The Skinny Recaps: Episodes 1-6

Photo: Courtesy of Cortney Wilson.
The Skinny, a web series produced by Refinery29 and Wifey.TV, is now live. Join us as we recap.

Episode 1: Relapse

We first meet Jessie through one of her YouTube videos, the already IRL-famous "Jessie Gets Arrested." She’s boisterous, confident, and funny. But then we see Jessie, behind her computer, watching herself. She’s not pleased.

Jessie cleans up her apartment (throwing out alcohol bottles, taking one last swig of beer) and herself (ugh, nose-hair plucking) before driving to a rehabilitation center. She’s there to pick up Cole, her boyfriend. Jessie honks, and he seems annoyed as he gets in the car.

They drive to a diner, where Cole asks Jessie if she wants some of his food. When she refuses, he says, “You are so stupid.” It’s said in a flirtatious manner, but it’s also seriously patronizing. Jessie doesn’t seem to mind. “Wanna go?” she says. “Before you overdose again.” His response? “Too soon.”

Back at the apartment, there’s a surprise party waiting. It’s apparently a surprise for Jessie, too. Jessie’s mom, Jacqueline, is the instigator. It’s an annoying imposition and somewhat tone-deaf, considering Cole just got out of rehab. (Jacqueline also did Jessie’s laundry, which it must be said, is a great mom move. So it’s not all bad.)

The party’s clearly a disaster. Someone brought a flask. Cole says he’s feeling “triggered.” But then it’s Jessie’s turn to feel that way when her mom brings over a huge cake. While cleaning up after everyone has gone home, Jessie binges on the cake and purges. She blames her puking on “dollar-store sushi.” Cole’s not buying it. “You’re still doing this?” he asks.

In the morning, Jessie tries to instigate sex, but Cole refuses. He pushes her off of him and tells her to use a vibrator. She puts the vibrator between her legs and humps while grabbing onto him from behind. After she comes — or at least pretends to come — he says: “I think we need some space.” Cole leaves, and they get into a huge fight outside the apartment. She accuses him of being “high,” he says he hasn’t used in months. He tells her to stop being so “insecure.” She says, “It’s feminism, bitch.”

He’s gone, and suddenly Jessie looks lost. Her comeback about how she could have fucked his dad doesn’t help. She goes back inside and binges on everything she can find. She holds onto her stomach, staring at the detritus left in her wake.

Episode 2: Bigger

Jessie’s once again remaking her life. She’s mixing up a big batch of liquid for a cleanse, burning sage, fondling a vision board, etc. But it’s not all positive energy: She’s also reading vitriolic YouTube comments about herself.

She goes to a party with her friend Brie. Brie wants to ditch, but Jessie is there to network. They do coke in the bathroom, and dance. They are greeted by a very small man, Stuart, who brings them champagne and says it’s his party. Jessie asks if he’s a pimp. No, he’s a “manager for digital content creators.” This is Jessie’s opportunity. Her pitch? “I do like feminist shit, like hardcore feminist shit.” Stuart seems more interested in getting in Brie’s pants. Brie whines about wanting food, so Stuart brings them to his place for snacks.

At his place they aren’t really eating so much as doing coke, while Stuart rambles on about who he quit rabbinical school to, uh, manage YouTube stars. Stuart tells Jessie she’s easy to talk to — though, like, wouldn’t anyone be in this moment? They are on a ton of coke — Brie declares she wants to dance. Jessie looks desperate, and joins in, pulling her pants down, taking it one step too far. Stuart starts to film, but Brie steps in. “I don’t care if you’re fucking Fellini,” she says. That obviously gives Stuart a hard on — we’re speaking metaphorically, but it could be otherwise — and he and Brie start flirting more aggressively. He’s throwing cured meats at her. Jessie is deserted and triggered. She goes to the bathroom, binges on salami and purges.

When she emerges she finds Brie showing Stuart her videos. Stuart loves them. “Jess, I have been waiting for you for so long,” Stuart says. He plans to organize a screening.

In the morning Jessie goes to her mom’s, bagels in hand, to find her mom helping Cole move into her parents’ place. That’s fucked up.
Photo: Courtesy of Patrick Gookin.
Episode 3: Squad

Stuart’s audience looks skeptical after watching Jessie’s video about trying to fuck a veteran. “There are no bones for monetization in this project,” one woman says. Stuart argues that “real women are the next great wave in clickbait” as Jessie seems deeply uncomfortable with her body being used as a prop. “No one likes women that real,” another guys says.

Outside Stuart’s not so much of a big shot. He doesn’t even have a car. It’s hard to get a read on him. Is he strange and clingy? Or does he just want to be Jessie’s friend? Any plans are scrapped, however, when they run into three teen girls. The ringleader of this gaggle is Sadie, a Vine star. Stuart leaves Jessie with Sadie and her squad, instructing Jessie to make an impact on Sadie, who “runs the Internet.” Teens, am I right?

Sadie immediately asks if Jessie is 21. Yup. She wants booze. The next thing we know we’re in a supermarket montage. Sadie’s grabbing heaps of cough medicine. Jessie’s putting on adult diapers, asking Sadie to “Vine this shit.” Sadie declines. Jessie pilfers chocolate laxatives, but she doesn’t have to be so stealthy. The girls planned to steal everything anyway.

They go to the banks of the highly unappealing L.A. River, smoke weed and drink a concoction involving Robitussin. When Jessie gives her explanation for not wanting to take a puff — last time she thought her cat was Nazi rapist — one of the girls calls her a “dumb whore.” Sadie turns on her friend: “We don’t do that, we’re sexually liberated females.”

The next thing you know, Jessie’s super drunk, doing increasingly ridiculous things asking Sadie to “Vine this shit.” She then thinks she drowning — even though she’s not actually in the water — and calls out for her mom and “Cole-y.” Sadie’s curious and gets the whole sorry story. While Jessie tries to defend everyone involved — taking bites of a chocolate laxative — Sadie is having none of that. They go to Jessie’s mom’s to TP the place. As they are fooling around, Jessie’s laxative kicks in. Jessie pulls down her romper and goes to the bathroom right there. The girls are horrified, but also entertained. While Jessie’s pooping, her mom comes out, and they have to make a run for it.

What might have been a disaster actually gets Jessie what she wants: attention and kudos from the girls and their male friends. Jessie is loving the attention, but Sadie isn’t feeling well. Instead of concern, the guys try to pour malt liquor down her throat. Sadie’s friends insist she’s fine, and the guys call Sadie “weak.”

Jessie declares, “fuck this,” and brings Sadie to the bathroom, where she helps her puke.

“Listen to me okay, you do not have to keep hurting yourself, okay?” Jessie tells her. But after Sadie pukes again, Jessie’s counsel takes a less positive turn. “Look, you’re so skinny, we can have dinner again,” Jessie says.

Episode 4: AWOL

It’s a road trip! Jessie’s in the backseat of her mom’s car being chauffeured to a spa, and complaining that she isn’t getting cell service and the fact that her mom keeps bringing up Cole. But it’s going to get worse: When they reach the spa ground, Jessie’s phone gets confiscated.

Jacqueline’s mother tries to placate Jessie with a Luna bar, but then laughs about how Cole took the last one. The name sends Jessie up the wall. “I’m never going to forgive you,” she tells her mom, and then goes off to find some kale. That’s when Jessie discovers that the spa is a “bread free zone” and has a revelation. “Mom, this is a fat camp,” she says. Her mother denies this, saying it’s just a spa. She tells Jessie that a class has been canceled and she has arranged for Jessie to perform for the campers.

Jessie is not enthusiastic, and literally runs away from her mother, participating in the spa/camp’s exercise activities. But she finally gives in, showing a video in which she cluelessly joins a demonstration in the West Bank. While her mother is proud, another member of the audience thinks Jessie’s “reckless” and that she’s “hurting herself to get attention.” As Jacqueline tries to defend Jessie, Jessie passes out. After Jessie comes to, Jacqueline gives her the phone back. Jessie rejoices, and gets a message that prompts her to leave immediately. Is it Stuart with news about work? Nope, it’s Cole.
Photo: Courtesy of Patrick Gookin.
Episode 5: Control

This marks the series’ most difficult and pivotal episode, which deals with matters of consent. But before we get there, Jessie’s lawn poop has gone viral because Sadie had indeed “Vined that shit.”

Jessie hasn’t realized this though, because she’s preoccupied with Cole, who is now living with her again. Stuart bangs on her door to inform her of her success, he even booked a meeting for her with Waste Media. (Waste is basically Vice.) Cole’s not impressed, but that hasn’t quite killed Jessie’s buzz. She scans the internet, taking in all the attention she’s getting. Cole takes away her computer. “I think we should get back together,” he says. Jessie isn’t convinced. She tells him he can stay for a couple of days while she thinks about it.

Later, she’s practicing for her meeting in front of the mirror, and Cole looks on disdainfully. She tells him to stop being “weird.” He tells her to stop being “so sexy.” Though she protests he kisses her. She tells him she has to go to her meeting, but he takes her pants off anyway. He fingers her and she enjoys it. She tells him thank you, but that she has to go. He won’t let her. She tells him to stop it and tries to push him off of her. He pulls down her pants and jams himself into her as she vocalizes her pain. The camera focus on Jessie’s paralyzed face.

Waiting for the meeting, she remains in that stunned state. “I feel fat,” she tells Stuart.

In the meeting the Waste guys say they aren’t looking for another pair of “tits.” They look at Stuart and Jessie skeptically. As Jessie looks at the bearded men, she flashes back to her rape and to Stuart trying to get her to smile.

“Fuck this shit,” she says, getting up. “I am so sick of asking men with man buns and tuna breath for permission to be myself. Am I good enough? Fun enough? Thin enough? Good enough? Pretty enough? Asian enough? Is my pussy clean enough? You guys pretend to be this edgy fucking company, but you know what? There is more pussy fear in this room than the Republican National Convention.”

She tells them they don’t deserve her, and then exits on, “God is a woman, fuck the patriarchy.” Amen.

Episode 6: Better

It’s the morning and Jessie is cooking. Cole approaches her affectionately, but she tells him not to touch her. He thinks she’s “pretending” to break up with him. She’s not.

“I should have let you die that night you overdosed in Vegas,” she says. He confronts her with her eating disorder. “Why don’t you go back to the fucking bathroom? Why are you cooking this fucking food anyway? We all know what happens Jessie,” he says. “It’s no secret.” She orders him to get out. She throws her diet pills out, burns sage, and trashes her vision board.

She meets Stuart on a roof. He convinced Waste to give her another chance, and now they are sending her to Middle East. He tells her, “now that everybody loves you, though, don’t forget you love me.” She’s focuses on only one part of that statement. “Everybody loves me?” she asks.

She goes to dinner with her mom before leaving for her trip. Her mom thinks she’s going to come out as gay. Instead, she comes out as bulimic. Jacqueline is puzzled. “I don’t understand,” she says, in denial. “You’re beautiful and you’re happy and you’re successful and you’re tan.” Not that those things, would negate bulimia. “Why are you telling me this?” she says.

Jessie goes to the bathroom. She comes out forgiving Jacqueline, but Jacqueline instead sends her home. “You’re not the only one with stuff, do you know what I mean?” she says.

Jessie spirals and heads to a donut shop where the woman behind the counter knows her name. She asks for day-old donuts, saying that she’s going to drop them off at the homeless center. Texts roll in from Stuart asking her where she is.

She takes two boxes of donuts and eats them as she drives to the airport, nearly missing her flight. When the airport is finally in sight a cop pulls her over. “Shit,” she says.

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