It seems to me that when Lynn finally makes good on her promise to go to straight reprints, the first plotline that will greet our eyes is the one with the pointless row about John's inconsiderate and ill-timed purchase of a stereo. The interesting thing about it is that it can be used as a tidy little summary of what is wrong with these awful people. If you'll indulge me, I'd like to give you a blow-by-blow account of the arc so I can demonstrate what I'm talking about:
- We start things in creaky motion by noticing that the electric can opener that John and Elly got when they were first starting out gave up the ghost; that's because, like most of their appliances, it was pretty much clapped out when they got it because they were sooooooo pooooor. (This could explain the endless laundry, come to think of it; the washer-dryer just can't do the job right.)
- When Elly got to the store to buy a new one, her lack of awareness of what things cost made her think that the twenty bucks she'd have spent on it was too much so she decided to go broke saving money by buying a manual one, all the while crowing about how she was saving money.
- When she got home, the stereo showed up and she was in a blind rage because he spent all that money when they were 'reduced' to opening cans by hand; since it was her idea to do so, it seems sort of asinine and hypocritical to blame that on him but that's Elly for you.
- He really didn't help matters much by saying that since it was his money, he could do what he wanted with it, though; not that we could expect better of the insensitive clodhopper, of course.
- To be fair, he tried pulling his foot out of his mouth but it didn't work; Elly was adamant about how he'd wronged her by having no idea that she wanted to cheap-ass her way through life.
- Annie called her on her bullshit by reminding her that if she needs appliances, all she'd have to do was ask; Elly deflected that by essentially saying that he had no right to believe her when she said she only wanted practical things.
- Her next move was to accept what she thought John's premise was (since he was the breadwinner, he had final say over what got bought) and pull a childish trick (handing him a bill after supper) to remind him that what she did also had value. At no point did she remember that it was refund season and that John probably bought the damned thing with his annual check from Ottawa.
- While he at one point mulled over returning the stereo (only to reject the idea because it wouldn't work), John bought her a new appliance to try to prove to her that he wanted her life to be better. As expected, she accepted it in the most graceless manner possible; simply put, a new appliance equated to her being victimized.