Thanks to those twin ambassadors of nonsense YouTube and Twitter (by your powers combined), nothing in gymnastics is ever truly forgotten. Even this little gem.
The incident in question occurred on February 21, 1980 on of those musty old grandfather shows called Quincy, M.E.—about a boiled old set of sheets in his 60s who runs around solving crimes back when people had to pretend to be like, “Oh you’re so wise and melty-looking, I’m glad you’re here to save the day” instead of “Oh, that was a creepy thing to say, please leave.”
In this particular edition, Old Quincy tackled the rough and tumble world of gymnastics meth in an episode entitled “The Winning Edge.”
It’s sooooo [insert nonspecific Olympic sports title here] that I can barely continue. I’m just surprised it wasn’t called “Lost Balance” or “Flying High.”
In fact, “The Winning Edge” is almost a little too “this episode was originally written about figure skating but that was more expensive to shoot so we changed it” for my liking.
We begin proceedings at this strip mall gym, which has truly nailed the “Obviously a Furniture Store” aesthetic with striking and commendable accuracy. Those location scouts did the work. It’s so accurate it might as well be called Gym Flips Gold America Twisters.
But no. They had a much better name in mind.
That’s right. LE CLUB GYMNASTICS. It’s called LE CLUB GYMNASTICS.
I am overcome by reputable. Sounds v legit.
Keep in mind this is 1980, so it’s still too early for Mean Soviet Coach Trope because they’re all still in the Soviet Union. So instead it looks like they’re going with a sort of “mean French ballet” aesthetic because samesies. A pill addiction is a pill addiction, whether your mean coach is French or Soviet, amiright?
Inside, we meet Fartha Barolyi, who is vaguely caressing the 173 sets of bars in this gym because of coaching.
You might notice that there are no actual gymnasts in this furniture store right now, and FARTHA HAS NOTICED IT TOO.
Tick tock, says the watch I’m not even wearing.
Girl, that wrist is fully empty, and don’t pretend it isn’t.
We learn that Coach Fartha’s actual name is Virginia Hart. BUT DOES SHE HAVE A HEART?
Symbolism that right in your stupid face.
Minus 10 Accuracy Points: Coach Fartha’s well-lit office has a three-story first-aid cabinet. Nope. Not realistic. I mean, where’s the dark back room? Where’s the bottle of Walk It Off You Dumb Slut No One Could Love?
Although this first-aid cabinet does appear to be stocked mostly with Listerine, so that tracks.
Like all proper coaches, Fartha has a some sort of Geometric Angel Martina Navratilova Mood Board next to the first aid cabinet, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
But wait. Fartha goes right past the Listerine, vaguely blood-tinted bandages, and obvious rat poison, and pulls out…whaaaattt? Are those…….DRUG PILLS?
It’ll probably be fine.
Meanwhile, at school (Minus 10 Accuracy Points: a school), we meet DUDE BOYS talking about which chicks they’re going to chick-date on Rapesday.
Every little 1980 gay saw the one on the right and was like “PANTS GOAL ACTIVATE 5EVER.”
Anyway, we learn that you might be a NERD if you haven’t roofied at least one chick-girl at this school, so discussion obviously turns to Sally Peters, who is on “the gymnast team.”
THE GYMNAST TEAM.
Oh fuck you.
Plus 10 Accuracy Points: “She and the other chicks on the gymnast team, they don’t date, don’t drink, don’t smoke, probably don’t even breathe without a written OK from Coach Hart.”
Every time a bell rings, a toxic gymnastics culture gets its wings.
“They’re so into winning it’s incredible they don’t flunk out of school.”
Ah. Ah ha ha. School. Good one. Obviously none of these gymnasts have gone to a class since 6th grade.
P.S. My favorite pastime is scrolling through the high school lists on college rosters to see how many of them went to Mobile Virtual Connections Academy That Definitely Isn’t A Houseboat.
Anyway, now it’s time to meet SALLY and BRENDA because of course those are their names. All the DUDE BOYS are DUDE BOYing at them, to which Brenda replies, “It’s because we’re special and they’re not.”
Brenda just invented the gymternet.
Meanwhile, Sally is hair-acting so hard she just invented Kristen Stewart.
Sally! If we don’t hurry up, we going to be late for gymnastics!
Holy shit, they still haven’t made it to practice? Fartha has been standing there checking her pretend watch for SEVEN HOURS. That was THIS MORNING.
Over at The Policeman Store, we finally meet Quincy, and his telephone rings before he has even hung up the receiver. This is such a good show, you guys.
Anyway, there’s this whole side storyline about a tailored suit and a raffle (which is supposed to be fucking HILARIOUS I guess) and he won third prize in a beauty contest, collect $10 or whatever. I don’t know. It mainly serves to indulge my other passion: coded gay characters from 40 years ago being a swishy punchline. What a fun era to revisit.
As far as I can tell, this tailor is named Pietro Beverly Hills, and also so am I now. The summary of his meeting with STRAIGHT is “Bish plz,” and I think he just birthed me with this facial expression.
Back at the gym, Coco and Lulu or whatever are talking about how their coach will murder them in a swimming pool if they ever look at a dick and also whether their hair is 80s enough for THE STATE FINALS.
It is. You made regionals.
You guys, they’ve spent years practicing TWO HOURS A DAY, and if Brendie Lu falls at States, all that TWO HOURS A DAY will be for naught! TWO HOURS.
Brippy and Swampy finally stop doing their hair and make their way out to training and DON’T YOU DARE SWAMPY WE TAUGHT YOU BETTER THAN THAT.
Plus 10 Accuracy Points: Brippy is scared shitless of Fartha finding out about her heel injury.
Being also PSYCHIC DOCTOR, Coach Fartha touches Brippy’s foot with her finger for one millisecond and concludes, “your heel’s improving!” Gymnastics medicine. Now more than ever.
Fartha goes on to fully earn her the honor of her namesake by pulling the old “you could be as good as any of these other girls if you’re weren’t such a lazy garbage fire of hideousness that should die in a windstorm” trick.
“I would find it very difficult to accept failure from you at this late date,” she says.
Brenda’s like, “Mmhmm, that’s nice, kill me or whatever, but GYMNASTICS PILLS PLEASE”
Coach Fartha goes, “I don’t usually approve of medication…” and we don’t even get to unpack that big bag of bullshit because she pulls out an obvious Tums container and secretly palms one to Brenda.
GOOD DRUG PILL.
The Tums gives Brenda immediate DRUG ENERGY, so she runs by bars screaming at Sally for some reason.
Also she’s clearly never run before and almost trips. Plus 10 Accuracy Points.
Elsewhere, Carol Bitchmorgen and Linda Other One are leaning on beam casually fantasizing about Sally’s imminent death, like you do. I mean it’s called PRACTICE. Gotta practice something. Might as well be murder.
Linda Other One, who isn’t even stretching, thinks she’s better than Sally. Not with that leo you’re not.
Meanwhile, Carol is a 46-year-old French prostitute.
OHHHH. I finally understand why it’s called Le Club Gymnastics.
Back to IMPORTANT SUIT STORYLINE, Chief Chiefington is scandalized to learn that there is a…a man…in Quincy’s office.
YOU MEAN LIKE A HOMOSEXUAL?
I’m pretty sure he thinks this is what sex is.
After showing that he doesn’t know how to do a laughing—and it’s very bizarre and quite disturbing—Chief goes, “Pietro, I want you to do Dr. Quincy up proud.”
Chief just invented Pride.
Back at LE CLUB, we learn there actually is a vault and a pit somewhere in this gym because Elena Davydova is helping Cindy Lou with a Yamashita, while Fartha stands there winning Coach of the Year.
Also, the bars work is going v well.
ONE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP PLEASE.
“Knock it off!” Fartha yells randomly because of how you end practice.
She summons everyone over to the bleachers to give a stirring speech about how sports bras haven’t been invented yet. Everyone’s nipples are like, “We know.”
She announces that the state finals are in 10 days and a moose dies in the background for some reason. Never explained. They’re going to have an intrasquad tomorrow, which Fartha calls a DRESS REHEARSAL because once again this is gymnastics but might also be ballet. LE CLUB.
She explains that she will use that opportunity to “help you iron out any individual problems you may be having before we get into actual competition.”
Uh…yeah. Coaching. You just described coaching. What were you doing until now?
But that’s not all. Benito Mussolini just starts scream-crying for some reason about how they’re the best gymnastics team in the whole wide world, and you watch me, just watch me, I’m callllllling, and one day all will knowwwww. It’s awkward. Also Brenda’s straight-up on LSD already.
Back in the locker room, Sally touches her foot twice, and boom that’s all she needed. Gymnastics solved.
Then she Safesport violations Brenda right on the ass for some reason.
This is how we know that she’s been hitting the DRUG PILLS.
It’s a full problem now, because even though Sally has already reached the “dat ass is mine” level of Tums addiction, she pulls out more pills and plays the old “1 for you, 8 for me” game. She’s just so “up” and Brenda really needs to get “up” too.
Sally is feeling soooo UP you guys. She’s even got a new “move” she invented by herself that she’s going to try out for the first time in today’s intra-rehearsal because that’s how gymnastics works.
Before they begin, Sally does some more nonspecific drugging over by the chalk. You can tell she’s on TUMS DRUGS because she’s using words like TERRIFIC.
You know, drug words.
IT’S TIME FOR THE GYMNASTICS DRESS REHEARSAL. It will be conducted entirely on bars, the only event.
Up first is Jeannie, who 1980s up a couple bar beats and then hops on a front tuck dismount.
So just fuck off, Jeannie.
Carol is not impressed.
Sally is…whatever this is…
Sally continues to wait her turn, looking like a person.
Fartha is like, “Jesus H Christ, better let Drugs McKenzie get this over with,” so she just throws out her whole start list and lets Sally go next.
Anyway, Sally is great at bars and also her routine is casually 18 minutes long and has 155 skills in it. DRUGGGGSSSSS.
There’s enough time in this routine for Fartha to look jealousy-invokingly at the rest of the team with full “JEANNIE PULL YOUR SHIT TOGETHER” eyes.
There’s enough time for an extended closeup of the stunt double’s face because they’re not even trying at this point.
There’s enough time for Carol to sass-grab Other One’s hands in pity shade, the epicness of which I cannot even begin to describe.
I think Carol might be my hero.
But also so is Grandma Nut in the front row for still keeping with gymnastics all these years.
BUT WAIT TILL THEY GET A LOAD OF SALLY’S NEW SKILL.
WAIT FOR IT.
HERE COMES THE NEW SKILL.
So yeah, she’s dead of a Tums overdose.
“DON’T TOUCH HER! SHE’LL BE ALRIGHT!”
Fartha learned that one at her DOCTOR PSYCHIC school houseboat.
But using that tried-and-true method of wiping Sally’s shoulder with a single finger joint, Brenda knows that her best friend is drugs-dead.
Back at Policeman Hospital Store, Quincy is meeting with Sally’s parents, Cruella de Vil and Kevin Potato, and going, “Hey look, it’s your dead daughter on the TV box!”
Apparently Sally’s death is very sad for her parents because she was an only child and they don’t even have a spare, and also she was a good girl, not one of those sluts you hear about.
And there’s definitely no need for an autopsy or investigation because she just broke her neck by falling at gymnastics and died. You know, the kind of thing that doesn’t require any follow up.
OR DID SHE.
At the Policeman Hospital, we meet Quincy’s assistant Sam.
And we’re all just glad Quincy didn’t do the voice.
They break the news that 17 is too young to die (really? I thought it was just right…) and that GASP, falling one inch to the ground and landing on her arm didn’t result in a broken neck after all!!! WHAAAAA?
“Well something killed her.” OH DOCTOR GENIUS TO THE RESCUE.
Best parts of the autopsy:
-How they start out by just kind of talking about how hot she is? You know, how you start an autopsy?
-“She was doing a flip and she didn’t come out of it. Seems she lost her balance.” Nope. None of those words are right.
-“A 17 year old girl just doesn’t die like that.” I mean an old crone of 23, sure…
-“Wow. Head blew up inside.” You know, how doctors call it.
-But seriously. HEAD BLEW UP INSIDE. Head blew up inside.
-How Quincy is performing some random slashing moves, then asks for a scalpel (because doctor words). WHAT WERE YOU CUTTING WITH BEFORE?
-“All that blood!” Uh…yeah. It’s an autopsy, Sam. That’s gonna happen.
-Ew! Clean it up with these two white towels!
At the gym, Fartha is doing a horrendous job trying to flush all the INCRIMINATING DRUG PILLS down the sink.
You missed THREE. THREE. I would find it very difficult to accept failure from you at this late date.
Carol Bitchmorgen and Linda Other One are back in the locker room getting out their Tim-Elfi 2012 Trials posterboard easel about what Sally kicking the bucket means for their status on the team.
“She’s got no one else on bars. I’m her big hope now.”
Alright, slow down Ashton.
Carol goes to the secret bookshelf hiding place to look for the Tums that will get her on the Olympic team, only to find that THEY’RE GONE. OH NO. But could they have been…bad and incriminating? Naw….
And Brenda isn’t even THERE anymore. She’s in her room with her triangular pillow of mourning and her sadness trophy for best sadness.
Mother of the Century waltzes in to go, “What’s wrong?”
Um, I have an idea? Maybe it’s that her best friend died yesterday? Just a hunch?
M of the C is like, “So? Who cares? Don’t be some quitter. Kim Zmeskal fell off the top bunk and still came to training the next day. Winning is more important than silly things like some 17-year-old whore-probably who died.”
I feel like the show doesn’t officially unpack that Brenda’s mom is an actual monster? Like, you’re kind of supposed to think this is OK mothering?
Back at the science police hospital, Quincy and Sam are holding science bottles, which reveal that the toxicology report was fascinating. How fascinating? Shit-ton of meth fascinating.
Hey, parents, have you noticed Sally acting DRUG PILLS lately? Has she been using the word terrific? Has she been doing a weird thing with her hand while Jeannie goes on bars?
WHAT HOW DARE YOU ASK SUCH A THING.
Yes it does.
“You’re implying that my daughter was a speed freak?!?!?!”
I mean, she had a literal meth addiction, so it’s not really an implication at this point.
But no. It could have been a simple accident. I mean…
Oh also Sally had a brain tumor or something. And the meth made the tumor more tumory. I neither know nor care.
But the main thing we have to remember is that Sally was very stupid, with a small lady-girl mind, so the fault here lies with the dealer who tricked her stupid girl brain her into having a meth addiction. A dealer named gymnastics.
Apparently it’s difficult to come up with a list of Sally’s friends and likely suspects because she was SO POPULAR. So so popular. So popular in fact that her mom is able come up with the names of two full friends, one of whom is a gymnastics coach you’re currently paying to be there.
Back at the gym, Jeannie is doing a dead hang on the high bar. OH MY GOD JEANNIE GET OUT. NO ONE WANTS YOU HERE.
Sadly, it seems Sally’s death hasn’t been the boon for Other One’s Olympic-State-Championship-Win chances she thought it would be.
“WHAT AM I DOING WRONG????”
I mean, doing gymnastics in a WNBA jersey could be your first problem.
Oh. You know that thing where a 60-year-old man wanders into the gym and is like, “Hey youths, what’s the cool jams? Mind if I watch?” And that’s not even related to the crime of this episode. Everything’s apparently great with that. Just a random gentleman coming to watch practice. It’s fine. The real scourge in gymnastics is METHHHHHHH DRUGGGGGGSSSS.
“Medical Examiner? What do you think he wants?”
I mean, I have a hunch…
Also, Fartha has just left the gym, and there are exactly 0 coaches there. Quincy is the only adult puttering around the place, making this facial expression while watching someone on bars.
NOW THE PARTY DON’T START TILL THESE PANTS WALK IN.
Fartha goes over to Quincy like, “You want some DRUG PILLS I mean hi,” but he doesn’t care because he’s too busy talking about how these girls are really something. So much something. Girls. Especially that Darlenie Lou Ford. She’s VERY OLYMPICS and just 10 years old.
Yes, many 10-year-olds in this shot.
But never mind about that! Quincy has some more important issues to discuss. Mostly DRUG PILLS and the death of SALLY DRUG PILLS.
“Now, I know you are but a simple lady, with a tiny lady mind, but a medical examiner is the person who goes slice-slide on the corpsie-worpsies. And I don’t want this to confuse your one brain cell, but Sally died of something called an aneurysm. Or as we call it in the medical field, head blew up inside.”
Quincy would like to gather the team and ask them about Tums.
Oh my god, they’re not even in a straight line with creepy wrists. Darlenie Lou is never making the Olympic team at this rate.
“Now, suffice to say that if your lady coach is too stupid to understand Sally’s death, I can’t even start with you dumbos, but the short version is: TUMS T-TUM TUM TUMMMMMSSSS.”
Anyone know of anyone taking Tums? Any of you have parents with bonkers diarrhea? No…? [SKEPTICAL FACE]
Meanwhile, you know that thing where PESKY HOMOSEXUALS pop up from behind science-bottle desks to try to measure you for suits without your permission? This is a thing that happens.
Also a thing that happens: The team coming into Fartha’s office to ask which leo is best.
Um, the one with the ORANGES on the front obviously.
Also, sweetheart how much gymnastics are you doing in this knit sweater ensemble?
Brenda’s conscience has a big scene here, you guys. And it involves several new accents.
Oh super bad ones.
“It wasn’t right. It was…it was…it was…WRONG.”
Stellar use of antonyms there, professor. That degree from Houseboat Connections is really paying off.
Well, obviously we have to kill this liability.
But first, Fartha wants to try out a less drastic plan. She’s going to let Brenda get a load of her AFTER WORK HAIR instead.
But it turns out to be not super effective. Brenda is still considering quitting the team.
Obviously AFTER WORK HAIR alone can’t keep Fartha out of jail, so Carol calls a team meeting by the LA River to talk shit about Brenda because she didn’t even bother to come to this impromptu team meeting, so how much could she really be invested in her CLOSEST SISTERS?
That’s some serious too-true-to-life NCAA team shit right there. This is the moment when the rest of the team members make a secret text group WITHOUT Brenda in it and call it “The REAL Tigers.”
So obviously they’re going to have to kill Brenda. 1 + 1 = 2.
Carol and Other One are working hard on their brain cell, deciding that they can’t be convicted of a crime because they’re 17 (not…correct…), so they go meet a guy. In an army shirt.
Apparently army shirt is post-Vietnam code for drug dealer. Find a guy in an army shirt, and he will get you THE SWEET SWEET TUMS.
Oh. Cool story: An old man is sitting in a car in this high school parking lot taking pictures of the underage female students. And he is the good guy. Just to clarify what’s happening here and how it’s totally fine.
Question: How do you stand when you buy drugs? Is it like this?
I think it’s like this.
Back to the gym, starring Styrofoam cups filled with orange juice. “Miss Hart wants us to load up on orange juice before we work out.”
45% of US coaches scribble down “Orange juice = UP and THIN. Heard it from TV science.”
BUT IT’S JUST A RUSE. THEY’RE ACTUALLY GOING TO PUT THE DRUG PILLS IN THE ORANGE JUICE TO KILL BRENDA.
Carol does an extremely terrible job pouring the meth drugs in the orange juice. God, she can’t even drugs right.
No matter. Brenda drinks it oh so naturally.
THIS IS THE BEST ORANGE JUICE I’VE EVER EATEN.
Part 1 of CLEVER PLAN is complete.
Part 2 of CLEVER PLAN: Carol calls Quincy to tip him off that BRENDA IS A DRUG MULE.
But Quincy is suspicious of what’s happening here. Because of his large man mind.
“No gymnast would ever call the police without asking her coach for permission first” is actually a disturbingly accurate line of reasoning.
Hopped up on THE METH JUICE, it’s time for Brenda’s pièce de résistance. Once again, no coach in sight. First, she attempts some tumbling, right where you would do it. Safely directly into a springboard and two beams and a pillar.
CHEERLEADING WORLDS WERE LIT THIS YEAR.
And now she’s suddenly on beam.
KJ is shook.
And that’s why you always move the springboard.
Quincy barges in just in the nick of time to be like STOP THE GYMNASTICS, but he is frozen in his tracks by this magical choreography.
At this point, Other One just starts shouting “TUCK BACK” for murder reasons, so Brenda does a stork stand instead because of all the meth drugs.
And then she starts wobbling. You know how wobbling goes?
Cause of death: Carol.
We’re all gravely concerned.
Anyway, Quincy got there just in time to have them move Brenda to a couch, so she’ll probably be fine, couches solve ODs.
He saw RIGHT THROUGH Carol and Other One. And also had that guy taking pictures of their drug-buying stances in the parking lot, so AH HA!
I mean, COME ON. Like he would think Brenda was the one supplying the drugs. She’s BLONDE.
Meanwhile, these four are here for none of your shit and grew up to be the gymternet.
Coach Fartha is SHOCKED BY THIS NEWS. SHOCKED I TELL YOU.
“You INTENTIONALLY tried to hurt Brenda????”
Sure, we’ve all unintentionally tried to hurt Brenda. I mean, she’s Brenda. But intentionally?????
“IS THIS WHERE MY TEACHING HAS TAKEN YOU????”
Um…yeah. You gave your gymnasts meth.
“I WAS TRYING TO HELP YOU, NOT HURT YOU. IT WAS METH OF LOVVVVEEEEE.”
And for some reason that turned out bad?
“I’m so disappointed in you for me giving you meth” is the moral of this story.
So anyway, Fartha is arrested and there are exactly 0 consequences for Carol and Other One for buying meth and trying to kill Brenda.
La la la, another job well done.
Time for Quincy to put on a sailor cap and go sexually harass a waitress.
“Hey look, Popeye the Sailor Man.”
“You should see me after I have my spinach.”
COOL GROSS. WHAT A FUN LITTLE CODA FOR OUR HERO’S TALE.
“Hey guys, how did everything turn out?”
“Well, that coach is out on bail, but she’ll never coach again, I can tell you that.
Or maybe she’ll just go coach at another gym because there’s no universal database of coaches who have committed crimes…
Too real? OK back to the fun part.
What happened with the HOMOSEXUAL?
“Oh, he saw the suit on me and flew into a rage. Paid me $700 never to wear it.”
AH HA HA HA THOSE QUEERS LET’S GO ARREST HIM.
What a joyful romp.