Shipping Manifesto/Character Analysis- Jimmy Neutron and Cindy Vortex
Magnets- how do they work?
We'll start by analyzing each character individually and then their relationship as a whole, particularly contrasting it with Jimmy/Betty. (For the sake of argument, all non-canon pairings will be ignored). On that note, the Jimmy/Timmy Power Hours are /not /canon and will also be ignored.
Another note- an in-depth analysis of every single episode is beyond the scope of this piece and frankly, would be enough to drive a person mad. I assume you've seen the show. You're more than capable of filling in any blanks.
"James. James Neutron."
"Really? You look like more of a Jimmy to me."- Jimmy Neutron and Jet
Fusion, "Operation: Jet Fusion"
Boy genius, with an IQ of 210(a href= "http://www.tvrage.com/Jimmy_Neutron-Boy_Genius" ). Until his move to Retroville prior to Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius (the movie), Cindy Vortex was the smartest girl in town. Yet an offhand comment by Sheen- "I've wanted to own you since you were five!" ("Birth of a Salesman") argues otherwise. Continuity disparities aside, Jimmy is quite clearly the smartest person in town.
The product of two extremely loving parents, Jimmy enjoys an idealistic childhood. His father has fashioned numerous nicknames for him ("Jimbo, Jim-a-lim, and Jim-Jam" and has even gone so far as to name fleas after him when he goes away to college ("Jimmy Goes to College"). Hugh Neutron is always there to offer advice, such as when Jimmy tries out for the school play ("Out Darn Spotlight"), participate in the school talent show, much to Jimmy's embarrassment ("Make Room for Daddy-O"), and help ground Jimmy when he's wrong ("Battle of the Bands").
Judy Neutron defends her son along with Hugh ("Clash of the Cousins"), offers to give up money for a planned trip so he can get an encyclopedia set ("Time is Money"), cries over her son's absence in "Jimmy Goes to College", and is frequently seen as loving and supportive (such as reading a book about raising a child genius). In all respects, despite
occasionally embarrassing Jimmy ("Make Room for Daddy-O" and "Flippy" being prime examples), Hugh and Judy Neutron are shown to be very good parents.
With this loving background, Jimmy's personality has developed freely into someone who, while he doesn't always get what he wants, nonetheless is well adjusted and happy. However, because of his parents' encouragement, in tandem with the inability for any real competition, has raised his ego. Jimmy's conceit/intellect bears the brunt of jokes ("I'd be a genius too if my head was the size of Texas!"- Cindy Vortex, "When Pants Attack"; "This has your stink written all over it, Neutron!"- Cindy Vortex, again, "Sheen's Brain").The entire purpose of the show seems to be to take Jimmy down a peg, although he suffers the blows with good will and perseveres, even when he narrowly avoids killing his father and his friends.
Jimmy is naturally trusting and a bit naïve ("Jimmy Goes to College") when it comes to his scientific peers. As the movie illustrated, this naiveté can sometimes get the best of him, e.g. trusting the Yokians. He can be very eager to please and to prove himself in a new environment (again, "Jimmy Goes to College" along with "Win, Lose, or Kaboom"). Unfortunately, being eager to please works to his detriment numerous times, as he ignores the threat until it becomes impossible to overlook ("Jimmy Goes to College", "Safety First", "Send in the Clones", Jimmy Neutron: Boy Genius [the movie], "Flippy", among others).
Contrast this to his behavior toward people who have hurt him in the past. It is as though Jimmy has to compensate for being too trusting by being unyielding and unwilling to see whether the person has changed (though statistically, Jimmy is right not to trust them). In "League of Villains", Jimmy starts out the TV movie by saying: "People don't change. Their personality is imprinted on them since birth. Look it up." This becomes a major sticking point for the movie, since it becomes apparent that Tee wanted attention more than being evil and aids them. Jimmy distrusts his intentions and needs Sheen to help him see the truth.
In "My Big Fat Spy Wedding", Jimmy shows disbelief at the idea Beautiful Gorgeous has actually reformed. Jimmy's idolization of Jet leads him to want to protect him from himself, although everyone else believes that Beautiful has changed. As it turns out, Jimmy was right to distrust her. This is not the first time that almost an entire town has been duped into believing a formerly evil species/person has reformed.
In "The Eggspire Strikes Back", Jimmy refuses to be blindsided by the blatant bribery and lies the Yokians perpetuate. Then again, the Yokians, unlike Beautiful, make no effort to deceive him. They want the entire town to vilify Jimmy, so his warnings will go unheeded and he'll be mocked. Even so, Jimmy still tries to save the townspeople who deride him, including Cindy and Libby (he later changes his opinion on that, though he ultimately rescues everyone in the end).
Jimmy is incredibly loyal to his friends, family, and creations. In "Best in Show", Jimmy searches the town to locate Goddard and rescues him from the scrapheap. A similar calamity threatens to befall Brobot and his parents in "The Junk Man Cometh", where he rescues them despite danger to himself, Carl, and Sheen. Goddard is his pet and Brobot, despite being annoyed by him, is too important to lose. (Hence his tear at shutting him down in "Brobot").
In terms of friends, he tries to help Sheen find his missing Ultra Lord figure ("Crime Sheen Investigation") and to help Carl with his nightmares ("I Dream of Jimmy"). For that matter, Jimmy can be remarkably helpful with his friends, even when he's clearly angry at them ("Carl Wheezer, Boy Genius"). It should be noted that while Jimmy was furious and still helping, he needed Sheen to keep him from blowing the lid off the farce until he finally loses his temper. Loyalty only goes so far.
Nonetheless, he helps Sheen try to train to defeat a martial arts master, tries to protect him when it becomes apart they want to kidnap him, and then attempts to help him fight the master off in a last ditch attempt to protect himself and rescue Libby ("Crouching Jimmy, Hidden Sheen"). Sheen also receives Jimmy's help in order to pass his final exam ("Sheen's Brain"), although that goes horribly awry. To indirectly help Sheen through aiding his father, Jimmy constructs a super suit in "El Magnifico".
However, he plays fast and loose at times- fixing inventions to 'cure' his father's awkwardness not once, but three times ("Maximum Hugh", "Make Room for Daddy-O", "Flippy"), the last one nearly murdering his father. Sheer selfishness motivates him to 'cure' the Wheezers ("The Mighty Wheezers") and attempt to make his parents rich ("Time is Money"), capitalize off the town's addiction to his candy ("Krunch Time"), try to weasel out of school by sending the teachers on an interstellar trip ("How to Sink a Sub"), age himself and his friends to buy an M rated game ("Grumpy Young Men"), give himself super speed to
beat Cindy in a race ("See Jimmy Run"), get Cindy back for her pranks ("Trading Faces"), and the list goes on.. As the first two seasons show, Jimmy can be pretty damn selfish if it suits his purposes. Moreover, he doesn't necessarily learn from his mistakes.
In terms of attitude, Jimmy has a relatively calm disposition. While Cindy rankles him and he often sets out to prove her wrong ("The Big Pinch", "Stranded", "Battle of the Band", "Phantom of Retroland", "Jimmy for President", and "The N Men"), he never is truly enraged. The only exception, notable in Jimmy utterly losing his mind, is "The N Men".
Here, not only has Cindy continuously picked on him and belittled him, he's getting flak from the town for having changed color and not done anything else in particular. With the gamma radiation altering his brain chemistry and body, Jimmy loses himself in his rage and seemingly becomes a completely different person, bent on destruction and little else. His normal self has to try to talk to him and break through.
However, taken as a whole, Jimmy is difficult to infuriate. He channels the anger into more productive ventures, such as inventing, and is usually only angry long enough to succeed in whatever he was trying to accomplish. As we will see later, temper is very important.
In terms of popularity, Jimmy appears to be primarily ignored outside of his circle of friends. Jimmy is not bullied outside of one episode ("Safety First"). Others are aware of him, certainly, but very little beyond that.
As far as outside of school, the town seems to regard him as a relatively harmless nuisance ("The Incredible Shrinking Town"). The townspeople form angry mobs in "Send in the Clones" and "The N Men", but, for the most part, they seem to be relatively apathetic. In terms of scope, Jimmy's adventures rarely involve anyone outside of his own circle, although, when they do, the townspeople either support him or deride him- they're not usually consistent. From here, it is easy to see how someone might consider Jimmy to pose a threat.
Or, in the very least, serious competition.
"Ugh, Neutron, I hate to say it, but thanks-"
"'For inventing an amazing dog? Goddard's the coolest pet in the
world? I'm bitter and unhappy unless others are suffering?' Stop me
when you hear something you like."
"Never mind! Come on, you mangy mutt!"- Jimmy Neutron and Cindy
Vortex, "Best in Show"
Unlike Jimmy, much of what is known about Cindy is circumstantial. Is she also a genius? Quite possibly. Can we prove that? Absolutely not. One would assume she has to be relatively high IQ wise to compete with Jimmy, but there is no concrete proof.
Part of Cindy's difficulties, as it were, lie in what the viewer is not privileged to see. Cindy's bedroom is decorated in a typically girly fashion ("Trading Faces") and she has pictures of her parents hanging on her walls, along with boy bands. On the surface, it seems like she should be normal and well-adjusted. A surface glance would be a mistake.
Although Cindy's parents are seen together on her wall, this is about the only time we see them together. Even then, Cindy's parents have single portraits- they're not within the same frame. The pilot episode, "When Pants Attack", show her parents walking down the road together. They are never together afterward. ("Men at Work", where her mother is eating with Corky Shimatsu, "Return of the Nanobots", where her parents are fleeing from two different directions, among other examples).
Numerous episodes have, in the background, Cindy's mother wandering around Retroville with random guys. Cindy's father is also wandering by himself- this trend carries into school functions, where Cindy's parents sit apart from each other.
When asked about Sasha's strange activities, Keith Alcorn said part of Cindy's anger is because of "unhappiness at home". It's unclear whether her parents are divorced, living separately, or living together but dysfunctional. Whatever the case, Cindy lacks the loving, accepting background Jimmy has.
Cindy's parents make a stark contrast to Jimmy's friends' parents in other ways as well. Almost every single one of the parents has a line of dialogue throughout the series. Cindy's father speaks once in "Brobot" on TV, but that is his only speaking part. One could argue that Cindy, not being the title character, simply can't get the screen time. Yet Keith Alcorn's rather dodgy answer argues otherwise. There is something suspicious going on.
You may be wondering why I just spent four paragraphs on Cindy's parents. There's a very good reason. Parents form a child's background. Unhappiness at home translates into unhappiness at school and among one's peers. We never see Cindy and her mother interacting- we see Cindy and her aunt ("Maximum Hugh"), who presumably acts enough like her mother that Cindy does not realize the difference. We hear from Cindy in
"Stranded" that her mother has set her up for numerous obligations, is upset if Cindy ruins her clothing, and, most importantly, establishes Cindy's constant resentment. Her first reaction to being stranded is not, "We're not going to be able to get home." In fact, this is the dialogue that follows:
"Oh, great, look at these clothes. The salt water's already fading the
"Cindy, I don't think you understand."
"My piano lesson! Neutron, if I'm not back by 4:30, I'm in big trouble!"
"Cindy, listen to me. We're on an uncharted island in the middle of the Pacific Island and the only people who know we're here are flying away from us at 100 mph. We may never be found." ("Stranded")
Perhaps because of all this stress, Cindy has developed quite an attitude problem. No one else in the show is as angry as Cindy Vortex. While Libby goes along with Cindy's teasing and torment ("Jimmy Goes to College", "Men at Work", "Brobot") at first, it is clear Cindy uses her anger as a defense mechanism to keep Jimmy at arm's length. It certainly keeps other people at arms' length.
Without her mother's influence, Cindy mellows out ("Stranded" and "Who's Your Daddy", where Cindy is cooing like the other girls over baby gifts). Keith Alcorn, in response to a question "future Cindy", said that he'd like to think Cindy "mellows with age". It certainly seems like without Sasha Vortex constantly berating her daughter, she would be a happier person (see her behavior after a while in "Stranded").
Eustace represents greed and, as we've seen, Cindy can be incredibly greedy ("A Beautiful Mine", "Billion Dollar Boy", and "King of Mars"). Even when the rubies are her ticket home rather than dying ("It's your rubies or your life." (Cindy hesitates) "Cindy!" "I'm thinking!"), she still pauses ("A Beautiful Mine").
He's also an important figure for another reason. Cindy chases Eustace not once, but twice, even though the second time she knows he will betray her ("King of Mars"). In "Billion Dollar Boy", Cindy laps up Eustace's attention, in addition to his derision toward Jimmy. When Eustace pays attention to her in "King of Mars", she reluctantly agrees
to help him, because she's so frustrated that Jimmy won't notice her.
This argues Cindy does not receive attention at home or not the attention she wants. It's also a bit troubling, because she's so eager to chase after someone who acts like he wants her if only so someone will notice her.
Cindy has been taught, or perhaps has internalized as a defense mechanism, being "tough". This means reacting with anger and lashing out. Her first response to Butch teasing her is to hit him hard, much like her response to Jimmy earlier in the same episode ("Lady Sings the News"). She reacts to almost everything with a combination anger and violence. This has become a coping mechanism and only disappears in "Stranded" after the pressures of society, combined with her mother's attitude, seem far away and she can let down her guard.
Cindy is incredibly competitive. She appears to be a sore loser ("One of Us") and losing alternatively annoys and irritates her ("Retroville 9"/"One of Us"), depending on how critical the competition was. She feels, in addition to the need to compete, the need to stand out and force people to acknowledge her superiority ("Attack of the Twonkies"). Again, this relates to her need for attention and to be noticed. Competition and standing out will keep her from being overlooked.
This can be also be seen in "Maximum Hugh", "Birth of a Salesman", "Raise the Oozy Scab", "Broadcast Blues", "Monster Hunt", and "Out Darn Spotlight". Clearly, being the center of attention is very important. Her mother puts a lot of pressure on her and the only way she can elevate herself is by pushing herself harder and harder (even when she had a small role in Macbeth in Space, her mother coached her from the audience ("Out Darn Spotlight")).
On the flipside, though it may not at first appear that way, is Cindy's fear of mimes ("Vanishing Act"). It's one of the few, if only, things Cindy is shown to be afraid of. It's peculiar, unless we take Cindy's personality into account. Cindy is crass ("the annoying blonde girl does have a point!", Retroville's mayor in "Monster Hunt"), outspoken, and violent.
What is a mime? Silent, unobtrusive, noticeable only when one is not preoccupied. Ergo, a mime is what she subconsciously fears becoming. A mime can't speak- Cindy spends the entire series asserting herself and making herself heard. Moreover, Cindy is quick to draw attention to herself in class even to the point of rudeness ("Jimmy Goes to College", where she asks Jimmy quite rudely and loudly why she should care about his presentation, "Trouble with Clones", where she stages an entire presentation to mock him, etc.). A mime would be forced to be a silent observer. Nothing would terrify Cindy more.
Cindy's other fear is monkeys, though once she's calmed down, the monkey no longer bothers her. Perhaps they seem uncivilized to her after coming out of a stressful environment? ("Stranded"). Whatever the case, the monkey fear seems to be far less powerful than her fear of mimes.
Cindy's fear, coupled with her attitude, suggests she simply won't let most people in, even to the point where she nearly dies ("The N Men"). For someone so young to have trust issues is very troubling. There's no clear root, either, which leaves one to wonder exactly what Cindy's parents are doing. Is Cindy afraid to let people in because her parents are fighting/separated? Is there some sort of abuse going on? Obviously,
the latter would be too serious a topic for a children's cartoon, but
it's worth thought.
She is verbally abusive toward Humphrey ("Best in Show"). This initially seems shocking, but the hidden meaning is soon clear. Cindy is berated and belittled at home. She feels frustrated and can no longer safely take her rage out on Jimmy, not if she wants him to see her as a potential girlfriend. Abused kids often take out their rage on their pets, because their pets are 'safe' targets. Cindy can scream at Humphrey and Humphrey can't stop her. Moreover, Cindy can victimize Humphrey without fear of reprimand, because Humphrey is 'lower' on the chain.
Unfortunately, Cindy can only really be seen through the lenses of her conflict and love/hate relationship with Jimmy. There simply exist few opportunities to see her alone. So...we move on, with the lingering questions.
Jimmy and Cindy, as a couple
"Is that..." *sniffs* "Eau d'amino acid? Girl, you brought us here just
so you could flirt with Jimmy!"
"Did not! I'm here because Jimmy values my scientific input!"
"Why don't those two just get a lab?"~ Libby and Cindy, "King of Mars"
Theoretically, one could start in the very beginning of their relationship. Unfortunately, while certain elements of the movie have shown themselves to be canon (the Yokians and Poultra), it cannot be assumed the entire movie is canon. The creators had a very different idea in mind when the movie came out compared to the rest of the series. So we will visit the movie very briefly before moving on.
Jimmy and Cindy exchange their first set of longing glances, which they quickly realize they're doing and stop immediately. Cindy also serves to boost Jimmy's spirits when he's feeling low after seeing their parents seized, themselves captured and him in particular isolated, and Goddard abducted. This is an interesting contrast, because while the movie would set the pairing up to be almost inevitable, the series breaks away immediately.
Though Cindy serves as catalyst to many of Jimmy's inventions, she seldom starts with the pep talk. (The notable example being "The N Men"). In fact, Cindy is at her gentlest in the movie, which might argue for some very drastic changes between the movie and the first season.
From the beginning of the series, Cindy is established as Jimmy's primary antagonist. She is not the series' antagonist, though she very well could be. She makes it clear, through condescension, taunting, and other forms of abuse how little she cares for Jimmy. For the most part, Jimmy has done little to merit her cruelty. She enjoys picking on him, for no other reason than just to pick on him.
She prompts him to diminish his intellect in "Normal Boy" (along with his mother's wishful thinking about not having a genius son), create a robot to best her in a contest ("Birth of a Salesman"), bring back Thomas Edison to prove her wrong ("The Big Pinch"), create instruments to beat her in a competition ("Battle of the Bands"), invent super speed sneakers ("See Jimmy Run"), among numerous other examples. At best, Cindy has an ambivalent influence on Jimmy. At the worst, she has a tremendously negative impact.
Something about Jimmy irritates Cindy, and it's a phenomenon that doesn't initially carry over to other people. It appears to be centered on one Jimmy Neutron.
Our first encounter with Cindy in "When Pants Attack" supports this. She greets Libby and then proceeds to write in her notepad, "Monday, 7:59 a.m. No sign of _Neutron_." She reads this aloud and follows it up with, "Life is good." This seems like a lot of effort to expend on one person.
Compare this to Jimmy's response after zooming in on his jetpack. He asks her if she wants to try it out, completely unaware of her dislike for him. Cindy responds by snapping at him. As previously established, biting people's heads off and keeping them at arms' length rather than a logical reaction is not unfamiliar.
"Quit riding me, Vortex!"- Jimmy Neutron, "The N Men"
Yet Cindy drives Jimmy to create, even if it's just to prove her wrong. Cindy fuels Jimmy's creativity and, if what Keith says is true, will continue to do so in the future, though perhaps not as cruelly. Keith Alcorn has stated in a direct question and answer that, "I think Jimmy's greatest successes were usually thanks to Cindy, so I have to think she would be there in the good future as well (perhaps just a 'sweeter' version)." Even if this is not definitive proof the two will end up together, it sounds as if the ideal situation for the future Jimmy would have Cindy to draw upon.
As always, Cindy's behavior is a mixed bag. She puts Jimmy's present for Libby under 'Z' for "zero" ("I'll be angry about this later!"- "The Tomorrow Boys"), although she doesn't hesitate to come to Jimmy's rescue in "League of Villains". For the most part, her behavior is more positive or has better rationale later in the series. Although she flirts with the enemy and betrays Jimmy to Eustace, she does it because Eustace gives her the kind of attention she wants from Jimmy ("King of Mars"). Even though her jealousy leads her to attack April in "Win, Lose, and Kaboom' and to make Betty 'disappear' in "Vanishing Act", her behavior is grounded in jealousy and insecurity. She wants Jimmy to
notice her and only her, and, at the same time, is afraid if he notices someone else, he won't pay her any attention.
The scenes we would be most interested in, namely those dealing with how Cindy really feels about Jimmy's absence/potential absence in "Jimmy Goes to College", "Fundemonium", and "Who Framed Jimmy Neutron?" are left unaddressed. What we see is apparently what we get, again, if we only go for a surface glance.
Take, for example, "The N Men". Jimmy's powers, as the last to develop, appear to be fueled by sheer rage. This is a departure from the irritated yet seldom enraged Jimmy we're used to seeing. It also serves as a demonstration of what would happen, theoretically, if Jimmy let all his anger and frustration get to his head.
Even when Cindy realizes she has to be kind in order to facilitate her own survival, she is unable to do so. It's almost like her anger is uncontrollable, having been a defense mechanism for so long Cindy no longer knows how to manipulate it. One might argue it's not in her nature to compromise, but that's not true, as "Stranded" illustrates. Societal pressures, particularly the town against Jimmy, help convince her it's in her best interests to continue her antagonism.
As previously mentioned, she can't control her defense mechanisms. Cindy lashes out, even when she's wrong, perhaps especially when she's wrong. In "Vanishing Act", after a situation she caused, she lashes out at Jimmy. The same applies for "Best in Show", where she can't swallow her pride long enough to thank him for saving her life after he taunts her. Her pride and rage are too great to admit she's wrong.
Yet Jimmy seems intrigued by this, almost despite himself. As the series progresses, he invites her and Libby along more and more often. It appears as though, in the later episodes, he even outfits the hovercraft to support the girls' adventures with them. Betty seems to become more of a distraction, a person to pull in once in a while. She only actually appears in four episodes (barring the random background character appearances), which seem to be the only episodes Jimmy ever thinks about her. Cindy is in nearly every episode, even if she only has a bit role.
While Cindy is normally the one to initiate any physical interaction between the two, one can't help but notice how close the two get when they're arguing. They usually have to be standing right next to each other, almost on top of each other, and, in the case of "Stranded", look like they're either about to kiss or butt heads. There is obviously an
indefinable chemistry there, something that's pulling them together. Otherwise, he wouldn't want to be drawn into confrontation with her repeatedly.
The issue of his affection toward her is directly confronted in "Trading Faces", "King of Mars", and "Love Potion 976-J". In "Trading Faces", Cindy asks which one of them was fantasizing about walking down a lane, holding hands, and kissing. Yet the fact that they both remember it and both are embarrassed by it implies they may have both been imagining it.
This situation should be kept in mind when working with "Love Potion 976-J", even though Jimmy's behavior in this episode is arguably completely out of character and only fueled by the potion. Since the crushes linger after the love potion's effects fade (e.g. Sheen still has a crush on Libby, which was also demonstrated in a prior episode ["Jimmy for President"], Carl still has a crush on poor Mrs. Neutron ["My Big Fat Spy Wedding", among others], and Jimmy still has a crush on Cindy), one can surmise that the groundwork was there, even if they behaved a bit aggressively.
In particular, a few episodes should be studied at length- "King of Mars", "My Big Fat Spy Wedding", "Stranded, "and, last but not least, "One of Us". It's worth noting that every one of these episodes are from season three, where the most character development occurs and where the Jimmy/Cindy relationship comes to fruition (at the end of "Lady Sings the News").
Since "Stranded" aired first, we'll start with that. The episode commences with
Jimmy and Cindy arguing, much to everyone's severe annoyance. They're being so loud and obnoxious about it, even Butch, teaching how to bully, gets irritated.
The argument itself makes little sense and seems to be mere pretense.
"Wrong! The equator is invisible and apparently, so is your brain!"
"Well, at least my head doesn't need its own time zone!"
"Why do you have to go there, huh?"
I love you dearly, Cindy and I sincerely doubt you're stupid enough to think the equator is an actual, physical line.
From here, as Sheen correctly surmises, it's off "to the hover car" so Jimmy can disprove her. Cindy wants an excuse to be part of Jimmy's circle and have an adventure with him. Also, it keeps him paying attention to her and prevents him from say, chasing after someone else. Also, it establishes their rivalry as something more than simply arguing.
"Is anyone else getting a little tired of Jimmy and Cindy's love/hate thing?" (Libby)
"What do you mean?" (Sheen)
"The way they argue to mask their true feelings for each other." (Libby)
"Hold up. You mean when they argue, they really love each other?" (Sheen)
"Oh, so you mean when Jimmy says he hates when I sneeze on his experiments, he loves it?" (Carl)
Then again, as someone who knows Cindy the best, Libby can see through her. She's also in a unique position to comment on their relationship, because she knows Cindy's guards and also isn't as naïve or, ahem, challenged as Sheen and Carl are. She's also privy to Cindy's rants about Jimmy, including the ones the audience isn't privy to. It's
interesting that although she knows Cindy's side well enough to say this, she has taken note of Jimmy's side as well, though even he probably hasn't acknowledged it yet.
We skip ahead to Jimmy and Cindy falling out of the hover car and swimming to shore. (Everyone saw this ep, so don't look at me for summaries). Skipping the first significant interaction (since it was already covered in Cindy's character analysis), we move to Cindy again blaming Jimmy for a situation she caused.
"You wouldn't last a day without my science skills."
"Oh, oh, you mean like the ones that got us into this mess?"
Cindy's pride gets in the way and she refuses to admit she's wrong. Through what the audience sees of the episode, she never admits she caused it. Apologizing is incredibly difficult for her and usually something she can only achieve under duress ("The N Men").
From here, we run into Cindy's monkey phobia. This is one of the few times Jimmy sees her frightened and hugging her knees, rocking back and forth with her teeth chattering. It prompts him to ask for a cease-fire and she agrees, though he follows it up teasing her once more to make her feel worse for mocking him earlier. This is their relationship in
general- they bicker, either friendly or not, but they're never completely without conflict.
Yet when Jimmy is in danger, as Cindy illustrates later in "Win, Lose, and Kaboom", she tackles him. Then they have a terror hug.
"Right, uh, thanks for saving my life."
"No problem. Carry on." (Cindy's eyes shift away and she looks
We also have a moment where Jimmy, who seems to be paying less attention than the viewers have these past few seasons, has an interesting dialogue with Cindy.
"...did you just call me 'Jimmy'?"
"Well, that is your name."
"I know. I just didn't know you knew. I thought you thought it was 'Neutroid', or 'Spewtron', or King Cranium, or Frankenhead-"
"Jimmy, why do you think we always fight back home?"
"Oh, that's easy. It's because, well, maybe, because- huh. I don't
"I don't know either. I mean, I know I'm not supposed to like you-"
This goes back to two ideas. One, something is negatively influencing Cindy and trying to drive her away from Jimmy. Two, Jimmy and Cindy argue because of societal pressures and Cindy's parents' influence which, when removed, allow them to function as a normal couple rather than being at each other's throats. This means there's hope for them to flourish, even the pressures are removed. It does not mean "Stranded" is an isolated incident and their antagonism is the norm. As Keith Alcorn stated, a "sweeter Cindy" in Jimmy's future means something has to give and perhaps, once they're older, pressure to conform and what do what's expected of them will lessen.
Later in the episode, Jimmy shows his dedication and desire to impress by giving Cindy an oyster. Not just any oyster, though.
*gasp* "A pearl. Oh, Jimmy, a pearl."
"Aw, it's nothing, really. While you were gathering fruit, I decided to open up a few oysters. 137, actually."
"That's the nicest thing anyone's ever done for me."
We're also treated to this discussion after the rescue arrives.
"Okay, girl, spill. What's up between you and Jimmy?"
"Up? What makes you think something's up?" (jumps around and looks very shifty)
Yeah, Libby's not buying it. Then again, given her comments at the beginning, one really couldn't have expected her to believe Cindy. It also makes one wonder if there are similar trees in Retroville...
At any rate, this conversation shows the viewer how Cindy probably normally acts when Libby brings up Jimmy. Cindy's reaction is patently absurd, since it's obvious what happened, and also reveals how much of her defense mechanism is bound up in lying and denying the truth. Since she denies the truth and blames Jimmy for her misfortune frequently, this isn't surprising.
Desperation compels her to reveal her true colors, as it has in other episodes ("The N Men", "King of Mars", etc).
"Jimmy, we don't have to go."
"We can conquer the spider like we did everything else- together and we can rebuild our tree houses and stay on the island...just the two of us. We don't have to go."
We're also treated to the only instance where Cindy is on the verge of tears. She's so desperate to keep the happiness they have and leave Retroville, despite the fact her life is in Retroville, that she is almost about to cry. Jimmy is ready to be rescued, by contrast, and, like everyone else, doesn't comprehend her hesitation. This shows the contrast between their two families and, more than that, their happiness
levels outside of "Stranded". Cindy is happy when she's alone with Jimmy and away from everything else- Jimmy can be happy at home.
As a strong example of what happens when everything goes right for Jimmy and Cindy, "Stranded" serves as an illustration of Jimmy and Cindy at their best and most ideal (while also managing to be the most unrealistic). From here, we move onto "My Big Fat Spy Wedding", which Cindy was barely in.
"My Big Fat Spy Wedding" involves Jimmy in a tux. He pulls it off rather well, as Cindy is quick to note on camera.
"...hunk muffin..." Followed by...
"Oh, hey, Cindy."
"Hey, Cin. Put your eyes back in your head and let's get to work." (Libby)
Besides the fact this is the first and only time Cindy ever calls him 'James' (this makes me snicker, for reasons I won't go into here)- Eustace is the only one to call Jimmy 'James' with any frequency, this shows Cindy is not only mentally attracted to Jimmy, but physically as well. It also shows how oblivious Jimmy can be to that. Ah well, he is
eleven. And "King of Mars" will redeem him.
Cindy continues to comment on Jimmy's appearance while she's supposed to be filming the wedding. "I can't believe it. Neutron looks,...handsome. Oh, no, wait, everyone...technical difficulties! Gotta rewind!" First, we have a camcorder with an actual VHS tape inside. Everyone marvel at this. MARVEL.
Second, and more importantly, Cindy can't keep her commentary to herself. She's so shocked and pleased that she has to let everyone know, even if it's through a tape. Then, of course, she's embarrassed and records over it.
Then, after everything has passed and Beautiful ultimately fails to murder Jimmy, there's a discussion a la South Park about what the gang has learned today. Cindy's mind is quite clearly stuck. "I think we all learned something today." "The clothes make the man?" Ahem. Enough said.
The bouquet is thrown, Cindy catches it, Jimmy and Cindy smile at each other...and then Cindy tosses it away. Like earlier moments, where Jimmy and Cindy glance at each other and smile, they quickly reject the gesture and implied feelings (the movie, "Return of the Nanobots", etc). If any couple was a candidate for "I Won't Say" from Hercules, it'd be these two.
From here, we move onto "King of Mars", from which we get our opening quote.
This episode, along with "Lady Sings the News", is one of the most obvious about Jimmy/Cindy. Then again, the two episodes were also endgame for the JN series, so perhaps it's expected. At any rate, here we see Cindy trying everything in her arsenal to get Jimmy's attention, including a very tight space suit, "space makeup", and perfume. The great lengths she goes to, including obviously reading up on solar flares to talk to Jimmy about them and observing Mars, show that she is willing to do whatever it takes to get him to notice her.
"Hey, Neutron, have you checked out Mars?" (Cindy wafts the perfume toward Jimmy)
"Huh?" *Pauses and sniffs and then goes back to what he was doing* "Mars is old news. I'm spotting comets."
"But it's been showing huge fluctuations in brightness!" *wafts perfume again and then smiles brightly*
"Definitely worth a good long look."
*Jimmy sniffs and then stares at her* "What's that bewitching scent?"
"You mean my perfume? I just splash this one when I don't care what I smell like."
(They smile at each other)
(Jimmy) "Mmm...I mean, oh, look, a comet!" (swings the giant telescope around and sends Cindy flying)
Here we see the first of Jimmy's distractions. Jimmy's at that tender age where girls have begun to work their magic, though, being him, he's unwilling to admit it. This is also the only episode where, when Cindy runs hot and cold, it's because Jimmy is deliberately trying to overlook her or has obviously hurt her feelings.
Here we have a case in point:
"You do this every time! You invite me some place and then you ignore my contributions!"
"Can't talk. Taking star pictures."
(She shoves him out of the chair) "When a colleague suggests you look at Mars, it's polite to look at Mars!"
(She calibrates it and then shoves his eye against the eyepiece) "There! See? PRETTY."
And here again:
(Cindy and Libby show up, with Cindy wearing makeup).
"Cindy? What did you do to your face?"
"Just some radiation proof lip gloss and eyeliner. Deep space is rough
on a girl's skin, you know."
(Libby shakes her head).
"I mean I don't know! It doesn't matter! You're not coming!"
"What? But you're taking Carl and Sheen and all they're doing is sitting around eating schnitzengrober."
"Well, Sheen and Carl won't distract me! Not that you distract me! Why
would you distract me? I dunno. That would be silly."
And again: "Do you like my new flight suit, Libby? It's perfect for resisting the strong Martian winds."
(Jimmy is staring at her)
"Huh? Do you think I've been staring at you this whole time? Well, I
"Well, no one asked you to!"
"Fine! Stop annoying me!"
"What? You rude little twerp!" (Cindy smacks him in the chest) "I'll knock you all over the asteroid belt!"
(They glare at each other)
It's safe to say he's noticed her, though he's expending a lot of energy to pretend he hasn't. Or, at least, to save face. Then again, considering how much he resembles a drooling monkey around Betty Quinlan ("Party at Neutron's", "Out Darn Spotlight", "Vanishing Act", and "One of Us") and Cindy in "Love Potion 976-J", it's a reasonable assumption he doesn't want to act like that all the time. For someone who spends a lot of time thinking, behaving like a love-struck loon probably isn't all that attractive.
There are so many examples of Jimmy pretending not to notice her and then getting irritated or upset on both parties that I'm not going to bore you with each and every one. However, the important one shows the reason why Cindy teamed up with Eustace despite the fact Eustace is not trustworthy:
"Wake up, Jimmy. I think I finally found a way to get you to notice me."
"Huh? Cindy, what are you talking about?"
(The claw grabs him)
"Pretty sweet, huh? Some guys just know how to treat a lady.'
"Cindy, how could you?"
"Because Eustace appreciates me! And because he's gonna make me stinking rich!"
Cindy wants Eustace's attention and his money. Jimmy is also loaded, though she doesn't know it (again, according to a question and interview with Keith Alcorn- " Hesells a lot of his inventions to the government and/or private institutions. Jimmy is loaded."). However, Cindy's first concern is his attention. Cindy needs to feel wanted and will willingly betray Jimmy if she thinks she isn't, though she does ask him to make sure no one gets hurt.
What follows is one of the few times Cindy lets down her guard enough to tell Jimmy what's really going on. It's remarkable she does this in front of the entire group, though she may just be so exasperated she doesn't care anymore.
"What? But I...it's all your fault!" (points at Jimmy)
"Oh, don't act dumb! At least Eustace treated me like an equal! You act like I don't even exist!"
"You are so clueless, Vortex. Of course I know you exist! That's why I pretend to ignore you!"
"Pretend? You mean you've been acting like a complete dweeb because..."
(Carl) "He likes you!"
(Libby) "He thinks you fine."
(Jimmy) "I do not! I just think you're pretty smart and you smell nice and you kinda distract me...sometimes."
"Wow, Jimmy, thanks." (Smiles brightly)
"You're welcome...hopefully the next time this happens, you won't betray us to our enemies!"
On the plus side, you can usually count on Jimmy to tell the truth when push comes to shove. This also illustrates another reason why Jimmy and Cindy work well together- they're both obviously intelligent, capable people when they don't let their insecurities get in the way. Jimmy admires Cindy because of her intelligence (note that it's the first on his list), rather than her beauty/ sweetness (as he does Betty Quinlan). If he just considered her smart but unworthy of his affections, he wouldn't let her distract him to the extent she has.
This becomes a gloating point for Cindy at the end of the episode: "I can't believe Jimmy admitted he likes Cindy."
"I said she distracts me! There's a difference!"
(Cindy, sounding smug) "Sure there is."
Now that the cat has gotten her cream, we jump backwards into less certain Jimmy/Cindy territory. "One of Us" and "Vanishing Act", paired together and both involving Betty, are less clear cut. In "One of Us", Cindy doesn't show up until halfway through the episode and in "Vanishing Act", Jimmy seems to be trying to, as Cindy puts it, "impress your dream girl". "Vanishing Act" is a clear example of what happens when Cindy gets jealous (as "Out Darn Spotlight" was as well, along with "Win, Lose, and Kaboom"). "One of Us", as a more dubious example, will be tackled first.
We start by noticing Cindy's absence, which Jimmy has also noted. Irritant or not, Cindy figures enough into Jimmy's life that he asks about her.
From here, we have the disturbing incident of the Happy Show Show. I will tackle the Jimmy/Betty stuff in the next section, so sit tight. Anyway, after the show that gives Jimmy a migraine just thinking about, Jimmy quite literally runs into Cindy at the bus stop. We as the audience is given to assume that the entire show, up until the point
where Jimmy explains it to Cindy, is a series of flashbacks from Jimmy's point of view. (Though there are holes in this argument- Jimmy would have no way of knowing what his parents said when he left, of what Bolbi and Butch were talking about, Carl and Sheen's exchange, etc).
Here we have a very important aspect of the Jimmy/Betty/Cindy love triangle- Jimmy feels guilty for explaining to Cindy why he wanted to be with Betty. If nothing else is a clear indicator of his true feelings, there's that.
"...So, uh, why were you at Betty Quinlan's house?"
(Jimmy looks away quickly, shiftily) "Research." (changes the subject)
"So, um, what did you do at Betty's house?"
"Nothing." (looks defensive and annoyed)
"Good." (She stops) "I mean, go. Let's go."
This is such an important point that it comes up twice, including at the end of the episode.
"So, um, what were you doing at Betty Quinlan's house again?"
"I toldyou. Nothing."
"So why were you going there?"
"Why are you cross examining me?"
"Oh! So you admit you had a reason!"
"Cindy, you don't know anything!"
(They commence arguing as the screen fades to black)
While it can be argued he's afraid of her (she is quite violent at times), he never acts like he is. He doesn't seem to find her intimidating (except when she yells at him in certain episodes, like "Sheen's Brain") and fear would more than likely prompt a different reaction. Besides, if he were afraid of her, he wouldn't have explained the entire story. He would have omitted the part about Betty since he knew it'd upset her.
It isn't just that he spent time with Betty, but, like I said, that he feels guilty about it. Moreover, the only reason he spent time with her and pursued her is because Cindy was out of the picture temporarily. Would he have spent more time with her if Cindy was gone completely? Maybe...but maybe not. Extra time with Betty Quinlan isn't necessarily good for him, as "Vanishing Act" shows.
In "Vanishing Act", Jimmy designs a magical show for Betty. This is different from Jimmy's normal behavior, where he'll design something to refute Cindy's statements, for himself, or for his friends and family. This is part and parcel of a lie, just to impress her, and it shows how Betty can bring out the more negative aspects of Jimmy's personality- namely, that he would lie and demean himself to get her attention.
In terms of Jimmy and Cindy interaction, this episode doesn't contain that much, despite the fact they're both in the same episode. They do snap at each other, but it's mostly an example of Betty seeing what Libby has already seen. Betty realizes that Jimmy and Cindy have a thing and graciously (or not so graciously, considering how miffed she sounded) steps aside so Cindy can have him. Either this is the behavior of someone who didn't really like Jimmy to begin with...or someone who realizes Cindy is a dangerous enemy to have. Take your pick.
This leads directly into our next section: Jimmy/Betty.
Jimmy/Betty: Parental Redux
"Ooh, ooh, I know! Because Betty Quinlan likes magic and Jimmy likes Betty Quinlan!"- Carl
"That's not true! I've always been fascinated by prestidigitation!"- Jimmy, "Vanishing Act"
You may be wondering why I called it that. It's simple, really. People often accuse children of being miniature versions of their parents. If we accept this, then Jimmy would be a mini Hugh, which would lead his counterpart to be Betty. (None of Cindy's traits, aside from protectiveness, really manifest in Judy). Betty Quinlan, as the nurturing, supportive yet unobtrusive girl Jimmy likes, is almost like his mother. Betty is kind, considerate, and pays attention to him. Unlike Cindy, she never pushes too hard and she even reminds Cindy in "Vanishing Act" that Jimmy is doing all he can (and then she pets him behind the ear like a dog...)
Betty Quinlan, like Jimmy's parents, is a background character. She supports him but she isn't there, taking part in his adventures, nor is she really aware of what's going on (with the exception of "Vanishing Act"). Being in Jimmy's periphery is not the best spot, as even when you're right in front of his face, he's liable to ignore you (something
Cindy can attest to).
Since Betty's character is far less developed than Jimmy's parents (her sole characteristic seems to be that Jimmy has a crush on her), we'll have to take some liberties with our analogy. For the sake of argument, let's say that Jimmy and Betty are similar enough to Jimmy's parents that this works. Then all the Jimmy/Betty shippers would have a point, wouldn't they?
Betty is not abrasive like Cindy. She's not cruel, she doesn't lash out (except with due reason in "Vanishing Act"), and she certainly doesn't have anger issues. She's much more placid and calm, like Jimmy's mother, and she could be said to mellow him out. By all respects, shouldn't that make her the perfect girlfriend?
Aside from the fact that this is a Jimmy/Cindy manifesto, I'll say it. No. While at first blush it seems like a good pairing, it fails for a multitude of reasons. For one thing, Jimmy and Betty are not a reproduction of the Neutrons and while Hugh is very easy going and tractable, Jimmy is not. Jimmy is independent, headstrong, and, at times, only trusts himself ("Win, Lose, and Kaboom"). Hugh trusts everyone.
Now, you might still be wondering how this applies to Jimmy and Betty. Well, aside from the fact Betty makes Jimmy gaga and shuts off thinking, in this analogy, Jimmy needs someone more than a nurturing but very passive presence. Betty hasn't inspired Jimmy to create anything useful, just a lie to impress her. Betty also hasn't done much as a character for Jimmy- if she were as significant to him as she appears to be, he'd have thought about her a lot more often than the episodes she's actually in. (This is debatable, so we'll leave it at that).
Betty's passivity is a problem for another reason. Betty isn't Jimmy's first love. Cindy isn't either. Science is. Anyone who dates and later marries Jimmy will have to be a mistress to Jimmy's scientific adoration. Betty Quinlan doesn't look up to the task- while she'd probably stand by him, that's all she'd do. She wouldn't fight to insert herself into his work, she wouldn't keep him from overdoing it, and she would just be a presence, nothing else.
There's another reason Jimmy and Betty won't work, which brings us to a quote from "One of Us".
"Why don't you come to my house and watch it with me?"
"Beset once again by scientific curiosity, I was willing to give the
show another shot."
(He stares in the window at the Happy Show Show, rolls his eyes, and says), "Betty's worth it, Betty's worth it."
Yeah, okay, 'scientific curiosity'. I'll refrain from my snide comment and simply say that when it comes to Betty Quinlan, his brain shuts off. Cindy, by contrast, stimulates more than just down under. Jimmy needs someone who can be active in more than one area of his life, because Jimmy's life involves science so heavily, anything involving hormones is only skin deep.
Beyond the fact Jimmy and Cindy is canon, we can also see quite well that Jimmy manages to keep his wits about him around Cindy (more or less). He manages to remain himself, without lying or resorting to underhanded tactics, and they work together quite well. Betty and Jimmy, by contrast, could work together, but lack the spark. There's nothing exciting about them, nothing that suggests anything more than a sedate, comfortable relationship. Jimmy doesn't live in a comfort zone, no matter how hard people want to believe he does.
I don't say any of this to beleaguer the Jimmy/Betty fans. I fully admit Cindy has a cruel streak and can be quite nasty when provoked. I fully admit that there's a distinct possibility that Betty does like Jimmy and has to put it aside because Cindy would destroy her. Cindy's vices may, to the right people, make her look very unattractive, particularly as Jimmy's future girlfriend. I only say that if Jimmy/Betty were to exist in any capacity, unless you remove Cindy from the picture, it won't work. Cindy is too possessive, insecure, and demanding.
There's also the matter of how well Jimmy and Betty would work out in the long run, but I've battered the pairing enough.
Food for thought. Or thought for food.
Again, I admit that a full examination of their relationship is beyond the scope of this article (which is officially longer than any paper I had to hand in this term). I hope I've hit the high points- I know I missed "Lady Sings the News" in depth, but that one goes without saying.
Jimmy and Cindy, as a case of two forces colliding, make an interesting couple, to say the least. Both are rather complex characters, particularly Cindy, and both have more than a flat, one dimensional dynamic like Jimmy and Betty would. While they may not be the ideal couple (as some think Jimmy/Betty is), they are the best the show has to offer, and, what, in general, may make the show so appealing. It's also worth noting that they are eleven when the show ends and have plenty of room to evolve and work together more successfully.
It would have been very interesting to see how Jimmy and Cindy interacted in the "good future", but we'll never know. We can only speculate, as I've begun to do here. I hope you've enjoyed this, because it took a great deal of time and research. Hate mail/love letters can be sent at email@example.com <mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org>.