The Big Deal: Humiliation party, movie screening
The kids are getting restless at school, so Mr. Bowman asks them what kind of fun project they might like to work on for English class. Leslie Forsythe, a nerdy girl that never talks to anyone, suggests they all make a movie together. Everyone thinks it’s a great idea. Liz and Amy go with Leslie after school to Sweet Valley Video to hang out with Leslie’s friend Deirdre who works there. Deirdre studied acting at UCLA and now she works at a video store, so clearly she knows everything there is to know about making movies. The girls browse around the store for ideas, and finally settle on a horror/love story spoof.
Liz and Amy come up with a title. The Slime that Ate Sweet Valley. It’s about a kid growing cucumbers in his basement, and one day the plants turn into a slime that eats people. The kid will have to save his girlfriend from the slime. Jessica and Lila have been arguing over which one of them should get the lead role and they both audition for the part even though they’re both disgusted by the plot. Lila is terrible. Jessica is pretty good, but that’s mostly due to the surprising talent of nerdy Randy Mason, who reads opposite her. Leslie hangs out in the back of the auditorium, trying to get the nerve to audition. She secretly wants to be an actress, but she’s much too shy. She also secretly really likes Randy and she’s so nervous about auditioning with him that she decides she’s just not gonna do it.
Jessica gets the female lead, and she’s horrified when Randy gets the male lead. He’s so geeky! How can she ever pretend to be his girlfriend? Lila is offered the role of the Slime, which is kind of hilarious, but she indignantly turns it down and Winston gets it instead. Mr. Bowman tries to put Lila on the cleanup crew, but she insists on being a camera person because her father just bought an expensive new camera. He’ll let the school borrow it on the condition that Lila be the only one to use it. She starts taking the camera everywhere and filming her friends in all kinds of embarrassing situations and generally pissing everyone off.
Liz, Amy, Maria, and Leslie start writing the script. Liz and Amy want to get to know Leslie better and figure out why she looked like she wanted to cry when the lead roles were announced. Leslie sort of wants to tell them about her crush on Randy and her secret desire to be an actress, but for some reason she thinks Liz and Amy will think she’s dumb or something. Every time she talks to them, she thinks they’re going to hate her. She’s got some issues.
Jessica is furious when she reads the script and finds out she has to kiss Winston and Randy in the movie. They’re both huge nerds, but that’s not the whole problem. Jessica has never kissed anyone before and she’s nervous. She doesn’t want her first kiss to be taped by Lila. So when rehearsals start, she acts like she has a cold and can’t kiss anyone. She also acts like a prima donna and won’t bother to learn her lines. She figures if she has to kiss nerds, she’s going to demand star treatment.
Lila suddenly starts acting like she’s not mad at Jessica for getting the lead role, and she invites her over to teach her how to pretend kiss. She videotapes Jessica kissing a pillow and says she’ll let Jessica watch the tape as soon as her VCR is back from whoever is borrowing it. Jessica thanks her for her help because she’s an idiot. Lila has a party the next day and invites the whole damn school. OF COURSE she shows all the embarrassing videos she’s been making of her friends, including Jessica’s pillow kissing. Jessica and the other girls Lila has humiliated get back at her by taping her doing the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet. It’s at a sleepover, she’s in her pajamas with a facial mask on, and her Romeo is a dust mop.
After the humiliation at the party, Jessica quits the movie. Nobody is sad to see her go. Leslie has finally told Liz, Amy, and Maria her secrets, and they cheer her on while she auditions. She gets the part because she’s secretly been a really great actress all this time. The movie is a huge success. The best part is that Jessica got one of the guys to edit in Lila’s Romeo and Juliet scene as a coming attraction before the movie. Leslie’s friend from the video store is so moved by Leslie’s courage that she’s decided to take up acting again. Good for you, Deirdre.
“It’s really too bad you got that part, Jessica,” Lila continued. “But I guess there’s nothing you can do about it now, is there? Is there?”
Lila is downright diabolical.
The Cover: Liz is taking entirely too much enjoyment from Jessica’s pain.