Almost Plausible

Ep. 28

Mac & Cheese

09 August 2022

Runtime: 00:52:17

Harkening back to the style of some of our older episodes, we take a looser definition of "Mac & Cheese" this week. The movie plot we create is a coming of age story about a couple of kids trying to work through things that even adults struggle with. The ending is bittersweet for our two main characters, and it's possible we work through some things ourselves.

References

Corrections

Thomas and Shep referred to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as a dark comedy, but Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is what Thomas was thinking of (and is arguably a darker film).

Thomas said Mac and Brie would get ICEEs from the 7-Eleven, but 7-Eleven sells Slurpees, not ICEEs.

Transcript

[Intro music begins]

[Emily]
“I want it to be-“

[Shep]
“Someone taller.”

[Emily]
No, she would never.

[Shep]
“I mean, that bully is pretty tall. I’m just saying.”

[Emily]
“He doesn’t seem to like me that much. For some reason, I’m attracted to that.”

[Shep]
“He’s such a bad boy.”

[Emily]
“I think I could fix him.”

[Intro music]

[Thomas]
Hey there, story fans. Welcome to Almost Plausible, the podcast where we take ordinary objects and turn them into movies. On this week’s episode, we’ll come up with a movie about Mac and Cheese, which has earned a place as a classic staple at the American dinner table. I’m Thomas J. Brown, and classic staples at my podcast table are Emily-

[Emily]
Hey, guys.

[Thomas]
And F Paul Shepard.

[Shep]
Happy to be here.

[Thomas]
Now, despite its classic status, there is a deep and terrible rift in the mac and cheese world. Powdered cheese or Velveeta? Emily, Shep, which team are you on?

[Shep]
The correct answer is neither. And sharp cheddar. And what is wrong with you, you savages?

[Emily]
Are we talking boxes? Because if we’re talking box mac and cheese, it’s the powder. The velvet is, the consistency is just off. We’re talking homemade, definitely béchamel and cheddar.

[Thomas]
Yeah, homemade is the way to go for sure. And then you can use other pastas instead of macaroni. Cavatappi is a good one.

[Emily]
The first recorded recipe of mac and cheese was from, like, 1647 or something ridiculous like that, in England. Like The British Woman’s Home Guide Book or some BS like that.

[Shep]
Mac and cheese is British food? But it’s delicious.

[Emily]
I know.

[Shep]
I’m sorry. This doesn’t add up.

[Emily]
I believe it originated in France or Italy, and then the British just adopted it.

[Thomas]
It was an English person who finally wrote it down.

[Emily]
Yeah, it was an English person who actually wrote it down, and Thomas Jefferson brought it to America. I did a tiny bit of research.

[Thomas]
Apparently. Yeah.

[Shep]
I didn’t know that there was going to be a quiz. I studied nothing in preparation for this.

[Thomas]
All right, well, it’s my turn to pitch first this week. I have three very short ideas. An animated kid’s film about an automated mac and cheese factory that was left running for many years, leading to literal mountains of mac and cheese.

[Shep]
Now, literal mountains of prepared mac and cheese or, like, boxes of mac and cheese?

[Thomas]
I don’t know. Maybe it’s like, mountains of macaroni, and then instead of snow, it’s powdered cheese cap mountains of macaroni.

[Shep]
This sounds like a Cloudy with the Chance of Meatballs visual.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
My next idea is that the cheese powder could be a clue in a murder. No idea how. I just thought that was, trying to think of what could we do with mac and cheese that would be strange. My favorite idea of the three I came up with this week is kind of a joke, but also a little bit serious. It’s a satirical comedy horror film about a mac and cheese factory in the style of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. And so instead of the chocolate river, you have a molten cheese river, but it’s, like, boiling hot, and someone falls in he’s like “Aaaagh!” He’s, like, screaming because he’s getting burned alive.

[Shep]
So you just see their skeleton pop up.

[Thomas]
Right. Instead of Oompa Loompas, you have, like, Lumpy Wumpies or something, and they’re orange because of the cheese powders, like, stained their skin.

[Emily]
I am so on board with this. I really love this idea.

[Thomas]
People just keep dying in preposterous ways.

[Shep]
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was already kind of a comedy horror film.

[Thomas]
Kind of, yeah. But not in, like, a gory way. I imagine this is being more gore-centric type of thing.

[Shep]
Okay.

[Thomas]
Anyway, those are my three ideas. All right, Emily, let’s hear what your pitches are.

[Emily]
All right, I only have one pitch this week because I couldn’t come up with a clever serial killer one other than-

[Shep]
No, you say, “I only came up with one pitch this week because it’s so good, I didn’t need a second one.”

[Emily]
My pitch this week is, an artist has lost all their inspiration. He spends a summer in a secluded mountain cabin, and on a supply run to town, he meets a clearly struggling, young, widowed mother.

[Shep]
Is he going to be a serial killer?

[Thomas]
Just wait. Just wait, Shep.

[Shep]
Who was the handsome serial killer.

[Emily]
Ted Bundy?

[Shep]
Yeah. Didn’t he help struggling people to oh, no, he pretended he was struggling. I got it. Okay.

[Emily]
No, he was the struggling person, and then that’s how he lured his victims.

[Shep]
So she’s the serial killer this time.

[Emily]
Yes, 100%.

[Shep]
I solved it.

[Emily]
He quickly becomes attached to her and her daughter, who he does arts and crafts with once in a while. Her favorite is mac and cheese art. And there’s a whole heartwarming scene where he’s like, “Well, we just use the macaroni. It’s not really mac and cheese art.” And I imagine her being like, five or six and just super insistent on, “No, the cheese must be involved.” So she always incorporates the cheese into the mac and cheese art. Well, anyway, the child ends up dying in some tragic way, perhaps by disease or an accident.

[Thomas]
Or serial killer.

[Emily]
Serial killer, bear eats her, what have you. She’s dead. And he goes on to have the greatest art show of his career based on the mac and cheese art they did together that summer.

[Shep]
Who’s the guy-

[Thomas]
Big Eyes?

[Shep]
-that did paintings of cans?

[Thomas]
Oh, so it’s Big Eyes meets Andy Warhol.

[Shep]
Big Eyes?

[Thomas]
Yeah, it’s a guy whose wife painted all these paintings of kids with giant eyes, and he took credit for it. Christoph Waltz is in the movie about it.

[Emily]
Well, he actually does his own mac and cheese art and makes vignettes and stuff and then incorporate some of her art into it.

[Shep]
Does she have to die? I don’t like the whole trope of dying as inspiration for the main character.

[Emily]
Well, I mean, I guess she doesn’t, but I was totally going for that trope.

[Shep]
I mean, the woman could just get back together with her ex-husband and move away.

[Emily]
She didn’t have to die. We could change that. I just was going for black comedy there. Your turn, Shep.

[Shep]
I don’t want to follow that.

[Thomas]
Because it was so good.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
It was so much better than yours.

[Shep]
Yes. Okay. Mac and Cheese is about a detective, Mac Machiavelli, and his robot partner, C.H.E.E.S.E., and together they solve crimes and go on various adventures. Starring Joey Tribbiani.

[Emily]
I’m not going to lie. When I read this, I was like, “Hey, that’s Friends!” And then I got to the end, it’s like, “Okay, he knows that.”

[Shep]
Okay, my real pitch is a coming-of-age story about two friends, Mac and Colby or Brie, or someone who’s got a cheese name that’s an actual name, who are teased as children because of their names. And maybe they’re teased, like, “Hey, Mac, you should be friends with Brie, because then you’d be Mac and Cheese.” That kind of thing.

[Thomas]
There should totally be a third character, Jack, who literally is named after Cheese but takes zero flak for his name.

[Shep]
Yeah, he’s the bully.

[Thomas]
Yeah. At the end, they realize, “Wait a minute. Jack is a kind of cheese.” He’s like, “Oh, no. What have I wrought?”

[Emily]
Can they be seven years old, and he still say that?

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Emily]
“Oh, no. Have I wrought?”

[Shep]
Really eloquent seven year olds.

[Emily]
Yeah. So what would the story be? Is it, so a coming-of-age story? What are they…? How old are these guys?

[Shep]
It’s coming-of-age. It can be whatever you want. I’m just taking the Mac and Cheese as the launching point because I was listening to some of our earlier podcasts where we were a lot less strict on the objects, and we just went in crazy places with it. I’m like, “Well, we should do that maybe again.” And I know I was probably the one that was like, “Hey, we should be more… Is this really about the mac and cheese?”

[Emily]
I kind of like the idea of it being that.

[Thomas]
Okay, I got it. There’s a guy, his name is Mac, and he meets a struggling woman with a daughter named Brie. Brie is murdered, and then-

[Shep]
The cheese powder is a clue!

[Thomas]
The cheese powder is a clue. Yeah, exactly. Which leads him to the Mac and Cheese factory.

[Shep]
That’s been running on its own for 20 years.

[Thomas]
And is a house of horrors.

[Shep]
So which one of these stands out? Do any of these stand out?

[Emily]
Have we really done a coming-of-age story other than Penny?

[Shep]
Penny was kind of-

[Emily]
I always think Penny is the closest we have to a coming-of-age story. I vote coming-of-age story. Is it two loosey goosey with the theme?

[Thomas]
I mean, if one of them is Mac and one of them has a cheese name, we’re sort of keeping that as the focus.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
So Mac and Cheese are the focus.

[Emily]
We could even call it Mac and Cheese because that could be running joke in their lives. Are they same sex? Different sex. Is it a love story? Is it just two best friends learning-?

[Shep]
Two best friends, because they’re kids. Not a love story, but they don’t have to be the same gender. They could be whatever. They could be, it could be Mac and Jack, and they sort of brewery.

[Emily]
What is the hard lesson they learn? Like, what is the life-changing event that brings them from childhood to adulthood?

[Thomas]
One of them is allergic to bees?

[Emily and Shep]
Too soon!

[Thomas]
I like how that’s all I have to say and you guys know exactly what I’m talking about.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Right?

[Thomas]
It seems like Mac should be a guy, but could be MacKenzie, a girl.

[Emily]
That’s true. It could be two girls, MacKenzie and Brie. Mac and cheese. It could be love story. They could be lesbians who grow up-

[Shep]
Stop making everything a love story. They’re children.

[Emily]
sigh I was thinking it would be like a “Watch them grow and their love bloom. They go from friends to lovers.”

[Thomas]
We could see them from very young through to young adults, perhaps, or about to go off to college. And then I think it could be natural for them to have a short-lived relationship. Or maybe they just kiss one night and they’re like, “Oh, yeah, no, that’s weird.”

[Emily]
“That’s gross. Not happening.”

[Shep]
Or they could just know each other for one summer while Brie’s parents are vacationing wherever and Mac, who’s teased all the time, now, has a friend because someone else is also teased and they’re teased that they should be friends, so they become friends, but then she moves away at the end of summer and it’s the only time he ever sees her.

[Thomas]
So does Brie get teased because she stinks and is always running?

[Shep]
pained groans

[Thomas]
But she’s got a tough outer skin? Oh, yes. I am in my wheelhouse here.

[Shep]
Your cheese house? Cheese wheel?

[Thomas]
Yeah. Cheese wheelhouse.

[Emily]
I like the idea of a summer

[Thomas]
Yeah, I agree.

[Emily]
Because that’s a good time frame and you create tension with the looming of the school year and the ending of the vacation.

[Shep]
Also, they’re kids, so summer seems to last forever when you’re a kid.

[Thomas]
Sure.

[Emily]
Yeah,

[Shep]
Because relatively it’s a large portion of your life, whereas nowadays I blinked and it’s fall. So what happened? So if the kid gets bullied or is teased all the time and finally has a friend but knows that they’re leaving at the end of summer, things are going to go back to the way they were. You’re finally happy, but it’s very brief. You promise to be pen pals, but you’re not going to.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
So is there a lake?

[Emily]
There’s always a lake.

[Thomas]
There’s always a lake.

[Shep]
What are you leaning towards?

[Thomas]
I’m just trying to figure out where this is set.

[Emily]
Where are they vacationing?

[Thomas]
A New England lake.

[Emily]
Is it set in the Catskills? Do they dance?

[Thomas]
“Nobody puts Briebrie in a corner.”

[Shep]
pained groan I’m going to run out of groans.

[Emily]
Coming-of-age stories are some of my favorite type of stories. I don’t know why I’ve always been drawn to them. So I really like this one. We just need a really good problem. Besides bullying, there’s got to be something more, right?

[Shep]
Oh, it could be, if we’re going by the names… So Mac has a crush on her. Hasn’t had a crush on a girl before. Kisses her once, but it doesn’t go anywhere. So gets his heart broken and loses his best friend.

[Thomas]
That would certainly be the lowest low. I think.

[Emily]
But they’re just kids. They can’t be in love.

[Shep]
You’re the one that keeps trying to put love in it. I’m trying to meet you halfway.

[Emily]
No, I like that. I like that. I think that’s a good idea. What if one of them, Mac, is the towny? Right? Is it like a resort town? Let’s say it’s like a Jersey Shore type pier boardwalk area. I don’t know.

[Thomas]
Yeah. I feel like they each need-

[Emily]
Each need is something.

[Thomas]
Some big thing, right?

[Emily]
Yeah. Like one of them has a stutter. One of them-

[Shep]
Mac is short. He gets teased because he’s short.

[Emily]
Just hasn’t hit his growth spurt yet.

[Shep]
Hasn’t hit his gross spurt yet. He’s short for his age.

[Thomas]
So how does he overcome that? Because growing taller is not something that’s within his control. So does he fight the bully and prove that short guys can kick taller guys’ asses? Does he stop giving a shit about it? Does he find something to tease the bully about to shut him up finally?

[Shep]
I think he stands up to the bully and then just gets pounded. It doesn’t work. Everything that people are told about bullies is wrong.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Emily]
This is true.

[Shep]
They’re not lacking self-confidence.

[Emily]
No.

[Shep]
So that’s not going to work.

[Emily]
Do they murder their bully?

[Shep]
No. That’s Heathers.

[Thomas]
And what about Brie? I hate to lean on the trope of her parents got divorced and so her and her mom are here for the summer. But it could be something. I mean, maybe the dad is abusive and so they’re hiding out here until something can happen.

[Emily]
Maybe he just died. I apparently want someone to die.

[Shep]
Nobody dies. Everybody’s immortal in this movie.

[Emily]
Well, I was thinking part of her problem, if we’re going to make him short and then we want to add that little bit of his attractiveness to her, maybe part of why she gets teased is she’s also 13 but she’s got big boobs and boys are stupid. And-

[Shep]
Well, then she would be really popular.

[Emily]
No, speaking as a girl who had big boobs at 13, that’s not actually true. You just get made fun of for them because boys are dumb at that age and don’t know how to act.

[Thomas]
You didn’t need to say at that age.

[Emily]
Because I got teased a lot for my big boobs and I was like “But I thought that was the thing that people like.”

[Shep]
Her character trait is that she has big boobs. Am I understanding this correctly?

[Emily]
No, that’s what she’s getting teased about. That’s not her character trait.

[Thomas]
But I feel like the teasing, maybe it’s different from Mac, that that can be his big problem. I feel like for Brie, that’s just the thing that pulls them together. I feel like her problem should be some other separate thing.

[Emily]
What if they’re staying with her grandparents because her parents aren’t divorced but her dad lost his job and they’re in the process of-

[Shep]
And her grandparents are dying and then the grandma dies. No.

[Emily]
Everybody dies. Everyone’s dead.

[Thomas]
Maybe the parents are going through a really messy divorce, and so they sent her to stay with the grandparents for the summer while they split everything up. So not only is she going home to a broken home, she’s going home to not the house she came from in, not the town she grew up in, maybe.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
So now she’s going to a totally new place and she’s really scared about her future because everything is different.

[Emily]
And to make that less depressing, instead of getting divorced, her dad could have just lost his job and they are just, you know, they had to sell their house. So they’re staying with her grandparents for the time being.

[Shep]
Oh, that’s good, because it’s not clear that she’s leaving at the end of summer.

[Emily]
Right. It’s an indefinite but hopefully things will work out by the end of summer type thing.

[Shep]
That’s good, because then her leaving at the end of summer isn’t the lowest low.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Shep]
It’s the finale that comes towards the end out of nowhere. So Thomas, or one of you, maybe Emily. Emily said everything was different for her. Right?

[Emily]
That was Thomas.

[Shep]
Everything was new. Okay. I couldn’t remember. Anyway, you brought up a good point about everything being new for her.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
And I think that her character thing should be that she’s trying to be a new person in this new place, in a new house with new people around. She’s decided she’s going to be different in some way. Either she’s going to be quirky or whereas previously she was studious, she’s going to be independent where previously she clung to her mother. What were you going to say? Emily?

[Emily]
I was going to say she’s going to be a manic pixie dream girl. Not like we write her that way. But she gets that in her brain because she read Perks of Being a Wallflower or something. And so she’s just like, “This is who I am now. I’m adopting this Manic Pixie Dream Girl persona.”

[Shep]
And so she’s trying to stand out and be quirky, but everyone just thinks she’s being weird and doesn’t-

[Emily]
And awkward, and Mac is like, “Well, I don’t have any friends.”

[Shep]
Right. “They said we should be friends, so, I guess we’re friends.”

[Emily]
Because then in her trying to be the manic pixie dream girl, she becomes his manic pixie dream girl.

[Thomas]
Is her end of the film resolution then, that she finds a balance? She’s not who she was, but she’s not this artificial person who she actually isn’t. She finally becomes comfortable with some aspect of herself or some persona that she can actually realize and feel comfortable in?

[Emily]
Right. I even imagine there’s a scene where she sneaks somehow (I don’t know how she would do it), like gets a pack of Virginia Slims or something and tries to smoke. And Mac’s just like, “Why?” And she’s just coughing and hacking and just like-

[Shep]
Cause smoked cheese. I mean, it all adds up.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Emily]
She’s just coughing and hacking. He’s like, “Why are you even trying to do that? You clearly don’t like it.” And she’s like, “No, no, I’ll get used to it. It’s cool. I’m mysterious.”

[Thomas]
So because she’s too young, obviously somebody else had to buy her the cigarettes, but where did she get the cheddar?

[Shep]
more pained groans

[Thomas]
So how does this movie end?

[Emily]
Well, obviously he gains confidence even though he’s still being bullied and I don’t know how.

[Thomas]
What is he trying to do? What does he need the confidence to be able to do? Because I feel like the bully is going to keep trying to tease him.

[Emily]
Yeah, right.

[Thomas]
So he just has to be not caring anymore or how do we demonstrate that to the audience?

[Emily]
Is he some sort of musician or singer or something? And they have some kind of county-

[Shep]
No, he’s a child. He doesn’t have any special skills. He’s just a kid, an awkward kid.

[Emily]
Awkward short kid with large feet. Because that’ll say that he’s going to be tall later. I don’t know.

[Thomas]
Is there a towny girl that he likes that he asks out? Does he realize that he’s gay and goes, “Well, at least the bully doesn’t know about that.”

[Shep]
The bully is also gay and he doesn’t know how to show his attraction.

[Thomas]
Yeah, there you go. He kisses the bully and it just shuts the bully’s brain off. He’s just like, “What even just… I don’t…” I feel like if we can figure out what each of their arcs are, we can kind of fill in the details from there.

[Emily]
Right. I don’t know. You’re boys, what are things to be teased about and how do you overcome that? I don’t-

[Shep]
Being awkward and shy and nerdy.

[Thomas]
Any minor physical thing.

[Shep]
Yes. Being too into books because learning is dumb.

[Thomas]
Liking girls. Not liking girls. Liking girls but not being able to go out on a date with a girl.

[Emily]
Yeah, just whatever.

[Shep]
Being poor. Being afraid of something. What is Mac afraid of?

[Emily]
Oh, maybe he’s afraid to swim.

[Shep]
He’s afraid to go off the tall slide because he was short for so long that he didn’t get to go on it when he was younger and hasn’t got over that fear at the water park.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
Oh, my God, the walk down from the tall water slide. I mean, talk about walk of shame.

[Emily]
Right. Those bullies are just picking on him.

[Shep]
Oh, he wasn’t tall enough to go on it before, he’s finally tall enough, and that’s when he chickens out and it’s the absolute worst. And so I guess him being brave enough to take a chance and kiss Brie, even though that doesn’t go anywhere, he realizes it’s not the end of the world. And then he has the carryover confidence to go down the slide.

[Thomas]
So does the movie open with him not being tall enough and having to walk back down? Do we see that or do we just hear about that later?

[Shep]
Now, isn’t the tall enough thing at the bottom of the stairs? Why would they have it at the top?

[Emily]
Well, actually, the pool that I took my children to this weekend, their height thing is up at the top of the slide. They make those poor little bastards walk all the way up first, and then they point to it and make them stand there in front of everyone to see if they’re tall enough or not. Luckily, there was no teasing, because Gen-, whatever that generation is, is full of love and compassion for one another. Thank you, Daniel Tiger.

[Shep]
Okay, well, maybe there could be two. There’s one at the top that they actually check, and there’s one at the bottom, so you could self-check. So you don’t walk all the way up.

[Thomas]
Right. But nobody bothers you’re too excited. You run up the stairs.

[Shep]
So he asks his mom, “Am I tall enough? Am I tall enough?” Because that’s his dream going up there. It looks so exciting.

[Thomas]
So he’s going with some friends. It could be a birthday party, or maybe it’s just a bunch of parents are taking their kids.

[Shep]
I like, if it’s a birthday party because parents invite all the kids whether they’re friends or not.

[Thomas and Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
Oh, yeah. So they’re all there. They’re all excited. They all go running up there. They get to the top, and he’s excited to go. He’s first in line. He’s so proud of himself. He gets up there, and he can’t do it because he’s too short, and he gets sent back down, and the bully is one of the friends who, somebody picks on him, or maybe he makes some comments, some of the other kids laugh, and he goes, “Oh, that attention felt good,” and becomes his bully. So they have this history where they used to be friends.

[Shep]
Yeah, they used to be friends because everybody’s friends in kindergarten.

[Thomas]
Right. And this is that- It’s like multiple coming of age moments where it’s like, “Oh, people I thought were my friends aren’t.”

[Shep]
Yeah, that’s good.

[Thomas]
And so then, like you said, he gets that confidence from kissing Brie and finding out that what’s the worst that can happen? Not much, really. Like, they stayed friends, and it was a little awkward, but they had a conversation.

[Emily]
Yeah. She said, “I don’t like you like that. But they ended up-“

[Shep]
“I don’t like you like that. But they ended up-” what? They ended up what?

[Emily]
Staying friends.

[Thomas]
Dying. It was a murder suicide. He just couldn’t take it.

[Shep]
Getting eaten by a shark.

[Thomas]
Getting eaten by a shark, in the lake.

[Shep]
Yes.

[Thomas]
The freshwater lake.

[Shep]
In the pool.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Emily]
Checks out.

[Shep]
The deep end. You never know what’s in there.

[Thomas]
“The Deep End, this summer!” Actually, that’s not bad. So yeah. So anyway, he gets the confidence from kissing her and then is able to go down the slide. Is that his big arc?

[Shep]
Yeah, I think there’s three-

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Is he at the water park? Three times? Once he’s too short, once where he chickens out, and once where he goes all the way.

[Thomas]
No, there’s going to be four times, because there has to be one early on where she wants to go to the water park and invites him, and he’s like, “Uh…”

[Emily]
“Oh, no, I don’t do that.”

[Thomas]
“Okay.” And then he wants to go to- because he wants to be around her, because he still has a crush on her at this point, but he doesn’t want to admit his fear of the waterslide, which he then has to do while they’re there.

[Emily]
Oh, yeah. Because he wants to still kind of impress her because he’s a 13-year-old boy.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Emily]
He’s got a crush on any girl.

[Shep]
Oh, this is the second one. He’s too short during the birthday party with who he thought was his friends, and this is the time that he chickens out while she’s there.

[Thomas]
Oh, that’s really good.

[Emily]
Okay. And she’s actually really cool about it. “You don’t have to do that if you weren’t-“

[Shep]
Oh, yeah. She doesn’t go down the slide. She walks with him down the stairs.

[Thomas]
Yeah, of course.

[Shep]
But it doesn’t make it better. He thinks she’s pitying him.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Shep]
It just makes it worse.

[Thomas]
What is her arc? What is her bigger issue that she’s solving? I mean, the personality thing, is that because of those changes that are coming,

[Emily]
Yeah. I think she’s really in turmoil right now because she doesn’t know what’s going to happen and doing one of the things she can control, she’s going to make this new persona.

[Thomas]
Right. Yeah. Maybe she’s being teased about some aspect of her personality. She is very bookish, and people are teasing her for being uncool because she likes being smart or whatever.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
And so here she is in a town where nobody knows her. She can remake herself. She can try out this new thing that she read in one of the books she really enjoyed.

[Shep]
Perks of Being a Wallflower.

[Thomas]
Yes.

[Shep]
Which you could see her reading earlier in the movie.

[Thomas]
Right. Yeah. And so she just said she’s going to try out this personality, and that doesn’t go well. And then her goal, the reason she’s doing this is because she wants to be prepared for the new town she knows she’s going to, I guess? Do we know that her-?

[Shep]
Does she know or do we not know?

[Emily]
No, I like it better if she doesn’t know she’s just doing it to be a new person, thinking these kids will think she’s cool because she’s from a bigger city and maybe she got teased for being this nerdy bookish type in a bigger city. She wasn’t into the fashion or the whatever.

[Shep]
It’s good that if she were from a big city that didn’t have a water park so for her, that water park is new and exciting and-

[Thomas]
Right.

[Emily]
Right. It’s so awesome. Right? You can just go to it anytime you want. You can walk there even, because it’s such a smaller community.

[Shep]
She knows exactly how tall the high water slide is and how it compares to other water parks in the region. Because she’s still a nerd deep down.

[Emily]
Right. And she shows that to him. She lets Mac know that she’s still totally a nerd.

[Shep]
Right. Because she’s excited.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
She’s openly excited. She’s not trying to play it cool.

[Thomas]
How does her arc resolve?

[Shep]
I think that when Mac kisses her, she’s like, “Oh, this is not what I wanted at all. Maybe I shouldn’t be this manic pixie dream girl. Because I’m not a manic pixie dream girl. Just a girl.”

[Emily]
Do you envision it being more of a “I like you, just not that way” kind of a thing of-

[Shep]
Or maybe she’s just not into anyone yet. She’s still growing up.

[Emily]
Yeah, maybe you’re right. She’s 13 and she’s just like, “Ah! Too much, too much. Not ready for this.”

[Thomas]
Not to mention, like, she might not be here in a few months. She doesn’t want to catch feelings for anybody who she may not see ever again.

[Emily]
Oh, she’s like Katniss. So I reread The Hunger Games series, and I noticed that Katniss is just so stressed about surviving and living in this fucked up world that whenever Gale especially, is, like, pushing her to be like, “We can start a family. We can do this,” she’s just like, “I don’t even fucking know where dinner is coming from tomorrow. I’m not thinking about boys.” That’s never expressly written.

[Thomas]
Sure.

[Emily]
But that’s clearly her character of, like, “I don’t have control over anything in my life right now. I can’t even begin to think about what it would be to kiss a boy or be with a boy or anything like that.” So I think that would be a good, the turmoil of her dad doesn’t have a job. They’re staying with her grandparents. They can’t keep them for very long. It’s just like a summer thing or something because they can’t really afford to keep them or whatever. So she’s very much in that state of mind of, “This is not anything I can handle right now.” And that can help put her situation into perspective for herself to where she sees that this manic pixie dream girl thing isn’t working to do what she wants it to do. It’s not saving her from anything. She’s still in that uncertain world and will be until the things out of her control are resolved.

[Thomas]
Right. She’s still getting negative attention. It’s just a different kind now.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
All right, well, let’s take a quick break, and when we come back, we’ll come up with the rest of our story for Mac and Cheese.

[Break]

[Thomas]
All right, we are back. So it sounds like we kind of have our character arcs figured out. What are all the juicy in between bits that make up our story?

[Shep]
I think Brie should be into magic. Like, she thinks magic is real, or she’s pretending that she thinks magic is real because she’s trying on the manic pixie dream girl persona.

[Thomas]
But maybe it’s not like magic. It’s like a spiritual type of thing.

[Emily]
Like crystals and-

[Thomas]
Pixie magic. Yeah, right. New age stuff.

[Shep]
Well, it’s something that she would get teased over by boys that are children.

[Emily]
Right. Does she carry some sort of witch’s book with her everywhere and smudge things?

[Thomas]
She wears those fairy wings. Yes. See, even as an adult, you want to tease her about it.

[Shep]
Well, her parents aren’t around to stop her from wearing them out of the house.

[Thomas]
How do they meet? We talked about them bonding over being bullied. And very early on, you said something about people being like, “Oh, Mac and Brie, Mac and Cheese. You guys should be friends.” Is that a thing that happens in the story?

[Shep]
Yeah, if it’s summertime, they’re not meeting at school.

[Thomas and Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
Does he have summer school that he has to do, summer detention or something like that? And it happens in the library. Although I guess if she’s trying to intentionally change her personality, she probably wouldn’t be hanging out in the library.

[Emily]
But it’s so hard to quit the books, man.

[Shep]
I agree that that’s true, but I also think that Thomas is right. She would try to quit it, at least temporarily.

[Thomas]
Well, it could be her first day in town, and she goes to get a bunch of books to check out for the summer, knowing, “Okay, I’m going to get a whole bunch and not come back. This is all I get for while I’m here.”

[Shep]
I like the idea of him doing remedial summer school, because that is a thing that she could help him with if she weren’t trying to pretend to not be such a nerd.

[Emily]
And that’s how she lets it slip sometimes.

[Shep]
Well, it could be a thing that they fight about later when he’s like, “You could have tutored me this whole time that we were hanging out. You know all this stuff.”

[Emily]
Is her grandmother or grandfather running the remedial program and she just goes with them one day.

[Shep]
I think that’s too much of a coincidence.

[Emily]
Okay. I’m picturing it being a really small town.

[Shep]
I mean, they could live near each other.

[Emily]
Do they meet at a comic book shop? Because while she doesn’t read book books, she could go check out manga because that’s cool.

[Thomas]
I could definitely see her trying to work in reading into her thing. Like, “How can reading- How can I still get away with reading as my new persona?”

[Shep]
So when she is bookish, she wore glasses, and now she’s not wearing her glasses. She doesn’t have contacts. She just can’t see. She’s just not wearing her glasses. So she’s blind all the time. So she can’t read because she’d need her glasses.

[Emily]
I like that.

[Shep]
That’s how you quit cold turkey. So that doesn’t answer the question.

[Emily and Shep]
How do they meet?

[Thomas]
Right.

[Emily]
At the mall?

[Shep]
At the 7-11, at the Circle K, because it’s a small town, and there’s just the one place that the kids sit out in front of. What if she’s just going around introducing herself to people because it’s, her new personality would do something like that.

[Emily]
What if they meet in a different park?

[Thomas]
There needs to be some sort of a thing like either, like you said, a park or a skating rink or something like that.

[Emily]
Some other place.

[Thomas]
A place where the kids go.

[Emily]
Yeah. And she witnesses them teasing Mac.

[Shep]
Oh, it’s just a regular park with trees and grass.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
And they’re playing hide and seek and they don’t bother to find him.

[Emily]
And she’s just like, “They’re not even looking for you, dude.”

[Shep]
Yeah, “They left.”

[Thomas]
He seems a bit old to be playing hide and seek.

[Shep]
Well, how old are they?

[Thomas]
Early teens, right? 12-13 around there.

[Emily]
Yeah. 12-13.

[Thomas]
And if at this point he knows that these people don’t like him…

[Emily]
Way to ruin it, Thomas.

[Thomas]
There’s a playground attached to the school. That’s the playground. That’s the park, right. For the town. If he’s doing remedial summer school, it could just be he’s out there during recess or just after it has let out for the day. And she’s there because, hey, that’s where kids are. Does that seem like a likely place for them to meet? At least a location?

[Emily]
I think it works.

[Shep]
Yeah, I don’t have any strong objection, so let’s just go with that and move on.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
All right. So somehow they meet there.

[Emily]
She could witness him getting picked on.

[Thomas]
I think she needs to.

[Emily]
Well, yeah, it’s important. And she has to kind of weigh the benefits of “Do I-?”

[Thomas]
Oh, she’s been striking out all morning. Nobody wants to talk to her. Nobody knows who the fuck she is. So she sees him getting picked on. She knows exactly how that feels. So she’s like, “Well, all right, I’m going to go say something to him, try to cheer him up a little bit, maybe make a friend. Who knows?”

[Emily]
And since she’s trying to be the cool, quirky girl, she’s like, “You can be my friend, and then people will like you too, because I’m quirky and adorable. And people like that.”

[Thomas]
I think at the very beginning, he needs to not want to have anything to do with her and be like, “Leave me alone,” because he’s feeling all sad and downhearted about being teased again.

[Shep]
Does she try to join in the bullying at first because she’s trying to make friends?

[Thomas]
Yeah. Jeez, that’d be great. She clocks, “Oh, this will be an easy in. These are the popular kids,” obviously, because that’s what popular kids do, as she well knows. So yeah, she tries to join in on the bullying, they turn around and start to bully her as well.

[Shep]
Yeah, it backfires immediately.

[Thomas]
It totally, completely backfires. And now he has more of a reason, Mac has more of a reason not to want to talk to her or having to do with her, because she was just fucking bullying him.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
So then she has to work to apologize and be like, “That’s not me. I’m so sorry.”

[Shep]
That’s great.

[Thomas]
And then maybe has to explain her situation. “The town that I live in, the city that I live in, I get bullied all the time. I’m so sorry.”

[Shep]
Does she say that she gets bullied all the time? I thought she’s pretending to be cool.

[Thomas]
I was thinking in this moment, she shows vulnerability to gain his trust.

[Shep]
I think that she should still pretend to be cool because that’s how he’s going to see her, as the coolest person he ever got to know. And it’s this fake persona of hers.

[Thomas]
Right. They’re both putting on this façade for each other. That makes sense. Well, at any rate, I feel like that’s a good way for them to meet. So then do they go to the 7-11 and get ICEEs or something?

[Emily]
Well yeah, adventures ensue. They do what kids do in smaller towns in the summertime.

[Thomas]
What is that? I have no idea because I grew up in a big city.

[Emily]
Well, I grew up in a moderate sized city, when I was this age, I was in a moderate size city, and we would wander the streets, hang out at parks, go get slushies, take the bus to the mall, go to the movies.

[Shep]
What year is this?

[Emily]
Well, it could be set today. We set everything in the 90s. I’m trying really hard to say set in the 90s.

[Shep]
Okay. Because kids do different stuff depending on what era they’re in.

[Emily]
Today they wouldn’t be allowed to just, even at that age, just wander freely,

[Thomas]
Yeah. Plus, if it was happening now, he would be being cyber bullied, not real-life bullied.

[Shep]
That’s only because they only talk to each other online.

[Thomas]
Exactly. Yeah.

[Emily]
I was going to say, if it’s set now, then what do they do? They sit on their phones and watch TikToks next to each other.

[Shep]
Right.

[Thomas]
He’d be in remote summer school.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
They’d never meet.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Emily]
How do people do anything in this day and age?

[Shep]
They don’t, spoilers.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
They don’t.

[Emily]
What are we doing to our children? Okay, so what about this kiss? How do we get to the kiss? What happens that he decides he’s brave enough.

[Thomas]
That has to be in the third act, then. Well toward the end.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
Yes.

[Emily]
The kiss gives him the confidence to go down the slide later.

[Shep]
No, not the kiss itself, which doesn’t work at all.

[Emily]
It doesn’t work. Right. Okay. The attempted kiss.

[Thomas]
The kiss of the test. He gets the confidence. Does the kiss, it fails, but he maintains the confidence.

[Shep]
Well, I think that he temporarily loses the confidence because she doesn’t want to be friends for a moment, because she’s processing this event that has happened, but then later, she’s like, “Okay, I don’t feel that way for you. I want us to be friends.” And he’s like, “Yeah, okay.” Maybe he doesn’t even want to be more than friends, but he’s thinking, this is what you do if you’re a boy and you’re friends with a girl, because he doesn’t have any life experience yet.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Emily]
And she’s quirky and she’s cool. And that’s what you do to quirky cool girls.

[Shep]
Right. He’s seen movies.

[Emily]
Yeah. She made him read The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

[Shep]
So maybe he doesn’t even really want to be more than friends, but he kisses her anyway because he thinks maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do. It doesn’t go well. She doesn’t want to be more than friends. She just wants to be friends. So it’s that coming around, I think maybe… well, I hate to have her run away, because that’s what you do in a scene when you can’t think of how you have the other person respond. Maybe she yells at him and says, “Whoa, whoa, whoa. I don’t consent to this. What are you doing?” But then later, makes amends.

[Thomas]
I feel like, it would happen in the scene. He kisses her and she backs away. “What are you doing?”

[Shep]
Or maybe he tries to run away because he doesn’t know how to respond because he’s a kid. And she’s like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa.”

[Thomas]
Oh, yeah. And she won’t let him get away.

[Shep]
“We got to talk about this right now.”

[Thomas]
Yeah, that’s good.

[Emily]
I like the idea that neither one of them wants the kiss necessarily. He thinks it’s the right moment. The sun is setting, there’s fireflies coming out.

[Shep]
Right.

[Emily]
And she reveals some deep secret of truth about herself. And he’s just like, “Oh, this is like-“

[Thomas]
He assumes it’s what she wants.

[Emily]
Yeah, because maybe she shares another really deep vulnerability with him. And he’s just like, “Oh, maybe she wants me to do this.” And he kisses her.

[Shep]
Oh, she talks about, because she’s a nerd, she talks about some scene in some book that she read that was like this, where the two romantic characters get together and there were fireflies and the sun was setting, and it was very romantic. And then he kisses her, and she’s like, “Whoa, I didn’t meet us!”

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Emily]
Right. Yeah. Maybe she’s like, “This is how I want my first kiss,” or something like that. And so he’s thinking, because she’s just talking out loud to her friend, and he’s like-

[Shep]
Right.

[Emily]
“Now, should I do that?” And he does, and she’s like, “Not you!”

[Thomas]
Poor guy.

[Emily]
And then he’s like “Oh!” And she’s like, “No, I don’t mean it that way. It’s just I want it to be-“

[Shep]
“Someone taller.”

[Emily]
No, she would never.

[Shep]
“I mean, that bully is pretty tall. I’m just saying.”

[Emily]
“He doesn’t seem to like me that much. For some reason, I’m attracted to that.”

[Shep]
“He’s such a bad boy.”

[Emily]
“I think I could fix him.”

[Shep]
So they have the kiss. It doesn’t go well, but it’s not the end of the world. They’re still friends.

[Emily]
Maybe he does get up to run away, and she’s like, “Hold on. No no no no.”

[Shep]
Oh, yeah. She’s got to grab his shirt-

[Emily]
Drag him back down and be like, “No.”

[Shep]
Because she’s taller, so she can just do that.

[Thomas]
This is their big reckoning, right? This is where their façades fade away.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
This is where they have to be truly honest with each other.

[Shep]
Right. But that was her being honest, where she’s gushing about that book that she read.

[Thomas]
But it’s also the moment of her realization that this person I’m trying to be is sending out the wrong signals.

[Emily]
Isn’t me.

[Thomas]
It’s giving me the wrong attention. This is not the outcome I wanted.

[Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
Right.

[Emily]
Yeah. She maybe says something like, “I’m not this person. I’m not this cool, quirky girl. And I want the person I kiss, the moment like that, I want it to be for me.”

[Shep]
“I want them to like me.”

[Emily]
“With glasses, reading my book, nerdy princess that I am.”

[Shep]
When does she find out that she’s leaving? Is it before the kiss or after the kiss?

[Emily]
I think maybe before. And that’s why she kind of starts to let her vulnerability go with him deeper.

[Shep]
Also why he would think maybe this is the only chance.

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
If he knows that I could see him wondering, “Well, did she actually like me? But because she was leaving, she didn’t want to start something.” Just like, having something in the back of his head for the rest of his life. Not talking from experience or anything.

[Emily]
I think we all have that moment.

[Thomas]
Yeah, right. But that’s why I’m saying that’s why I like that detail, because it feels like the never really knowing. I think that’s something we all understand.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
What is the lowest low? What is the worst thing that happens to our characters? They have to break up as friends, right? They’re both really mad at each other for some reason? Is the water park-? Did they get into a fight because of that?

[Shep]
Do they have to break up as friends temporarily? Because that is such an overdone trope at this point that you see it in everything. I mean, sometimes clichés are clichés because they work.

[Thomas]
Right.

[Shep]
But my fear is that this one just seems like a paint by numbers, you’re in the third act, you got to have the fake break up. I don’t know. Those haven’t landed for me for a while. I think the lowest low is him finding out she’s leaving. That’s his lowest low.

[Emily]
It could be hers, too, because she’s well, her lowest low is the kiss. The realization that she doesn’t even know if he wants to be her friend because of who she actually is or if it’s because of this persona she’s been putting on.

[Shep]
Oh, yeah. I could see that as a big fear that she has. “If he knew how I really was, he wouldn’t like me and he kissed me, so I have to tell him, this isn’t me.” And then she starts crying because she thinks he doesn’t want to be friends anymore. Yeah. Let’s really tug on those heartstrings in that scene.

[Emily]
And he’s upset because, well, “Now you’re leaving me. I finally have a friend who doesn’t want to shit on me all the time, and you’re going to leave, and I’m going to be alone again and I’m going to be stuck in this town with this bully and-“

[Shep]
How does he handle the bully? Does he have any resolution with the bully?

[Emily]
How real do we want this to be? Because in reality, no, he doesn’t. The bully gets to be the football star and popular.

[Shep]
And fuck the prom queen.

[Thomas]
And get her pregnant and ruin both their lives, so…

[Shep]
So what is advice that you would give for dealing with bullies? I’m asking you, like, for real, what would you advise?

[Thomas]
I think it depends on the bullying. If it’s physical bullying, you have to fight back, even if you lose.

[Shep]
Right. If it’s physical bullying, which is not what he’s doing.

[Thomas and Emily]
Right.

[Shep]
But if it’s just teasing…

[Thomas]
I think it starts with legitimately not giving a shit. The whole point of what the bully is trying to do is make you feel bad about who you are. So you have to either feel confident in who you are or not care what the bully thinks about you. So that when the bully says, “Oh, you got big feet,” or, “You’re super short,” or whatever it is, “You have stated a fact of the universe, there’s nothing I can do about it.”

[Shep]
“You’ve got big feet.” “Yeah, because I got a big cock.”

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
And then he goes down the slide.

[Thomas]
So I had a friend who, when people would tease him, he would just thank them and walk away. And it always threw people off.

[Emily]
I actually was watching a video on that recently where when people are being aggressive or bullying, that you reply with kindness and understanding and just very calmly like, “Oh, yeah, okay.” And it just really does freak people out.

[Thomas]
When I think agreeing with the bully disarms them. “You’re super short.” “Yeah, it sucks. I wish I were taller.”

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
You’re not reacting how they want you to react and it’s going to get worse as the bully tries to twist the screws and figure out what is going to work.

[Shep]
What are the buttons to press.

[Thomas]
Exactly. You just can’t let it get to you, which is hard.

[Emily]
My daughter recently went through what she decided was bullying, and I was like, “Well, it’s kind of teasing, but I get how you would feel it was bullying and-“

[Shep]
gasp Is the bully not a bully? Is the bully just teasing what he thinks is his friend? And his friend is being devastated by it, but he doesn’t recognize it because he doesn’t have that sort of awareness of the world. He doesn’t even realize how devastating what he’s saying is, because they’ve always been friends since they were younger.

[Thomas]
And he just thinks it sucks that we don’t hang out as much as we used to.

[Shep]
Yeah.

[Emily]
“You’re always hanging out with that weird chick.”

[Thomas]
He doesn’t realize he’s pushed his friend away. He just thinks, “My friend has pulled away from me for some reason.”

[Shep]
Right.

[Thomas]
And he’s always trying to give him a good-natured ribbing to show like, “Hey-“

[Shep and Thomas]
“We’re still friends.”

[Shep]
“See, we’re still joking.”

[Emily]
That could be. I know my children don’t react well to teasing and my siblings and I rib each other endlessly and sometimes they do it to them, thinking, “Oh, this is how I show affection.”

[Shep]
Right!

[Emily]
And they’re like, “Why are you being mean?”

[Shep]
That’s how the bully’s family is. That’s how his older brothers are. So that’s what he thinks is how you-

[Emily]
That’s how you show affection.

[Shep]
I mean, you don’t have to go with any of this. I’m just saying you could resolve things with the bully, with them being friends at the end.

[Emily]
I mean, I like that idea because then we don’t have that depressing ending of, well, yeah, the bullying just keeps going and I just learned to suck it up.

[Thomas]
Right. So is the climax, then, at the water park? He goes down the slide at the end of the slide, and he’s standing up and the bully’s walking by, and he’s like, “Oh, shit, you finally did it, huh, you pussy?” Or whatever he says. And dude just fucking snaps because he’s got the new confidence and he’s, like, pumping full of adrenaline from having gone down this slide that’s terrified him his whole life. And so he just, like, lashes out, and the guy’s like, “Whoa, what are you doing?” And that’s when it comes to light that, “I’m not making fun of you because I think less of you. I thought we were still friends. I’m sorry.” Is that how that resolves? Is that part of the big climax?

[Emily]
Is that dramatic enough?

[Shep]
I don’t know. It probably is dramatic enough. I don’t know if snapping at a bully is the right lesson to have in the movie.

[Thomas]
Hey, I’m not trying to raise other people’s kids here.

[Emily]
This is true.

[Thomas]
Just trying to write an interesting story.

[Shep]
Maybe he now has the confidence to voice things that he’s thinking. Maybe he’s really funny and he can tease the bully back in a funny way.

[Thomas]
But does that confrontation happen at the water park?

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Shep]
I think that it does happen at the water park, either before he goes down the slide or after he comes out of the-

[Thomas]
Which I think would be really good because since that’s where that started.

[Shep and Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
It’s like poetry…

[Shep]
It rhymes.

[Thomas]
It rhymes.

[Shep]
The water park is where it all has to come out because that’s the scene of multiple traumas that he goes through.

[Thomas]
And so what about for her? Is her only resolution that she has decided to be herself or to be something in between bookish and Pixie Girl?

[Emily]
Yeah. I think in between would be good because even when you’re adopting a persona, strictly-

[Shep]
Oh!

[Emily]
Go for it Shep.

[Shep]
She starts wearing her glasses again.

[Emily]
Yeah. Does Mac say something about the glasses? “When did you get those?”

[Thomas]
She has to put them on in front of him sometimes. She has to be able to read if they’re out somewhere. She needs to read a menu. She needs to see a sign.

[Emily]
Maybe when he’s struggling and that’s- you had talked about that they get in an argument about her not helping him. Maybe she does help him with his schoolwork because he is struggling and she’s just like, “I want to go do this fun thing, but you’re still stuck doing this stupid assignment.” So she takes out her glasses and is like, highlighting things.

[Shep]
So she Good Will Huntings him.

[Thomas]
But I think he shouldn’t say anything. She puts them on and he just accepts that she wears glasses.

[Shep]
Right.

[Emily]
He doesn’t think anything of it because he doesn’t care.

[Shep]
No, it’s her wearing them in public in front of other people, like the other bullies, if they are bullies.

[Thomas]
Right. Feels like a bit of a weak resolution for her.

[Shep]
Is she the main character? No.

[Emily]
No. And she’s moving away.

[Thomas]
It feels like a two hander, but.

[Shep]
I don’t know what a two hander is. Is that when he’s got a really big penis?

[Thomas]
Yes. laughs It’s when you have two main characters.

[Shep]
I see.

[Emily]
Is she really main character? I think our focus is on Mac most of the time.

[Shep]
No, she’s got to be a main character because it’s Mac and Cheese.

[Thomas]
Yeah, there you go.

[Emily]
Okay.

[Shep]
So what is her stronger resolution then?

[Emily]
Well, because we have part of her problem being solved by she’s moving away.

[Thomas]
Is that solving a problem?

[Emily]
Oh, it’s not solving a problem, is it? Never mind that’s just moving away.

[Thomas]
I think that’s part of the problem. So I think the big problem for her is that she’s plagued by things outside of her control, by multiple things outside of her control. In a time where, developmentally, kids hate not being in control of their own lives. She has to find a way to feel in control.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
What can she control? So that’s why she tries to control her outward appearance, her personality, but she doesn’t like it because it brings new attention that she can’t control.

[Shep]
Yeah. You can’t control how other people react to you, no matter how you are.

[Emily]
But that’s such a hard thing for a 13-year-old girl to learn.

[Thomas]
Is that the lesson that she learns though? That, “Oh, it doesn’t matter who I am, I’m going to get negative attention, so at least I may as well be comfortable with myself and do the things I want to do.”

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
“There were fewer creeps sitting on me in the library.”

[Emily]
I mean, that is one way to go, certainly.

[Thomas]
And, I mean, she’s clearly not going to have all of her problems resolved.

[Emily]
Right.

[Thomas]
The whole issue of her life with her parents being out of her control is truly 100% out of her control.

[Emily]
And will never be resolved.

[Thomas]
Right. Not by her, not by anything she does.

[Emily]
Maybe her resolution has to be something about learning to let go of that need the control of just accepting and going along with life as best she can.

[Shep]
Going with the flow, like the flow of water at a water park.

[Thomas]
Is her climactic scene the lazy river?

[Shep]
Yes.

[Thomas]
She’s just relaxing in the lazy river, not trying to paddle her way along. She’s riding the wave in the wave pool, not fighting against it.

[Emily]
I mean, I’m 40 and I’m just learning this lesson, so I don’t know a 13-year-old girl is going to-

[Shep]
If only there were a movie you could have seen as a child that would have the important lessons in it.

[Emily]
I like the idea of her trying on that bad girl persona as part of it with the smoking and maybe she sneaks some beers or something.

[Thomas]
And he doesn’t want to do any of these things, but he’s just doing it for her.

[Emily]
Right. Because he’s just like, “She’s the cool girl. I’ll do what she says.” And she’s not having any fun doing it. They don’t even actually drink them. Maybe that’s the run in they have with the pack of the other bullies is that- I don’t know. 13 is young to be showing-

[Thomas]
I feel like she needs something that’s a little bit more within her control besides just how she wants to present herself. With him, he has a tangible thing. It’s going down the slide. It’s standing up to his bully. With her, it’s all more nebulous. It’s all stuff in the future, when she gets back, how will she be perceived by other people?

[Shep]
I mean, I did like the- You were joking about going down the lazy river, but I thought that was not terrible. I think that her and him going down the lazy river, where she could be talking about going with the flow, because she’s talking to the audience, really.

[Emily]
He’s like, “I conquered the slide. What’s next for you?” And she’s like, “I don’t know. I think I’ll just go with the flow.”

[Shep]
I don’t think she says “I don’t know.” I think she knows. She has come to the decision, and her decision is to go with the flow. You can’t control everything. You can only control yourself. You can’t control other people react to you, so don’t worry about it.

[Emily]
Okay.

[Thomas]
Has she had panic attacks at some point in the film?

[Emily]
Yeah.

[Thomas]
That he helps talk her down from?

[Shep]
I thought he was the one that had the- fear was his thing.

[Emily]
Oh, what if she’s in the lazy river reading with her glasses.

[Shep]
Yeah. At the end.

[Emily]
At the end? Yeah, she’s nerding out.

[Shep]
The first time she was at the water park, she’s got some weird outfit that she’s wearing because she’s trying to do that personality, and at the end, (and no glasses), and then at the end, she’s wearing her glasses and a regular bathing suit and just being normal and a nerd and herself and going with the flow.

[Thomas]
We’d love to hear your thoughts on today’s show. Was it a big cheese or should we simply stick it in our caps and call it macaroni?

[Shep]
very pained groan

[Emily]
No, even that one.

[Thomas]
Look, I didn’t have a lot of time to write these.

[Emily]
But I can’t get behind that one, man.

[Shep]
I think that one was good. It works on multiple levels.

[Thomas]
But you can let us know by leaving a comment on our website, reaching out on social media or sending us an email. Links to those can be found on our website AlmostPlausible.com, where you can also find complete transcripts for every episode, as well as links to the many references we make. Join Emily, Shep, and I as we dig in again next week on another episode of Almost Plausible.

[Shep]
Bye bye.

[Emily]
See ya.

[Outro music]

[Emily]
I was trying really hard to come up with ideas, so I was researching it because I was like, “Maybe there’s a joke about about Marconi and cheese, and I can do something with radio,” and I just couldn’t make it happen.

[Thomas]
Yeah.

[Shep]
See, now I’m just picturing Marconi inventing (or taking credit for) the radio, but he wires it wrong, and instead of sound coming out, just cheese comes out of the speakers.

[Emily]
It’s a fondue pot.

[Thomas]
“You’re listening to KRFT Mac and Cheese radio.”

[Shep]
Yes, I’m on board.

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