The Wakefields Get A Job: SVH # 131 “Fashion Victim”

6 Jun

This story arc was a bit of a landmark in the Sweet Valley series, as Elizabeth and Jessica said goodbye to high school for two whole weeks [!]  to learn about the big wide world of working girls [in the non-prostitute sense.] We also said goodbye to our early-90’s illustrated covers and hello to the Daniel twins. I’ll forgive the daisy-print onesie because I actually found them rather cute circa 1997.

I would really like to thank the Sweet Valley writers for preparing me so well for working life, because this book taught me SO many valuable lessons:

1.Your first real job will be interning at the hottest fashion magazine in the country.

Yes, the Wakefields scored positions at “Flair” magazine, which according to Maria Slater is what ALL the hipsters in NYC are reading. Doing a junk mail run or sweeping the floor at the local paper office is clearly reserved for people like Lois Waller.

2. Your fortnight-long unpaid work experience position will be as editorial assistant or assistant photographer [technically assistant to the photographer, but whatevs.]

Well you didn’t expect a Wakefield to be making the coffees, did you? Elizabeth lands the job of editor Leona Peirson’s PA, while Jessica is assigned to star photographer Quentin Berg. Yes, you heard correctly. Each girl will be directly answerable to a department head of one of the biggest fashion magazines in the country. Not even, you know, one of the lowly staff writers for the advertisement section.

Cue Elizabeth’s introduction to THE EDITOR:

“Ms. Peirson,” Elizabeth began. “I want you to know how grateful I am –”

“Please call me Leona,” the editor interrupted, her brown eyes warm. “And no thanks are necessary. I consider us a team, Elizabeth. I know from your application [yeah, right] that you’re here because you truly want the experience of working on a professional magazine…I expect you might even teach us a thing or two.”

Oh, puh-leeze.

3. A black leather micro-mini, cropped blazer, plum lipstick and gold eyeshadow is appropriate attire for the office.

Do NOT try this at work. Trust me.

Some ten years later, I fear my choice of outfit for the first day of med school was modelled on Jessica’s work wardrobe:

It may have gotten the attention of budding orthopaedic registrars – or in Jessica’s case drug-addled photographer types – which, believe me, is not the kind of attention you want.

4. Hooking up with your boss is to be encouraged

Take Jessica and the photogroper. It doesn’t matter if you’re sixteen and he’s twenty-six. Just so long as you get your lucky break.

[Luckily I had the wisdom to avoid this one.]

5.Within three days, the entire industry will realise how wonderful you are and offer you a promotion to cover model, or in Elizabeth’s case, subeditor.

Despite her having zero background in fashion, Elizabeth’s idea for a fashion forward article “Free Style” is SO good that the editor decides to steal it, and pass it off as her own.

But it isn’t only Wakefields who get the star treatment – boring-as-butter Todd Wilkins just happens to be whizzing past one afternoon when he’s discovered and offered an on-the-spot modelling promo.

But what really amuses me is when he hooks up with model Simone, and Liz starts to panic:

“Nothing happened.” Elizabeth said quietly. “But what if it does?”

“What if we have an earthquake tomorrow and the whole state slides into the Pacific Ocean?” Maria countered. “You can’t deal in what-ifs.

Ha – Maria Slater, prophet extraordinare.

6.You will get your own office, revolutionize your look, and sacrifice everything, boyfriend included, for your Two Week Stint.

Listen to this vomit-worthy dialogue between Liz and Enid:

“Ha!” Enid said. “You’re the most talented student writer in Southern California. By the end of two weeks you’ll be running the place.”

“That would send Todd screaming into the night,” Elizabeth replied ruefully, thinking of her long-time boyfriend, Todd Wilkins. “Todd is already stressing about how much this internship will take too much time away from him.”

And, later …“she and Todd would spend a nice evening together and she would apologize for overreacting. He would give her one of his superdeluxe kisses. And  then everything would be fine.”

Ew. And Todd – it’s really only a fortnight of no school and no going up to Miller’s Point to talk and not have sex. Get over it.

 7.The mail room clerk will be a hunky 20-year-old surfer and he will find you so irresistible that he will smack one on you while you’re sound asleep on the couch. 

Because janitor types aren’t always pervy, balding fifty-year-olds with sweat patches and middle-aged spread. At least not if you’re Jessica Wakefield.

8.Stealing company property for your own selfish reasons is not a crime.

Exhibit A – Jessica decides to steal Quentin Berg’s camera for a beach photo shoot – starring herself. After ruining it in the surf, she returns work to find that a mysterious mail room clerk has replaced it with an even better one. Of course, Jessica is hailed by all as a hero and promoted to fashion model.  Because stuffing around with photography reflects one’s ability to model swimwear, apparently.

* * *

So I guess I have Sweet Valley to thank for my warped ideas of working life. And here I was thinking that I’d be promoted to senior registrar on day three, and have twenty-five-year-old hunks-of-men falling all over me around the wards, and professors lining up to adorn me with gold medals that matched my eyeshadow, and best friends like Enid who wouldn’t care if I ditched out on them everyday to go on epic car chases across town…..

On another note –  it’s not the first  time the twins have had crack at the workforce – I’d also like to point out that the Wakefield’s CV probably looks pretty appalling, given that they rarely hold down a job for more than a couple of weeks before landing themselves in imminent danger and quitting. I can count more than a few failed attempts at menial labor by our privileged twinkies:

1] Waitressing at the Marina Cafe [before simultaneously falling in love with a psycho killer]

2] Junior counsellors at Camp Echo Martin [when they weren’t too busy sneaking off with guys]

3] Journalists at the Sweet Valley News [ok, I’ll pay this, given that it somehow spanned 4 summers and they solved several crimes]

4] Journalists at the London News [where they pretty much did the job of the Scotland Yard]

5] Jessica’s brief stint as a “Tofu Glo” salesperson

6] Babysitting in Malibu for a summer [and losing the sitting charge. Say what you will about Stacey McGill but she would never do that.]

7] Being Au Pairs for French Royalty one summer [and causing national headlines when they were embroiled in a jewellery theft and held hostage in a Parisian dungeon]

8] Being tour guides along the Sweet Valley coast

9] Being volunteer Candy Stripers at Fowler Memorial Hospital

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7 Responses to “The Wakefields Get A Job: SVH # 131 “Fashion Victim””

  1. Daniella June 6, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    And not only does the editor of the hottest magazine in the country like Liz’s idea so much that she steals it, she actually tries to kill Liz in order to keep it a secret that she stole the idea. Of course, Liz does break into the editor’s condo to steal the evidence that the editor took her idea. And this is the second mini-series where the twins almost get killed during their internship. Wow.

    • winstonegbert June 6, 2011 at 11:51 am #

      Oh man! I’d forgotten about that. Isn’t there some kind of car chase and Liz gets run off a cliff? And all over some dicey fashion article.

      • Daniella June 7, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

        Of COURSE there is a car chase. The editor hires some goon to run Liz off a cliff, but fortunately, Todd is stalking Liz and somehow stops the whole thing.

  2. zoe June 6, 2011 at 11:55 am #

    I always thought it was really stupid how Liz was suddenly a fashion writer – when the entire series before that they go on and on about how she never goes shopping and wears polo shirts and barettes. Its like in SVU how she goes from creative writing to journalism and back again. She can’t be that talented, dammit! Jessica and Lila shouldv’e been doing the fashion writing.

    • winstonegbert June 6, 2011 at 12:19 pm #

      Ugh, I know. I remember in “Leaving Home” when they’re all on about how much the snow topped mountains will inspire her writing. Which makes no sense given that she’s supposed to be a journalist.

  3. sophie June 7, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Ahhhh! I loved this one! By this stage I was far too old to still be reading, but it got me in anyway.

  4. Laura Kate June 7, 2011 at 12:26 pm #

    This mini-series I found particularly dopey. I mean I could totally believe the London intership one, but fashion writing?? Liz?? Reaaallllyy??? Lol. I think I have Sweet Valley to thank about my warped ideas regarding a lot of things. I’d like to point out that I’ve never accepted a ride from anyone named John. You know… just in case.
    Great blog Winnie. Highlight of my day when there’s a new one… yeah work’s preeettty sad at the moment. (Let’s also blame Francine for the fact I work in a bookshop… wouldn’t have enjoyed reading if it wasn’t for her!)

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