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The weather outside may be below freezing but the drama is heating up on the latest episode of Katy Keene.
A winter storm forces the group to get up-close-and-personal with their own hang-ups as everyone seeks shelter in the apartment and secrets quickly come to light. While Josie and Pepper low-key insult each other over a misunderstanding, Katy and Jorge have a full-on showdown over their co-dependent, unbalanced friendship. It's the kind of messy we've been craving from this show for a while now.
We're Jessica Toomer and Alyssa Fikse. Get your mugs ready, bebes, tea is about to be spilled.
Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 5 of Katy Keene.
A Fashion Challenge
Alyssa: In this week's episode, we find Katy at a crossroads. Her romantic exploits are in the rearview (so long, K.O.) and she is buckling down and working on her portfolio for Parsons Fashion School. She has assembled a sparkly portfolio of outfits to submit, but she is missing the one thing that anyone seeking higher education needs: an in. Katy may not have a handwritten note from Tom Ford, but she might have something else up her bedazzled sleeve. As the queen of Lacy's, Gloria is a real someone in the fashion world, so Katy asks her boss for a letter of recommendation. Gloria is relatively unimpressed by Katy's portfolio because it lacks cohesion, but she recognizes that there's some talent hidden under that heinous heart shirt. She has an event the next day, so if Katy can whip up something she likes to wear, she will write the letter. This seems like an impossible task with the polar vortex hitting the city, but our Katy is a plucky one. To the sewing machine!
Jessica: The weather outside might be frigid but things are heating up in our little bodega apartment which is where much of the action takes place this episode. Katy's perfectly capable of sewing a sequin-less gown, I just know it, but the time crunch really puts a strain on everyone. Before we get to the hellish Real Housewives showdown, a quick recap of where everyone else is at is in order. Josie is cleaning up the basement of her record shop which, surprise surprise, has a fully functional recording studio housed in it. Alex drops by to play with her emotions a bit and to accuse her of leaking the story about his romance with Xandra, which is now front-page tabloid fodder. Josie would never, but she quickly suspects Pepper might've ratted her out for an easy buck. It's good to see Josie hasn't lost her hard edges. You survived Riverdale girl, act like it. Meanwhile, Jorge is almost caught by his mom leaving his apartment in full drag for a brunch gig. He's pretty sure the jig is up and spends most of the episode paranoid that she'll call him out on her alter-ego. And Pepper? She's still broke and making up excuses for why she needs to crash with her friends during a blizzard when a terry cloth hotel robe is waiting for her.
Alyssa: Before we continue, I feel like I need to address the fact that not one person in this friend group knows how to dress for the weather. Katy went out in BARE LEGS. GIRL. Sometimes you have to sacrifice the glam for -25 degrees. Katy is doing whatever research she can about Gloria in order to design the perfect dress for her, and apparently that is watching a single video featuring the fashion icon (I did enjoy the parody of Vogue's 73 Questions, though). While she's hiding away and doing some research, Jorge is having a meltdown over his mom almost catching him in drag, which is valid, and the fact that Katy is having to make his Aida dress later because her career is on the line. Almost everyone has their selfish moments in this week's episode, but damn. Jorge. Bigger picture, young man. I also loved seeing Josie stand up for herself this week, both to her co-dependent roommates and to Alex. She doesn't have a safety net, so she is just trying her best to pay her rent and make music. The world is just making it awfully complicated.
Jessica: When Josie clapped back at Jorge over the cable bill, I felt that sh** in my bones. If homegirl isn't into watching Mary Tyler Moore reruns, she shouldn't have to shell out the dough for them. But yes, Jorge's narcissistic tendencies were in full force this episode and self-centered is just not a good look on him. He's shouting at Katy over the busted radiator while she's trying to sketch in the bath — which, what? — and he's milking his distress over Ginger-gate for all it's worth. Jorge, your friend is basically a millennial seamstress orphan Annie right now just trying to achieve her dreams. Remove yourself from the center of this narrative.
Stuck In Hell
Alyssa: With the broken radiator, everyone is being slow-roasted in the apartment, so everyone gets a little desperate. Jorge decides that he is going to hem his Aida dress himself and ends up BREAKING Katy's beloved sewing machine. Katy is, of course, distressed because it is the only thing she has left of her mother and she now has to sew Gloria's gown by hand. Disaster! Jorge attempts to save the situation by going out in the snow — again, in JEAN SHORTS — and Josie starts to get a little suspicious about why Pepper is here in the cramped, foodless apartment when she has a fancy hotel suite. Pepper makes up some bullshit about helping out a homeless woman, but Josie isn't buying it. I love Josie.
Jessica: She's really the only true New Yorker of the bunch at this point, and she just got here two weeks ago. Jorge is the absolute worst, half-heartedly apologizing to Katy and wondering why breaking the old sewing machine is such a big deal. IT WAS HER MOTHER'S, JORGE! And he knows this because we find out later Katy's mom took him in when his own parents reacted poorly to his coming out, which makes this whole interaction feel weirdly out of character. While he's doing penance in his booty shorts, Pepper and Josie start trading some thinly-veiled barbs. Pepper enforces her friendship seniority when it comes to nursing Katy's breakdown, Josie retaliates by calling up Pepper's hotel, sporting a fake British accent, and ordering more towels. She finds out the hotel and the law are after Pepper and uses this to her advantage, slyly asking where Pepper is staying if she's banned from the Ritz. I too love Josie.
Alyssa: It was her dead mom's! And all the while Jorge is talking about how badly he wants to avoid his own mom! The usually sweet boy has no tact. While Pepper is trying to talk down Katy, Katy decides to rip up Jorge's Aida dress (that she made and purchased the fabric for) and use it to make Gloria's gown because her options are limited and there's a storm going on. While I think that Katy could have handled this better option better instead of dramatically stripping the dress to pieces (there is no way those hem rips are clean) without telling Jorge first, I understand this impulse. Jorge does not.
Jessica: This whole showdown really made me reconsider the friendship between Katy and Jorge. She's making entire wardrobes' worth of clothes, footing the bill, performing the unpaid labor, and yet when she has the gall to prioritize her own career over one of his many drag gigs, he gives us this dramatic reaction. Katy should know better than to hand-rip such finicky fabric but I can't fault this tantrum. I would've behaved worse. Still, like the good friend she is, Katy covers for Jorge, who finds himself hiding in a literal closet when his mom drops by looking for him. While he's sweating it out under the coat rack he spies the check Alex's father gave to Josie, you know, the one she feels hella uncomfortable cashing because it comes with some icky strings attached? Of course, Jorge doesn't know that — or the concept of personal boundaries — because he snatches it up and waves it around while accusing Josie of hoarding her own money from the group. Even if this was true, it's called a SAVINGS ACCOUNT Jorge, don't fault your friends for being fiscally responsible when you're mooching off their incomes in other ways. The group quickly turns on Josie for reasons I blame on the extreme heat and relative newness of their friendship and Josie responds with an emotional monologue that puts them all in their place. Perhaps Pepper should've given this Polar Vortex the respect it was due because this storm might be the breaking point in this group-ship.
A Musical Moment Cures All
Alyssa: It's true. Despite coming together for a perfectly choreographed musical number, the group is not in a good place. I felt pretty awful when everyone turned on Josie and basically implied that she's only there because they need the rent money. It was an ugly moment and I know that they're all capable of better. Despite everyone retreating to different corners of the apartment to lick their wounds, Pepper does do one good thing to help Josie: she finds out that Xandra was the one who leaked the news about the kissing step siblings because she wasn't a cartoonish enough villain already. Pepper and Josie end up bonding a bit over unsupportive parents because nothing brings people together like shared childhood issues.
Jessica: I smelled Xandra all over this ploy for attention. If things had worked out, her family could've sued Josie for millions and that would've marked the end of Josie's relationship with Alex — which seems to be the only thing this accomplished, privileged, capable young woman cares about? Still, the whole scandal brought some uncomfortable truths to light which ended up being a good thing. Now Pepper has let someone in on her secret so hopefully, we'll see her open up about her struggles a bit more, and Josie has come to a hard-earned decision about Alex. She doesn't like it, but the price for this opportunity feels like one she can live with at the moment — though it's definitely going to come back to bite her in the a**. And Jorge comes to clean to his mom — in full drag because he loves the drama — who is fairly cool and understanding, proving he should've given the woman a bit more credit. But it's Katy I'm still worried about here. The girl is going through all the emotions right now and with this dress deadline, and her friends pressuring her to open her dead mother's box of belongings, it feels like she's one wrong stitch away from a complete meltdown.
Alyssa: I love Jorge's mom. That woman is an empanada making angel. Luckily for Katy, she has a magical ability to find exactly what she needs when she needs it, so she finds some fabric that her mother had been saving and it just happens to be exactly what she needs for her dress for Gloria. Her friends then come together to finish Katy's design, and it's actually pretty gorgeous. Katy presents the red dress to Gloria, who actually doesn't hate it! She's not going to wear it to her event, but she did give Katy her letter of recommendation, so that's the best option anyway. While she's at Lacy's, Francois tells Katy that her mom's old sewing machine was a Lacy's model and only Lacy's seamstresses used them. Katy had no idea that her mother had a Lacy's connection, so this throws a whole level of intrigue over the whole thing. Add in the vague reference to L.L. on the machine's label, and we've got ourselves a mystery! Luckily, though, Katy and Jorge make up when he brings her his abuela's sewing machine to use until he can buy her a new one. I like these two better when they're a team.
Jessica: Hard agree. You know, after weeks of asking this show to torture its characters a bit, I have to say this episode was refreshing, if not more than a little frustrating. I think some real growth was achieved by everyone and now we have more interesting dynamics forming within the group. I'm interested to see where Josie's relationship with Alex goes now that a cash incentive is attached, and how open Pepper will be with her about her own money troubles. I also would love to learn more about Katy's mom. The initials L.L. make me think a Lacy, perhaps the older woman we've met before, gifted her that machine? What if Katy is the secret grandchild of the Lacy family and she'll inherit the store? Really, anything goes on this show.
Alyssa: Yeah, this episode was definitely my favorite so far, so I am hoping to see the crew continue to work through their sh** in messy ways. I love the mystery with Katy's mom, and I hope we find out some dirt on Lacy's. No way does a place that fancy and famous get to that point without some scandal. You know I'm a sucker for a good romance, but I am glad that outside of whatever is going on with Josie and Alex, everything else was put on the back burner. Sorry, K.O., but I really didn't miss you. Seeing Katy have to pull her sh** together and rally was way more interesting than whether or not she was going to marry her hunky hunky boyfriend. More of this, please!