Who's the hero on 'Side Order of Life'?
I know that Jenny is the main character on Side Order of Life, and therefore the one we're supposed to sympathize with, but does anyone else feel like the person who's really getting a raw deal is Ian? The poor guy is completely in the dark while Jenny has deep, meaningful conversations with Mystery Voice, and she's letting him believe that things aren't ending even though she's pretty darn sure she wants out. Seriously, I think Ian is the wronged party here.
Side order of spoilers coming up.
Vivy does confront Jenny about her treatment of Ian, but doesn't feel strongly enough about it to disabuse Ian when she gets the chance. Granted, it's not really her job, but she's supposed to be Ian's friend too, right? Doesn't she sort of owe it to him to let him know things aren't as happy as he thinks they are?
But no, Ian keeps thinking that he and Jenny will be getting hitched any day now. In Jenny's defense, she does strongly suggest that she's not looking forward to a wedding -- she basically says a wedding doesn't really mean anything, and we're good as we are, right? But when I becomes clear that Ian is exercising selective hearing, she really needed to make it obvious, don't you think?
Jenny's magazine assignment this week involves 20-something conjoined twins who are about to undergo surgical separation -- except they're backing out. Odds are, only one of them would survive the separation. Yes, their joint liver is failing, so if they don't separate, they'll probably both die within the year, but they can't bear the thought of not having each other. Jenny respects this, until Vivy tears her a new one -- you fight for life! You don't give up! So Jenny goes back to the twins and tries to change their perspective: What if, instead of thinking that one of you might have to live on alone, you think of it as you might have the opportunity to give your sister, the person you love more than anyone in the world, the gift of a long life? Yes, you might die, but your sister would live. Isn't that worth doing? The twins agree -- although I can't help but think the surviving sister would be crushed by guilt. Maybe that's just me.
The initially snooty French doctor allows Jenny to take pictures of the surgery, and really? The hospital's liability lawyers must have had a seizure when they heard that. I also hope they scrubbed down and sanitized her camera, film and everything else. In the course of the separation, Shannon dies, Lisa lives. Jenny sees Shannon's spirit get off the table and walk over to Lisa -- "You get to live for both of us now. I'll be waiting for you." Like I said, crushing guilt. Jenny gets a good picture of the formerly snooty French doctor mourning the loss of one of his patients -- hey, snooty French doctors are people too!
Jenny tries to tell Ian she's tremendously upset about Shannon's death, but Ian doesn't get it -- wouldn't they both have died if they hadn't gotten the surgery? Isn't one alive better than both dead? Yeah, but that's not the point ... OK, Ian is incredibly dense at that moment, but he's being dense in the most guylike way possible. I know so many guys who, when confronted with an upset woman, will immediately start trying to fix things, when the woman really just wants a sympathetic ear to let her vent, to give her permission to be upset. Let her get it out of her system, then try to fix things!
The phone rings, and Jenny goes outside to take it. It's Mystery Voice, who she has no trouble pouring out her soul to. He just listens. Ian overhears, and is furious -- who is this guy? How long has this been going on? Jenny reluctantly tells him it happened just before the wedding. Is that why you postponed the wedding? I don't know, Jenny replies. Ian blows up and breaks up with her. The breakup needed to happen, but this was not the way it should have gone down.
And Lisa, the surviving twin, is there to emphasize that. Shannon dying is horrible, but at least they got to say goodbye. "Losing someone from your life hard enough," Lisa says. "If we hadn't been able to say goodbye, it would make this unbearable." This leads Jenny to appear at Ian's office and return the ring. I love you, she says, and a huge part of me still thinks you're the right person for me, but it's not the right time. I don't know what I can do except let you go. Goodbye.
This leaves Ian vulnerable to the predations of Becca, a friend of Vivy's who has long had her eyes on Ian. Becca and Jenny have a strained relationship, to say the least -- and I can't tell whether it's all in Jenny's head, or if Becca really is delighting in pushing her buttons. Take this line: "I figured [Vivy] could use a good friend right now." On the one hand, yes, Vivy really could (although for someone who has just undergone her first radiation treatment, Vivy looks fabulous.) On the other hand... what, Jenny isn't a really good friend? Plus, Becca gets tremendously solicitous about Jenny and Ian's wedding being called off, but behind her eyes, I definitely get the sense she's doing a little happy dance.
So the competition between Jenny and Becca is on -- for Vivy's friendship, for Ian's attention, and for peace of mind. Jenny will have no right to complain if Ian and Becca hook up -- she cut him loose -- but surely there's some sort of etiquette that says you don't leap on a friend's ex within a certain time period, right? It's tacky.
In other news, the Mystery Voice still says all the right things; Rick gets schooled by Scarlett Johansson for sleeping with her friend and then not calling, and Jenny gets a life lesson from Clarence from beyond the grave. Clarence was the laughing black man Jenny photographed in the pilot the one she saw age in her photograph. She slips a copy of said photo under Clarence's door, and his brother comes to visit -- Clarence died, but he lived a full life, and even when he was alone, he was never lonely. In this life, the only people who are alone are those who want to be, he says. We'll see if Jenny agrees.