Becoming Donna Reed

Season 1: Episode 20 – Have Fun


Episode opens with Mary examining her reflection. She tells Donna how ugly and awkward she feels. She is in quite a fit of adolescent self-loathing. Donna asks her why she is so worked up and Mary tells her she has a date with an older boy. It was supposed to be a double date, but the other couple cancelled. Mary is a nervous wreck.

They get Mary ready in a lovely dress and go downstairs. Donna tries to get Alex and Jeff to help bolster Mary’s eg,o but they won’t play. Mary reconsiders her outfit and goes to change. The doorbell rings. Donna greets Herbie, Mary’s date, at the door; he is proper and distinguished looking. Donna goes to help Mary finish dressing and Herbie sits with Alex. They attempt conversation, but it is very awkward conversation.

Mary comes down and after a very stilted exchange she and Herbie decide to go to a movie. They leave and Donna and Alex head up to bed. Donna wants to wait up but Alex wants to go to sleep. Donna hears the door and runs downstairs. Mary is in tears, the date was awful. She felt awkward and no one said anything.

Donna tells Mary about her first date with Alex. It was New Years Eve and Alex took her to a party at a fancy hotel. She wore a borrowed dress that didn’t fit, she was tripping over things, and Alex kept leaving the table to make phone calls. It was clear to her that he wished he were with another girl. They danced and she kept tripping over his feet. When the clock struck midnight he didn’t kiss her, he ran over to see a buddy and Donna overheard him telling the buddy the he “Was stuck…” Donna left alone.

Mary goes to her bedroom and Donna returns to Alex. He asks how Mary is and then decides to go check on her. He tries to comfort her by relaying his version of he and Donna’s first date. It was New Years Eve and Alex took her to a party at a fancy hotel. He wore a borrowed tuxedo that didn’t fit and he was tripping over things. When they arrived Alex discovered there was a ten-dollar cover charge and he didn’t have the money. He kept leaving the table to make phone calls and see if one of his friends could come loan him cash. It was clear to him that she wished she were with another guy. They danced and he kept tripping over her feet. When the clock struck midnight he wanted to kiss her, but his buddy appeared and Alex ran to see if he could borrow the cash. He began the conversation by telling his buddy the he,”Was stuck…” and ending by wanting to introduce his gorgeous date. Donna had already disappeared.

Mary falls asleep and Alex goes back to Donna. The doorbell rings and they run downstairs. It is Herbie returning Mary’s handkerchief that she had left behind. He and Mary talk and he apologizes for the awkward date. It is clear there is a spark between the two.

Donna and Alex return to bed and discuss their horrible first date. It appears bad dates are a Stone family romantic tradition.


Our worst reviews are always written by ourselves.


I am feeling sappy today. I loved hearing the back story on how Alex and Donna got together. Of course the fact that she fell for a slightly geeky and intimidating man struck a chord with me. I have one of those.

I also am drawn to the idea of romantic traditions or romantic patterns within families. I am fortunate in that my parents have always been a sterling example of the kind of relationship I wanted to have. After 37 years of marriage they still openly adore one another and it has always been that way. I wanted that too.

They met at college. They both attended Plymouth State College (now Plymouth State University) in Plymouth, New Hampshire. It is a lovely little campus of the picturesque New England variety. They were both music education majors their freshman year and met over a piano in music theory class. I always loved the simple romanticism of this story. It is so reflective of the lovely relationship they share.

When it was time for me to go to college I decided on The University of New Hampshire. I applied, was accepted, and put down a deposit. One morning, my dad announced he had taken a personal day and I was playing hooky. He arranged an interview and tour of Plymouth. He just thought I needed to see the campus before I committed to a college. My dad knows me well. We toured the campus and it instantly felt like home. It felt like where I should be. I was quite on the way home. We were not a wealthy family and losing a deposit was a big deal. Dad made the offer. Did I want to swallow the deposit at UNH and go to Plymouth? I did.

I entered Plymouth in the fall of 1993 and dated quite a bit my freshman year. It seemed the family pattern ended at choice of colleges. My sophomore year I was sitting with some girlfriends in the snack bar when a curly haired, Birkenstock wearing, giant leprechaun came to the table. I had noticed him on campus before and thought him adorable. He also was well known on campus. I am of the more quite and bookish persuasion. The conversation turned to the perfect first kiss, actually he turned the conversation there. We went round robin describing our perfect kiss. Mine was the classic cupped face, slow drawing in, and soft meeting of lips. He turned to me, placed a hand on either side of my face, and drew me towards him. “Like this?” he asked with a devilish glint in his eye. That was it for me, I was smitten.

I made excuses to run into him after that and he developed a habit of popping by at odd hours. Right before holiday break we shared our first kiss. It was 1994 and I have not kissed another man since.

Of course, directly after the kiss discussion I was, like Mary, full of trepidation and self-loathing. Was I pretty enough, smart enough, and witty enough for such a wonderful guy? Most days I decided I wasn’t. There are still times I ask myself how I got so lucky to meet such a man and meet him so early in life.

Plan Of Action

Remember, whether in matters professional or matters of the heart, I am often my own worse critic. Others never seem to find me as awkward and inarticulate as I find myself.