“Ivy Vs. Dogg: With A Cast Of Thousands!” by Brian Leung— A Challenge

Leung, Brian. “Ivy Vs. Dogg: With A Cast Of Thousands!”, C&R Press, 2018.

A Challenge

Amos Lassen

In “Ivy Vs. Dogg”, Brian Leung introduces us to teen Ivy Simmons who shocks her small town by daring to challenge hometown boy-hero, Jimmy Doggins, in a showdown election for the title of Junior Mr. Mayor of Mudlick. This is a conversation about how society imagines the correct subject position for a person and does so satirically with the goal of arriving at the fantasy version of correctness. We see that the committee has a received and built vision of gender propriety and “value the young people performing the simulacrum of this vision.” The committee and community (mostly) has long dealt with this kind of thinking.

Ivy Simmons has a longstanding rivalry with Jimmy, “Dogg,” Doggins, high school tennis star, and hometown hero. It comes to a head when the town of Mudlick’s annual Jr. Mr. Mayor election is announced and Ivy becomes the first female ever to run. Mudlick’s busybody leaders, known as “the committee” don’t approve, especially when Ivy reveals that she is pregnant. Displeased with the public debate over what Ivy should do about her unborn child, matriarch Abigail Colton displays a lifelike topiary girl on her front lawn, enchanting all of Mudlick to the point where they fear for the life of this “girl” when Colton also rolls out a topiary of a giant squid. Between this and the election, emotions run high, forcing Ivy and Dogg to make the most adult decision of their young lives.

Brian Leung’s satire of suburban politics and helicopter parenting, laughs at the rules we follow to keep people in their place. In the campaign, the fault lines in community rise to the surface and we see the courage it takes to be not just a candidate but to be being.

Mudlick is filled with characters both human and humane and it is a place where the absurd collides with the status quo and chaos follows. We see who we truly are and how we wish to be seen.

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