“Jersey Strong” recap (1.9): It’s not working for me

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Episode 9 of Jersey Strong opens with a gushing water hydrant and eviction. Ashley, one of Jayda’s mentees, is a young unwed mother pregnant with her fourth child and grappling with the loss of her apartment.

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Ashley’s baby daddy is working but refusing to put up Ashley and his children, leaving them to fend for themselves. Jayda, as always, calls it like she sees it: “That man is a jackass.” Unfortunately Jayda’s got her own jackass man problems, and she knows it. Creep just returned from a comedy tour but Jayda doesn’t want to talk to him. She’s pissed that Creep left his fiance and children when they were trying to find a less dangerous neighborhood and could have used his support. Dear men: Feminism doesn’t excuse you from handling your business. If you’ve got kids, you’ve got responsibilities. Deal with it.

We’ve seen Jayda’s personal life slowly collapse over the course of the season, and Jayda The Rock is visibly cracking. Creep understands Jayda’s anger, but shows no signs of remorse. He’s invested in the kids, but seems oddly ambivalent towards Jayda.

To the gays! Sullen teen Nicole prepares for high school graduation. She cracks a smile only when Maggie holds up a Chanel bag. Brooke and Maggie have made peace with Nicole and her lackluster beau, and watch Nicole graduate with melancholy pride. Now that the last child is leaving Maggie’s nest, what is to become of Maggie?

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Jayda’s son, Aljahmeir, has a girlfriend, and Jayda’s not thrilled. She worries that he might lose focus at school because of puppy love. Puppy love is brief, and Aljahmeir’s girlfriend breaks his tween heart. Aljahmeir makes an incredibly dramatic speech on the nature of heartbreak that’s pretty funny to hear from a middle schooler. To make Jayda’s life even more hectic, the charter school Aljahmeir is attending is being shut down. He step dances in slow motion to express sorrow.

Lesbians! Brooke and Kevin discuss Kevin taking the LSAT to follow in Brooke’s lawyer-steps. Nicole visits Marist College, where she’s going to study fashion. Maggie talks about how envious she is, and says she’s going to do Nicole’s fashion school projects with/for her. Maggie takes living through your child to new heights. Now that Maggie’s kids are heading out, she wants to pursue her own dreams rather than Brooke’s whims.

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Jayda takes preggo protege to the gynecologist. They find out Ashley’s baby is going to be a girl. When Ashley calls baby daddy, he’s like “Cool” and goes back to taking a nap. What a gentleman. Jayda suggests that if Ashley really wants to work things out with baby’s daddy, she should seek the help of a pastor because men listen to other men. True, but depressing.

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At Brooke’s house, the lesbians are having a lovely barbecue punctuated by shrill bickering. Brooke is boozing and chain-smoking like a boss while Maggie refers to her as “34 going on 12″ and “a mess.” Brooke likes to drink, Maggie likes to imply Brooke is a drunken lout.

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In the hallowed office of Ron Christian, Christian minister, Jayda and Creep meet for some couples counseling. “If it’s not working, it might be time to try something different,” Ron Christian ministers. Ron Christian accuses Jayda of wanting things to be perfect before marriage, therefore preventing marriage. That strikes me as crap, misogynistic advice. If a woman doesn’t want to marry a man because she has concerns about his reliability, that’s her prerogative. Instead of telling Jayda to essentially lower her standards and settle for what Creep’s offering, Ron Christian should tell Creep to step it up if he wants to keep Jayda. Jayda’s hands agree that this is bullshit; the woman’s gesticulation could pop a black eye. Creep says the ball is in Jayda’s court and Jayda is like “REALLY? OK, I’m done with this shit.” Jayda leaves. Good for Jayda.

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Back to the rich white people. Since Marist wait-listed Nicole, she has to write an essay to get in spring semester. Nicole wrote about how her mother is her fashion/life icon and a tearful Maggie tells Nicole to “live my fashion dreams.” Now that Nicole is moving out to pursue fashion, Maggie wants to pursue fashion. All she has to do is break the news to Brooke, who is vigorously cleaning an ash tray while chain smoking and croaking, “I NEED A FUCKIN’ LIGHT.” In ominous Polish tones, Maggie summons Brooke into the fancy chair room to “talk.”

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As rapper Webbie once put so sagely, I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-T DO YOU KNOW THAT THAT MEANS.

Maggie: I waited for the kids to grow up and now it’s time to focus on Maggie. [Note: Maggie’s kids, not Brooke’s kids, as Maggie has made very clear throughout the season.]

Brooke: O…K?

Maggie: I want to be a stylist.

Brooke: OK, and what about the firm?

Maggie: I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it.

Brooke: I rely on you heavily, and that’s why the partnership has worked, and now you want to change the whole dynamic.

Ugh you think you buy a Polish housewife/legal serf and then they get all empowered and shit. It is so hard to find good lesbian girlfriend help these days.

Maggie: So that means I can’t have any of my dreams?

Brooke: No you can have your dreams, but I think it’s really selfish on your part.

Maggie: So only you can pursue your dreams?

Brooke: I’ve being giving to my family and home and…

Maggie: Yes and I appreciate that, but now it’s time for me to do something for myself. You don’t even want to hear me out?

Brooke: I can’t get into it right now. You can’t just dump it all on me, you know that I don’t deal with that part of the firm. We have roles! I have one role and you have another role, and now you want to totally change that!

Maggie[eyes go blood red, voice raised] Well that’s not fucking working for me!

Brooke: I gotta get out of here.

Maggie: No you stay, and I’m going!

Brooke: I’m going.

They both go. Are Maggie’s dreams delusional? Yes. But if there’s anyone who should understand the pursuit of delusional dreams, it’s Brooke Zuckerberg Smalls. Also the “We have roles” comment is depressingly patriarchal. Alas, why can’t lesbian girlfriends stick to traditional gender roles? Oh right: We already broke them.

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