Recap: Jo grumbles at Blair and Mrs. Garrett about how much she hates Winter Carnival, 'cause it means they'll be on their feet all weekend waiting tables. Mrs. Garrett points out that it's a good way for them to cash in on bigger tips than usual, but Jo's like, "Whatever" and bellyaches about how Tootie and Natalie managed to worm their way out of the ordeal. Blair reminds her that Tootie's cousin Michael is in town this weekend to check out Langley College...and Natalie decided to tag along with them and drag along her boyfriend Harvey, who everyone thinks is a dullard of cartoonish proportions.
Blair tries to coach a scowling Jo on how to be a waitress with a more cheerful disposition - just as Tootie (+ boyfriend Jeff), Natalie (+ boyfriend Harvey), and Michael enter the store. Harvey bores everyone with tales of his sinus problems before rushing off to find more tissue, and Jeff shakes his head in bewilderment and asks Natalie whassup with her wanting to hang out with someone so dull-as-fuck. Michael gets in on that action and invites Natalie out for dinner, and she decides that since Harvey's out of commission with his nose problems, she's free for the evening.
Natalie and Michael return to the residence part of Edna's Edibles after their dinner date...and Michael gabbles about Langley college, and tells her that his parents really really want him to major in economics, even though he's much more interested in history. Natalie says that college should be [an expensive source of] fun, then breezily urges him to only make life choices that bring him happiness. Michael stares at her in wonderment as if he's never heard this type of sentiment expressed, gushingly says, "You're really something", then tells her he should prolly get going if he's going to catch his train back to NYC. He thanks her for showing him around Peekskill, gives her a chaste peck on the cheek, and heads out. A few seconds later, Tootie bounds downstairs to ask how the date went, and Natalie says it wasn't so much a date as it was a friendly dinner with her friend's cousin, and leaves it at that.
The next day, Blair declares that she's officially sick of Winter Carnival - but an uncharacteristically perky Jo says she's sorry to see it end 'cause of all the extra tips she's been getting. When she asks Blair how much in tips she's earned, Blair has to sheepishly admit that they only add up to six dollars...and everyone chuckles light-heartedly at her expense. This seems like a subplot that maybe should have ended up on the editing room floor.
Michael calls and asks to talk to Natalie...and Tootie nosily eavesdrops on the call and gets miffed when Natalie declines an invitation for another outing with Michael and fibs about how busy she is this weekend. Tootie asks her what gives about rejecting her cousin with such a vague excuse, and Natalie says he invited her to a dance in Manhattan and that she turned him down 'cause it's too much of a hassle to travel into the city. When Tootie shoots her a seriously? face, she screeches, "I don't have to explain it to you! I know what you're thinking!" ... and when Tootie continues to stare at her with her face scrunched disapprovingly, she snaps, "Fine!" and grabs the phone receiver and calls Michael back to tell him she'd love to go to the dance after all.
The next day, Natalie and Tootie regard each other coldly as they go about their work in Edna's Edibles...and when Mrs. Garrett asks whassup with all the frostiness between the two, Jo explains that Tootie is irked about Natalie dating her cousin. Jo implores Mrs. Garrett to forbid Natalie from seeing Michael anymore - but Mrs. Garrett refuses to stick her nose where it doesn't belong, including initiating any kind of one-on-one, let's all put on our most serious faces type chats. Jo snaps at Natalie to come out of the kitchen, barks at her to quit dating Michael 'cause of all the narrow minded people that exist in the world, and nonsensically warns that where she comes from (the Bronx), anyone who dares date outside their race gets their heads kicked in. Natalie mulls that over, says she needs to get back to her baking now, and disappears into the kitchen. Blair tells Jo she totally gets what she's trying to say, 'cause she knows first hand how racist her snooty country club friends can be...then just kind of throws up her hands as if to say, "Whaddya gonna do?" LOL.
Michael calls Mrs. Garrett to give her a head's up that he's planning to send Natalie flowers 'cause he heard she was in the hospital suffering from tonsillitis. Natalie grabs the phone, assures Michael she's fine...then screeches, "Tootie!" and races upstairs to give her friend the what-for.
Natalie bursts into the bedroom where Tootie is pretending to study and demands an explanation about her alleged tonsillitis. Tootie says she made up the excuse 'cause she knows that deep down she really doesn't actually want to go out with Michael...and that she's only been accepting his invitations 'cause she wanted to come across as a liberal person. Natalie insists she is a liberal and that her parents raised her to be polite to all the black maids they ever hired to clean their apartment, and that her father made it a point to hire a black receptionist to sit at the front desk of his medical office. Tootie refrains from smacking her for what I can only call boneheaded, wholly-out-of-character-for-Natalie observations and says that these are just gestures that white people like to do, mostly for show. Natalie chews on that for a few seconds and sheepishly admits that, yep, she's pretty sure her mom wouldn't be overly thrilled if she brought home a black boyfriend, and Tootie's like, "Well, d'yuh" and points out that lots of black mothers wouldn't be overly thrilled if their son brought home a white girlfriend...and that she kinda shared that sentiment when her cousin began showing an interest in a white girl, even when that white girl was her best friend.
Natalie calls this conversation depressing and says she never figured herself for such a brazen bigot, and Tootie sullenly replies, "Me too." Natalie points out that if she and Michael had the same skin color, no one would even be contemplating about where the relationship was going. Tootie urges Natalie to take things one step at a time...and by one step at a time, she means that the Facts writers are less interested in portraying an authentic courtship between two people who happen to not have the same skin color as they are in quickly crossing off interracial dating from their 'issues of the day' to do list so they can switch gears and focus on a completely unrelated topic in the next episode.
Natalie marvels about the fact that she's having a conversation about being prejudiced with someone who's black...even though she couldn't imagine having this conversation with anyone else. Tootie concurs and says she thinks of her as her best friend, not specifically a white person...and the studio audience is cued to clap at the awkward silence that follows, where the writers decided to end this wretched episode.
Thanks for reading! If you are enjoying TVofYore's recaps, consider thanking me by buying me a "coffee"!