that’s what Jerry says and he’s been right. Ben wants to go with Arbitrary because of a “hunch” he apparently has.

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In the kitchen, Maggie is telling Jason about how she hopes she wasn’t too hard on Carol because she hasn’t come down yet. Jason reassures her saying she wasn’t. Ben and Mike come into the kitchen with Ben asking Maggie what she wants for Christmas because he now has 65 $ from the races.

Maggie asks Ben where he got 65$. Ben goes on to tell her but Mike stops him and comes up with a BS excuse of how he’s come into a little money and she has always taught him to share.

Surprisingly, Jason doesn’t buy it. 

Ben explains the real situation and Maggie and Jason aren’t too happy to learn that Mike and Ben are gambling, especially because they used Ben’s money in the first place. This is where what I was saying earlier about Jerry comes up. Maggie tells them that they’re betting days are over. Jason interrupts acting like he’s on Ben and Mike’s side.

But the real truth is he thinks it would be better to let them gamble, crash and burn, and learn a real lesson. Maggie says, “2 bucks says you’re a loser” because she doesn’t think his secret plan will work. Carol comes down grumbling and thinks everything Maggie says to her will be a criticism. She had her guard up and isn’t willing to listen to Maggie’s advice.

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I’m wondering is Carol all that smart after all?

The next scene takes place at the school with Mr. Simmons who is going off on a kid about his article. Carol comes in and as soon as Mr. Simmons realizes who she is, he gives her the job. Not because he liked her writing, in fact he thinks it “repeats with stinkyocity.”

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He gives her the job because she was the only one of the submitters who can spell. For this reason, Carol declines the job and leaves his office.

At home, Mike and Ben are ecstatic because of how well their bets are doing. Jason thinks they should quit when they’re ahead. Maggie still following Jason’s plan pulls her husband aside and tells Jason that they shouldn’t and although he agrees, the boys are allowed to continue gambling.

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Carol comes home furious because of what happened at school. She tells her family how she got the job but then turned it down. Maggie follows Carol upstairs for an explanation.

Back in Carol’s room again, she explains to her mom why she turned down the job. Carol admits Mr. Simmons said exactly what Maggie thought he was going to say. Carol thinks because of this situation that she’ll never be able to write like her mother.

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Big Moment!!! Carol gets honest with her mom here!!

Maggie informs Carol that’s just not true and she has natural ability. Maggie proves this by handing Carol a letter from camp from 5 years before. Maggie tells Carol how that shows her natural ability from how concise her writing was. The two hug it out.

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Yeah!  Another tender Seaver moment.

Maggie and Carol join Mike, Jason, and Ben in the living room where they’re all watching the race. Things are going well for Nail Biter (the horse Ben and Mike bet on) until he trips and is out of the race, thus losing Ben and Mike all of their money, and completing Jason’s plan.

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In Growing Pains, parents always know best. It’s actually sort of infuriating.

Last Scene: Carol reads from the paper to the family about how Nail Biter suffered a fractured fibula and will now to be put out to be stud. Ben asks what that is and Maggie explains that it means they’ll use the horse to get lots of female horses pregnant.

Mike hoping to get the same treatment acts like he has a “fractured nebula.”

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And…that’s the point.

 Please join me next week for more Seaver-antics with Episode 4, “Superdad!” Boy, doesn’t that sound like fun.



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