"Is College Worth It?" is the second episode of Season 2 and the twelfth episode of China, IL.
The Dean dramatically raises tuition and lowers wages, forcing students and staff to find ways to keep their jobs and/or enrollment.
The Dean announces that he's drastically lowering professors' salaries to minimum wage and increasing tuition. Witnessing this, Pony worries about having to drop out due to her lack of funds, but Baby Cakes plans on combating this by speaking to the Dean about his corruption. In doing so, however, he's turned down, and all of Pony's attempts to find jobs come out as futile.
Also stricken by the Dean's corruption, Frank and Steve attempt to counter their wage reductions by cutting their classes short and picking them up in off-hour time periods at other venues. Still willing to end the Dean's greed, Baby Cakes returns to his office in a Kevin Costner-esque outfit, stealing goods from the office to give to the poor. Thinking he's really Costner, the Dean refuses to stop the incognito man-child as he escapes with the stolen goods.
Pony applies for a loan at a bank but loses interest when she reads about its policies. Exiting, she encounters the disguised Baby Cakes, who offers her stolen material from the Dean, most of which is damaged by now. As Pony rejects the now low-value objects, Baby Cakes rides off to do more "help". Meanwhile, in a forest, the Smiths resume their lesson and charge their students money to attend. Baby Cakes' "help" continues, causing the Dean to grow angrier.
In her apartment, Pony gets an idea to attend college in Mexico, the place where her sister graduated and is debt-free despite being poor. The following day, the Dean reaches his breaking point when his belt is stolen by Baby Cakes. Still believing Baby Cakes is Costner, the Dean offers a reward for the capture of the real Costner. Meanwhile at the Universidad de Mexico, Pony tries to enroll, offering a small sum of money to its dean, who rejects her due to tuition being far higher than the offered cash.
Stuck in Mexico with little cash, Pony calls the Smiths for help, and while they offer little help, they do inform her about the reward for Costner's capture. En route to Hollywood, she runs to the Mexico-U.S. border, she denied reentry to the States. Desperate for this reentry, she takes part in a drug cartel, but her co-smugglers are ambushed and killed, forcing her to feign death to avoid being killed.
The Smiths count up their corrupt earnings, which are swiftly taken by Baby Cakes. The Dean prepares to hunt down Costner, still not aware of Baby Cakes' true identity, and Pony fights her way through a desert with hopes of reaching the States. Later, the Smiths see Baby Cakes trying to spend their earnings as he sees fit, and as a fight between the trio starts, the Dean sees this and chases after the still-incognito Baby Cakes, unaware of his real identity. As Baby Cakes escapes, the Dean holds the Smiths captive in an attempt to attract Baby Cakes to him.
Eventually reaching the real Costner, Pony knocks him out, and Baby Cakes becomes victim to the bait the Dean set up. At a motel, Pony explains to Costner her intention, he shows her understanding of this but is unaware of his upcoming hanging. As Baby Cakes' execution is about to take place at UCI, Pony and Costner make their way there, and there, Costner discovers that he's wanted, though through no fault of his own. Wanting Pony to continue her education, Costner hangs himself in Baby Cakes' stead, giving Pony the reward money, which she promptly submits to the registration booth.
- The jobs for which Pony tries to apply, and the staff who beat her to them:
- This is the first time Falgot's family appears.
- This episode heavily references Robin Hood, especially the 1991 movie Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.
- In exchange for a churro, Pony offers the Mexican vendor MXN 30, which is approximately USD 2.30.
- Crystal confesses to hating working at UCI during the Dean's web cast at the start of the episode.
- The Dean calls his assistant his "weird-ass mute," a reference to the fact that the assistant never speaks in the series.
- The Dean reduces professors' wages to minimum wage and increases tuition to $500,000 per year.
- In this episode, the sign on the Bank of China, IL has a comma before IL, but in "Parent's Day", the sign lacks the comma.
- Pony's method of entry into Mexico remains unknown.
- Baby Cakes disguises himself as Robin Hood and briefly Clark Kent.
- The Dean never realizes that Baby Cakes is in disguise, not even at the end, when the Dean takes off Baby Cakes' wig.
- From "Secret Society", Pony's job at Turkey Gobblers never reappears or is mentioned.
- Even though a new semester began in the previous episode, another new semester begins in this episode. However, "The Perfect Lecture" is eleventh in terms of production, while this episode, despite having aired twelfth, is sixteenth in terms of production.
Running Gags Edit
- The Dean smashes windows with laptops.
- The Dean: [About deans at other colleges] I can't be outdone by those tiny-assed assholes.
- Gale: I always wanted for you to always want a second job.
- [The Dean explains tuition fees will increase while professors' wages decrease.]
- Frank: Come on! This is just a joke, right?
- The Dean: This is not a joke! I'm the sheriff in this town! Abide by my rules or suffer the consequences! [Voice echoing] Consequences! Consequences!
- Pony: Gotta think. Get drunk, then think.
- Frank: You know what curiosity does to the cat. It gets her drunk and kisses her privates.
- The Dean: [Speaking to the workmen renovating his office] Just use the most expensive décor. Have my assistant pick it. Where is that weird-ass mute?
- Pony: El problemo el solvedo.
- Mexican Dean: I think I know what's going on here. You waddled your fat cat American ass down here, thinking that Mexico was as dirty and cheap as Selena Gomez.
- Pony: I didn't—waddle.
- Mexican Dean: Miss, this is a university. It costs thousands of dollars, not dozens.
- Pony: Costner equals money, and money equals staying in school.
- Pony: [Howling] Schooooooool!
- The Dean: Hot wings in my eyes!
- Pony: Kevin Costner, I said no talking!
- Pony: Gotta move, JFK.
- Kevin Costner: I wasn't JFK; I was just in it.
- College Registrar: $500,000? Is college really worth it?
- Pony: Yes.
Characters Appearing Edit
- Anne Hong
- Baby Cakes
- Chinese Precious
- Flip Flop
- Kevin Costner
- Matt Attack
- Pony's Mother (mentioned)
- Stacy Megan
- Sweater Beard
- The Dean
- The Dean's Assistant
|"The Perfect Lecture"||"Do You Know Who You Look Like?"|
|Pilots||"China, IL: The Funeral" • Unaired Pilot|
|Season 1||"Rewind, Pause, Pay!" • "Dean vs. Mayor" • "Baby Boom" • "Coming Out of the Casket" • "Secret Society" • "Prom Face/Off" • "Frankensteve" • "Chinese New Year" • "Dream Reamer" • "Dean's List"|
|Season 2||"The Perfect Lecture" • "Is College Worth It?" • "Do You Know Who You Look Like?" • "The Diamond Castle" • "Kenny Winker Rules" • "China-Man Begins" • "Total Validation" • "Surfer God" • "Prank Week" • "Wild Hogs"|
|Season 3||"A Gentleman's Bet" • "Best Face Forward" • "Charlize" • "Crow College" • "Bi-Topping-Ality" • "Parent's Day" • "Displays of Manhood" • "Life Coaches" • "Gummie World" • "Magical Pet"|