Billie and Gene love movies. Billie can’t sleep unless she’s watching Labyrinth. Gene has a soft spot for porns that parody famous films. Since the pilot, Billie and Gene have consistently connected over their shared love for specific movies. While Idiotsitter sometimes struggles week-to-week with its episodic storytelling, slipping into conventional plots a little too often, its world-building has been impressive in this first season. Both Billie and Gene are dynamic characters, with so many details poured into their personalities, physicalities, and things that they say. And as the relationship between the two characters grows, it also becomes much more detailed and compelling, with weird specifics that make it feel real. Even when Billie and Gene are at each other’s throats, we can count on them to find some common ground from time to time—usually through movies. In “GED Prom,” we find out they’re both very good at Halo. Those moments that exist in the middlepart of Billie and Gene’s Venn diagram keep their relationship dynamic fresh and fun. In “GED Prom,” it’s nice to see them fail side-by-side. But while there are some isolated moments that are strong, the episode wobbles and struggles with its pacing and focus.

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Fresh Off The Boat’s Randall Park and singer-songwriter Andrew W.K. both guest star as potential love interests for Billie and Gene respectively, and in a twist, the latter ends up being the more surprising of the two. Don’t get me wrong: Park brings a lot of charm to Hank, the homeschool tutor Billie meet-cutes with at a craft store. Hank is awkward in the same way Billie is, and Park and Charlotte Newhouse play off each other very well. But Billie leads Hank to believe she tutors teens like he does, so when Hank and his young pupil Atticus show up at the GED prom Gene throws for herself, Billie tries to keep the truth hidden. Billie and Hank share plenty of funny, awkward moments, but it unfortunately never really takes off. It sort of just feels like the writers weren’t quite sure what to do with Billie this week so they kept her busy with guest star Randall Park. It’s conflict for the sake of conflict, and it doesn’t really add anything new by way of character development for Billie. At least her explosive date last week forced her out of her comfort zone. There’s decent payoff, at least, but the buildup to Billie’s Carrie experience could have been a lot more interesting.

Gene, meanwhile, spends the episode planning the prom she never had with New Chet Bret. Oh yeah, Chet’s back from the dead…sort of. It’s actually Bret, Chet’s identical twin, who similarly obsesses over Billie, leading to a few scenes that run the joke into the ground much too hard. Gene’s prom is really just an elaborate plan to get back at her online enemy Kerry, who she wants to, well, Carrie (Billie and Gene love movies! Although, Billie does kindly remind us that Carrie was a book first). GED prom is immediately a great concept for Idiotsitter to run with, and the episode definitely could have spent a lot more time there, especially since the Billie/Hank stuff flounders a bit. Gene has a little meet-cute of her own when Kerry turns out to be kind of perfect for her. He’s socially inept in the same way as her and is super into her—an immediate turn on for Gene. Jillian Bell and Andrew W.K. are fantastic together, and their quick romance is instantly believable—more so than the connection between Billie and Hank.

Both Billie and Gene don’t end up having the prom they really wanted. They fail in their own ways. Billie loses Hank once the truth comes out (and Atticus runs off to get drunk and make out with a pregnant girl). And Gene doesn’t get to Carrie Kerry. And then it’s Billie and Gene who end up under the blood buckets (two because New Chet Bret got a deal) together. While the episode itself feels a little underdeveloped, that ending is killer. Newhouse’s delivery of Billie’s freakout is enough to make it stand on its own (“My bangs is blood. My bangs blood?”). But also, the fact that Billie and Gene are both up there, getting pig’s blood dumped on their heads together rings as very true to the show and to these two characters. It’s a weird, over-the-top moment that plays on both of their anxieties about wanting to be liked. But the path to get to that moment wavers a bit too much for “GED Prom” to feel like a particularly tight episode.

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Stray observations

  • “This is the end of the song that I wrote that is the length of time that I should be brushing my teeeeeeeeeth!” I would love to see a full-length musical written by Billie.
  • “Prom is not about being sad and in love! It’s about revenge and shame!”
  • “I’m probably a little too hard on girls.” “Sexist.” “That I like.” “Sexy.” All of Bell and Andrew W.K.’s chemistry is embodied perfectly in this exchange.
  • Gene fashions a disco ball out of broken mirrors and a basketball. That makes her a genius in my book.
  • New Chet Bret and Gene eat cheese puffs and drink Big Gulps while playing Halo, which feels very correct.
  • “I’m not doing any more church bits with you!”
  • “Maybe I could be your boyfrenemy?”

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