One of my favorite shows from my childhood is Sister Sister. The show starred Tia and Tamera Mowry as Tia Landry and Tamera Campbell. They were identical twins who were separated at birth and adopted by different families: Tia, the studious and responsible twin was raised by her mother Lisa Landry, a wacky seamstress and clothing designer. Tamera was raised by Ray Campbell, a stern and low-key owner of a limousine service. The twins know nothing about each other until age 14 when they have a chance encounter in a clothing store. Knowing that they twins can’t very well be separated now, Ray invites the rather financially struggling Lisa and Tia to live with him and Tamera. Lots of things happen to this rather unconventional family, but most of all, there is love.
The main point of this blog post is about the episode Gimme a Break, which is my favorite of the series. There is just something about the plot and the humor that just is so irresistibly entertaining.
Tia and Tamera want a car, and they believe that they are mature and responsibly enough to have one.
Meanwhile Ray and Lisa are arguing as normal. Ray believes that children need to be given limits. Lisa feels that parents should give their children more freedom as long as they are sent on the right path.
The twins then come into the living and if they can buy a car. Lisa says yes. But Ray says no. However, after some nudging and guilt-tripping, he reluctantly agrees, but only on the condition that he and Lisa pick the car that they buy.
This leads to yet another argument between Ray and Lisa. Ray is insisted upon a safe car, but Lisa feels that his proposals are unfashionable, and favors cars that are both stylish and safe.
The twins then come home with a car: a red 1993 Mazda Miata convertible. Lisa likes the car, but Ray is not so sure. Lisa offers to help them pay for the car, and Ray grudgingly agrees to split the cost with Lisa. Once again, Ray reminds the girls that they need to be responsible if they want to keep the car. Lisa, however, expresses complete faith in the girls, especially Tia, whom she calls the most responsible child in the world.
We cut to Tia driving somewhat erratically, very happy to have a car. Tamera, who is normally the irresponsible twin, is not happy with Tia’s uncharacteristic behavior. She accuses her her of breaking the rules; Tia counters that Tamera breaks rules all the time, and Tamera claims that she merely bends rules, and she offers to show her how to do so.
Hours later, it is nighttime, and the twins are driving home from Canada. Tia is shocked by what they did. Tamera says that their parents never told them not leave the country. Tia feels guilty, after everything they did. But moments later, they find that there is fog blocking their view. They see a light through the fog, and they assume it is the mall; they are relieved that they are apparently close to home, and therefore, not lost. The twins then hear a strange noise as they are driving. They realize that they are on a dock on Lake Erie. The twins get out of the car, then the dock breaks sinking the car.
Back at home, Ray is concerned that the twins aren’t home yet; it is almost time for their curfew. Lisa is not impressed by his worries; she says “At the sound of the tone, shut up!” He reminds her that Tamera has a poor track record of being responsible, but Lisa once again, reminds her that Tia would be sure to not steer her wrong (no pun intended).
The twins then enter the living room. Tia is devastated over them sinking their car. Tamera insists that they will simply tell the parents that there are no problems with the car. Ray and Lisa enter the living room as well. Lisa points out to Ray that they are on time for their curfew, “Check your Rolox!” Lisa sharply says to him. When Ray asks where the car is, the twins struggle to come up with a lie. They say it is in their friend Roger’s garage; Tamera gives the explanation is that it might rain, and there’s nothing worse then a wet car, which makes Tamera cringe in guilt. Ray and Lisa ask them if something happened to car, but the girls insist that they broke no rules. Ray and Lisa, still suspicious, leave the living room and tell the girls to have a good rest of their night. The twins feel bad over their lies.
The next morning Ray and Lisa separately check Roger’s garage to see if the car is there. Of course, it is not there. Ray, and especially, Lisa are upset at them lying; Lisa says that nothing they could do to the car could justify lying, even if they were to…sink it int0 a lake, which Ray says as he’s watching the TV. The local news reported that a red 1993 Mazda Miata convertible was found in Lake Erie, and it was exactly like the car the twins bought. The anchor also says that nearby campers heard a girl shouting “Oh, gosh, Tia! My dad’s gonna kill us!” Ray is angry, but Lisa insists that before they punish the girls, they should give them another chance to tell the truth.
Tia and Tamera come downstairs and Tamera asks for a ride to school. Ray and Lisa repond, “A ride? You have a car? Don’t you?” Tia explains that the car is so new that she forgets. Roger then shows up and asks if the twins can drive him to school. Ray points out that the twins said that the car is in Roger’s garage. Roger is confused, and the girls immediately leave with him. Ray wants to punish the girls, but Lisa insists that she be the one to punish the twins. Ray balks at her, saying that she is just a big softie.
But later on, Ray accuses her of being cruel with the punishments. Lisa has been sending them on errands to buy heavy items. She prefers a slow and rough punishment until the girls tell the truth. The girls come home with 27 cans of cling peaches and heavy syrup; they surely would have had less trouble if they had a car. Ray then decides to join in the on the fun, and tells the girls that they shouldn’t have sent them to get ingredients for peach cobbler; this is the weather for pumpkin pie! Lisa tells them to bring home twenty pumpkins from a pumpkin patch. Ray then tells them to take a neighbors rotweiler to the vet, to pick up the their new Steinway piano. He warns them to be careful when they drive home with the piano attached to the car, otherwise, it will weigh them down, and they will fall into the lake. This pushes the girls over the edge, and they finally tell the truth about the sinking their car.
After this confession, Ray and Lisa reveal that they know everything. Then the take the girls outside to reveal that they claimed the car and got it repaired. The girls are punished by losing the car, but they have to continue paying for it, including the repair expenses. The twins express that they deserve such a punishment for what they did to the car. But Lisa and Ray point that they’re also being punished for what they did after they sank the car. “Threw up?” Tamera asks. No, they’re being punished because they lied about what they did and didn’t seek help. Ray and Lisa tell them being a responsible adult includes asking for help when you’re in trouble. Tia and Tamera feel guilty and ask if they will ever get a car? Lisa tells them that they will in the future, but sometimes it takes a while to get one’s dream car. Lisa then say “Lord knows I’ve waited long enough for mine!” And Lisa who has had severe car trouble in the past, including low-quality, unreliable cars, immediately claims the car for herself.
In the final scene, Lisa is having fun with her car driving all over the place. But then she realizes that she is lost. Lisa then sees a light, and thinks that’s the mall. But seconds later she realizes that she is driving on a dock on Lake Erie. The dock breaks and she goes down into the lake with the car.
This episode was funny, but also insightful. It shows how parents can disagree with how to deal with kids, but how they can eventually come to terms with each other and work together. I think another important element is responsibility I know that I’ve tried to do things on my own as a young adult and not ask my parents for help, but I do struggle with knowing when to ask for help and when not to ask for help. The important life lessons (which I think are gently delivered) and the humor (the car getting sunk and the consequences, most of all) are what make me wan to watch this episode again and again.