Just chattin' about John qua John
Marissa and guest reader Dr. Daniel Okobi tackle, but don't really answer, a big-but-vague question: Is John Pfeifer a good guy in this book? Also: Jessica's Philosophy on Men, and what's up with this new tennis girl?
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This whole transcript thing is still in beta, more or less. But here's an approximate transcript of this episode!
Extra Drama #52 Full
Marissa: [00:00:00] It's extra drama for book number 52 white lies. Hi, everybody. Welcome back to sweet Valley diaries. And I'm here again with Dr.
Daniel Okobi. Hi Daniel.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:00:34] Or is this too much to get into? barely scratched the surface of
Marissa: [00:00:39] We were talking for so long.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:00:40] valley beach community.
Marissa: [00:00:42] chances are that the episode that I actually released last week was not a 90 minutes long. We have been talking about this book for a good hour and 35 minutes or so. But we have more to say, and you brought up a great question in the main recap episode last week, which was, is John Pfeifer a good guy.
And that question was aimed at me, but I am curious what you think the answer to that
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:01:08] Well, you know, I kind of want to hear the prosecution's case before.
Marissa: [00:01:13] Okay. Go ahead. No, no, I can, I can I can definitely appease that desire. I think that John is, I think the John makes some poor choices in this book and I worry. That at the, his, his interest in the beginning, like where is his heart? Like, does he actually think that he needs to protect Jennifer from Rick?
Like, is that his motivation or is it just like, I want Jennifer to be mine. I don't want this other guy to have her, because that is a very sort of like toxic and dangerous reason to start intervening in someone's life. But. I do get the sense from John that even if nothing ever happened romantically between him and Jennifer, that he's still really wants to protect her from , making this bad choice with Rick. Elizabeth, as I pointed out in a, the passage I read in last week's episode does observe to him like, "it doesn't really seem like she wants to be rescued by you or anybody.
John. So consider that." Um, so I think, I think maybe his heart's in the right place, but it's a little hard to parse.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:02:22] The lady has an agency. Sure. So maybe we should just talk about John qua John. Uh, yeah. I think that the, the conf fused aspect is something to definitely consider. I guess John, I assume is also maybe a junior. Um, so another person who's older than Jennifer and has a certain kind of conception on the romantic interest he has in Jennifer, which is not even portrayed particularly Two -dimensionally.
It's just like, she's pretty. And therefore he likes her, but that, that could just be an artifact of starting with this book. And, John knows what he's kind of interested in and he knows more importantly, and that could end up going into the problematic direction as you were hinting.
And so he's trying to just like protect her and be her friend. And, you know, maybe something will come up that in the end and being, maybe something will come of that in the end is doing a lot of work. Cause I think that's really what he wants. But,
Marissa: [00:03:31] Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:03:32] prime directive is to, to block or, you know,cock-blockRick, keep keep him down.
Marissa: [00:03:41] Well, and as you said in the last episode, the book ends up being the unlikely tale of how he is able to vanquishes rival without, you know, I mean, it helps with the rival is in jail, like, so he puts the rival in jail and then is able to swoop in, you know, it's the dream, right? He's living this male fantasy. So literally in a cell. I think that,
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:04:09] The unlikely tale of how a great guy wins in the end. It does help that. He's good looking too.
Marissa: [00:04:16] yeah, he ceases to be an in-cel by putting his rival in a cell. That's that's the story of WHITE LIES. It's not, it's not, but I know, I think that the, the, the thing that we're talking about with John's like if a cloudiness of John's intentions and desires, it is something that I think in reality, it's would have been difficult for someone in John's position to even know for sure himself to even have full clarity.
Himself about, about how much he's being driven by like what he really hopes will happen. You know, like I think it's possible to have a fantasy about what could happen with someone romantically and be able to say, I know this isn't really reality. This is just a dream. And I'm putting it aside, but to not like fully put it aside, even though you tell yourself you're going to.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:05:09] sure. But one thing, one thing from chapter seven, right? , This is
"Jennifer stared is back a moment, slightly surprised. In five days, John hadn't asked a single question about Rick arrest, hadn't said anything about her botched plans to go to New York, nothing. He was just the same old friendly, dependable John,"
uh, you know, side note in friendzone.
Um, and it gets into a little bit later saying. You know,
"suddenly Jennifer felt a flicker of gratitude towards John'
Because John was like helping her get around to class and it says,
"he was always so easy to get along with so nonjudgmental."
and I'm like thinking to myself now the student's very judgmental
Marissa: [00:05:50] She just doesn't know.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:05:51] she doesn't know.
And the way you know, is in chapter one, it mentions that
'he made an impatient gesture with one hand. Drunk driving, brawling , vandalism. She knows it all. Thanks to her father. He's a lawyer, you know, at Wells and Wells."
That's like things that Elizabeth is saying in response to John being impatient, because he had said doesn't, she know that he has a really bad reputation.
, and the thinking there some judgment on behalf of both John and Elizabeth and, you know, in that way, they're kind of like allies. Protecting the, I don't know, not yet tarnished by bad boys out there.
Marissa: [00:06:31] the not yet tarnished. Yeah. Well, I think Elizabeth, as the book alludes, Elizabeth has a little bit of skin in the game because she has experienced having her reputation. Somewhat tarnished by proximity to Rick. But the, but even that still isn't supportive of what you're saying, because it is all about reputation.
Like w because Rick is known as a bad, as a bad boy, and it's like bad to be associated with him. The neighborhood, the town of sweet Valley has already judged Rick and therefore judges, all who are associated with Rick
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:07:03] Yeah. And the, the other thing that I had highlighted from that passage, just a drunk driving, like, you know, Eighties or not like that. There was definitely a movement in the eighties with the mothers against drunk driving to increase or, you know, raise the the age that you'd have to be to legally drive to avoid the scourge of drunk driving and teenagers which is the main reason why you have to like be 21 and a lot of States to drink.
Even though that's not actively enforced a lot of times, And
Marissa: [00:07:35] And a lot
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:07:36] this, this, yeah, there's this like suburban mom, judgmentalism that's perfusing that, and that's what I thought about. And I was like, huh? Yeah. I don't know some judgment actually.
Marissa: [00:07:48] Yeah. Well, I mean, it's funny that you meant, and now that you're mentioning it, I'm realizing that while this book doesn't invoke it at all, Elizabeth also was in an accident once that was caused by a drunk driver and she was in a coma. So,
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:08:05] Is that why she drives a Fiat now?
Marissa: [00:08:08] No, she did. She drove the Fiat before, but she was a passenger on her old boyfriend Todd's motorcycle.
And she was forbidden to ride a motorcycle because her cousin Rexy had been in a motorcycle crash. But she did it anyway after resisting for an entire book. And then
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:08:23] wow. Elizabeth
Marissa: [00:08:25] Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:08:26] wild child.
Marissa: [00:08:28] yeah, yeah. Especially after she woke up from that coma, she had a real personality shift for the rest of that book, but I would have loved your opinion on any of the books where a character is in a coma and the doctors tell somebody that the person will only come out of the coma.
If they can find the will to live, you know, they have to want it. They have to want to come out of the coma.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:08:49] Oh, yeah. Not if they're kissed by the right guy?
Marissa: [00:08:52] Well, sometimes that's all it takes to want it, you know?
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:08:55] Pretty much as snow white is in a coma. One
Marissa: [00:09:00] snow white and sleeping beauty. Both in comas.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:09:04] I know sleeping be in a year, right? You're right. Sleeping
Marissa: [00:09:05] No snow white too!
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:09:07] no idea.
Marissa: [00:09:08] Yeah. Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:09:09] Oh man, there's too much. There's too much sleeping going on. Although weirdly enough, the raciest this gets is like, Talking about kissing , and coming back at like 2:00 AM and her parents being like, yeah, that was pretty late.
I mean, if you're just going to be this tired just don't stay out very late. And I'm like, weird I thought normally they would have like curfews and rules about being with boys, but maybe Mr. Mitchell has higher priorities not super invested in restraining his daughter from The fullness of human experience.
Marissa: [00:09:45] Yeah. I mean, I think that the Mitchell parents are pretty reasonable. Even though it seems like they're falling into like a classic parent trope of like, I forbid you to see that boy, like, Mrs. Mitchell says exactly that, but it's like, They're at their wit's end.
I don't know. I kind of understand where they're coming from. It's a different version of the story would be told from Rick's perspective and he would be like, he would be the kind of good guy with the humanity that, uh, that is just unseen by the rest of the town. But that's not, that's not sweet Valley high.
That's, that's a different, a different series.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:10:25] Question. Are there, are there like stricter parents in this?
Marissa: [00:10:29] Yeah, there are not the Wakefields, but there are stricter parents. And sometimes that's really the thing that drives a book is a parents being unreasonable, or just like not trying hard enough to understand the kids, but , then there's books like this, where the parents are reasonable and the kids are the ones that are irrational.
just returning briefly to the topic of John. You mentioned that John was judgemental , and that, Jennifer saw him as nonjudgmental the kind of irony of that, but the notes that I wrote down when I was reading this book toward the end, I had this moment of clarity and it was, uh, during the time that Jennifer was complaining about her dad a lot and talking about how great Rick was a lot and just being really kind of defensive and angry and spilling all that to John.
And I thought to myself, How could John still like this girl? I guess I was just really put off by the way that Jennifer was so angry about what happened with this guy, Rick, and the story that she made up, that she wouldn't go see her father before surgery.
Like it really didn't speak well of her character in my mind. And I was like --
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:11:43] you know, sometimes when you're really infatuated with someone you're willing to overlook the clear evidence suggesting the Contrary, almost like Jennifer overlooked, Rick's actual being found with this stolen stuff. John is just overlooking the fact that he is like interacting with this girl
Marissa: [00:12:06] I see what you're saying. I see what you're saying. And I think that maybe you're even saying that with the next book in the series should be about, is somebody who really cares about John is trying to intervene in his relationship with this crazy girl, Jennifer Mitchell because he's really going down the wrong path.
So they're going to follow Jennifer Mitchell and they're going to watch her behave badly and they're going to call the cops and report it and then shot. Wouldn't that be great if the whole series was just that every, every
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:12:38] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I just feel like since they have so much in common or at least more in common than a little bit than her actual boyfriend, I feel like they're just trying to inch forward Elizabeth/John as a thing
Marissa: [00:12:54] You're trying to get Elizabeth and John together? All right. Interesting. I like
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:12:57] definitely a ship. But, um, I guess, uh, Jennifer has been redeemed to some degree.
In the error of her ways. ,
Marissa: [00:13:05] I don't really see Jennifer coming back to play a big role in the sweet Valley high universe, but we'll see. We'll see what happens. I
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:13:12] but now she's like, she's warming up to him. She was like looking at him with love.
Marissa: [00:13:17] Indeed.
He was the one person
who cared about
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:13:20] It's like a hard turn in chapter 13 where they're like, well, let's
talk about this tennis person
Marissa: [00:13:24] Yes. So also speaking of what's actually going to happen in the next book. Um, yeah, it was sprinkled throughout. There's some girl named Kristin Thompson. She's a sports girl. She's into tennis and they started talking about it
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:13:38] They talked about it and they said, wait a minute, there's this tennis story that we should report, slash, a story that's not about Rick going to jail that we also never reported every center part. And I'm like, wait, they don't. They don't have a tennis team. And yet like all the powerful people in this town play tennis like that,
that's very strange. And then it comes out. No, actually there's like a dude who's on a tennis team, but maybe they didn't have a female tennis team or maybe just Kristen Thompson has been like working at it so hard that she, her participation merits coverage, but it was very
Marissa: [00:14:11] Well, and especially since then she comes up again in the Jessica AJ plot line, which is basically just " Jessica and AJ: will it last?" Which was also laying some groundwork for a future book that we'll talk about this season. Uh, but so Jessica and AJ are playing a game of tennis. Jessica is really good at tennis, Jessica.
Like interacts with Kristin and says that they can hit the ball, hit some balls around some time. And Kristen is like, Oh yeah, maybe sometime. I cannot believe that, I managed to leave this detail out of the main episode. But as long as I'm talking briefly about Jessica and AJ, there is something so amazing that Jessica says in this book, let me find it.
It's Jessica's philosophy on men.
Okay. Jessica is talking to Elizabeth, um, and she's, Jessica's all proud of how she's handling things with AIG. She's convinced him to go to a party at Dana's house instead of going to the dinner with his uncle. Like he planned both twins, boyfriends have dinners with uncles in this book, which is interesting.
"Listen, you want to hear my philosophy about men?"
Elizabeth gave her a skeptical look.
"Uh, not really, but you'll tell me anyway."
"That's right." Pushing herself up off the bed, Jessica sauntered over to the mirror and critically examined her face. "My theory about men is you have to make them do what you want," she explained. She carefully picked off a clump of mascara and flicked it away. "Otherwise they'll never think of it themselves."
So that's our Jessica.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:15:50] That doesn't sound like a very original theory about men...
Marissa: [00:15:54] no. Well, so Jessica, basically this is, I guess it was, I did allude to it in the first episode that, um, Jessica thinks she can just kind of make it a J do whatever she wants, uh, by convincing him that it's what he wants to, and she's pretty successful with it, but it's starting to cause some trouble, but anyway, they played tennis.
They see Kristin, like she's Kristin Thompson. She just keeps on popping up. And then at the very end of the book, all of the teens, it's like, it's a Friday and everybody's all excited. Like Winston Egbert is on top of his Volkswagen. Like cheering everybody. Like it's the weekend. What are we going to do this weekend, Sweet Valley High? It's it. Wasn't really
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:16:33] Well, basically, if they've definitely anticipated the popularity of Rebecca, Black's --
Marissa: [00:16:38] right. It's Friday.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:16:40] the holiday mood in the air. It's actually just Friday and everyone's going to go to the beach together.
Marissa: [00:16:45] totally what's happening here. Like this would be a perfect music video if this were reality for, uh, for the Rebecca Black song Friday, uh, and Elizabeth tries to convince Kristin to come along. And Bruce Patman is there too. He's like, Kristen, these tennis courts aren't for use on Friday afternoons, which is it just something he makes up to try and convince her to come along.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:17:08] It does mention when they introduce her that, you know, she has this coach and she practices like every day, and that's why she's like this new tennis star.
So she's really committed to this, which is uncool. Like even Elizabeth who's kind of supposed to be a nerd is not as committed to anything in particular. Like this is a person who is actually focused on something, uh, which. It's interesting
Marissa: [00:17:33] Yeah, she, and this is the only place we ever see. Kristin Thompson in this book, this is a new character and we only see her on the tennis court. So that's, that's what the next book is going to be about. And Daniel, I would love it and I'm sure that our listeners would love it. If you would tease book 53
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:17:57] Is Elizabeth right? Is it true that there's nothing that will tear Kristin away from the tennis court? Find out in sweet Valley, high number 53, Second Chance.
Marissa: [00:17:57] so you heard it here first , second chance , gladiators, , all about another Rondo, Kristen Thompson and her tennis journeys.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:18:07] Not to be confused with Tristan Thompson, a basketball player.
Marissa: [00:18:12] He probably had his own, his own journey. Daniel, thank you so much again for joining me. I hope you enjoyed yourself, uh, reading this book and, uh, I don't think we really came down firm on the question of whether John Pfeiffer is a good guy or not, but I think it's not, it's not a yes or no question.
Dr. Daniel Okobi: [00:18:29] All right. And I mean, he's not a terribly bad guy, but he thinks he's a great guy. So maybe he's not a good as good a guy as he thinks he is.
Marissa: [00:18:37] Yep. I hope that's good enough for you too, Gladiators. Thank you so much for listening. And remember you can follow sweet Valley diaries on Instagram at sweet Valley diaries or on Twitter at sweet Valley. And don't forget you can, uh, find out these episodes, you know, not only on all of your pod catchers of choice, but also, uh, sweet Valley diaries.net, the website that started it all.
All right, thanks a lot, Daniel. And thank you to listeners. Bye!