When one’s relationships do break up, one gets by with a little help from one’s friends. Gender-regardless dating contests, helpful hints, appeals for romance from outer space, whatever cheers one up! Do so secure in the knowledge that at least evil will be defeated because of the unbreakable bonds of friendship and the cunningness of your plans.
The cunning of said plans were bolstered not only by Merton’s Knowledge of Ancient Lore, but also his in-depth knowledge of pop culture.
'From an old legend, and the third season of Buffy…'
Often his knowledge was too in-depth.
'Merton: Bronco may be like one of the ghosts in The Sixth Sense, featuring Bruce Willis playing against type as a pensive child psychologist.
Lori: Well, what happened?
Merton: Well, after Die Hard, it was hard for Willis to shake his blue collar appeal.
Tommy: What happened in the movie.
Tommy: He does this all the time.’
Media does provide us with many, many life lessons, including dress and hair tips, moral guiding, and encyclopedic knowledge of how to deal with supernatural threats.
To get on in this life, and to triumph in every wacky adventure, all you need are friends and fantasy.
Clearly I believe this, as I devoted this Day In Tumblr to Big Wolf on Campus. I also have several messages confirming that the show existed and other people have WATCHED it.
And one message from a friend saying ‘Give it up, Rees Brennan. We’ll never believe you.’
BIG WOLF ON CAMPUS LESSON: Relationships are tricky.
In this case especially tricky as Merton’s imaginary friend has come to life (I said I did not make this show up but I never said I was not DEEPLY INFLUENCED by it) and is determined to murder all his other friends. (That is not buddies.)
But relationships are all fine, unless someone is trying to harm you. Befriend/date a zombie, a werecat, a swamp monster, a ghost, a youth-sucking enchantress, a pilgrim lady who came out of a tree, date numerous vampires. (These kids were kind of unlucky in love.)
It is fine to be the plaything of a coven of witches.
Or dancing with yourself: go feminist cheerleader Stacey!
Or into Secret Vampire Corey Haim.
NO JUDGEMENT, GUYS.
At one point, Tommy realises he can pass on his werewolf curse and carefully selects Brett, a super nice guy he knows, to bite and transform into a werewolf in his place.
He approaches Brett and tries to bite him against his will. Merton is upset. Stacey the feminist cheerleader is upset. Tommy himself is upset.
Brett: Say, Tom. The next time you feel that special way about another fellow, you should really take the time to find out if that fellow feels the same way. Tommy: No, no, no, no, no, it’s not what you think! Brett: Shh. You don’t have to explain anything to me, Tom.
Brett! Unsung hero of our time. Loving, accepting, but also reinforcing your personal boundaries and the importance of consent. You’re an inspiration to us all, Brett.
There is no better way to cement a friendship than in engaging in a cunning plan of hinjinx with the other person. Put on a costume, jimmy open a lock, vamp a receptionist, fake out make out, DO AS YOU WILL. I love a cunning plan.
This cunning plan (Good to be evil!) was gold, but not QUITE as good as the one in which Merton crossdressed as part of a cunning plan to preserve his sister from a boyband who were secretly singing, dancing evil reptiles.
… I DID NOT MAKE THIS SHOW UP. IT IS REAL, REAL I TELL YOU.
"If you like it, I’m putting my arm around you. If you don’t like it, it’s a muscle spasm."
"How long have you been having these muscle spasms?"
Big Wolf on Campus Lady Lesson: see a lady enforcing personal boundaries with clarity as is her right! Also see a werewolf’s eyeroll when seeing a lady’s personal boundary infringed!
I enjoyed that the question was phrased in such a way that friendship could be smoothly continued if the lady was not into it, and the lady unhesitatingly responded that into it she was not, and friendship smoothly continued.
The one time they did kiss, she made the moves. They did not pursue anything, possibly because Merton had hysterics with guilt over kissing his BFF’s ex immediately afterward and possibly because Lori felt she might murder him. Probably a good decision, though I was kind of into it.
Also even if the moves are not made roooomantically, it is okay to say ‘Well, new friends, you are very physically affectionate
"I didn’t want it to come to this, but…I know a foolproof way to find out exactly what Feldman is up to."
So, I warned you guys I wasn’t going to be smart every day and I feel an IRRESISTIBLE COMPULSION to prove it.
I wanted to talk about an old Canadian television show for children that I love.
(That’s right. Nobody in this bar thought I was cool, yes?)
This show is called Big Wolf On Campus.
A notable thing about this show is that all my friend groups have, independently, decided that the show is a figment of my deranged imagination.
SARAH: watches the first Twilight movie.
SARAH: sees the actress playing the villainess vampire Victoria.
SARAH: That’s Stacey! Guys, that’s Stacey!
SARAH: She was a feminist cheerleader and the first season love interest of our doofy but moral hero Tommy, the protagonist of Big Wolf on Campus!
FRIENDS: Sarah! I cannot believe you are casting your fake show!
SARAH: That’s Stace…
FRIENDS: Shhh! You’re spoiling Twilight for everybody! And we all know that Big Wolf on Campus DOES NOT EXIST.
Several years later I was watching the pilot of Reign with an entirely different group of friends.
SARAH: I know her! I know that lady!
FRIENDS: Of course you do. She played Anne of Green Gables. Now she plays the evil(ish) queen Catherine de Medici. She’s Evil Queen Anne of Green Gables.
SARAH: That’s not how I know her…
SARAH: Oh, she played Violet Thorne, one of the minor villains in Big Wolf on Campus.
FRIENDS (very softly) : Oh no.
SARAH: She dated and attempted to suck the life and youth out of Merton, Tommy’s Goth sidekick.
FRIENDS: Here we go again.
SARAH: Oh Merton. He was always so unlucky in love!
FRIENDS: There never was a Big Wolf on Campus. There never was a Goth sidekick. Let it go, Sarah. Let it all go.
I WILL NEVER LET IT GO. I was lucky to find several Canadian friends who had, in fact, seen the show. (If you’re asking whether I ever dated a Canadian guy who would believe me that Big Wolf on Campus existed the answer is… yes. Yes I have.)
This is a light shone, I know, into my viewing preferences. ‘More light than anyone needed’ one might say weakly. ‘Since your viewing preferences are TERRIBLE.’
But I am not done!
(‘We hoped you were—’
'—I AM NOT.')
I would like to talk about why I liked it.
(No that isn’t necessa—)
It has several similarities to Teen Wolf (which I also enjoy!). A doofy but appealing (and as the story goes on, it emerges, INNATELY HEROIC) young man, blundering about the woods, is bitten by a werewolf and his life becomes a round of supernatural shenanigans!
(Nothing I like more than supernatural shenanigans.)
There are differences, though. One is that Tommy does not come with a built-in best friend, and has to befriend the only Goth in town.
SARAH: His name was Merton!!!
SARAH: HIS BACKPACK WAS SHAPED LIKE A COFFIN!!!
SARAH: He drove a hearse!!!!
SARAH: I LOVED HIM!!!!!!)
There was a brief misunderstanding in which Tommy thought Merton had figured out he was a werewolf, showed up all werewolfy at his house, and Merton screamed and screamed, dropped a net on him and explained that he had an overactive imagination and did not expect to be right. Tommy does the befriending out of necessity, Merton agrees out of loneliness and curiosity about the supernatural, but they like each other almost at once. However there is also backsliding, cruel betrayals because of ladies and the allure of the popular crowd, and also one time Tommy had an evil doppelganger who made fun of Merton’s hair. Mutual best friendship was not confirmed until season two. BUILD-UP!
And then there was Lori, who arrived in season two, was kicked out of Catholic school, knew many of the arts of self-defence and was very keen to battle evil. I spent a great deal of time being worried about this bombshell blonde’s longevity.
SARAH: I love her, do I get to keep her?
SARAH: Oh no the boys are fighting over her, does that mean she will go AWAY?
SARAH: Oh no she’s dumped Tommy, does that mean she will go AWAY?
SARAH: Oh yay she and Merton are making out… but does that mean she will be sent AWAY?
She dumped Tommy because he was too protective of his lady and she wished to fight evil unfettered. She dated lots of people and their trio friendship stayed strong. She had a zombie boyfriend for one episode which I enjoyed! She never went away. Everybody stayed and they were a little found family!
And what does family do, once found, but SOLVE CRIMES in a spree of hijinx? As you can see from the above gifset, the gang has decided there is no way to defeat Corey Feldman, Secret Vampire, but to play a devious game of Truth or Dare! (We never hear the questions to these answers. Only the answers.) And it WORKS. The secret vampire is UNMASKED.
Basically, what I like is: ridiculous people in unexpected relationships, in ridiculous situations. And it works.
… I might have a few more gifsets in the pipeline.
Sometimes I read reviews of books* in which people criticize a book for having moments that feel explainy or educational around tough topics such as race, sexuality, politics. I agree that reading dialogue about these issues can sometimes feel didactic or…