This is my analysis of the second best episode of "Scrubs" ever made, "My Fruit Cups." You can read my posts on episodes 3-10 (sans #7) previously on this blog by searching for the tag "Scrubs" at the bottom of this post. WARNING - this is not a short post. There's a lot to analyze in this episode.
Even if you don't like this show, you need to watch "My Fruit Cups" immediately. You don't need to know the characters to identify with pretty much all of them. JD, Turk, Elliot and Cox all experience life-altering moments in this one episode. Ramifications are enormous.
One very basic reason this second-season-episode sticks out over time is the number of memorable quotes provided. The writers hit high marks with the dialogue and the actors deliver the lines perfectly. Read below for the (numerous) best quotes.
The episode starts with a simple enough premise - young physicians are in serious financial debt upon entering the workforce. They do what they need to do, including stealing fruit cups from the hospital and taking midnight shifts to earn a couple hundred bucks. Most people who graduate college and rely on financial aid of any kind can empathize.
The best way to analyze this episode is to look at the three major plotlines. In most TV series, episodes have one major plotline with at least one subplot to space out the action of the main theme. This specific episode has three plotlines that deserved their own episodes, but they are written and performed such that each plot is emphasized equally and expertly to be encompassed in one stand-alone episode. The three plotlines follow Elliot and her dad, Cox and Jordan/Heather Locklear, and Turk and JD.
Elliot and her Dad
During the series we learn that Elliot is raised by a very wealthy but emotionally-defunct Connecticut family. Having listened to all my friends, everyone thinks their families are the least functional ever. But guess what? To varying degrees, everyone's family is dysfunctional. Elliot at least had the benefit of having a dysfunctional family that is independently wealthy.
Young, attractive female physicians of Sacred Heart's OBG/YN department attempt to recruit Elliot to join their speciality. Her upbringing makes Elliot uncomfortable with her sexuality and femininity, which is extraordinary so when you consider that she's a doctor. Despite their recruiting efforts, Elliot hesitates to consider this as a career path. We learn that she can't even say the word "vagina!" How could a doctor who cannot say the word "vagina" be expected to provide clinical services to the female anatomy of other women?
NOTE: I meant that last statement in a strictly professional manner. There will be plenty of other opportunities in this blog and in real life for sexual innuendos later on, but I really mean that an OBG/YN doctor should at the very least be comfortable saying the word "vagina."
So Elliot's father shows up in town, and it turns out he himself is the person who's encouraged Sacred Heart's OBG/YN staff to pursue Elliot. Why? Because obstetrics provides the highest future earnings potential for female physicians. Should she choose to not heed her father's advice, he would cease supporting her financially. Mind you, he's paid for $100K-plus in college education along with all current living expenses. When Elliot learns what his father's true intentions have been all along, she must decide whether to stand up for herself. Can she defy her father or will she simply submit and do what he wants to keep up with her current lifestyle?
Cox and Jordan/Heather Locklear
For the record, I don't care what Heather Locklear's character is named. In everything she's ever acted in, she is Heather Locklear, not a character. Dr. Cox obviously understands what I mean because by the end of the previous episode, he had succumbed to her flirtatious manner. His first scene in the episode involves him waking up to Heather staring at him in bed. "Duh! Winning!" - Charlie Sheen
Through the course of the episode we learn (through Heather's own admission) that she's slept with several physicians of Sacred Heart. This upsets Dr. Cox, who clearly wants to be with a woman who's a bit more committed to being with one person than sleeping around with the entire hospital staff. When he acknowledges that he hasn't been himself and commits himself to being more emotionally present for her in the relationship despite her past, a very-pregnant Jordan shows up in the apartment.
Thus begins a face-off between the tiny, blond Healther Locklear and a pregnant, not-as-tiny-and-not-Heather-Locklear Jordan. They both want Perry's love and affection. Heather Locklier appears to take the lead in the competition for Dr. Cox. Be honest - would rather take back your ex-wife who's knocked up by another man (according to her), or...Heather E'ffing Locklear? Perry must decide what's best for himself and for the other women.
(Quick side note - does Heather Locklear really want Perry's love and affection, or does she just want him for his body? Does Dr. Cox take this into account when making his final decision?)
Turk and JD
It is known from the very first episode of "Scrubs" that Turk and JD have serious guy-love with each other. They do not have homosexual feelings for each other, not that there's anything wrong with that, but they love each other in every other way possible. (In interviews, Zach Braff and Donald Faison have acknowledged that they immediately became genuine friends in real life. It took other actors time to warm up to each other, but Braff and Faison hit it off like they were life-long friends, which contributes to their on-screen chemistry.)
Turk and Carla started dating seriously about 1/3 of the way through the first season. Over time they became more and more serious; it was a gradual thing rather than a "BOOM" moment of "I love this person" (at least to this point in the series; Carla has such a moment in the next episode I'm going to review...WHICH JUST HAPPENS TO BE THE #1 SCRUBS EPISODE EVER!!!).
JD always naturally fit as a third wheel with them, so that it was a couple consisting of three people. In fact, the show establishes comedic situations for Carla to be considered the third wheel rather than JD. It's all a part of the whole "guy-love" concept. Suffice it to say, Turk and JD treat each other like brothers who like each other, not brothers who are constantly competing with each other. They've been unquestionably supportive of the other to this point. And then, Turk took advantage of JD in ever the slightest way.
Remember at the start when I mentioned that our heroes were all in significant debt from college? They learn that they can make extra money by "moonlighting" at over-night clinics. The lead physician at the clinic where Turk worked offered $300 to another physician Turk would bring in the next night. Turk pocketed $100 of that amount ("a finder's fee") and brought in JD the next night for an expected $200. Eventually JD learns that Turk had withheld that $100 for each night he worked, and then he lied to the clinic to get Turk fired.
If you're reading this blog then I presume you're old enough to have been hurt by someone who loves you and whom you love unconditionally. It wasn't much fun, was it? JD reacted immaturely, by lying to the clinic about Turk rather than confronting Turk directly about this, so JD himself isn't exactly of pure heart in this situation. Turk eventually joined an EMT team to make extra money at night to make ends meet. JD could not empathize with Turk until speaking with Carla, whose rant provided JD the information he needed to understand why Turk had done what he did.
Real Life Happened
So what do these three plots have in common? They are situations that created life-altering decisions. Elliot did not want to get into obstetrics but her father paid for her life to get her there. Cox was tempted by the physical hotness of Heather Locklear but was conflicted by genuine love for Jordan. JD felt betrayed by literally the best friend he ever had but understood Turk's intentions.
Here's the deal. Real life is about conflict, and real life happened in this episode. We are all helped by others to get us to where we are (Elliot and her dad) but at a certain point we must define ourselves as individuals. We all have physical and emotional desires (Cox and Heather Locklear) but there are more important things than superficial flesh. We are all betrayed by those closest to us (Turk and JD) but sometimes relationships change as others enter our lives.
Elliot chose a life of her own. Cox chose to support the woman he loves. JD recognized that Carla had become more important to Turk than he had and was willing to step aside because it would make Turk happier and better. Real life happened. Something I hear all the time is that "everything happens for a reason." Personally I hate that phrase. Things happen and we define ourselves by how react. Elliot, Cox, and JD decided to make difficult decisions in the face of difficult situations.
All of that said, this episode is probably the best in terms of quotable dialogue between characters. See the next section for examples.
Turk to patient, looking at bottle of pills: "This is the reason for your headache. That's actually pronounced 'ANNAL-gesic' not 'ANAL-gesic.' Sir - the pills go in your mouth."
Elliot: "My dad is coming to town."
Carla: "You don't seem stressed."
Elliot: "I haven't pooed in six days."
JD: "...twice since this morning and I haven't had my coffee yet."
Elliot: "You really pick the oddest things to brag about."
JD: "I'm just saying, if I had to get to three by lunch, I probably could."
Elliot: "We must have looked at 100 different bajingos today. Bajingo, bajingo, bajingo...I can't even look at my own bajingo."
Carla: "Is that because it looks so much like a vagina?"
Cox: "I'm not angry. So my girlfriend has serviced most of the staff. I'm proud of her commitment to medicine!"
Carla: "Please! What about all the women YOU'VE slept with? Your ex-wife, that med student, your ex-wife, that cute nurse from Radiology, YOUR EX-WIFE..."
Cox: "Will you get off my ex-wife?"
Carla: "I will if you will."
Cox, speechless at first: "...damnit, now I'm too proud of you to be mad at you."
Elliot: "So Dad, how are things at home?"
Elliot's dad: "Good, good...Mom re-did the bedroom...I'm gonna keep mine the way it is..."
Elliot: "Well, you don't want to be one of those couples who does EVERYTHING together!"
Kelso to Elliot: "Paging Dr. Backbone to the Bajingo Ward..."
Heather Locklear: "Who are you?"
Jordan: "Who do you think I am?"
Heather Locklear: "Well you have keys to the apartment so I'm going to say...the maid."
Jordan to Cox: "OK, have one last fling, but everywhere you look, you'll see me."
Heather Locklear: "Everywhere ANYONE looks, they'll see you."
Janitor: "Hey, idiot!" <JD looks back> "Ha! I said 'hey idiot' and you looked."
JD's inner monologue: "You can't predict what's gonna happen. Sometimes the thing you didn't expect was what you wanted after all."
We don't often get what we want, but that doesn't mean we don't get what we need. But if you don't make important decisions at important times inf your life, decisions will be made for you, and you may not like the outcome.