Clone High Episode 3 ‘A.D.D.: The Last d Is For Disorder’
Written by Tom Martin
‘A.D.D.’ is one of those episodes of Clone High that sticks out in my head, and always one I recommend to people who are looking for a good introduction to the series. Taking a completely over-wrought topic for both drama and parody – the AIDS awareness events we who grew up in the 1990’s watched and participated in – ‘The Last D is for Disorder’ is a masterful half-hour that manages to be both a poignant tale of friendship, acceptance and loneliness, all while being a hilarious and informative episode about the misnomers of attention deficit disorder.
Before I talk about the ADD-centric parts of the episode, ‘A.D.D.’ features one of my favorite side plots ever: Joan of Arc hearing voices. One of the best things about Clone High was its ability to integrate its borderline-silly high-concept premise into meaningful character arcs. We saw it last week with Abe trying to live up to the high standards of the people we come from, and this week, when Joan starts hearing strange voices talking about God in her head, thinks she’s finally going to live up to the name and likeness she was spawned from.
It’s both fitting for her character and infinitely relatable to an adult audience: who hasn’t felt like pressure to live up to parents/older siblings, and the expectations of the world around us? I mean, for most of us it doesn’t include babbling on about mattress sales or schoolyard gossip – or not sleeping for 78 hours straight. But the journey Joan (and all these clones, really) are going is more than just a way to service a ton of hilarious jokes… it’s part of the journey we all take when we’re in that transition period from child to adult, a time of uncertainty, confusion, over-reaction (as Joan says, she became angsty goth when she didn’t start hearing voices) and worst of all, judgment.
That’s where Ghandi – who is the real focus of ‘A.D.D.’ – comes in. After Mr. Butlertron diagnoses the fidgety, constantly active Ghandi with ADD (“beep-boop-beeeeeeep-beep”), he’s shunned by everyone at the school, especially Cleo (who’s already too busy focusing on her kissing both at the Awareness Fair for awareness) and even a deformed Marie Clarie and the Solid Ghandi dancers, who are willing to give up their short, flexible treasurer because he’ll get all “ADD and forget the dance moves.” So Ghandi turns to the one guy he can trust, the friend who wears the second of two ‘Best Dude 4-Ever” lockets, and asks him for a high five.
It’s Abe of course, and predictably he turns him down, because it would’ve made Cleo feel all celibate and not open-mouthy. So a depressed Ghandi turns to Principal Scudworth, who’s up for some experimental surgery until Ghandi tells him he doesn’t understand what it’s like to be lonely. Of course, Scudworth’s spent the entire episode trying to connect to someone through Mr. Butlertron’s magic sweater vest (to no avail), so he can feel the pain of singularity just as well as Ghandi.
But its still not enough: a somewhat helpful speech from Tom Green (“… ooo! Plastic bag!!”) and lame quote from Abe (still not nailing his clonefather’s skills with words) still don’t open the eyes of either Cleo or the angry mob. So Abe does the only thing he thinks will work: he gives Abe the biggest open-mouth kiss between two male animated characters I can ever remember (complete with the usual gross make out sound effects the show always employs).
It’s a fantastically absurd ending, and plays off another well-scripted high school trope: the short memory of the general population, who go from hating one person to the next for arbitrary reasons. Abe gives up his chance with Cleo and the opportunity to be popular, because that friendship – we see in flashbacks that they’ve been friends since diaper-age – and that connection to another human being, is more meaningful than any sweater vest or freshman locker-stuffing session could be.
‘A.D.D.’ is only the third episode of the series, but Tom Martin (a writer for shows like Just Shoot Me and The Simpsons, among others) captures the tone and delicate balance of parody and truth beautifully in this script. Minus the goofy and unnecessary Tom Green appearance (who was everywhere on MTV at this time, so it makes sense culturally that he shows up somewhere), ‘A.D.D.’ is one of those episodes of Clone High that make me wish we got more than 13 of them.
– I didn’t really talk about JFK, who kind of hangs out in the background, showing some cracks in the machismo playboy facade he’s built up. Cleo’s the first girl to give him feelings, and now she’s letting other boyfriends poop in her backyard… it’s a difficult life for the popular kid this week.
– turns out those voices Joan was hearing, were from the retainer Ghandi stuck in his mouth during his goofy impression of her in the beginning. Chekov’s drool-covered retainer, anyone?
-anyone diagnosed with ADD in the early 1990s (like myself) can really relate to all the ridiculous assumptions made by everyone from Butlertron to Cleo about the disease-that-isn’t-a-disease.
– apparently Abe has to work on his French kissing, because Ghandi said it was only worth four dollars.
– the Rat-Pack clones are one of my favorite throwaway jokes of all-time on this show (“what Frank said”).
– JFK: “woah. Woahwoahwoah, woah…. woah…….. Woah.”
– this weeks in Scrubs appearances: Zach Braff plays Paul Revere the gossip, and Donald Faison returns as Toots, who gives a hilarious speech about the tone of the room at the ADD PTA meeting.
– Jesus Cristo: “I gave it two thumbs up, homes”; “Take a hit, relax”; and my favorite: “God’s got a painful, painful plan for all of us.”