Brighton and Maxwell troop down the grand staircase like innocent school children and Fran makes a bouncy entrance and hands over baseball equipment, leading me to believe that they’re about to have some manly bonding time. If their baseball hats weren’t another tip off that they desperately want to ditch Fran, the latter asks Maxwell where his cap is. He gives the lame old excuse that he’s not a cap person, and Fran pressures him into putting it on. He does, and it gets a laugh from the studio audience, and Fran accuses him of not being cool, and does that stupid 1990’s white people trend that became a “gangster” trend subsequently in the next century by flipping his cap backwards and officially proclaiming him cool. What a concept!
Fran then announces that she and Gracie are going to the park. Wait a minute, isn’t a baseball diamond AT a park? And they’re not carpooling because…? Gracie comes downstairs and announces her anxiety, informing Fran that she’s reluctant to fly a kite because of “Mary Poppins” or something. Fran compares Gracie’s kite to a guy (what is she, five or six?!) and tells her that at the end of the day, when she’s an adult, she will be allowed to grab a guy by his balls and show him who’s boss. This comforts the mentally ill girl who makes a comment that leads me to believe she will probably be a serial killer someday.
The next scene opens at the breakfast table with Fran yet again in inappropriate breakfast attire: this time it is a coral-colored robe. Fran quizzes someone on a geography test and asks about the capital of Peru. Gracie immediately shouts “Lima!”, which I knew, and Fran congratulates her, and then gives Brighton a non-encouraging spheel about how Gracie can’t fit into his bookbag and help him cheat. Brighton then claims he doesn’t need to be a genius, because he will be a producer like his father, which gets a rather rude look from Maxwell. In a desperate attempt to get the studio audience to laugh, Brighton promptly says, “Who said that?”
C.C. enters with Niles and quickly sidesteps him and shows off her faux fur sleeves before sashaying up to Maxwell and proclaiming that she has fabulous news of some kind. She says she was at Elizabeth Arden getting a beauty regimen that she desperately needed for her over-forty and barely one egg left personality and asks people to guess who was under the next turban. Gracie, in all of her little girl not being P.C. glory immediately deduces that C.C. has met Aladdin. Dream big, little one, dream big… C.C. says she ran into some rich lady named Maureen Wentworth who was probably taking a break from sorting out blankets or little trinkets for the Red Cross and Maxwell doesn’t know who she is. Once he is reminded that Mrs. Wentworth invested $50,000 in their last show, he immediately turns on the charm and asks how the dear lady is doing. Fran is shocked by the sum, as I was when I adjusted it for inflation: $83,342.14 in today’s standards. Fran calls it a “lousy play”, and I was surprised that Maxwell didn’t just go ahead and fire her right then.
C.C. tells the Sheffield clan that Maureen Wentworth is part of THE Wentworth family which came over on the Mayflower. Upon examining Google, there were indeed Wentworths of that period who could have conceivably been on board the Mayflower. It takes a moment for Fran to fully understand and appreciate this, but she quickly turns the conversation to clothing and demands to know what the Wentworths would have packed, due to the fact that they didn’t have weather channels in the 1600’s. She then says that she is unsure if they could pull of a big hat, big collar, AND a big buckle. C.C. grows exasperated and wants to continue with telling Maxwell about a big investor we’ve never heard about before and probably never will again.
C.C. continues with the conversation and totally acts like Maggie’s mother and in so doing signs her up to be a junior debutante, something that upsets Maggie. Uh, yeah, especially that Maxwell and Fran are all for it and nobody seems to care what she wants. C.C. says that it would be a wonderful opportunity for Maggie in the long-run, and that she’d be able to find an appropriate husband. Gracie points out that C.C. never got married, prompting a note of sympathy from the audience. Maggie reiterates her disinterest in becoming a potential socialite-turned-whore and Maxwell says that it would help because Maggie is essentially a nun who never leaves the house, and Maggie says that she likes who she is. Fran says that Maggie is being afforded a wonderful opportunity and, in a bid for attention, Maggie throws her cloth napkin on the table in a huff and says she doesn’t want to be a debutante before hurrying from the room.
Maggie goes into the living room where Fran joins her, and Maggie demands to know why C.C. feels the need to butt into her social life. Fran asks what social life Maggie is talking about, which is kind of harsh if you ask me. Fran says that the house should be full of sweaty teenagers who need to call each other names in order to get off of their track of being seemingly polite children. Maggie expresses insecurities over the popular girls at her high school and Fran tells Maggie that she’s smart and gorgeous and then I think she mentions her bra size…nice. Fran tells her that all cliques are the same in high school and gives her pointers on how to infiltrate the pack lifestyle. Fran tells Maggie about safe topics of conversation, and Marky Mark comes up (a.k.a. Mark Wahlberg, who starred in such films as “Ted” and the latest “Transformers” movie that nobody in their right mind bothered to see in public). Maggie compares it to a war, and Fran replies, “War is just hell. This is high school.”
Fran and the kids sit in the living room, presumably that afternoon or the following afternoon; Maggie is on the phone; Brighton is kneeling beside his favorite table; and Fran is showing Gracie a magazine with Bobby Sherman, and Gracie isn’t too impressed with his hair. Gracie confides in Fran that she’s torn between Barney and Ted Koppel, who is an American broadcast journalist. Thanks, Wikipedia! Fran says that Bobby Sherman could sing, and that Gracie should hear his records. “What’s a record?” asks the little girl, prompting an “oy” from Fran and every last sane person in the audience.
We get a little insight to Maggie’s phone conversation (as well as the rather large cordless her house sports) and it’s quickly apparent that she’s talking to Cindy, the most popular girl in school. They discuss a boy that Cindy reportedly likes and Maggie asks if she doesn’t think that this guy looks just like Marky Mark. Fran is pleased that Maggie is sucking up. Okay…
C.C. is allowed in by Niles and promptly demands to know where Maxwell is. Niles replies that he was feeling a bit under the weather but that he’s doing much better, but C.C. doesn’t give a shit. She says that Maxwell needs some important-looking contracts dropped off in London by the next morning, and Niles offers up his broom and says with the time difference, C.C. should make it to London in time. Haha, Niles just called C.C. a witch! Classic!
Maggie reveals to the audience that Cindy is a Wentworth and that Cindy would like to know what to bring, presumably meaning that there’s going to be some kind of party. C.C. panicks because these women are supposedly her best friends and she doesn’t want to look bad by association. She goes on to say that Fran has no style, flair, or social sophistication, but Fran either doesn’t understand or doesn’t care about C.C.’s high and mighty opinion. Fran attempts to give C.C. some background on her past so as to let her know that the party will go off without a hitch. C.C. makes Fran feel insecure due to her hawk-like personality, leaving Fran in the dust as she leaves.
Maxwell and Niles are in his office, Niles pouring Maxwell some tea, and Maxwell tossing around the baseball and telling Niles that he’s getting the hand of baseball and is “rather enjoying it”, prompting Niles to tell him not to throw the ball in the house. Maxwell urges Niles out into the hall and promptly breaks an ancient vase, to which Niles claims that it will be one less thing to dust. Maxwell decides to pay bills and finds one for the fortune teller Fran hired for the party, prompting Maxwell to have second thoughts about Fran hosting the event. Fran comes in seeking reassurance but feels let down when she discovers that Maxwell and Niles have no faith in her either. Fran says she doesn’t want to embarrass Maggie, and promptly launches into a tale of her mother picking her up from school in a halter top and pedal pushers that still gives her nightmares. Maxwell and Niles come up with a list of differences between Fran and society ladies which makes Fran annoyed. They then decide to turn her into C.C.
After the commercial break, Maxwell and Niles have worked for hours it seems to make Fran into a high society woman. By stuffing her face with marbles, Maxwell attempts to teach her round tones, but she spits out the marbles. They attempt to get her to say something about a guy named Mark who was going after some innocent bird in Central Park after dark, to which Fran says that she hopes Mark has a gun. They then move into the living room where Fran attempts to walk with a book on her head, but she complains that its flattening her hair, and Maxwell and Niles complain about the way her hips move when she walks. Niles says that they should move on to conversation, and states that the weather, current events, and literature are always appropriate topics to discuss. They then complain about her laugh and Fran looks upset.
In the next scene, Maxwell tears Fran’s closet apart by tossing each and every article of clothing he comes across onto Fran’s bed. He then finds a “beige frock”, to which Fran tells him that it is her dress bag. The trio then go into the dining room and attempt to teach Fran about silverware and Fran keeps fucking up. They attempt to tell her that their salad course is coming and she picks up her shrimp fork, to which she says that she’s ordered an imaginary shrimp salad. Fran then drinks her finger bowl water, which really sets Maxwell on edge for some reason.
The scene cuts to the following day and we are greeted to a scene awash with various non-threatening colors and what appears to be boring and harmless conversation. Niles and Maxwell make some sort of harmless homoeriotic jokes between them when their version of how Fran should be enters the scene looking kind of frightening with flat hair and what appears not to be the garment bag on her person. She then greets random people who ignore her and then says, “How now, brown cow?” to some large woman dressed in an abysmal brown suit. C.C. talks to Maureen Wentworth and Maureen sees Fran on Maxwell’s arm, prompting jealousy from the former, while Maureen compliments the outfit Fran is wearing, which Niles thanks her for.
Maureen and Fran are introduced, and Fran actually says her R’s, which just sounds as if we’re in “The Twilight Zone” or something. The scene cuts briefly to Maggie and what appears to be Cindy and all her minions and Maggie looks worried because she’s probably seen Fran in all her normal glory and worries for her party’s sake. Maureen asks Fran about an artifact of Maxwell’s and asks if it is Mayan, to which Fran replies, “No. It’s Hisin” referring to Maxwell. Niles and Maxwell give Maureen a cucumber sandwich and Fran says that she’s had the seeds removed to avoid gas, prompting a scolding from Niles and Maxwell. Brighton then tries to score with Cindy, but is rebuffed, because he’s ten or something and she’s fourteen.
Fran tells two more society women about the apparent death of her uncle, which makes them understandably uncomfortable. Maggie comes over and demands to know why she isn’t being inaugurated into the popular girls and Fran makes a case for the day being classy and fun. Maggie, irate, claims that this is the worst party she’s ever been to, loud enough for everyone to hear to make Fran feel even more guilty. Maggie is left to cry by herself in the kitchen until Fran enters, to which Maggie says that she liked the party that they planned, and wondered what happened to it. Fran says that she thought this party would be better, and she doesn’t throw Maxwell or Niles under the bus, which really didn’t make sense to me. She does throw C.C. under the bus, however, which really makes it all the better. Maggie says that she can’t believe that Fran “dressed up like a geek and ruined her party”, but that it was the nicest thing anyone has ever done for her. Fran tells her not to mention it. Ever. Maggie tells Fran to be herself, and then they say that they want to be like each other, and then want to kill C.C. Nice…
The party is now in full swing, thanks to the harpist attempting to play along to the pop music and Brighton still trying to score with Cindy. AND WHERE THE HELL IS GRACIE THROUGH ALL THIS?!?!?!
Fran and Maureen bond over Maureen telling Fran her people came over on the Mayflower and they can trace them back for five hundred years. Fran says that her family landed on Ellis Island, got their names changed, and that all the records were lost. Cindy sees Maxwell at the make-your-own-sundae bar and says that he’s cute. Brighton seizes the opportunity and says that people say that they look alike. Cindy replies, “They lied”, which is actually pretty cold. Maureen and Fran eat Rice Krispy Treats and Maureen wants the recipe for her cook but Fran tells her to shut up and buy the cereal herself. Maureen tells Maxwell that she wants to invest in his new show, and he assures her that he thinks it’s going to be a hit. Maureen says that the fortune teller told her about it, and we see C.C. with her then, and wants to know if she has a shot with Maxwell, but the fortune teller denies it.
Cindy says that she has to leave because she’s under eighteen and is required by law as a guest star to have even less screen time. Brighton offers her a ride home in the limo, to which Cindy accepts, which has disgusting written all over it, and I hope she’s kidding, because she doesn’t want to get arrested. Brighton freaks out at the prospect of a pubescent girl within reach that isn’t his sister or his nanny and runs out of the room, and Cindy and Maggie seal their friendship with some sort of awkward high five type thing that is so 1990’s it’s weird.
Maggie thanks Fran for making the party perfect, but really she’s just glad for getting everything she wanted. Maxwell then says that he never doubted Fran’s capability of pulling it off for a minute, and Fran gives him the whole “mmm-hmmm” reply that we all know, love, and expect from sitcom women. Maggie encourages Fran to pick first from the grab bag, and for two seconds she does the whole, “Who? Me? You want ME to pick?! I wasn’t going to… Okay.” And then she picks the tin foil wrapped gift, which is also known as the best gift at the party. And everybody learns a valuable lesson.
And where was Gracie?!?!?!