The Cheerleader is the second episode of season one.
Trying to save her job, Frankie organizes a publicity stunt by filling a car with jelly beans. Meanwhile, Sue fails to make the swim team and realizes that she needs glasses and Brick starts reading his mother's romance novels when he can't check books out of the library.
As we’ve come to learn, Mike Heck is brutally honest. He doesn’t sugarcoat things. Ever! So it’s usually up to Frankie to pick up the pieces whenever reality hits hard. She’s like the family cheerleader.
As Frankie sorts through the daily mail, it suddenly dawns on her that it’s 2009. It seems the Heck family purchased a wide variety of household items that didn’t require payment until 2009. And like we said, it’s 2009! Frankie is optimistic though. She feels they’ll be fine as long as the dryer holds out and she finally sells a car. Too bad the dryer dies and Frankie is currently “minus one” in the car sales department.
The family must cut corners, which means a trip to the Frugal Hoosier, Indiana’s best “expired food” store. When it comes to the meat sold at this place, everything must go—today! But the grocery shopping is cut short when Bob calls to tell Frankie she has to come into work early for an emergency meeting.
The kids have their own issues. Sue is psyched to try out for the swim team and needs someone to take her to the pool. Brick desperately wants to check out a book from the library. Unfortunately, Frankie’s library card shows a fine of $189 and, as we know, the funds are low. So Brick is bookless for now. Axl is being punished for lying to his folks. For two weeks, he must stay within five feet of a parent at all times.
At the emergency meeting, Frankie’s boss asks for ideas to help the car dealership. While shopping at the Frugal Hoosier, Frankie noticed the Ronald Reagan inaugural jellybeans were on sale. She suggests to her boss that they fill a car with jellybeans as part of a “guess how many are in there” contest. The boss likes the idea and decides not to fire Frankie until at least next week.
Mike takes all the kids to the pool. Axl is still doing the five-foot thing by sitting next to his dad and Brick doesn’t want to go in the water because “swimming’s no fun without a book.” Sue, however, is jazzed to do her laps. Too bad her sense of direction is so lousy that she keeps hitting her head on the wall.
Sue is crushed because Mike says she should absolutely NOT try out for the swim team. Told ya he was brutally honest. But this doesn’t sit well with Frankie, who wants him to cheer her on no matter how bad she sucks at swimming. Sue discovers she needs glasses after an eye test at school. This could explain why she’s so clumsy. Of course, glasses cost money. Fortunately, the Frugal Hoosier has an optical department. Unfortunately, there are no mirrors.
At the dealership, a car is filled with jellybeans. Unfortunately, no one bothered to count them before they shut the driver’s side door. Brick saves the day by giving them a really large number that sounds like it could be true. Frankie feels her boy deserves a book after bailing her out, so she hits the library again and cons a kid into checking one out on his card. The promotion is a huge success until they open the door to discover all the jellybeans have coagulated into one giant stuck-together lump. It appears Frankie is now “negative two” in auto sales.
Things go from bad to worse when Frankie shows up at the pool. New glasses don’t help Sue with her swimming. She’s lousy even with solid eyesight. She crashes into Brick who drops that borrowed library book into the water. Then, a tornado hits. You heard us...a tornado!
Back in the Heck family basement, Frankie has a total meltdown. She can’t be the family cheerleader anymore. They can’t afford a new dryer, they can’t afford expired food and she never should have ordered that LCD light-up angel that was supposed to be a surprise at Christmas. But then Mike looks at her and says, “Frankie, we’ll make it through.” And since Mike is always brutally honest, Frankie realizes it must be the truth. She says via voiceover, “Wow, who knew I was living with my own personal cheerleader.” Loved it.
The storm ends and things start looking up immediately. The family steps outside to a beautiful site. Sitting on their front lawn is a brand new dryer. Yes, the tornado gave them a dryer. And when the mail comes they discover that some stupid bank actually approved them for a new credit card. No payments till 2012!