On this "painfully special" episode of
Strangers With Candy:
Jerri's new goth friend Sylvia sees Mr. Jellineck in the hall and tells him that she's really upset by the recent suicide of a Carlot student. She knows that he helms the "Jive Talk With Geoffrey" column in the school paper, "The Donkey Trouser", so she thinks that he'll be able to help. The only spin on the tragedy that Geoffrey can come up with, though, is his own jealousy over all the attention that the dead youth has gained. After dispensing his wisdomless words, Jellineck reports to Mr. Noblet in the newspaper office. Chuck tells Geoffrey he has another letter from a student and asks if he should put it with the others... in the trash. Geoffrey thinks that the student's problems are too morose. He'd much rather make up his own question about an antique Shaker table not matching Key West colors and sign it, Desperately Seeking Deco. Principal Blackman walks in and is outraged because of all the untouched newspapers stacked outside his office. He says that his minions won't read it because they don't relate to it, and if they don't read his official party line he won't be able to gain control of their malleable young minds. He says that if he didn't know any better he'd say the paper was being written by a couple of middle-aged homos (I wouldn't call them middle-aged). He tells them that if they can't find someone to relate to the students he'll throw their monkey asses off the paper. Chuck fears that if he doesn't have the paper to work on he'll have to spend more time with his students, and he doesn't want that to happen. Chuck heads out with a coathanger to pry a snack out of the vending machine. While in the hall he overhears a conversation in which Jerri gives a crying African-American student advice on her recent breakup with Johnny Ling. She tells the girl, "Black on white, outta sight. Black on slope, there ain't no hope." This apparently makes the girl feel better, so Noblet thinks that Jerri could be the newspaper's savior. When he extends the offer to her she declines, claiming that working on the paper is for queers, "Dull, dull, dull dull". The rejection doesn't discourage Chuck, though. He just tells her not to bother coming to history class. He's giving her an "infinite F" (I'm sure he didn't mean the kind of "F" that Jerri would normally enjoy). A few minutes later, Jerri meets a new student, Sydney, who is looking for the newspaper office. Jerri claims to work on the "Donkey Trouser" staff and she leads Sydney into the office. Jerri then shows her how the paper runs: "Here's where we do the paper... folding. Here's where we do the paper... maché. And here's the paper.... clips". When Jerri tells Noblet that she will work on the paper he says that she'll be replacing Geoffrey's column, but she shouldn't mention this to Jellineck. Then Noblet makes Sydney his Research Assistant and the first thing he wants her to research is a cinnamon chip scone. After school, Sydney goes home with Jerri. While they're talking in the kitchen, Sara enters and asks Derrick who his cute young ethnic friend is. When she finds out that it's actually Jerri's friend she tells her to get out. Jerri also tells her dear "Mumzie" that she and Sydney got jobs for the school paper. Jerri brags about the maturity of such responsibility as she grabs for the Salty Crispy Fatties and the Fatty Salty Crispies. Sara is pleased to hear that Jerri has an advice column because it'll surely backfire and explode in her face like a hillbilly's rifle. Sydney agrees that giving out advice without being qualified can have disastrous results. The next day at school, Jerri expresses concern to Noblet regarding her lack of qualifications. But he tells her that if she wasn't qualified, why would he have made so many posters featuring Jerri's picture and the words: "Ask Jerri! She knows all. She tells most. She's qualified"? This abates Jerri's fears and the two put the posters up all over the school, covering less important postings such as First Aid for Choking instructions, the Pledge of Allegiance, an "Emergency Exit" floor plan, the Ten Commandments, and even a "Jive Talk With Geoffrey" poster. When Jellineck sees one of these posters, he goes to Noblet's class to confront him. The discussion becomes heated and Noblet throws away the ring that Geoffre gave him, but it's actually the wedding ring that Chuck's wife Claire had given it to him. Jellineck storms out and Noblet turns toward his students, who are taking a test, and tells them he has to go look for something. Later at the newspaper office, after a bit of a struggle, Noblet has finally taught Jerri how to type. The new and improved school paper turns out to be an instant success and Jerri is called upon to give more and more sage advice: "Be a Whore", "Don't stop doin' drugs unless you wanna stop feelin' good", etc. One letter was sent anonymously by Principal Blackman, because he is torn between a "fiery Latina" and his Mama. Jerri advises him to learn from those Arctic savages, the Eskimoes, and set his mother on an ice floe and send her out to "sea you later". The more popular Jerri becomes, the more angry and bitter Geoffrey becomes. In desperation he tells Chuck that unless he gets his column back he's going to reveal a "certain secret" about a "certain someone" that would most certainly destroy him. Chuck doesn't know where to turn, until he sees the "Ask Jerri" byline. He decides to pretend that he is reading a student letter, but actually describes his own quandary to Jerri. Jerri quickly rattles off a simple solution: "Dead men tell no tales. Wink, wink." Chuck doesn't want to kill Geoffrey, but he feels cornered and decides that it's the only way out. That night at the roller-rink party that Principal Blackman has arranged to celebrate the success of the paper, it's obvious that Jerri's advice has had disastrous consequences for its recipients. The girl who Jerri told to "be a whore" is pregnant", the guy who she told to continue using drugs has become an addict, and Onyx is devastated by the alienation of his Mama's affection. When Jerri tries to seek refuge with Sydney it's obvious that she's angry with her, too. Sydney tells Jerri to go back under her bridge with her billy goats gruff. It seems that Sydney had written an anonymous note to the "Ask Jerri" column about her concerns regarding Jerri's behavior and now Jerri's own reckless advice has come back to haunt her. Jellineck prepares to reveal his certain secret ("Once I was afraid, I was petrified. But I will survive.") in front of the party crowd while Chuck contemplates his chosen murder weapon, a rope. Fortunately though, Jerri's "got somethin' to saaaaaay!" She admits that she didn't care when she learned that her advice was hurting others, but now that it's hurting her she's decided to quit the column and give it back to Mr. Jellineck. This makes Geoffrey and Chuck very happy. Geoffrey asks what Chuck is doing with that rope, though, and Chuck responds that he was just going to measure Geoffrey's head for a new "Welcome back to the paper" hat. Although everyone else's lives are ruined, it is a happy ending for those who really matter.
Episode Title: "Ask Jerri"
Original Airdate: 9/11/00
Production Number: 3-07
Directed by: Juan Campanella
Writers: Paul Dinello, Amy Sedaris
Additional Writer: Matt Lappin
Regular Cast: AS, DD, DR, GH, LS, PD, SC
Guest Cast: Sophina Brown (Sydney), Pascale Armand ("Black on slope" Girl), Joshua Harto, Kelly Hutchinson (Sylvia), Eunice Wong (Ghost Girl), Marcel Simoneau, Debra Lisi Ruiz, Robert Brazil, Justin Spitzer