Monday, June 15, 2009

Charm School 3 Episode 6: Finding the Right Person to Expel

The new episode of "Charm School" started with two prologues, one distasteful, the other oddly inspiring, in a VH1 reality show kind of way.

First the distasteful: KO tearfully tells Baybaybay that she is manic and implies that she was at some point in the past sexually assaulted. Baybaybay attempts to cheer her up by telling her that she's strong and she can pick herself up, etc. Later, Baybaybay interviews that, "She'll never evolve if she keeps pitying herself."

The initial distaste is directed at the producers of the show, who appear to be exploiting KO's tragic story. Last week, during the "girls'" session with The Fear Liberator, both Risky and Bubbles either admitted outright or implied that they'd suffered sexual assault. Baybaybay told everyone that she had a stalker, and carried a gun. If VH1 wants to do a show examining just what makes their reality competition show contestants the way they are, another reality competition show is not the way to do it. There might be a decent "Frontline" episode in it, but "Charm School with Ricki Lake"? Distasteful.

Later, however, it becomes clear- in a murky sort of way- that this opening is distasteful for another reason. But for now we're left to wonder just how low the producers will sink.

Now, the oddly inspiring: Marcia, having vowed not to drink during the remainder of her stay in Charm School, is up early for a jog around the house where they're staying.

As any viewer of these shows knows, this set-up means that one of the women above will be going home at the elimination ceremony.

This episode's commandment is "Thou Shalt Pull it Together." As Ricki puts it: "In order for these girls to be successful on accomplishing their goals, they're going to have to develop a plan on where they want to be." That is exactly what she said- I'm still trying to figure out if it's grammatically correct, but I suppose it's not important. The sentiment behind it is solid.

But, of course, they have to do something to bitch it up. The way Ricki etc decide to help these "girls" develop a plan on where they want to be" is to subject them to a "Life Coach" called "Mark Edgar Stevens". That is how they spell his name, but it might be "Mark Edgar Stephens," since that's how he spells it on his website. Can VH1 not even get the name of their expert right? He's a credible expert because he's written a book called "Who Are You Choosing to Be," and has appeared on "Oprah" and HGTV. We're not told which HGTV show he's been on- maybe he helped coach someone's garden to grow.

What a warm and approachable life coach! So unintimidating with his jeans, and his casually unbuttoned shirt! And such a charming smile. He must have the answers for the "girls" of Charm School.

He tells them: "What I'm going to help you to do today is to step more fully into the possibility of who you can be in your personal life, in your professional life, in your romantic life, and you don't decide that some day in the future; you decide that right now."

I would beware of taking advice from anyone who speaks in run-on sentences. It means he cannot form a concise thought- and if he can't even plan his sentences properly, why are you taking advice from him on planning your life?

He tells the students he's created a map, and he then displays to them a LIST. This is what he shows them: on a chalkboard he's created the following:

What is Possible?
1. Big Picture
2. Driving Force
3. First Step

This is a LIST, as I've already stated. It is not a map. Moreover, it is totally meaningless. "Big Picture," he explains, is "where you're going." "Driving Force" means "things that make you do what you want to do." "First Step" is "how you get there."

Bret Michaels couldn't get through to Brittanya; Life Coach certainly can't, either.

Brittanya doesn't get it. The reason she doesn't get it is because there is nothing to get. There is nothing to this, it's just some jackass spouting platitudes. But this man's been on "HGTV" and "Oprah," so he must be "deep."

As if to clarify, he asks her "Who is the most important person in your life?"

"My son, obviously," Brittanya answers.

"What does your son feel when he sees you at your best?"

"Really happy."

"So what you want is that you're always showing up at your absolute best. Do you get it?"

Brittanya seems not to get it, which is to be expected because there is absolutely nothing to get. "Try to do your best." That's it. Class dismissed. Get away from this jackass and his empty platitudes.

Finally, Brittanya, who still seems not to get it, says, "Okay, I kinda get it," in that way you say "I kinda get it" when you don't mean it, you just want to move on.

This guy is like Brad Goodman, the self-help guru from "The Simpsons," who said, "There's no trick to it. It's just a simple trick."

When the Charm School producers went looking for a life coach, they were disappointed that Brad Goodman was unavailable.

Ashley's "Big Picture" is becoming a nurse. Her "Driving Force" is her son. "First Step" is going back to school. She cares about her son, and she wants to help people. I have already pointed this out, but here it is again: Stripping fulfills both those requirements, by earning money for her son, and helping people relieve stress and feel happy. She can always wear a nurse's uniform to the club, if she wants to feel better about it.

Life Coach takes one look at Marcia and calls her up to stand beside him. Maybe he's not stupid, after all. No- scratch that- he gets stupid again. Why does Marcia get emotional when she talks about her father's abuse of her mother? Because she feels strongly about it. And is that "passion" enough for her to change her life? Absolutely.

Well, there you go. It's just that easy. Get someone to admit to something painful, that causes them to tear up when they talk about it. Point out that they're tearful. Claim victory.

KO wants to create a charity for foster kids. No one believes it because she's smiling when she talks about it. She explains that when she gets nervous and really opens up to people, she smiles and laughs.

She was not smiling and laughing in the first prologue. But that was an extreme circumstance. Are the producers manipulating us?

Bubbles says she wants to finish school so she can become a social behavioral psychologist, or maybe a teacher. Or do cartoon voices. Or motivate her brother to go back to school. And, she wants to save money for an apartment.

As Ashley interviews: "I think Bubbles is an idiot, I always have thought that, and I just feel bad for her." The fact that she feels bad for her is a positive sign of Ashley's development.

Risky says that her mere presence at Charm School shows that she's trying to open up and not hold so much back, which is her main failing. She's learned something from her run-in with The Fear Liberator last week.

Baybaybay wants to act and sing. She's being honest, which means she might not need Charm School after all. To prove she can sing, she belts out a few bars of the public domain hit "Mary Had a Little Lamb."

Or, if the whole "acting and singing" thing doesn't work out, maybe she can become a "life coach." After all, it's how their own Mark Edgar Stephens got his start, as we learn by checking out the "bio" on his website:

As a child, I dreamed of performing. I wanted to make people laugh and feel good. As an adult, this passion has become my profession. So, I choose to see life from as many perspectives as possible. For many years, I worked all over the world as an actor and singer. From New York City to Los Angeles, from Broadway Tours to International Tours, I was blessed to experience the diversity of multiculturalism on our planet.

They take a bus through downtown LA, and end up at Wilson Family Childcare. The stupid bulls hit they were fed by Life Coach is supposed to empower them to build a playground for the kids to play on.

There they meet Lizette Wilson, who started this daycare center thirteen years ago in an apartment. They grew out of the apartment, needed a backyard, but had no money for equipment once they got that backyard.

Note to the producers: LIZETTE WILSON'S STORY IS INSPIRING. She is a woman who has actually ACCOMPLISHED SOMETHING worthwhile, that helps both HERSELF AND OTHERS. Dump the bulls hit Life Coaches and Fear Liberators and start having people like Lizette come in and talk to the students about their concrete achievements and how they reached them.

I couldn't find any pictures of Lizette Wilson or her day care facility online, so here's a cool picture of the sun.

Anyone can call himself a "Life Coach." He doesn't have to accomplish anything. In fact, if he's so great, then why is he a "Life Coach?" Why isn't he actually doing something?

Anyway, Ricki makes Bubbles and Marcia the team captains, and Bubbles chooses KO and Baybaybay as her team. Marcia is stuck with Risky, Brittanya, and Ashley. The women then spend about an hour figuring out how to put on their tool belts. Apparently, they've learned nothing from Life Coach- they should have used their "map:"

What is Possible?
1. Big Picture - putting on toolbelt
2. Driving Force - hands that put on the toolbelt
3. First Step - putting toolbelt around waist and buckling toolbelt

They had the "tools" the entire time- they just didn't use them.

The "girls" work into the night, but neither team is able to complete the playsets (they don't even get past "Big Picture"), so everyone's up for expulsion. That is as it should be on every episode.

However, and this is important, this is how the show works. The rule is, when a team wins a challenge, the members of that team get immunity. If there's no winner, then no one gets immunity. Everyone is up for expulsion. The students get to decide, by their vote, which three students will be eligible for expulsion. Everyone has agreed to these rules. The deans, the students, the viewers, everyone.

Sticking to the rules you've agreed to at the beginning is charming.

That is important.

That night, Ricki invites the students to dinner, where Ricki asks Marcia why she's so quiet. Again, Marcia mentions that it's difficult to watch others drink, when her own pledge not to drink is still so new. Charmingly, no one else offers to not drink, in a show of solidarity with Marcia in this difficult time.

I think Ricki would have liked that.

Ricki says she will answer any question any of them want to ask- no topic is off limits. Well, Baybaybay says she's thinking about having kids, and she wants to know what childbirth is like.

This is convenient, because of course Ricki just so happens to have produced and starred in a documentary about childbirth.

Ricki Lake made a documentary about herself giving birth. It might be available on dvd, but I'm not sure because, before she had a chance to mention it, the conversation was hijacked by KO.

Baybaybay continues by saying that she's had dreams in which she's died in labor, and it worries her. Ricki is about to mention her documentary on childbirth, when KO hijacks the conversation.

Her own mother, she says, died in labor.

Has anything that's not absolutely horrible ever happened to KO?

Ricki has to stop everything and get to the bottom of this, and KO is the center of the table's conversation. She explains that the mean old bureaucrats from social services never told her the exact circumstances of what killed her mother. She just doesn't know what her mother's condition was. She goes on to talk about how that has affected her life.

Of course it would affect anyone. It would affect anyone profoundly. No one at the table disputes that.

Nonetheless, there is some eye rolling at the table, mostly from Ashley and Marcia, who are resentful of the fact that KO is monopolizing their Ricki Time.

Once again we're left to wonder, are Ashley and Marcia really that bad? Or are the producers manipulating us? Or is it both?

Ricki then goes around the table and asks everyone who they think should win, other than themselves.

Risky picks KO
Baybaybay picks KO
Marcia picks Bubbles
Brittanya picks Ashley
Ashley picks Brittanya
KO picks Risky
Bubbles either isn't asked, or had no opinion. The producers don't bother to show us her response. But then, based on her answer to the Life Coach's stupid question, she might have picked everyone.

Ricki is so proud of them and how they treat each other. She's like a proud mother of multiples, like that awful Kate Gosselin, who I've just heard is going to be the host of the next season of "Charm School."

The women then start drinking and laughing with each other. There's some good-natured ribbing of Marcia, who sits stoic on the couch, watching the others, her mouth watering. KO decides it would be quite comical to offer the (possibly) alcoholic woman a drink, so tries to give her vodka and cranberry juice.

If it had been tequila, Marcia's resistance might have wavered. As it is, she leaves the room.

Back in the bedroom KO, who is really drunk, starts complaining of chest pains, and starts wheezing. She tells the other women that she has a "bad heart" and/or an "enlarged heart" (Risky says this later, but I don't think we see KO say this), and that the condition is what killed her mother. This is of course a direct contradiction of what she told Ricki at the table- the mean social services bureaucrats wouldn't tell her what killed her mother- only that she died while in childbirth.

KO is wheezing and clutching at her chest. We're left to wonder, Don't the VH1 reality shows give their contestants physicals before the shows start? Would they let someone with a heart condition appear on a highly stressful show such as "Charm School," or, for that matter, any VH1 reality show?

Could the producers be that crass?

Bubbles isn't buying it. Bubbles! She interviews that KO craves attention, and the only way she's gotten it has been when people have felt sorry for her. An insight worthy of Ashley, but formed much more delicately.

Is KO just looking for attention? Of course she is- that's a stupid question. The better question is, "Has she been honest about all the troubles she's claimed to go through?"

The next morning, KO is still having chest pains, and decides to see a doctor. The other "girls," now free of her influence, begin to express their doubts about her. Ashley believes KO's only problem is that she wears a ponytail and basketball shorts every day. This from the woman who wore pink uggs to Ricki's Very Special I'm Not a Racist Intervention Episode.

Risky didn't learn any of KO's tragic history on their previous reality show, "Real Chance of Love."

Ashley thinks KO sounds suspiciously rehearsed.

Marcia is angry that KO offered her alcohol.

Baybaybay thinks KO needs psychological help. She goes to Ricki and expresses her doubts about KO, but adds something about being willing to give up her spot, if Ricki thinks there's nothing more Baybaybay can learn.

Ricki then tells Baybaybay that she's "articulate," and her best student.

I think it's just possible that Ricki is coming out of this show looking the worst. Condescending, inconsistent, inarticulate, capricious, gullible. If I could remember anything about her talk show, I'm sure I could tell you she hasn't changed at all.

And she is certainly not charming. "Articulate"? Really, Ricki?

In detention, Marcia, Ashley, Brittanya, Baybaybay, and Risky all vote for KO. She is floored- just last night everyone seemed to be pulling for her and now, even Baybaybay has turned on her.

Bubbles votes for Risky, because she doesn't think there's any chance Risky will be sent home, and apparently is no longer worried about making Risky angry, which in a way I guess proves her point. KO votes for Marcia, because Marcia is (possibly) alcoholic, and she thinks it would be funny to vote for her.

KO, really? You voted for the woman you jokingly offered alcohol to?

At the expulsion, Ricki asks KO how she's doing, after her doctor's visit. KO says, "I'm fine. I just have a cardiac block." This she says with a blase, carefree lilt to her voice. Then again, she might just be "nervous;" she did say she smiles inappropriately when she's nervous during the Life Coach session.

Ricki says that doesn't sound fine, and KO chuckles and says, "I'm fine."

Marcia mentions that KO offered her alcohol, and Ricki hangs her head. Why would she do such a thing? Well, that's just how she jokes around, she explains. It's funny to offer someone who is (possibly) alcoholic a drink.

How can you not see the humor in that?

Ricki says that these aren't the three she'd have chosen, leaving her with a difficult decision. The decision is so difficult, in fact, that she does not want to make it. She doesn't have "clarity," she says, and "can't in good conscience" get rid of any of them.

She cowardly and venally asks Baybaybay if she would give up her spot, so that all three of these women- KO, Marcia, and Risky- could stay.

Ricki just could not think of a reason to send any of those women home. So she turns to the woman she described as "articulate," and called her best student, and said, "Eff you, Baybaybay. Will you show just how 'charming' you are by sacrificing your chance at $100K so that KO, Marcia, and Risky can stay?"

Baybaybay agrees to this injustice. Apparently, Charm School is turning Baybaybay into a simpering little doormat- it's making her into Bubbles for crying out loud.

Baybaybay gives up her pin. Then, as she's leaving, KO suddenly displays that she has a conscience, and offers her pin to Baybaybay. She's going to pull herself out of Charm School.

Possibly. The episode is "To be continued."

Does this look like a quitter to you? All it took was a few weeks with Ricki Lake in "Charm School," and that's exactly what she's become.

At this point, the woman who needs to be expelled is Ricki Lake. She is the one who's not learning anything. She is the one who cannot make a decision. She is the one who cannot play by the rules of the television show. The students should rebel, a la Taps, because Ricki Lake is actually damaging them. Even in the context of a VH1 reality show, Ricki Lake has completely bitched things up.

Life Coach pic source.
Ricki Lake birth pic source.
Sun pic source.
KO pic source.
Brad Goodman pic source.
Baybaybay pic source.
Brittanya and Bret pic source.


shampoo said...

when ricki first asked baybaybay for her pin, I thought it was a ploy to try to figure out what was going on with the three on the carpet. THEN it became evident that she really was going to expel baybaybay because she couldn't make up her mind! but, k.o. feels that is wrong. because it is.

(sigh) I don't know who i'd expel either. but, I would have never agreed to let the "students" decide because, unlike ricki, I watch the heck out of vh1.

to me k.o. acted like she had asthma more than a heart problem. not that I really know. it could just be she was affected by extreme drunkiness.

I am not sure k.o. really understands about marcia. I am not excusing her action since she should not have offered the "cranberry juice" just knowing that marcia had pledged not to drink.

that "map" was so stupid. the only way it could have been more useless was if it said: 1. what do you want? 2. wish for it!

Ricky Sprague said...

Yeah, Ricki has no excuse for the way she acted. Does she just show up for a few hours a week, talk to a few students, and then make up her mind when she sees the three up for expulsion? Can't she watch some of the footage they have of the students in action?

A.Jaye said...

A wee story I heard when I was impressionable:

A communist informant was asked to go to the kulag to inform on the prisoners there. She loyally went to prison, got expelled from the party, completed her mission and was promptly forgotten. In prison.

Bay3 is all kinds of stupid and Rickie Lake is a fork tongued demon.

Ricky Sprague said...

I agree. She is a terrible host.

During the elimination she admits, "I don't know what I'm doing." Then she says, "I can't make a decision." Then, finally, "If you're showing TOO MUCH improvement, I'll send you home." Why on earth would anyone take her seriously?

I'm starting to think she sent Kiki home because she was afraid Kiki would call her on this.

Everyone who signed up for this show should get a do-over with another host who's not a total drip. Beverly is looking pretty smart for getting herself sent home early.

shampoo said...

Good points about Ricki. I get the impression the most time Ricki has spent with contestants was at that dinner. A dinner which seemed mostly to focus on K.O.'s problems.

Then Ricki's bitchy little "who do you want to win?" World to Ricki, everyone wants to win the money, but if they can't have it then it should go to their best friend (who might give them some of it). Most people can understand this by first grade.

Also, I meant to say... Ms. Wilson would really have been an excellent speaker at Charm School. I never thought of that, but she could give them some good advice.

A.Jaye said...

Remember when Charm School was Bootz, Buckeey, Saaphyri, Buckwild, Leilene and Pumpkin? They had a storyline, genuine animosity, utter hilarity - Hottie - and at least one dean who's job was to put them down.

These girls aren't even funny in their Interview Segments. I don't know what's worse - CS4 or RoL4.

Ricky Sprague said...

I didn't watch the Ray J show, but I've seen at least part of every other VH1 reality competition show, and I think that hands down this version of Charm School is the worst of the bunch.

Ricki Lake's a disaster.