Polishing Rhonda

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"Polishing Rhonda" is an episode in the Hey Arnold! TV series.


Rhonda attends a finishing school that is far from impressed with her self-centered attitude, and seeks help from fellow student Big Patty.


At school, Rhonda models her new candy apple red Caprini platform boots for her classmates. She sticks out her left foot to show that they were custom-made for her in Milan. Just then, Big Patty walks by and trips over Rhonda's foot, accidentally scuffing the boot. Big Patty apologizes, but Rhonda yells at her for ruining her boot, shoves her and calls her a neanderthal. Big Patty loses her temper and pushes Rhonda up against the lockers. She is just about to punch Rhonda when Principal Wartz breaks them up and calls their parents. Later that night, Rhonda explains to her parents what happened (leaving out the part where she provoked Big Patty). Her parents announce they are sending her to the Young Sophisticate After-School Polishing Academy for Boys and Girls, because all the Lloyds have attended and they want Rhonda to meet more people like herself. Rhonda is thrilled. Meanwhile, Big Patty's parents tell her that they're worried about her and that they've enrolled her in the Polishing Academy as well because they want her to make new friends. Big Patty is less enthusiastic.

The next day, Rhonda (wearing a new dress and sweater) and Big Patty go to the finishing school. They are surprised to see each other, but Rhonda tells Big Patty to stay away from her. Madame Parvenu, the instructor, greets the students and explains the jist of the school. The first activity she assigns the students is to pretend they are at a party and need to get through a crowd of people to the punch bowl. Rhonda goes first and rudely elbows people out of her way. Big Patty, on the other hand, politely says "Excuse me" and the students move to let her through. The next activity is to pretend they are at a tea party with Madame Parvenu. Rhonda says she loves tea parties, but only if they are set to her liking. When it's Big Patty's turn, she asks Madame Parvenu if she would like more tea and courteously pours it for her. Then the students are asked to bring a special object of personal value. Rhonda brings her remaining platform boot and brags about how expensive it is. Big Patty brings socks she and her mother made together last winter. Throughout these activities, Madame Parvenu writes notes about the students on her clipboard.

After the students show their objects, Madame Parvenu gives them their preliminary performance evaluations to show them how they're doing so far in the class. To her delight, Big Patty's report says that she is courteous, a good listener and practical. To her shock and horror, Rhonda's report says that she is pushy, self-obsessed and materialistic. Rhonda goes to Madame Parvenu's office and claims there is a mistake, because her family has attended and donated to the academy for generations. Madame Parvenu says her heritage won't cover up her performance in the class and she will fail if she doesn't change her attitude. That night at dinner, Rhonda lies and says she might graduate first in the polishing class to cover up her terrible progress report. The next day in class, Big Patty tells Madame Parvenu that she always carries heavy groceries for her mom and volunteers at homeless shelters. Madame Parvenu says she is a very helpful person and may even be valedictorian of the class. Hearing this, Rhonda decides to be more like Big Patty so she won't fail the class and bring shame to her family. She asks Big Patty if she'll show her what to do and even begs on her hands and knees. Big Patty reluctantly agrees.

Big Patty teaches Rhonda to say "excuse me" if someone is in her way, to not talk about herself so much and how to knit socks. Big Patty is impressed with Rhonda's change in behavior and says they've hit it off well. As Rhonda leaves Big Patty's house, Arnold walks by and asks if she and Big Patty are friends. Rhonda denies that they are friends. Rhonda does everything Big Patty taught her during the finals and passes. Big Patty asks Rhonda if she would like to sleep over at her house that weekend, but Rhonda declines and says that they don't need to hang out anymore since finals are over. Big Patty looks really heartbroken because she loved hanging out with Rhonda. At graduation, Rhonda is named valedictorian. Big Patty's parents are proud of her for making a friend and ask when Rhonda will spend the night. Big Patty lies and says she hasn't asked her yet. Rhonda overhears her and feels guilty for turning her down.

At P.S. 118, Rhonda shows off a pearl necklace her parents gave her as a graduation present and nearly slips back into her materialistic behavior, but corrects herself when she sees Big Patty sadly walking out of a classroom. During lunch, a popular sixth grade girl models her new cowboy boots to Connie and Simone. Big Patty accidentally trips over the girl's foot (like how she did with Rhonda) and falls into her tray of food. She apologizes, but the popular girl yells at her and makes fun of her. Big Patty raises her fist to punch her, but Rhonda, who saw the whole thing, intervenes. She defends Big Patty as her friend and makes the popular girl apologize. Rhonda and Big Patty sit together at lunch and Rhonda says that she would love to come to her house to sleep over that weekend.

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