I was actually really excited to recap this special. In fact, I mentioned it way back in April 2012 but I was holding off until I got a special reaction GIF and then I swore I already recapped this but I went through my archive to double check and I guess it never happened. Until now.
I should be studying for my midterms but fuck that, I just remembered how great this special is. I wish they’d show it more often.
Our special opens with Muffy and Francine watching the Backstreet Boys music video for ‘I Want It That Way’. There is a brief moment where we see their “real world” selves before they shift and become animated like Arthur characters.
Muffy is a huge fangirl for them:
That is the reactionary GIF I wanted to use btw.
She imagines chasing them around in their music video, telling them that she wants it that way too even the point of the song is that the Backstreet Boys DON’T want to hear you say, “I want it that way.”
God, Muffy. What kind of fan girl are you?
Muffy’s fantasies are interrupted by Francine and she tells Francine to shut up because she’s “busy”. Busy fantasizing about Nick.
Francine tells her that the Backstreet Boys are rotting her brain and Muffy tells her to shut up because they’re awesome and they’re coming into town for a concert.
Francine rolls her eyes and concedes that maybe they were good once but now they’re just sell outs.
First of all, the Backstreet Boys were always sell outs. They were organized by Lou Perlman who placed an ad in Florida looking for a music group to mold and manufacture.
Second of all—oh, wait. I really don’t have a second of all. They were sell outs from the beginning to the end and we loved them regardless.
Muffy thinks they are cute and it is here where Muffy begins to explore her sexuality. Francine doesn’t give a shit about whether they are cute because she hasn’t hit puberty and may or may not be confirming those lesbian rumors.
Muffy tells Francine that if she had a band, she’d sell out too so let’s just shut up and try to understand what the tingling in her loins means. Francine insists that if she had a band, they would do nothing but make really good music and would quit before she went on TV and danced.
Except here Francine is confusing “selling out” as in compromising your values to feed the corporate machine with actually being successful and getting exposure for your music. This won’t end badly, at all.
Francine snarks that if she had a band, they’d be ten times better than the “Blobstreet Boys”.
Prunella and Muffy bitch about Francine not liking the Backstreet Boys and find out that Francine is holding auditions for a rock band to prove Muffy wrong. Arthur and Buster are excited and want to join because if they get famous, they’ll get to travel the world and not have to do their homework anymore. D.W. wants to be rich and famous too so she insists on trying out too.
Francine cuts her and she even has a gong to bang when she wants people to shut up. Damn, Francine is a regular Simon Cowell. And she’s cold—she cut Buster and Arthur too.
At the end of the day, Francine auditioned 14 people and the only decent person was the lunch lady Mrs. McGrady. Mrs. McGrady suggests that instead of holding auditions for people to come to her, she should go to the people.
They draft Binky because he’s the best musician even though he plays the clarinet. She promises him snacks and he is all in. Binky suggests Molly because she can play guitar. Francine tries to get her to join by playing the “You can stay here and do nothing or come with me and be awesome” card but Binky gets Molly to join by mentioning snacks.
You can get anyone to join anything if you promise good free food.
Arthur and Buster watch jealously and decide to form their own band to spite Francine.
In the first practice, Francine lays out the rules for the band: 1) They hate all bands that sell out. 2) They don’t care about fame or money. 3) Francine is in charge.
Binky asks about their name and Francine says they’ll worry about it later and should just start practicing. Francine apparently composed their music, which is impressive for an eight year old, but didn’t finish writing all the lyrics.
It’s funny because the song is about loving music and blasts the “pretty boys” and “Barbie girls” who manufacture music but then says that if you like them, that’s okay or whatever.
Also, in a rare form of continuity, Francine cannot sing well as she plays the drums. She is no Karen Carpenter.
The next day, the band holds an intervention and suggest Francine step down as the lead singer and they get Fern Walters instead.
Francine is a bitch about it, naturally. She tells Fern to sing “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” for all she cares and Fern does so…AND SLAYS IT.
Molly and Binky teach Fern the song in the middle of the Sugar Bowl and people applaud for them.
Principal Haney calls in Francine to talk about her band, which still doesn’t have a name. He asks her to perform at the PTA Spring Fundraiser and she says yes. He asks if they know Barry Manilow.
At band rehearsals, Molly is annoyed Francine said yes to a concert even if they don’t have a name yet. They rehearse their song and an angry neighbor tells them that they “stink” and Francine decides their band will be named “U Stink”.
At the PTA Rally, the kids perform and Principal Haney is scandalized by the name. Oh come on, they’re a bunch of eight year olds and one lunch lady in a pop band not a Spanish death metal band called “Fuck Off” (a real band, by the way).
The band plays their only song “Nothing But the Music” and it rocks, y’all.
Everyone is excited about the reaction but Francine is a totally Debbie Downer and warns them that “stuffy like this can ruin us.”
At D.W.’s preschool, everyone is showing off their autographs and D.W. gets the idea to sell trading cards. At school, Francine is called to the principal’s office again and it turns out the cable access news want to interview her and the band during recess.
The interviewer asks Francine how the band plans to capitalize on their success and this pisses Francine off and she goes on a rant about how music isn’t about fame and fortune but having something to say and swears that U Stink will NEVER sell out.
Damn, she’s like a regular Johnny Rotten. Francine’s pretty punk rock except the Sex Pistols also were formed with corporate intent (to help Malcolm McLaren sell a new style of clothing to youth).
The interviewer is like, “Ohhhhkay kid” and asks her cameraman if he got all of that and it turns out he forgot to press record.
Francine brags about how she turned down to perform the library book sale and Fern is upset. Francine says that it’s her band so she’ll decide what they want and this fame thing is getting out of hand anyway. In a reference to A Hard Day’s Night, they run away from their adoring fans but Binky and Fern decide to stop running and sign autographs.
Francine catches a ride with Muffy and Muffu asks to be in the band as “the cute one”.
Meanwhile, Arthur and Buster add George to their band and decide to call themselves “We Stink” in a bid to make Francine jealous. Meanwhile, D.W. is upset because she has to refund everybody their money for the trading cards because she misspelled everyones’ name.
Fern, however, doesn’t care and imagines being a huge rock sensation with everyone screaming her name. Francine yells that it’s her band and Fern is all:
It’s really creepy, actually. Fern has the potential to be a narcissistic Mean Girl if we let her.
Catherine calls Francine over to the TV where the band is getting interviewed. Fern proclaims that they love the Backstreet Boys and hope to make it big.
At rehearsal, Francine yells at them for talking to the interviewer without her because people like that want them to sell out. Fern mutters under her breath passive aggressively and when Francine is all, “What did you say, bitch?” Fern is all, “It’s not selling out to sign a few autographs and get attention and be popular you C U Next Tuesday!”
They consult Mrs. McGrady who is all, “Let’s just play music, yo”. Binky is in favor of selling out so he can get money to buy new pants. Francine is enrage and announces that she is dissolving U Stink.
Fern snarks, “Are we supposed to melt or something?”
Francine decides to quit and yells that the band stinks. Mrs. McGrady tries to get Francine to come back but Fern decides to book them for the library book sale.
Francine and Fern exchange “die bitch” looks in class and it turns out the band just replaces Francine with a drum machine.
Prunella and Muffy gossip about Francine leaving the band and the upcoming Backstreet Boys concert. Muffy tosses out her trading cards of Francine and Francine has a nightmare about a Behind the Music special about U Stink where they go on to enormous fame and fortune (even the drum machine that replaced her gets fangirls) whereas she is stuck selling concessions at concerts.
The Tibbles come by and ask her where Fern lives so they can get their autographs touched up and Francine tells them to fuck off. Her dad asks her why she’s so mad at Fern. Francine says it’s because Fern stole her band and she had to quit because they were selling out. Oliver points out there are ways to play good music and get famous while keeping artistic integrity. He also tells her to calm the fuck down and go make amends.
Meanwhile, We Stink is rehearsing and they, true to their name, suck like a vacuum. At least they’re aware of it. They’re more punk rock than Francine will ever be.
At an actual U Stink rehearsal, they talk about how they need to come up with a second song. Fern wrote some lyrics but everyone disagrees how the music should go. Binky wants an uptempo pop song, Molly wants a hard rock hit, and Fern wants it to be a ballad. All of those styles sound great. They should perform the song three different ways, seriously.
Mrs. McGrady intervenese and tells them to shut the fuck up. They decide to call Muffy to be their manager in hopes she’ll help them write a new song but all Muffy promises to do is make them even more famous.
However, Muffy has ulterior motives: she wants to be a manager in hopes of getting to meet the Backstreet Boys and managing them. She even gets her own duet with the Backstreet Boys called “Manager of Your Dreams”.
At school, Francine calls Fern a traitor and Fern finally gets to say
Francine says people only like Fern because she’s in the band Francine created and Mrs. McGrady intervenes before a catfight ensues.
Mrs. McGrady says Francine needs to shut the fuck up and quit being a bitch over the fact that the band went on without her. And she tells Fern that Francine is a jealous bitch but she can write a hit song so the band needs her.
Just then, Muffy bursts in and tells Fern that they’ll make a music video to send to the Backstreet Boys and that’ll hopefully land them a record deal. She also says that it’s great Fern is in charge now which pisses off Francine again.
At the music video shoot, Muffy explains the concept: the group is being chased by vampires and zombies as they sing the song before they are rescued by Muffy. Then they go travel the world and Muffy does an interpretive dance.
The shoot is going horribly and Francine drops by to talk to George, Buster, and Arthur about joining their group. Muffy watches the video and thinks it’s great even though it’s absolute shit. She imagines Nick Carter watching it and demanding to meet Muffy.
The band has a gig at the preschool and Molly snarks at Muffy behind her back. Binky says that even if the Backstreet Boys called them back, he wouldn’t want to play without Francine. Fern proclaims that they’re just as good without Francine the kids are bored of their one and only hit.
Francine takes over the We Stink rehearsal and wants to fire Buster. He and Arthur quit, promising to form a new band called “She Stinks” that will make crappy songs that talk about what a bitch Francine is. George offers to stay, saying they can be like Sonny and Cher.
Muffy calls the Backstreet Boys line but only gets their automated machine. She asks her dad for advice and he explains that compared to the Backstreet Boys, the Crosswires are “small potatoes”.
The night of the concert, the Interviewer spots the band standing in line and asks about their future plans. Fern tries to be cool but Molly interjects that the band is stuck and doesn’t have any direction. They end up arguing in front of the camera as BInky tries to sing his version fo Fern’s song.
Meanwhile, Muffy slips a twenty to the janitor to make sure Nick takes a separate elevator from the group so she can go in, stop the elevator, and convince him to allow U Stink to tour with them. Nick is understandably creeped out.
Francine is annoyed that she has to come to the concert and Mrs. McGrady tries to talk to her but Francine is a rude bitch.
The Backstreet Boys refuse to go on without Nick; they claim it’s because they are all bros for life but we all know it’s because Nick is the cutest and girls will riot if he is not onstage. A search party ensues as the audience grows restless. Mr. Crosswire figures out Muffy’s plan and orders to her let him go and she agrees except now they’re really stuck in the elevator.
Muffy, however, gets her dad to announce that U Stink will entertain the people until the boys come out. They beg Francine to join them one last time and she gets a little stage fright. One of the Backstreet Boys gives her some encouragement. I don’t remember which one. It’s not Nick so he doesn’t matter.
The remaining Backstreet Boys join the song even though there’s no way they would know all the words but whatever.
Seriously, they even take over from Fern and sing the verses by themselves.
Nick eventually joins them and now that all of the Backstreet Boys are together, they politely ask the kids to run along and play.
The group makes up and Francine acknowledges that it was pretty cool to have all those fans screaming for them. However, only Fern and Francine are interested in continuing the band as Binky doesn’t want to play for large crowds, Molly is getting blisters on her fingers, and Mrs. McGrady wants to spend more time on Bingo.
As Muffy and her dad leave the concert, Muffy is upset that Nick wasn’t the businessman she thought he was. Francine runs over to the Backstreet Boys and admits that she was wrong to call them sell outs and they’re actually pretty good. They’re like, “Thanks, little girl! Now run along and play!”
Howie gives Muffy back her charts and says that they look pretty professional and maybe she’ll be their manager one day. Muffy gets excited and plans a U Stink reunion concert in five years where they can tour with the Backstreet Boys.
Cue the closing credits with the Boys singing the Arthur theme song.
It’s Only Rock n Roll, Arthur!
Does it go there? YES, IT DOES! The Backstreet Boys! Francine being heinous bitch and getting called on it! Original songs! Hell yeah, this episode went there.