I didn't really like this one. Pearl and Narlene hanging out together doesn't sound interesting since they are both completely different in terms of personality, and it doesn't make them good to bounce off of each other. The story is also very predictable, with it becoming very obvious that Pearl will accept Narlene for the way she is at the end, even though she ruined her trip to the mall.
Well with a title like that, I’m becoming very sad that this episode isn’t a Gal Pals episode. I don’t know much about this episode, but I know that much.
Great, I’m sure the beginning of this episode has set off a whole new wave of “Mr. Krabs is a bad dad” type stuff. Please know I’m not about that life. Only dad I defend more than Mr. Krabs is Goku. Nah but seriously, I was quite surprised to see Pearl behind the grill at the beginning of this episode. And of course Mr. Krabs is using her for free labor. So what. My own dad does that all the time. (And anyway, just wait a couple minutes…he lets her have his diamond card. It’s fine guys).
While Pearl’s working, SpongeBob’s deep cleaning the barrels. And turns out that hiding inside the barrels is…Narlene! Well, what a fun surprise. I like Narlene, as I made clear in her debut episode (debut in this show, at least). However, I think it would’ve been a lot better for this episode to be further down the production line, so that there was more room between this episode and “Something Narwhal This Way Comes”. Because as it is, I just saw Narlene a few days ago. Her appearing here feels more like a sitcom’s version of a recurring character than SpongeBob SquarePants’ secondary/tertiary characters (think Bubble Bass, the Flying Dutchman, Larry the Lobster, etc.). Now, to be fair to this episode, there were 7 months between “Something Narwhal This Way Comes” and “Upturn Girls”, so in the moment, the gap between the episodes was definitely large enough to justify bringing Narlene in again. They just didn’t account for the marathoners (well…kinda marathon I guess) like myself haha.
Narlene’s here because she wants to see the sights of Bikini Bottom, and wants SpongeBob to show them to her…but he can’t, because he’s working. Darn capitalism strikes again! You know who doesn’t like their job, though? Pearl, so she offers to show Narlene around…anything to get her out of the Krusty Krab. Shoot, just bring in our other 3 ladies and we’d have ourselves a Gal Pals episode! But I’m also perfectly happy having Pearl and Narlene interact just like this. Not every instance of two female characters together should be a Gal Pals episode, as that would only serve to bolster the misogyny issue that I still need to write an analysis about.
Okay, before I say anymore, what is going on with Pearl’s eyes in this episode?? They drew her with this gleam in her eyes like the entire episode. Nothing wrong with it but like…she’s never drawn like this. It’s very odd. Anyway, it’s a girls’ day out for Pearl and Narlene. With lots of visual gags and puns. They’ve made Bikini Bottom much more of a metropolis in this episode (it’s always given mid-size city to me), and I don’t mind that. Though I lowkey wish they went to like…New Kelp City or something, so that we can do more worldbuilding. But that’s not a critique in any sense of the word.
Funny that I was speaking of secondary and tertiary characters before, because Lady Upturn has become quite the stealth tertiary character, and I like it. She’s amusing to me (as long as she comes in small doses). Turns out she’s the owner of the fancy fashion mall that Pearl takes Narlene to. Can’t wait to see what kinda chaos this brings, because we all know Narlene don’t care about none of these societal conventions, specially not rich folk nonsense. And chaos she does get up to in the perfume department. I also liked the bit at the shoe sale, I love how Narlene sees shoes as prisons LMAO. I also love how apparently the two got put on the wanted list in the mall at some point. Of course the rich person would have a security force like this. I liked the elevator joke too.
Is Pearl’s whole speech defending Narlene here kind of unearned given that it wasn’t exactly the conflict of the episode? Perhaps. Do I find it heartwarming and gratifying anyway? Yes. RIP Mr. Krabs’ diamond unlimited card. Smart idea of Pearl to take Narlene up on her offer to go to the countryside.
“Upturn Girls” was a really fun episode. I liked the dynamic between Pearl and Narlene, and honestly I wish more had been done with it. But I’m also glad that we didn’t go the same route as “Goons on the Moon” or the inverse of “Mall Girl Pearl”. Instead this episode focused more on shenanigans and less on plot. And I’m fine with that. It was also just a funny one.