As is the case with most sitcoms (again I ask: was SBTB a sitcom?), minor characters come and go because, well, nobody really cares about them. But sometimes you become invested in a character, and their untimely exit leaves you empty, confused, and still thinking about it 20+ years later. For me, that character was Eric, Jessie’s evil stepbrother from New York. Eric wreaks havoc in an explosive two-part episode of the show when he enters Jessie’s home (and nightmares) after her mother remarries.
Recently I was with some friends when I wondered aloud (for what must not have been the first time), “Whatever happened to Jessie’s evil stepbrother, Eric? He never appeared again after his stint on the show!”
My friend Justin said,
“You got a thing for him, don’t you?”
Too quickly and defensively I shouted “No!”
But the truth is…I do. Eric was a teenage terror, but he was also sexy, confident, and sly. He had the leather jacket, the hair, the attitude, the acid-washed jeans. Do I really need to explain myself here? However, the hell he put the Bayside community through can not be justified or excused because he was handsome (and confident and sexy and clever).
I’d like to go over some of the events from two parter “Wicked Stepbrother.” I’ll lay out my questions, comments, and concerns. Ultimately, I’ll need your help to decide if Eric is the asshole he’s had a decades-long reputation as, or simply a misunderstood new kid in town.
Eric comes from New York to the Spano household where he immediately throws his duffel bag on to Jessie’s bed, takes over her room, comes on to Lisa, and tells the girls he locked all the bathrooms on the flight to California.
At school, Zack tells his teacher he’s Jewish, and that he’ll be missing school for Rosh Hashanah when really he’ll be at the Dodgers game. Eric finds out and blackmails Zack, telling him he’ll rat him out to Belding about skipping school unless Zack gives him the foul ball he caught, his locker, and 10 lunches.
1. What does Eric have to gain from being so unkind?
2. Kelly keeps defending Eric and reducing his actions to “just things brothers do.” Why?
3. Zack’s Jewish teacher tells his students to raise their hands if they’re Jewish and they’ll be missing school for Rosh Hashanah. Is this appropriate?
Jessie and Slater are studying (see: making out) in her room. Eric secretly records their romantic session AND takes Jessie’s diary. He tells Slater he’ll play the tape on the P.A. and spread Jessie’s diary all over the school unless he lets Eric borrow his car and gives him $5 a page.
1. So $5 a page. Let’s say there are 30 pages. Is each side $5, or $5 per page? Even one-sided, that’s $150 (math) for the whole thing. According to inflation calculator, that’s roughly $270 now. Is it worth it?
Mr. Belding has Slater install a CD player in his wife’s hot new car while he’s out of town. Since Eric blackmailed Slater to use his car, the guys are going to let him borrow Belding’s car then take a picture of him driving it so he gets in trouble with Belding. In order for this to happen, Lisa has to take Eric out and pretend she likes him.
After seeing a movie together, Eric asks Lisa to wear his class ring. Lisa drives them back in Belding’s car, and while approaching school, Screech flashes a pic—the flash causing Lisa to crash the car.
1. Was Lisa’s spit-take really necessary when Eric asked her to wear his class ring?
2. What does it mean to be given a class ring?
1. There was EXTENSIVE front-end damage to the car after going no more than 2 mph in the parking lot.
Zack bribes Lisa with M.C. Hammer tickets so she will take Eric out. Eric finds out how and why she got the tickets, and breaks up with her.
1. Lark Voorhies is the worst crier in TV history.
Since Eric is mad at everyone, he disassembles Belding’s car when they’re supposed to be fixing it. However, he has a change of heart and assembles it all again before Belding can see it. Eric also announces that he’s moving back to New York, but the gang convinces him to stay.
1. How is a teenager capable of putting an entire car together?
1. Jessie and Eric share a very uncomfortable embrace at the end, and even after the hug, they hang on to each other and their bodies are very close.
2. Slater’s pants
1. When the teacher introduces new student Eric he says, “Let’s really make him feel at home—let’s mug him!” Now that’s funny.
2. Kelly gets no good material.
3. Jessie appears to be in full makeup immediately following a shower.
1. Screech pulls the fire alarm. Doing that could have very serious ramifications.
2. Even though Eric has decided to stay, he is NEVER HEARD FROM AGAIN.
Where did Eric Tramer go?
1. a juvenile detention center
2. the Spanos’ basement
1. back to New York
Where is Eric Tramer now?
2. raising a family with Lisa