I know that I often refer to Sweet Valley High (the book series, not the TV show) as the most melodramatic soap opera of its time. I still believe that statement, 100%. So, I wanted to look back at the last 21 books since many hour-long TV dramas have 20-24 episodes in a season and relay it in terms of the barebones ridiculousness that would make a complete TV season.
First you will find ‘The Skinny’ which is simply the highlights of what happened, in order, during the course of what I am deeming Sweet Valley High: The Book Series Season 1. ‘The Skinny’ only cares about the most important events that have happened so far. The second section is called the ‘Perfect Size 6’ because those are the sizes of the Wakefield twins – a fact that is pointed out in the first few pages of every book. Every. Single. One. Like ‘The Skinny’ this is only concerned with what happened: the who, what, when, where and how and if it is relevant sometimes the why. If ‘The Skinny’ was the highlights think of this section as short episode (book) recaps of no more than a few sentences each. It’s a great refresher or way to catch-up with everything that has happened that may come up later. For actual commentary on the books themselves please visit the Confessions Of A Bookaholic: Guilty Pleasure Sweet Valley High editions.
The Season 1 Skinny
The first 21 books were involved to say the least. I mean you have: a motorcycle accident and subsequent coma, selective amnesia from a head injury, two attempted date rapes, being ‘discovered’ by a Hollywood agent, a suicide attempt, phony sexual assault charges, leukemia and then dying from leukemia, losing your girlfriend to leukemia, promises made on one’s deathbed, getting kidnapped by a deranged man, becoming an orphan just to find out you’re a millionaire, being deaf and choosing between miracle treatments to restore your hearing or true love that has lasted a few weeks, attempted murder, strangulation, a plane crash and temporary paralysis and spine problems from said plane crash and running away from home. AND everything I just mentioned totally takes a backseat to all of the stupid high school drama including schemes, public humiliations, rumors, dances, man stealing, hazing, cheating, break-ups and make-ups, hook-ups and so much more! Scandalous!
As you can see, even if this was the beginning of the series, the writers did not hold back in terms of ridiculous melodrama. Thank goodness, right? And I will concede, when it comes to drama you haven’t seen anything yet – just wait for the next season! If you want the 411 (does anyone say that anymore) on what happened, who is dating who, who is in a coma, etc. then you won’t want to skip the ‘Perfect Size 6’. 😉
The Season 1 “Perfect Size 6”
Episode 1 – “Double Love”: Meet Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield, twin sisters who are perfect and gorgeous. Elizabeth is in love with Todd Wilkins, but Jessica thinks he is hot so she goes after him, convincing him that Elizabeth is a wild child while she convinces Elizabeth that Todd is a creep who tried to force himself on Jessica. Jessica also sneaks into a bar, posing as Elizabeth to ruin her reputation, but is found out in the end and Elizabeth and Todd start dating.
Episode 2 – “Secrets”: Enid Rollins, Elizabeth’s best friend used to hang with a rough crowd that dabbled in drugs and car accidents and she confesses this to Elizabeth because her ex-boyfriend is coming to Sweet Valley and wants to see her (they’re still friends). Jessica finds out and tells Enid’s boyfriend because she wants to be the queen of the fall dance and he is on the committee. He dumps Enid and now there are terrible rumors going around about her. Enid thinks Elizabeth blabbed and acts like a bitch to her. Meanwhile, Lila Fowler spreads a rumor that her French teacher is making moves on the school quarterback because she doesn’t like that her teacher is actually dating her daddy.
Episode 3 – “Playing With Fire”: Jessica Wakefield gets her way in landing handsome and insanely rich Bruce Patman. Bruce makes Jessica feel terrible about herself, dissing all of her interests and Jessica listens to him, following him around like a lost puppy dog. She snaps out of it when Elizabeth proves to her that Bruce has also been going out with other girls behind her back. Jessica pays Bruce a little public humiliation in the end to even the score.
Episode 4 – “Power Play”: Robin Wilson is fat, ugly and unpopular and desperately wants a friend. Elizabeth nominates Robin for the exclusive high school sorority and Jessica is intent on keeping Robin out even though she has been using Robin for months. Horrible hazing ensues, but Robin passes all of her tasks. Jessica blackballs her after she does everything anyway and she is devastated, drops several pounds, becomes hot and skinny, all the boys want her, and then becomes the co-captain of the cheerleading squad (alongside Jessica). She outdoes Jessica and to save face Jessica invites her to join the sorority after all, but Robin just tells her to shove it. (All of this in 150 pages, folks. I’m not even lying.)
Episode 5 – “All Night Long”: Jessica likes an older college guy and when they go out he refuses to drive her home, so she curls up in the corner to pout – I mean sleep. Elizabeth has to cover for Jessica with their parents and the next day at school, going to both of their classes and taking a test for Jessica. Elizabeth’s boyfriend Todd, finds out what a doormat Elizabeth is being, they fight and break up (but get back together by the end of the book). Elizabeth is so upset she fails the test she took for Jessica and Jessica is pissed.
Episode 6 – “Dangerous Love”: Todd gets a motorcycle, but Elizabeth’s parents have forbidden their kids from ever riding one. While Elizabeth can’t ride around with Todd, she watches every other girl in school take a ride on his motorcycle instead, making her insecure and jealous. Todd makes plans to sell the bike so he and Elizabeth can be ‘good’ again. After finalizing the deal Todd has to pick Elizabeth up (on the motorcycle) because Jessica leaves her stranded while off with some boy. Todd and Elizabeth are hit by a drunk driver and Elizabeth ends up in a coma.
Episode 7 – “Dear Sister”: Elizabeth is in a coma and everyone’s world is ending until she comes out of it. When she does, she acts worse than Jessica (who everyone mistakes her for at first). She flirts with everyone, ditches Todd, blows Jessica off and sticks her with all the chores, including babysitting bratty twins. Lila Fowler has a “pickup party” and Elizabeth leaves with Bruce Patman. As soon as they are alone at his beach house Elizabeth falls, hits her head and doesn’t remember anything since the hospital. Bruce says she is going to give it up or he is going to take it. Elizabeth runs away and right into Todd’s arms.
Episode 8 – “Heartbreaker”: Jessica wants to date Bill Chase and does everything to have him fall in love with her, but once he does she just leads him on. DeeDee Gordon is in love with Bill and Jessica always reels him back in, around DeeDee as a show of ownership. Bill finally gets a clue and gets with DeeDee. Goodbye Jess! Also, Bill Chase is ‘discovered’ by a Hollywood agent after the school play.
Episode 9 – “Racing Hearts”: Roger Barrett has a crush on Lila Fowler, but is poor and secretly working as a janitor to support his family. Jessica begins ‘working’ at her father’s office to get close to a boy who works in the building. She sees Roger working as a janitor, but Elizabeth forces her to keep quiet or she’ll tell everyone about Jessica’s failed office romance (the boy was not what he seemed). Roger becomes a school celebrity after winning a qualifying race, but he can’t compete or he will lose his job. He tells Lila the truth and she is a real witch to him, but then Roger can run the race and wins (and he still gets to keep his job). Lila comes crawling back to him, but he blows her off for a quiet art geek named Olivia.
Episode 10 – “Wrong Kind Of Girl”: Annie Whitman wants to be a cheerleader more than anything, but Jessica refuses to consider it because she goes out with a different boy every night (this a pot/kettle thing right here). Annie tries out for the squad and is outstanding while no one else can even do a cartwheel, but Jessica tells the squad it is Annie or her, so Annie doesn’t make it. Annie tries to kill herself because she doesn’t make the squad and Jessica feels so guilty she lets her be a cheerleader. Also, Elizabeth gets hit on by a creepy older man (in his thirties).
Episode 11 – “Too Good To Be True”: The twins’ dad has a friend in New York who is sending his daughter to Sweet Valley for spring break, and one of the twins will get to check out New York in her place. Elizabeth wins the coin toss, but Jessica convinces her that Todd will cheat on her while she is away, so that Jessica can go to New York instead. Suzanne Devlin arrives and seems perfect, but while everyone is fawning over her she steals Elizabeth’s jewelry, says terrible things and tries to seduce a teacher. When that doesn’t work, she fakes a sexual assault (while we don’t get the details, she messes up her clothes and hair). Elizabeth discovers her necklace in Suzanne’s suitcase when she tries to make room for a gift she bought for Suzanne. She realizes Suzanne is a thief and lied about everything else. Suzanne leaves for New York with her tail between her legs, after a very public confrontation where the truth comes out. Meanwhile, in New York Jessica is bored and lonely until Suzanne’s boyfriend asks her out, but the wonderful night is not so wonderful and the guy tries to rape her. Don’t worry, she gets away.
Episode 12 – “When Love Dies”: Jessica convinces Elizabeth to volunteer at the local hospital with her as a candy striper. Elizabeth enjoys the job while Jessica is only trying to track down Jeremy Frank, a famous talk show host who is a patient there. (It was her plan all along, of course.) Steven, the twins’ older brother, is distraught because his girlfriend Tricia is pulling away from him. Jessica convinces him she is wrong for him and tries to set him up with her friend Cara Walker with disastrous results. Elizabeth finds out Tricia is a patient at the hospital and that she has leukemia and does not have much time left. She is pulling away from Steve to spare him more pain once she is gone. She makes Elizabeth promise to keep her secret and even though Elizabeth knows it’s wrong, she agrees. On her way out of the hospital, Elizabeth is attacked, knocked out and kidnapped! Dun, dun, dun…
Oh, come on. You know I had to split this up, just like any self-respecting show on TV – I left you with a cliffhanger. Make sure to check out Part 2 tomorrow for the final nine episode (book) recaps and my favorite section of this blog: The World Of Sweet Valley High Season 1. This section offers fun personality assessments of your favorite twins, the lessons we have learned or not learned and fun facts such as Jessica’s secret obsession (it is not what you think) and how to predict the weather in each book. You know you’ll have to check them out – otherwise how will you know if Elizabeth will be rescued? 😉