EW Community TV Show Episode Guides and Recaps from EW's Community

'Wonderfalls' nostalgia recap: Four words and a digit

Season 1 | Episode 3 | “Karma Chameleon” | Aired Mar 19, 2004

The third episode of Wonderfalls opens with the Tylers gathering to celebrate the publication of Karen’s latest travel guide. In Karen’s author bio she details Sharon’s accomplishments as an attorney and Aaron’s prestigious scholarship and doctoral studies, but all it says about the youngest Tyler is “Jaye, a daughter, is 24.”

Jaye is hurt and dismayed that she is only worthy of four words and a digit in her mother’s blurb. Her family halfheartedly attempts to assure her she’ll probably excel eventually. While Jaye complains to Eric after her family leaves (their celebration was at the Barrel, because every event on this show is at the Barrel), the mounted fish on the wall tells Jaye to “get her words out.”

The fish’s message takes on some meaning when a girl named Bianca (Sarah Drew) visits Wonderfalls to return Jaye’s wallet—which, unbeknownst to Jaye, Bianca stole from her at the bar the previous night. Jaye is initially appalled, but notes Bianca’s stutter and realizes she could be whom the fish was referring to.

Bianca has run away from home and is currently unemployed and living in a van. The first problem is fixed, however, when Alec (Neil Grayston) offers her a job at the store after she proves to be a natural at folding T-shirts. Jaye is tasked with training Bianca and hopes she has fulfilled her obligation to the animal muses.

A couple days later, Jaye is horrified when she arrives at work to discover Bianca has changed her hair and general demeanor to be such a convincing Jaye clone that even Jaye’s own father confuses the two. Now snarky and stutter free, Bianca has all but stopped putting in effort at work. Later, at the Barrel, she flirts with Eric more effortlessly than Jaye ever has. Simultaneously aghast and impressed, Mahandra notes Bianca is essentially being a better Jaye than Jaye.

Growing increasingly suspicious, Jaye breaks into Bianca’s van and discovers a shrine to herself. There are creepy stalker photos and notebooks full of attempts at copying Jaye’s signature; even the laptop screensaver is a picture of Jaye’s face. Bianca catches Jaye in the act and Jaye basically attacks her, accusing her of trying to “single white female” her life.

Bianca then reveals she is an investigative journalist and has been studying Jaye for a story she is writing on disaffected, Gen-Y 20-somethings. As soon as she says she hasn’t been able to begin the story yet because she always struggles with getting started, Jaye immediately understands the true meaning of “get her words out.” More flattered than she probably should be to hear Bianca is writing 5,000 whole words about her after the embarrassment of her mother’s bio, Jaye encourages Bianca to write by offering her an all-access pass into her life.

Credit: giphy

Bianca follows Jaye like a shadow for a few days and is fascinated by the “stressless, expectation-free zone” Jaye has created for herself. She quickly assigns meaning to Jaye living in a trailer: Trailers have been designed to go somewhere but don’t, meaning that just like Jaye, they never live up to their potential. Just when it seems like Jaye might actually learn something valuable about herself from this experience, all progress comes to a screeching halt when Bianca gets Jaye fired from her job by convincing Alec that Jaye has been manipulating her.

When Jaye goes to her parents’ house to tell them she was fired, she is dismayed to see Bianca has beaten her there. Although she claims to have come to take responsibility for her role in Jaye’s firing, Bianca quickly shifts from honest and endearing to conniving and vindictive. During the Tylers’ family dinner, she pretends to have been joking about being a journalist all along, making Jaye look totally crazy. Jaye does what she always does when things seem to have hit rock bottom: She goes to the Barrel to vent to Eric and do some shots. Jaye is confused when the fish is still insisting she “get her words out”—until it all clicks.

Back in her trailer, Jaye opens her comically large 2004 MacBook and proceeds to write Bianca’s article for her. She sends it to the magazine with Bianca’s name on it, and is soon notified it will be published. Jaye has fixed Bianca’s problem of never being able to get started. She convinces Bianca it’s time for her to leave and give Jaye her life back. Bianca acquiesces, quits her job, and leaves Jaye to reclaim what was hers and put the Wonderfalls vest back on.

DVD screengrab

In the final scene, the Tylers gather once more to read “Bianca’s” article on Jaye. They are very impressed with the quality of writing, and although Jaye does not reveal she wrote it, she is clearly satisfied by this rare moment of familial approval. Finally, Jaye reads what she has come up with for her now-longer part of the blurb in the second publication of Karen’s book: “Daughter Jaye lives in Niagara Falls. Her blurb, and life, are a work in progress.”

Odds and ends

  • “Karma Chameleon” was written by the brilliant Tim Minear, who executive produced this show and is well known in cult TV circles for his work on Angel, Firefly, Dollhouse, Terriers, and American Horror Story.
  • Sarah Drew, who plays Bianca, has since starred on both Everwood and Grey’s Anatomy.
  • We finally find out a bit more about Aaron in this episode, including that he was the “youngest non-Asian to win the Fulton Scholarship for Religious Studies.”
TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

You May Like