With each episode, Jake Ballard is discovering new levels of the friend zone. Levels we didn’t know exist. Levels we didn’t know were possible to exist. Levels that disrupt our understanding of the friend zone, and force us to reassess our concepts of time, space, dimensions, and cunnilingus. To merely call him a friend zone pioneer is like calling Toni Morrison a great typist. He stretches our imaginations and bends what we considered to be reality. He is Neo in the hallway, and the friend’s zone is Agent Smith wondering what just happened to his spleen.
This passage is from “The Levels Of The Friend Zone, Brought To You By Scandal’s Jake Ballard.” It was written last year, right when Scandal’s latest season began. But, as last night’s episode showed, Jake managed to find even more levels to this shit this season. He is a friend zone maven. A grand master. A motherfucking connoisseur. Blue balled kids will tell tales about him at lonely-ass campfires for generations to come. Not only is he the Basquiat of the friend zone and the Neil Degrasse Tyson of lowered expectations, he’s the Klay Thompson of phone call guilt trips.
Anyway, Jake’s friend zone spaghettification me thinking: Who’d be on the friend zone Mt. Rushmore? Obviously, Jake would get prime placement — shit, he might even get his own mountain — but who’d be the other three next to him?
Milhouse Mussolini Van Houten
The kid with the world’s second most famous eyebrows, Milhouse’s decades-long unrequited crush on Lisa Simpson actually has more levels than Jake Ballard’s. Granted, the Simpsons are a cartoon, giving them a certain flexibility with plotlines like “Milhouse falls off a cliff, but gives saved by a bald eagle” and “Milhouse reveals he’s allergic to his own tears” that just couldn’t happen in Shondaland, but you still have to acknowledge how difficult it must be to be a friend zoned fourth grader for your entire life.
Erica Adams (aka Hazel E)
Never has there been a more sad character on a reality TV show. Not just because of her cringingly unrequited love for Yung Berg, but the fact that she’s love with Yung Berg, the human equivalent of mouth gout. She is the reason why fathers need to hug their daughters, daughters need to listen to their fathers, and free range chickens lay more eggs.
I do not care that Eric Clapton and Pattie Boyd eventually married. All that matters is that when Boyd was married to Clapton’s best friend (George Harrison from the Beatles), he was so in love with her — and so upset that she was married to his freakin best friend — that he recorded and created an entire fucking album for her. Included on this album was Layla, which just happened to include arguably one of the best, and certainly one of the most famous, piano performances of the 20th century. Definitely enough for Mt Rushmore.
***Honorable Mention: Steve Urkel, Ser Jorah Mormont from Game of Thrones, every female character in every teen movie made between 1981 and 1999 who happened to have glasses***