Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Charm School 3 Episode 10: Fighting the Manipulation
Can you guess which of the three will finally take a stand against the manipulation?
The final “commandment” is even more meaningless than all the others. “Thou Shalt be Fully Charmed.” I do not know what that means, but that doesn’t matter, since no one else, including the “deans” does, either. This show has never made any sense, so why would it start now?
Stryker says, “What better way to see how charming you’ve become than to re-acquaint you with people from the past.” I couldn’t tell if he was making a statement or posing a question but, again, it doesn’t matter. Risky’s mother is introduced, followed by Ashley’s boyfriend and son, and then Marcia’s mother. Stryker leaves them alone to show them around Charm School.
Marcia asks her mother, in Portuguese, “Did they speak to you in Portuguese?” to which her mother Maria replies, with touching naïveté, “Yeah, I was treated very well. They treated me very well.”
That is about to change, Maria.
After a few moments with their family members, they return to the Lecture Hall where Ricki Lake is waiting with The Fear Liberator herself, Scott Baio’s therapist, the poisonous “Doc Ali.” Apparently not content with the damage she did in her previous appearance, she’s come back to wreak some more emotional devastation.
Risky wonders what The Fear Liberator’s going to do to them. Ashley says that The Fear Liberator always brings things out of her that she didn’t expect.
Bulls hit artists are skilled with that kind of thing. It’s why people buy junked used cars, and vote for politicians. She is a professional manipulator, Ashley.
Risky hugging an as shole.
Maria, Marcia’s mother, needs an interpreter, meaning Ricki Lake is making one more person complicit in this corruption. At least they had the decency to leave Ashley’s son with “a babysitter.” Ashley’s son would have been better off being left with a bottle full of Everclear in a room with Lindsay Lohan and Amy Winehouse than being stuck in a “therapy” session with The Fear Liberator.
Ricki Lake interviews that she wants “the girls” to open up during their therapy session, but that is a lie. She wants “the girls” to wallow like infants (“the girls”), and tell their families how wonderful and enlightening has been their “Charm School” (with Ricki Lake!) experience.
First up for manipulation: Risky and her mother, whose name I admit I didn’t catch. The Fear Liberator innovatively has the two women sit facing each other, for a game of “T.A.G.” This being Charm School, and The Fear Liberator being the manipulative as shole she is, you can bet those letters stand for something therapeutic. Sure enough, the T is for “truth,” the A is for “amends,” and the G is for “gratitude.”
Risky tells her mother she did a great job raising her and her siblings. She should take credit for all the great things they do, and not feel guilty or responsible about any of their screw-ups. Risky is an adult, as are her siblings, so I don’t understand why mother should take credit for some of their actions, but not others. Let the adults be adults.
Mother says that’s great to hear, because she held herself accountable for her own mistakes in raising them. I’m not sure why someone shouldn’t feel accountable for their own mistakes, most especially mistakes you’ve made when raising your children, but then again, I’m not a manipulative bulls hit artist like The Fear Liberator.
Risky is sorry about certain things she’s done, in response to what she perceived as mistakes of her mother. The Fear Liberator isn’t satisfied with that. She wants specifics. She feeds off the wallowing of others- it’s what sustains her. It’s where her super villain powers come from- emotional pain. Wallow, Risky. We need to see you bleed. The Fear Liberator calls it “owning your truth, speaking your truth, and knowing you’re still okay with that.” It almost sounds like she’s trying to help, but she is a bulls hit artist.
Risky then mentions “the situation with my stepfather.” She’s sorry that her mother didn’t find out about it until it was too late to do anything about it. Apparently, the stepfather made her mother happy, so she never told her about “the situation.”
Risky’s mother says, “I forgive you.”
Really? Is this happening? Risky’s mother forgives? We don’t know what “the situation” was, but does RISKY need her MOTHER’S forgiveness?
Mother says she’s sorry for not knowing about the pain her daughter was going through.
Risky then plays the game, and tells Ricki and The Fear Liberator how much she’s learned from the two of them, and how she can’t wait to get out into the world and share everything she’s learned.
Let that be a warning to all of us.
Risky and her mother seek comfort in the face of The Fear Liberator.
Being a one-trick manipulative pony, The Fear Liberator plays “T.A.G.” with Ashley and her boyfriend James. I remember that James is his name because it’s tattooed above one of her breasts. It’s sort of like a name tag, convenient for the viewers, and, presumably, for James, if he’s ever looking at Ashley’s chest and happens to forget his own name.
Ashley is worried that James might not love her as much as she loves him. You know how much she loves him- she demonstrated that when she went on Rock of Love Bus, and pursued a romantic relationship with Bret Michaels. Or, pursued fame and a paycheck with Bret Michaels.
And James demonstrated how much he loved her, by telling Mr. Michaels they were still living and sleeping together, and that he could have her any time he wanted. Remember how romantic that was? Remember the tugging you felt, deep in the darkest, murkiest part of your heart?
Ashley’s also concerned because James cheated on her. Now- was that before or after Rock of Love Bus?
It doesn’t matter, because James is fully committed now, and it won’t happen again. Maybe he doesn’t show it, but he loves her as much as she loves him.
That’s quite a statement.
Furthermore, James is sorry for cheating. Ashley says she’s waited THREE YEARS for that apology. Really? In THREE YEARS he hasn’t apologized for “cheating”? And you’ve been living with him all this time? I understand, she’s been doing it for her son, but come on, move out and move on already. All your son is seeing is two people who live together, cheat on each other, and don’t apologize for three years.
Ashley’s session concludes with her saying she’s changed because she feels like she deserves respect. They don’t get nearly as much air time as Risky and Marcia because, let’s face it, no one thinks Ashley will win.
Ashley and James love each other equally. They also appear to have at least mild disdain for The Fear Liberator.
And The Fear Liberator wants to see the mothers cry. Which leads us to our Main Event:
The Fear Liberator tells Marcia to “speak the truth to your mom, as if it were the last time you were going to speak to her.” One has to wonder how many families this horrid woman has torn asunder- who stopped speaking to one another after a session with her. She seems to speak from experience.
Puffy-faced Marcia has a hard time telling her mother that she drinks a lot. But she promises to be better, and not look so foolish by drinking to excess. So, Marcia is worried that other people might think she appears foolish when she drinks. Does The Fear Liberator really think we should care what others think of us? Does The Fear Liberator, who encourages people to “own their truth” and “knowing you’re okay with that” really want someone to change their behavior because of the way others perceive it?
Maybe drinking is Marcia’s “truth,” Fear Liberator.
Maria understands, and is not mad, the interpreter says. Tearful hug with Marcia. Marcia and her mother Maria, not with Marcia and the interpreter.
Ricki Lake tells The Fear Liberator that Marcia is one of the strongest women she’s ever met. In a real “Boy Named Sue” moment, Marcia thanks her abusive stepfather for that. “The reason I am so strong is that my stepdad—he was very abusive. He would like get a plate and put it up like he wanted to hit me, and I would say, ‘Well, you man enough to put the plate up, now you man enough to hit me, so hit me.’ So it make me strong.”
Strangely, The Fear Liberator doesn’t ask Marcia to articulate the words “Thank you” to her stepfather, for empowering her. No doubt, The Fear Liberator recognizes Marcia’s stepfather as a rival to her. Only she can use abusive techniques to empower people. She’s a professional. Marcia’s stepfather is only an amateur.
Marcia attempts to resist The Fear Liberator.
The Fear Liberator shows just how devastating she can be by pointing out that people often drink because they feel GUILTY. Does Marcia feel guilty that her mother was with her stepfather?
Marcia does not talk about that with her mom.
The Fear Liberator’s hold over Marcia is wavering. She presses on, like a vulture circling her prey. “Protecting your mom, holding this truth inside, is what poisons you,” she says.
Just so we’re clear: Marcia wants to protect her mother by not blaming her for things she does an adult. The Fear Liberator wants her to spread poison. That is exactly what she’s said. She wants Marcia to poison her own mother.
Ricki Lake, also sensing that they might be losing Marcia, jumps in, panicked. She thinks it’s worse if you don’t spread your poison and try to make your mother feel guilty. “Your mother wants to be there for you,” she says.
Or course, Maria doesn’t seem to have been consulted at any point in all this. The poor woman doesn’t speak or understand English, and the interpreter doesn’t seem to have said anything.
Marcia is battling The Fear Liberator. Not to be too melodramatic, but the prize is Marcia's soul.
Marcia then confides, as if to explain herself to the vultures (she still wants their approval- or at least, the $100K) that her mother once told her that she was the only reason she was alive. That’s a lot of pressure for a mother to put on a daughter.
But The Fear Liberator doesn’t care about that. She’s after destruction. She wants to tear Marcia down further. To that end, she tells Marcia that she feels Marcia’s backsliding. “Withholding the truth to protect others,” the despicable, callous, selfish, loathsome as shole says, “will lead you back to a path of drinking.”
The Fear Liberator is a menace. Sometimes, you withhold the truth to spare a loved one’s feelings. Sometimes, you rotten waste of life, you do something positive for yourself- such as stop drinking for nine or ten days or whatever it’s been- and deal with your problems yourself, without inflicting more misery on others.
The Fear Liberator moves in for the kill. She says, straight-faced, “Is there something you could share with your mom now, that would take a step towards not protecting her, and speaking the truth.”
That’s an exact quote. The Fear Liberator, with one question, has laid bare the squalid tawdriness of her mind. She instructs Marcia to say something that will HURT her MOTHER.
Hurt your mother, Marcia. Hurt your mother.
Astonishingly, hearteningly, Marcia resists The Fear Liberator. She fights her way free of the manipulation. She will not do it. She won’t blame her mother.
She has defeated The Fear Liberator. She has defeated Ricki Lake. She has defeated Charm School. Marcia is the winner.
Marcia won something better than $100K. She won- um, not to be melodramatic or anything- her soul. She resisted the manipulations of Ricki Lake and The Fear Liberator, and chose a path of righteousness. She would rather protect her loved ones than give in to a couple of as sholes who couldn't give less of a sh*t about her.
Not of the $100K. No way. Risky wins the money. She played the game, went along, and gave Ricki et al everything they wanted. That’s too bad, I guess, although I don’t really have anything against Risky. I don’t believe she really took seriously everything Ricki said.
But, in a season that was a total disaster from the beginning, and only got worse, Marcia’s standing up to the manipulators came as close to “inspiring” as anything that happened on this awful, manipulative show.
Good riddance, Charm School. Crawl back under your stone, Ricki.
"The girls" were made to dress in debutante outfits and compose groveling speeches about how wonderful Ricki Lake was. Ricki liked Risky's the best, and she won. It was the least suspenseful ending to a VH1 reality show since "Daisy of Love."