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Katy Keene Discussion: Something's gotta give (sort of)
We return to a fantasy version of New York City for "You Can't Hurry Love," Episode 2 of the CW's Riverdale spin-off, Katy Keene. Filled to the brim with fabulous outfits, improbable situations, and very PG-13 hookups, Katy Keene continues on as a modern fairy tale. Except instead of fairy godmothers and carriages made of pumpkins, we have jobs growing on trees and impossibly patient love interests.
As Katy deals with the fallout from K.O.'s proposal, she has to balance some tricky work compromises as well. Everyone in this impossibly beautiful friend group faces some obstacles to their dreams this week, but are they enough to truly shake their faith? We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and let's disappear into this cream puff world, shall we?
Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 2 of Katy Keene.
Alyssa: SO, we last left our plucky heroine staring into the face of the man she claims to love as he proposes to her in front of a pizza place. While her inner monologue spins out, a thief (the Alphabet City Bandit) steals K.O.'s ring, proving that even in a fantasy version of NYC, you should always keep an eye on your valuables. As Katy decompresses with her supernaturally supportive friends, it's pretty obvious that she does not want to get married. She may not be ready to admit it to herself yet, but the doubts are written all over her face. Jorge clearly has a crush on K.O. and tells her to lock it down because he's the only decent man in the city, but Josie, who has some distance from the whole ordeal as the newcomer, urges her to take a beat and consider her options. Josie might be the only person with sense on this show.
Jessica: I mean, she's survived cults and serial killers in Riverdale — some boy problems are not going to phase this girl. TBH, I was irked with Katy this entire episode. I understand the struggle with indecisiveness (for me that revolves around food and clothes but marriage proposals are also tough) but she really milked this whole proposal for all the drama. At one point, Josie advises her to take some time to think while K.O. is off trying to retrieve the ring so Katy goes to her spot at the lighthouse and two seconds later, she's answering calls from her old boss and jetting off to Lacy's. Katy, NO is a full sentence. Start prioritizing your messy personal life!
Alyssa: While Katy flits off to deal with the Gloria of it all, her friends are struggling in their own ways. Josie needs a new gig after she is woefully short on rent — she thought that an apartment of that size would simply cost $1K a month split three ways, but that $1K is just her share. GIRL. Spend literally one second on Zillow. While Josie pounds the pavement, Pepper (while wearing an admittedly fabulous gold suit) leaves her swanky digs and talks a finance bro into footing her next venture: the Pepper Plant, which is her answer to Andy Warhol's Factory. There are a lot of hard to believe things about this show, but Pepper's whole deal might be a bridge too far for me. Elsewhere, Jorge has a heart to heart with his mother over how hard it is to break into the Broadway scene. I did like that his mom was supportive of his dream because I feel like the "Parents Don't Understand MY ART" plotline is overdone.
Jessica: Jorge's storyline feels like it has the most potential at the moment but he's definitely stuck in a rut this episode. I guess the poor boy didn't realize that shouting down a prominent Broadway director — no matter how homophobic that dude was — could get him blacklisted from every other show in production. Jorge, honey, has no one explained how they pretentious artist-types work to you yet? Just like Katy's faced with a choice over her relationship with K.O. and Josie's confronting the harsh realities of affording that dream NYC lifestyle, Jorge's struggling to keep his theater dreams alive and hold onto his alter ego, Ginger. There are a lot of identity crises happening for this to only be the show's second episode.
Alyssa: Katy is struggling with her work identity as well. Her old boss, Gloria, calls her into her office and explains that she will be a personal shopper again because Prince Errol is returning and Katy is the only one on staff who really got him and his peasant girlfriend. Katy is befuddled but happy to be involved, but that enthusiasm wanes a bit when she realizes that he's shopping for an engagement ring. Marriage is haunting her steps! She couldn't ignore this K.O. problem if she tried. Meanwhile, Josie once again stumbles onto a job without even breaking a sweat, waltzing into a classic record shop, Chubby's, and talking Chubby himself into giving her a job. Side note: Hermes from Hadestown!
The Truth About Pepper
Jessica: The only reason I don't lose my ever-loving-mind over all these "happy coincidences" the kids on this show seem to enjoy is that I know the CW won't let them stay happy. There's going to be angst. Hold out for the angst! And it comes thanks to our favorite British socialite, Pepper, who's the CW's version of Anna Delvey I guess? She's enjoying some posh digs complete with a bell girl at her beck and call until footing the bill becomes a problem. Pepper is out of cash and owes the hotel $60,000. Living in New York comes with some accumulated debt but this girl takes things to a whole new level.
Alyssa: It is not looking great for her! Similarly, Jorge is dealing with the reality of being blacklisted after he's kicked out of an audition for Cats (topical!). His big empowerment moment of the last episode was a fist-pumper for sure, but now he has to deal with the unfortunate realities of playing the game. Being beholden to The Man truly sucks. His agent gets him an audition for the historical rap musical Jefferson and Jorge has to butch it up a bit. It's all very disheartening. Similarly, Josie has a lovely time renovating Chubby's inventory when she gets the truly terrible news that the rent is too damn high and the New York landmark is going to close. Luckily for Josie, she happens to know a fantastically wealthy man who is trying to get back into her good graces and get her back into his studio (and bed). Why don't we all have our own Alex Cabot for when things get expensive?
Jessica: As Jorge would say, I'll get entangled with Alex Cabot any day of the week. Do I wish this show made its mains suffer a bit more? Sure. But Riverdale didn't start getting weird until a few seasons in so there's still hope Alex Cabot may turn out to be some centuries-old vampire who just really likes jazz. His sister is definitely the Devil. While Josie ends up keeping her job, it comes at the price of having Alexandra Cabot wield her VP status all over the place and hinting at big changes to come for the store. Man, do I wish the hotter Cabot didn't turn into a wet mop anytime his sister showed up but this feels like a battle Josie is going to have to wage on her own. And Jorge seems to be making a solo run too. He booked a touring gig with the musical which means he leaves on the next bus out — a pretty convenient turn of events for Pepper who desperately needs a place to crash. And Katy, having helped the Prince design his ring, is forced to attend an engagement party thrown by K.O.'s family even though she still hasn't given him a definitive answer. Someone call Marie Kondo because everything's a hot mess right now.
Alyssa: See, I wouldn't say that Katy was forced into that party. She was all in favor of attending, despite not giving K.O. a yes or no, and somehow didn't think that it would be awkward. Is Katy a newborn baby? How she thought she wouldn't have to give a definitive answer about their relationship status is beyond me, and she has an awkward heart to heart with K.O.'s mom. Because their original engagement ring was stolen, because the only real obstacle on this show is banditry, K.O.'s mom offers Katy her mother's ring because she already sees Katy as a daughter. It's a nice moment that is unfortunately undercut by Mom jumping ahead of schedule and talking about settling down in the suburbs and having kids. The panic is apparent in Katy's eyes, and yet she still doesn't come clean the lack of relationship resolution.
Jessica: Yeah, Katy kind of sucks this episode. She's handling this whole proposal business the way a teenager would handle one of those check yes or no love notes they passed around in high school. You're a grown woman Katy, just say how you really feel! Apparently, after that cringe-worthy dishwashing sesh — which, sexism much? Why does K.O. get to hang out watching sports with his uncles while his maybe fiancee cleans up after his ass? He obviously ain't that perfect, y'all — Katy comes to a realization waiting for the bus. It sounds like her definitive answer might be "no" but she hooks up with her man anyway and then proceeds to dump her troubles on both her bosses at Lacy's. At this point, get engaged, don't, get married and then divorced, I don't care, just quit talking about how hard it is to choose, girl.
Alyssa: There is a lot of talk about compromises in this episode, but I don't think anyone actually makes any. Katy gets to keep working with Francois while also working as a personal shopper for Gloria, so she doesn't have to choose. Jorge decides that he doesn't want to compromise and do the Jefferson tour, so he stays in New York where has burned a lot of his bridges instead of getting a leg up in the acting world on this tour. I guess Josie might have to compromise down the road because after the Cabots buy Chubby's, she realizes that she'll have to deal with the villainous Xandra and not just Alex. I did not make the connection that the Cabot siblings are named Alexander and Alexandra until this episode. My God, why.
Jessica: The lack of originality amongst the upper class is truly astounding. But yeah, even Katy skirts making a definitive decision with K.O., offering to take a different step in their relationship instead. To be fair, you should definitely live with someone before marrying them. You really don't know a person until you know their disgusting hygiene habits intimately. But her offer to "wait and see" felt like a huge cop-out that will most assuredly come back to bite her you know where. And Pepper, as cute as it was to see her hook up with her bellhop, is still selling the lie that life is all good. Like she isn't squatting in some run-down warehouse space? These youths really need to figure their sh** out.
Alyssa: They really do. These characters are supposed to be young adults, right? Despite having to deal with potential marriage and job problems, this still feels like a show about teens and I think that's something Katy Keene really needs to fix. Additionally, we really need some stakes. Again, I understand that this is New York City with a cotton candy sheen, but characters really need to face some real consequences for their actions. I mean, Pepper has $60,000 in debt just to ONE HOTEL and it's basically handwaved away. This show makes me feel like I'm taking crazy pills.
Jessica: If we're going to go all-in, make Pepper commit to the Delvey route, have Katy actually sacrifice something to start designing clothes, let Jorge craft his own musical with all drag characters and struggle to get funding for it, let Josie get fired, or told she needs to work on her craft instead of banging out polished Aretha Franklin ballads on a piano that definitely would've been out of tune. Just make this world feel a bit more real instead of imperfectly perfect.