Now that it’s down to the final four, Risky says the spotlight is on the women, and she’s really going to “work [her] butt off…to try to win this thing.”
Your first reaction to that is, “What have you been doing up to now?” But, considering how the reprehensible Ricki Lake sends people home for showing too much progress, and being too charming, Risky’s got a point. Now is really the time to start trying.
Surprisingly, Ashley and Brittanya have never been to New Orleans before. I would think that Mardi Gras would be a sort of Mecca to these girls- they would have to attend right when they hit puberty or something- a “party girl” rite of passage. But Brittanya’s statement about being “excited to see a new state” raises the question:
Can a person who’s facing a court hearing, and possible jail time, skip out of the state like this? Even if it is to “help Katrina victims, and it’s for a good cause,” as Ashley says?
The hotel where the contestants stayed while in devastated New Orleans. Shouldn't they have had to sleep in one of those abandoned Ninth Ward buildings they toured in the episode? The producers couldn't swing that?
The women arrive at the Intercontinental New Orleans, where they are greeted by a sort of mini Mardi Gras. An attractive woman offers them what I think she called a “Hurricane” (this is New Orleans, after all!) which is not- in answer to Marcia’s question- a “virgin drink.” Ashley, ever the team player, offers to take hers.
Once again- why is Marcia being tested like this? Unless the fix is in, and the producers have already decided to give her the win, there is no reason to keep flaunting Marcia’s pledge. She’s not made of stone. Eventually, if you keep throwing temptation in her face, she is going to give in.
“It looks so good,” Marcia laments. Then interviews, “At this point, I think it’s going to be very, very hard to hang out at Mardi Gras, and not to drink at all.”
Translation: “Producers. Ricki Lake. STOP DOING THIS TO ME. I am not made of stone. Eventually, if you keep throwing temptation in my face, I am going to give in.”
To which the producers and Ricki Lake reply: “That’s why we’re here.”
The kind of hurricane the students are used to dealing with.
There’s alcohol in the room.
And a note from the producers, inviting the “girls” to enjoy Bourbon Street. A street named after BOURBON. Marcia is worried she will drink, when she hits the bars. On BOURBON Street.
Ricki, Stryker, and La La meet the girls at Muriel’s. Ricki tells them they’ll be working for a group called “Hands On,” which is “helping rebuild New Orleans.” “This trip…is really no vacation,” as Ricki says.
She then asks them the loaded question: “Has this [Charm School] been a positive experience, over all, for you guys?”
Bearing in mind of course she is the host and judge.
Ashley realized a lot about herself and the way she’s treated others.
Marcia is worried about not drinking. But she thinks she can do it, with Risky by her side.
They say you have to hit “rock bottom” before you can really start to change. Having Risky as your crutch to keep you from drinking is hitting rock bottom.
Marcia's rock, Risky.
Ashley gets drunk fairly quickly- she’s the most efficient. Marcia stands around “craving.” Worried about “cracking.”
Strangely, Risky loses sight of Marcia, who is picking up shots from a waitress. And, feeding them right back to the waitress. Then, she goes back to the hotel. Unfortunately, she misses Ashley’s antics, which include riding a mechanical bull, turning flips, and shouting at the crowd in the street.
Naturally, next morning, Ashley is “still hammered from the night before.”
They meet Mary Beth Romig, Director of Communications and Public Relations for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau. That sounds impressive- so why is she on “Charm School”? She takes them on a tour of New Orleans, where they see houses that were flooded out and have yet to be torn down. There are areas of the city that “are really sad and make you appreciate life,” as Brittanya puts it.
They’re introduced to Kelly Benton or Vinton (?) (La La needs to ENUNCIATE more clearly), who is the executive director of Hands on New Orleans (or something like that. here is the staff of Hands on New Orleans- there is an "executive director" listed who is NOT the same woman depicted on the show- maybe she was just an actress portraying the executive director of Hands on New Orleans? she did kind of resemble Tina Fey, in some scenes). She will be bossing them around, and their first task is to help build a bunch of crap for kids- painting lines for foursquare and hopscotch games, and building planters. For the kids, which makes everyone, even hung over Ashley, feel good.
The mysterious "executive director" of Hands on New Orleans vaguely resembled Tina Fey. For all I know, it really was her. Maybe that whole "30 Rock" thing isn't working out as well we were led to believe.
Ninth Commandment: “Thou Shalt Put it to Good Use.” Someone who was more crass than I might point out that the Charm School contestants have been putting “it” to “good use,” by stripping and drinking and partying. That’s what they were made for- it’s what they’re best at. But I’m not crass, so I won’t point that out.
But the “it’ that Ricki Lake is talking about is everything they’ve learned at “Charm School.” Of course, the word “it” is singular- but that’s okay, since they’ve probably really only learned one thing on this show, anyway. Namely, that it stinks.
Brittanya believes that building stuff is man’s work. She then proves it with her hammer work.
Wait a second, the “Charm School girls” can’t “hammer?”
DISAPPOINTING COMMERCIAL INTERRUPTION: Next week’s “Daisy of Love” is a stinking clip show. They are really stretching that thing out- it will never get finished.
Anyway, the women come around. Marcia works through lunch, but Brittanya’s not buying it. If it weren’t for “Charm School,” she complains, Marcia wouldn’t be doing any of this crap.
No kidding, Brittanya. Neither would you. You’ve been around Ricki Lake too long- you’ve lost your self-awareness. What Brittanya doesn’t realize is that not drinking gives you energy that might seem downright superheroic compared to those who exercise less restraint. Remember when Homer Simpson sent Bart and Lisa to summer camp, and he lost about twenty pounds, and some of his hair grew back? It’s the same thing.
La La comes in and tells the women that there’s more work to be done, except that they will vote on who they think did the most work. That person gets to stop for the day, go back to the hotel, and relax.
Now the show has been cut together to show that Marcia was clearly working harder than the other three put together. It’s obvious who should be chosen to take the rest of the day off. Marcia gets the votes, but in Brittanya’s case, it was solely because she didn’t want to hang around Marcia anymore. Because, you know, she’s a phony.
And certainly that is a terrible message that the producers and Ricki Lake are sending. A little extra effort buys you some time alone back at the hotel. The students have been shown numerous examples of just how rotten is New Orleans, and how much help they need. Why send the best worker away to the hotel?
To her credit, Risky says she doesn’t want to stop, because she feels good helping people. Ricki is going to love that.
Next stop: The New Orleans Mission. They’ll be serving meals to about 150 homeless people. They’re told that almost 4% of the New Orleans population is homeless. That is a lot of people.
Turkey, pasta salad, jell-o with pears is the meal they’ll be serving. It’s also what they will be eating, themselves. No doubt that this is better for them than their usual diet of alcohol and whatever is in the vending machine.
The chef, whose name I didn’t catch, is a real character who should get her own show. She should have been the dean of Charm School, not Ricki Lake. Speaking of Ricki, she comes to watch the women work, and informs them that they will once again get to vote for the person they believe worked hardest, and this person will get to go back to the hotel.
Since we’ve already heard Brittanya talk smack about Marcia being phony, guess who gets picked.
Before the vote, Risky says she doesn’t want to go back to the hotel, even if she did work the hardest. Good pre-emptive strike- and Ricki of course eats it up with a spoon. “I’m getting teary-eyed, that’s crazy!” Risky says.
Risky and Ashley have a late-night two-person job. “Thou Shalt Put It to Good Use,” remember, which means that the women will spend the evening at an exotic dance club, with all their tips benefiting Hands on New Orleans.
Or, not. The women are taken to a warehouse where they are forced to engage in manual labor, loading and unloading trucks, stacking tools, etc. This doesn’t last too long, because we need to get back to Brittanya and Marcia.
Over dinner, they discuss Risky and Ashley. Ashley won’t change, Marcia says. Moreover, even though the economy is bad, a stripper in Vegas “make $240,000 a year.” Inadvertently, Marcia has stumbled on the truth that this show would have you ignore:
STRIPPERS CAN MAKE $240,000 A YEAR.
To hell with “Charm School.”
These women could be making $240,000 a year. Think about that next time you're trying to decide whether to eat at Taco Bell, or if you actually have enough for Wendy's.
Marcia then offers some ironic advice to Brittanya: “What you need to work on- stop being a follower, dude.”
“I’m not,” Brittanya insists. She’s the opposite of a follower, she says, because she loves being herself.
“Brittanya can’t take the truth. When someone tells the truth, she gets mad.”
Marcia then starts to wonder aloud about Brittanya’s parenting skills. Brittanya, Marcia claims, compares unfavorably with Ashley in that department.
“It’s really hard for me to hold back from beating Marcia’s ass right now,” Brittanya interviews.
If Brittanya was really changing, she wouldn’t be trying to fight, Marcia interviews. Of course, if Marcia were changing, she wouldn’t be goading one of her fellow contestants into a fight. Except, that’s what the show needs. So kudos to both of them- if the entire episode had consisted solely of Risky and Ashley “working hard,” there would be no reason to watch.
Two women arguing about which of them has “changed” the most is much more compelling.
Next day, the “girls” have to return to the school. Marcia complains of the “bubbles” on her fingers (I think she means blisters, but I do like the idea of Marcia having Bubbles on her fingers), and Risky’s wrist is sore from hammering. Ashley’s voice is thick with sleep.
Marcia runs to La La, to narc on Brittanya for her behavior last night. I have to say, as much as I’ve enjoyed Marcia’s non-drinking pledge, she is behaving abominably here. She complains that Brittanya- who restrained herself from “beating Marcia’s ass,” wanted to fight, and only wants to win the money to pay her legal bills.
That sounds like a pretty good reason for wanting to win, and it’s admirable to not beat someone’s ass, when they are trying to get you to do just that. If anything, Brittanya is proving she’s MORE worthy of winning than Marcia. Marcia, who took a vow not to drink for the duration of the show. Who walked out of the bar two nights before, to remove herself from temptation.
Marcia, you’re killing me.
La La goes to Brittanya and asks about Marcia. Brittanya makes the mistake of being totally honest with La La. Yes, she wanted to beat her. But, she restrained herself. That’s a big step for her.
First of all, the woman’s name is a repeated solfège syllable. Second of all, she is a dean on “Charm School.” She wants to hear that you’re “changing,” not that you’re restraining your emotions. Overcoming your own limitations is not what she’s after. At this point, as La La interviews, it shouldn’t even be about wanting to beat someone, no matter what she said to you.
Anyway. They meet the underprivileged kids they’ve been working for all this time. It’s touching.
Expulsion ceremony. Risky’s asked why would she make a good winner of “Charm School.”
Risky says that “people look up to me. Little girls mainly.” Winning would “give them a real chance to look up to me- not because I was a finalist on ‘Real Chance of Love.’” Risky, I have news for you: As bad as “RCoL” was, it wasn’t even half as bad as “Charm School.”
Real and Chance would have been better deans than Ricki Lake.
But she’s playing the game. She says that “Charm School” has “some kind of importance.” Of course Ricki Lake et al love hearing that. The look of pride on Ricki’s face when they cut back to her says all you need to know about her.
For some reason, Risky thinks that her status as a Real Chance of Love finalist isn't enough to be a GOOD role model for the kids who look up to her. I actually find it admirable that she changed her hair.
Marcia, if you win, and the cameras aren’t here- will you drink?
She won’t lie and say she’s not ever going to drink again. She wants to CONTROL her drinking. She might be able to have a drink occasionally, in the future.
Ricki interviews that Marcia has to “get to the bottom of why she drinks,” which is something she said in a previous episode. It made no sense then, and no sense now. Marcia drinks because it makes her feel good. What bothers her is that she drinks to excess. She’s trying to cut it out.
Ricki wants her to talk about her “childhood,” and her “feelings.” Because Ricki had a daytime talk show for awhile, and she knows what makes people drink.
Ashley, are you just playing the system? If you win, what is your plan when you go back to Vegas?
Ashley’s answer proves she is “just playing the system,” which is what Ricki et al want her to do. They’ve already shown that you’ll be expelled if you don’t tell them what they want to hear. So Ashley tells them that if she wins, her plan is to NOT go back to Vegas. She wants to go to dental school.
Brittanya- are you really dedicated to your son?
I know that I’m devoted to my son. If not for him, “I’d be in prison for the rest of my life, or dead right now.” Brittanya has stayed in a minimum of trouble for the sake of her son.
Coming from the woman who’s facing a year in a California prison, that is quite a statement.
All the women have proved themselves, but one of them has to leave. Ricki starts to cry, and calls Marcia down. Is she going to propose?
Ricki is proud of Marcia. Her abstinence is a testament to her will power. She’s staying. She has the potential to be a good representative of Charm School.
Brittanya is called up next. She’s come so far. Ricki believes she’s a good mom. What’s the biggest thing you’ve learned?
Make yourself proud, or something.
Ricki thinks that Brittanya hasn’t learned enough. Ricki was able to read Brittanya’s mind, and see that, while she’s been doing well on the challenges, she hasn’t “taken anything away from them.” She was just after the $100,000.
On her way out, Brittanya interviews that it sucks to miss out on the $100K, but “I’m a hustler, I’ll get it somehow.”
Brittanya- if you’re looking for a way to make some cash, I hear that strippers in Vegas can make $240,000.
She's a hustler. She'll get that money somehow. Maybe "I Love Money 3"?
Hotel pic source.
Hurricane drink pic source.
Tina Fey pic source.
Risky RCoL pic source.
Risky tat pic source.
Charm School full cast pic source.
Brittanya pic source.