Sugar Rush Recaps: S1E4/5

by thethreepennyguignol

And we’re back! Sorry for the long break – between Riverdale and Game of Thrones and trying not to sink into a pit of anxiety, I haven’t had time to check in with my favourite lesbian anti-hero recently. But we’re back, with an action-packed two-parter that’s just confirming everything I already thought about The Rise of marriage-endin’, STD-catchin’, mis-translatin’ Krim.

The first episode in this double-hander is probably one of the most outrightly funny the show has done to date – Kim manages to catch crabs after platonically sharing a bed with Sugar, and then passes them on to her mother, who gives them to her father, who finally figures out that Stella is cheating on him. Now, not only does this episode feature the most deliciously prodigious use of Rock Lobster (a banging jam, in case you weren’t aware). The camera smash-cuts in with horror-movie sound effects on people scratching their crotches, while Stella and Kim waddle around covered in lotion to bleach their clothes without being caught. Sugar Rush is Deeply Into the consequences of sex (to be fair, this was a post-Buffy era, when sex and sexuality was basically allowed to exist on TV as long as people got lightly punished for it), and this is probably the cleverest way they’ve used it to unfold a plot point.

But I think what really stood out to me is the way it turned those last five minutes into something dead serious – Kim comforts her brother in the dark on the bed as they listen to their parents teasing out the truth of her infidelity downstairs, and what little grip Kim has had on stability in her home life is over. Sugar Rush, when it wants to, can make the serious stuff stick – a lot of that is down to the solid performances of Kim’s family (including her little brother who I’m going to raise by child to be, probably), but there’s been serious work in building up why Kim craves the normalcy of a standard home life, and why her mother’s affair has ruined that for good.

Last time I did these recaps, we saw the birth of Krim – that is, the version of Kim who was strongly considering date-raping her best friend in order to get what she needed from her. And I started to wonder if maybe Sugar Rush was actually a starting point for my understanding of the female anti-hero; and yeah, the second of these episodes backs up that theory. In this outing, Sugar has fallen for Guillame – the fact that she is basically in love with this guy who she has never really spoken to, of course, is down to the fact that he’s the first person ever to make her orgasm, which is punishing in it’s accurate depiction of what being a teenage girl is like when it comes to any man knowing where a clitoris is. Only problem is, Guillame is a French-speaking student who she cannot communicate with her unless French-fluent Kim is present.

And now, this is an entire episode about Kim forced to play between two sides – her mother and father round off this thematic throughline, as Nathan kicks Stella out of the house, and both of them communicate via Kim to gauge the state of their relationship. When it comes to her parents, the lies Kim shares with them are meant to protect them from an ugly truth, But when it comes to the lies she tells Sugar…yeesh.

With complete control over the communication between the couple, Kim attempts to break them up to get Sugar to spend more time with her, and, failing that, lies to Guillame about Sugar’s enjoyment of his fuckability, rounding off a mighty three-hander of shittiness by inventing a story about how he enjoys watching women kiss so that Sugar will snog Kim for the very first time. This is framed in wild, rotating slow-motion repeated shots that last most of a full minute, and I think I’m meant to see it as a gorgeous realization of Kim’s deepest-held fantasies – but she’s got there by repeatedly lying and misleading the woman she claims to love, and it just makes me a little squicked-out

And in fact, Kim doesn’t even seem to like Sugar very much in this two-parter. When she discovers that Sugar has crabs, she’s visibly disgusted, though “not surprised” given “how Sugar is” with men. Kim wants to fuck Sugar, sure, and she does turn for her for emotional support when her parents’ marriage finally gives up the ghost (for now, anyway – Nathan is on the market, ladies, form an orderly queue behind me directly), but she also seems deeply and poisonously resentful of Sugar having a sex life that doesn’t involve Kim, even though Kim has never made her interest in her clear.

And yes, I get it, Kim is deep in the closet and scared of coming out and potentially scaring Sugar away, resentful that she can’t enjoy the sex life she wants the way her friend can – but this is some primo Krim territory. She’s just…not nice to Sugar, whether or not Sugar knows it. I really didn’t care for the title character when I watched this series the first time around, perhaps because she was a stand-in for every oblivious straight crush I’d ever had at the time, but really, looking back, I feel kind of sorry for her, given that the girl she considers her best friend is practically always dealing in some kind of duplicity.  I can acknowledge the struggles Kim faces as a queer woman in the closet while also thinking she’s a cow for conning someone into making out with her, you know?

So, yeah, I’m sticking with my “Kim as an antihero” theory for the time being, because the show is really leaning into everything she’s doing wrong to get Sugar to maybe touch her boobs or something. But – we have had the first kiss between the two of them, whether it came from lingual backstabbing or not. Things are finally moving down (IF you get what I MEAN) in the ol’ Lesbiantown, and I can’t wait to see where we go next. Tune in next time, and if you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon.