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Katy Keene Discussion: The scammer becomes the scammed
We've got to be honest: Watching a show about a candy-colored version of New York City feels a bit ... weird right now. Katy Keene is, at its core, escapism, and who couldn't use a little escapism right now? Still, the influence of COVID-19 certainly makes Katy Keene an even weirder watch than normal now. However, if you're staying home — and YOU NEED TO BE STAYING HOME — you might as well dream about what New York could be, right? *stares at the wall for hours in existential dread*
Anyway, everyone finds themselves in even bigger pickles than usual this week, and not in a fun way. Pepper might be tired of scamming, Katy can't believe she isn't just handed an apprenticeship, Josie continues to realize that the Cabots seemingly don't have her best interests at heart, and Jorge is struggling to show his dad his real self in the wake of his brutal beating. It's A Lot. We're Alyssa Fikse and Jessica Toomer, and we're here to walk you through every step of Episode 8.
Warning: This discussion contains spoilers for Season 1, Episode 8 of Katy Keene.
Jessica: Well, we don’t have to wait too long to see the fallout from last week’s beatdown. While I’m glad the show didn’t make us witness Jorge getting violently mugged by a bunch of homophobic thugs, I’m still confused as to how he ended up bloody and bruised while his firefighter beau escaped without a scratch. I’ll chalk it up to plot, but Jorge’s hate crime brings everyone together. And we mean EVERYONE. The boy’s got nine brothers! And one of em just happens to be a hot police officer. Do I feel for Jorge and hope he heals from this? Yes. Do I want to know more about his hot police officer sibling? That would be a hell yes.
Alyssa: Yeah, I sincerely hope we see Brother Hot Cop again. And yes, everyone is there. Katy calls KO because he and Jorge were (are?) close, and honestly, it was kind of nice to have KO’s capable calmness back in the group. While Katy is having an awkward heart to heart with KO and she starts feeling the feelings again, Jorge gets real with his dad. After accidentally revealing that he was dressed as a woman when he got attacked, Jorge tells his dad that he’s a drag queen. It doesn’t go over well. His dad has a hard time accepting that this is who Jorge is and is also upset when everyone else seems to know except him. Katy ushers him out and the apartment is tense as hell in the aftermath.
Jessica: Look, I appreciate the show tackling this particular LGBTQ issue. There are many supportive parents of queer folk who still don’t understand drag culture and what it means for people. That being said, I just don’t see how they’re going to do right by this storyline. We never spend more than 15 mins with each character before they miraculously turn things around and get back to this fantasy NYC life they’re living. To do Jorge and Ginger justice, we’d need a multiple-episode arc. Maybe that’s coming, but this whole group intervention thing with Jorge’s dad felt very forced to me.
Alyssa: It wasn’t an organic moment, that’s for sure. Elsewhere in this version of New York that feels more painful to me by the minute, Alex stops by Josie at Chubby’s and tells her that his dad hasn’t listened to the EP yet and also nixed her potential gig at the Apollo. Wow! Such a great idea to get in business with this family! Alex tells her to take a beat and wait it out because he’ll be able to convince his dad and she just needs to be patient. Truly, she just needs to cut things off with this family because they are getting her literally nowhere. One ray of sunshine in this episode, though, is the return of BERNADETTE PETERS. Apparently it’s Pepper’s birthday, so Ms. Freesia returns and she’s got grift on the brain.
Jessica: Honestly, running a birthday con every year sounds like a damn blast and I’d like to adopt this tradition. Unfortunately, Pepper is intent on walking the straight and narrow. She’s courting a wealthy friend who just got done serving jail time and she needs to convince him the Pepper Plant is for real artists because prison changed him y’all. Pepper’s got plenty of talented friends but she’s also made each of them promises and told too many lies to group them together in that warehouse space and not have drama pop up.
Alyssa: Not just any wealthy friend, but one named CHAD GEKKO. Has a douchier name ever existed? While Pepper is trying not to be a con artist anymore (can a scammer really change her stripes?), Josie decides to take musical matters into her own hands and make a music video, and Katy wonders if she can still be friends with KO. She is blindly optimistic, but everyone else thinks she’s kidding herself. Katy is also kidding herself into thinking she has the time to do an unpaid apprenticeship on top of her job and the drama, but that’s our girl. She meets up with KO for lunch and gets a triple whammy of news: he eats salads now, he’s modeling, and he’s dating Xandra.
Jessica: It’s the salad thing that really has me worried for KO. Katy seems to take the news OK but Guy calls her out on her bullsh*t at work and gives her a truly impossible task: retrieving a design from Xandra. While Katy navigates this uncomfortable triangle, Jorge has a confrontation with his dad and things don’t go well. His dad basically describes his identity as Ginger as a choice which, ouch. Jorge tries to explain it’s as much a part of him as being gay, but Dad’s not that woke yet and the two end in a stalemate. Jorge, who planned on going as Ginger to Pepper’s party, changes his mind. He’s still sporting a cute crop top and sparkly eyeliner but he ditches the wig and sequined gown and honestly, it’s the saddest I’ve ever been for the character. No one should feel forced to wear jeans when they want to wear a form-fitting masterpiece like that!
Alyssa: Honestly, I was taken aback by the STUNNING lack of self-awareness of Katy’s part. This entire show is about how she always lets her personal life interfere with work. Which she does yet again when she goes to get the dress from Xandra’s and sees KO there. Modeling. In his underwear. Katy basically territorially pees all over KO when Xandra arrives, and to make matters worse, Xandra doesn’t take too kindly to the fact that Katy needs Guy’s dress back. Because no one acts like a real person on this show, in the face of Xandra’s hostility and the awkwardness of seeing KO nearly naked and on Xandra’s arm, Katy decides to invite them to Pepper’s birthday party. Great job, Katy! Meanwhile, Josie makes a music video with New York City in the background that seriously made me so uncomfortable, given … everything. I know this isn’t the show’s fault at all, but that was just a big yikes for me.
Jessica: That’s just the new normal for me when watching TV shows. More than five people in a room and I begin panic sweating and mumbling “six feet”. Damn you Coronavirus! The video looks decent, but anyone who has even the weakest grasp of music contracts knows that creating your own music vid and posting it online without your label’s permission is just asking for trouble. She doesn’t tell Alex about it either which feels like something that most definitely will blow up in her face later. And we don’t have long to wait for later because Pepper’s birthday party gets underway and all of these ridiculously privileged people are contained in one space and forced to interact with each other. What could go right?
Alyssa: Frankly, this party is disastrous. Jorge isn’t Ginger, Chad does not seem impressed by the artistic talent on display, and Xandra shows up wearing the dress that was supposed to go back to Guy. Whew. When Xandra arrives, not only does she reveal that she and KO like to have extremely loud sex (Raj, his roommate and Josie’s director confirms), but she also tells Josie that Mr. Cabot HAD listened to her EP and didn’t like it, which is why Alex has been spinning his wheels and lying to her. Great. Meanwhile, Katy tells KO that he looked hot while he was modeling and they have A Moment. Jorge starts to give a speech about how great Pepper is (this Pepper?) and how she makes people feel safe (seriously, THIS Pepper?), and then BLAMMO, Ms. Freesia shows up to start sh*t. I don’t know how they possibly got Queen Bernadette on this show, but I am certain they aren’t paying her enough.
Jessica: She really injects a bit of class and drama every time she graces these children with her chaotic presence. Ms. Freesia tells a story about a young Pepper joining her for tea, which causes Katy to question the lies Pepper has told about growing up in London. Is that British accent even real?! Luckily, or unluckily, for Pepper, talk of the Spider Woman show heading to Broadway brings up the bad blood between Xandra and Josie. Xandra reveals Pepper promised she’d play the Spider Woman should the show take off which doesn’t sit well with Alex, who completely overreacts to the news just as Katy completely overreacts to Xandra accidentally spilling wine on her dress. Everyone’s way too on edge for a group of attractive, healthy 20-somethings enjoying free champagne.
Alyssa: It gets MESSY. KO, after years of being Team Katy, sticks up for her to his current girlfriend, who shockingly isn’t ok that he’s not on her side. Katy feels remorse for how she blew up at Xandra and follows her to the bathroom where they have a pretty genuine heart to heart. Xandra tells Katy that she needs to chill because KO deserves someone who will fight for him, which Katy didn’t do. And Katy agrees. Josie confronts Alex because her video was taken down for copyright and she thinks his dad did it. However, it turns out that Alex did. Instead of communicating with her, he went to his dad and showed him her old stuff with the Pussycats, which Papa Cabot loved. So, I guess Josie is fronting a girl group now? Will she get a new band or will the rest of the Pussycats travel over from Riverdale?
Jessica: I can’t tell if Josie was pleased about this or insulted that her boy toy is basically saying she can’t make it as a solo artist because his daddy said so? Either way, the night ends better than expected for all except Pepper, who gets that check from Chad, but only after Ms. Freesia posed as her partner and took the slip of paper herself. The next morning brings more confrontations and a few resolutions. KO shows up with the dress and Katy is able to make peace with the fact that he’s with someone new. Jorge dresses up as Ginger for a rally at the spot he was assaulted. He has a run-in with his dad beforehand and stands his ground, explaining Ginger is part of him. How dad will take that? Who knows? And Pepper gets a visit from that sweet doorman who works at Ms. Freesia’s building. Turns out, he’s her dad. Also, he doesn’t know the date of her birthday. [Insert Jim Halpert’s “What Is Going On?!” GIF here]
Alyssa: This episode really ends with a lot of daddy issues. It’s lovely to see everyone rally around Jorge, who is going to put his righteous anger with the world to good use and … well, that’s unclear, but he’s mobilizing. He’s also got a love triangle on his hands now that his ex Buzz is out of the closet at work and looking to help Jorge further LGBTQ+ causes. Will Jorge return to his ex now that he’s ready to be with him in public? Or will he stick with his impossibly hunky and supporting boyfriend Fireman Bernie? What’s a queen to do? I’m ready to see Katy sink her teeth into this apprenticeship, but something tells me that she’s going to let the personal get in the way of the professional AGAIN, because there was nothing platonic about the way that Guy said he can’t wait to keep things platonic.
Jessica: Right?! Who really cares about sewing when you’ve got this well-dressed giant eye-f*cking you? But honestly, as much drama as each of these characters bring, I’m still wanting to see more of Pepper’s messy self. There are relationship troubles and daddy issues, then there’s illegal activity, long-running cons, and fake accents. She’s really in a league of her own.