Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Dance Moms, Season 2 Episode 4

The girls attended Hollywood Vibe in St. Louis, Missouri this week, in which people from LA would be looking for the next Hollywod star.

This week's pyramid had Paige, Nia and Kendal (still on probation) on the bottom.
Mackenzie and Maddie were in the middle.
Chloe was on top of the pyramid.

At Hollywood Vibe, there would be two solos - Maddie and Chloe, as well as a trio of Chloe, Maddie and Kendal.

Paige and Kelly were upset because Paige wasn't put in the trio. Paige, Maddie and Chloe had been dancing together for years, and they felt slighted that Kendal was put in a spot that should rightfully be Paige's.

The dance was a contemporary lyrical dance about bullying. Nia was cast as the bully, who is the star of the number. At first, Holly was torn because Nia got the lead, but it was a negative role. When she saw the dance, though, she wasn't a fan of Nia being the bully. Holly told Abby her feelings and the role was taken away from Nia.

Abby then made a big announcement - she'd be adding a new member to the dance team: Peyton. She's 14 and has been dancing with Abby Lee for four years. If you recall, her mom had a hissy fit when Peyton didn't make the group during open auditions. This is the point where we know everything's staged because Peyton's mom was given a lot of screen time in an earlier episode.

As the episode went on, Abby got meaner and meaner. She said horrible things to the kids and made Chloe cry.

In a very staged scene, Kelly coordinated a party for all of the girls to go see Brooke. The girls seemed sad that Brooke left the team and asked her the ultimate question: do you think you'll go back to dance? Brooke wasn't sure...which leaves plenty of room for her to return to the Abby Lee team later in the season.

Leslie, Peyton's mother, asked the moms out for lunch to see how they feel about Peyton being on the team, but it ended up with Leslie dominating the conversation, making accusations and dictating how she thinks things should be.

When the costumes came in, the moms weren't happy. They said the girls looked like prostitots. I think they looked like Britney Spears-style schoolgirls. Maddie was told to wear pigtails so people could see the "Kick Me" sign posted on her back.

The Competition

The trio went first. Their spacing on stage was atrocious. One girl was a mile away from the other two. I did not like this number. I didn't like the song, dance or costumes. It just didn't seem special.

Maddie danced next. She was great, as usual, and I think Abby chose a song that complemented Maddie perfectly.

Chloe was third. She did amazingly. It was clear that she's gotten to be a very strong dancer with a lot of range. I didn't love all of her choreography, but she executed her dance perfectly.

The group number was last. It was called What Comes Around. Peyton put the Kick Me sign too high on Maddie's back, so it was hardly visible. That being said, the dance looked good. It didn't stand out, but it was good. My main criticism is that I didn't really get that Peyton was a bully in this dance - she didn't come off as mean. Even with the music, it was questionable. As Abby criticized Peyton, Peyton told Abby that she thought she was better than most of the group. Abby was not happy to hear this. Abby said that Peyton shouldn't belittle others because that was her job - ouch! In any case, Peyton seemed to really hurt the girls with what she said, which may cause some long-term resentment.

The awards ceremony was last.

In the solo competition, Maddie won her division. Chloe did not place.
In the trio competition, Abby's girls did not place. I was not surprised, and Kelly admitted that she was relieved that they didn't place because it showed that Paige, not Kendal, should have been in the dance.
In the group competition, the girls didn't place either. Again, I'm not surprised - the dance was a bit off on several levels.

It was noted that Peyton's future with the group was in danger based on her comments earlier in the episode. Abby and Peyton's mom argued backstage about Peyton's comment. Peyton's mom said she can't take what a fourteen year old says seriously, and Abby says it was inappropriate, no matter what. This, like everything else, led to an argument amongst the moms and Abby. Because of her comments, Peyton remained on probation.

Next week, we'll see Brooke ask to come back (shocker) which may be bad news for Peyton and her mom, who caused problems right from the start.

Monday, January 30, 2012

$#*! Girls Say on The Bachelor

Attention Bachelor Fans! Unless you've been hiding under a rock or something, you've seen clips from the $#*! People Say franchise. The latest installment of this madness comes from the people that brought us The Bachelor, and it's called (using a very literal name) $#*! Girls Say on The Bachelor.

You can see it here: $#*! Girls Say on The Bachelor

The whole thing is under two minutes, but it teaches us a few valuable lessons:

- All girls must only go on terrible dates because their date with the bachelor is the best one they've ever had.
- All girls think that they have an awesome connection with their bachelor, even though it's not true in most cases.
- All girls hate other girls, especially when competing for a man that none of them will probably end up with in the long run.
- All girls cry...a lot.

Seriously, though, it's actually impressive how many girls on the show say the exact same things. Even with the variety of women we've seen throughout the seasons (sweet girls, villains, sad girls, angry girls, spoiled brats, etc.), many of them continually repeat these Bachelor catch phrases...again and again and again.

Give this video a look and let me know what you think.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Some Things I Love About Toddlers and Tiaras

I previously wrote an article about the things that are screwed up about Toddlers and Tiaras. Now, I'm writing about the things I love about the TLC show.

1. Some of the Toddlers and Tiaras kids are awesome.

There are some kids that excel in the pageant world. One of those kids is AnnaBella from America's Ultimate Beauty Pageant. She, and others like her, are genuinely talented, and it's nice to see those children succeed. It's even nicer when the children are not only talented, but down-to-earth as well. These kids prove that it's possible to be both a pageant star and a normal kid.

2. Some of the T and T kids really want to be onstage.

We all have hobbies and things that we're good at. Some kids genuinely enjoy, and are great at, being in pageants. It's easy for us to judge and say that pageants only reward outer beauty, but once kids are of a certain age, talent and poise count for a lot. Some of the children featured on the show had to convince their parents to let them compete in pageants, and those kids are extremely talented, confident and strong contenders in the pageant world.

Take, for example, Queen at the Glamor Girl Hearts and Crowns Winter Extravaganza. She asked her parents if she could compete in pageants. She wanted to be in them and made sure that she rocked onstage to prove it.

3. Some of the non-traditional moms and daughters stand out in a good way.

If you recall mom Ally and daughter Samara from the Island of Dreams pageant, they were non-traditional, and that's what made them great. Mom loves both heavy metal and pageants, which typically don't go together, but she made them work.

Another non-traditional family is mom Chelsea and daughter Emerald from the Glamorous Beauties pageant. They're of Quaker background and say that their background encourages equality. However, they're still able to enjoy the competitive side of pageants.

There's also Ca'Trina and Saryniti, who believe in winning, but also making a fun, friendly pageant environment. At the Halloween Bash Pageant, they were very positive and were a great deviation from the negativity we sometimes see on T and T.

4. Some parents utilize pageant participation for good reasons.

We've seen at least two examples on Toddlers and Tiaras where moms enrolled their kids in pageants to build their confidence and help them overcome a difficult life situation. For example, one girl had a speech impediment, and her mother hoped pageants would allow her to be confident even with the speech-related setback.

Even in less specialized cases, pageants have great learning opportunities that some parents utilize. For example, some children are taught how to win and lose gracefully, both of which are equally important.

5. Cookie-cutter beauty doesn't always win.

Although the Crown Divas Glitzy Beauty Pageant placed a strong emphasis on the Barbie look, not all pageants do that. Some pageants focus more heavily on factors other than the All-American girl look. Some pageants crown girls with more talent, others crown girls with diverse looks, and others take different factors into consideration. The point is, in many pageants, diversity of background, personality and talent can work in a child's favor, and that's a wonderful thing.

1/27/12 - A Reality TV Week In Review

Some strange, sad and interesting things happened this week in the world of reality television.

- The mom of a girl on Toddlers and Tiaras sued because the media reportedly sexualized her daughter. Isabella Barrett's mom is suing for $30 million in damages. Mom claims that Isabella's actions were said to be something that they're not. She's saying they turned an innocent girl sitting at a restaurant into sexual gyrating. It seems that mom takes no responsibility at all for her / her daughter's actions. The kid, for the record, is sitting or gyrating or whatever to the song I'm Sexy and I Know It.

- Lifetime is getting greedy with the Dance Moms franchise. Not only are they going to start a second show called Dance Moms: Miami, but they're going to start a show called Ice Moms. You know, the same idea as Dance Moms but with figure skating instead of dance. I think this show will be interesting but I'm not convince that it'll be a hit like the original Dance Moms. I mean, Dancing With the Stars is a hit, but who even remembers Skating With Celebrities?

- Leah Messer of Teen Mom 2 suffered a miscarriage. We are sorry to hear about her loss and wish the best for her and fiance Jeremy Calvert. That being said, I hope that Leah and Jeremy take their time before trying to conceive another child. They're kids themselves and Leah needs some time to grow and care for her twins, Aleeah and Aliannah.

- Perez Hilton spoke out about the child dieting addressed on Toddlers and Tiaras this week. He's not a fan of parents having their kids diet for pageants. Whether or not you agree with what Perez has to say, his article is pretty harsh.

- Cher was the latest celebrity to fall victim to the celebrity death hoax. Don't worry - she's alive and well.

- Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler are expecting a child. The engaged couple reportedly can't wait to expand their family. I think this baby may have been a surprise, but in Hollywood, you can never admit to that.

- A 17 year old girl, Stacey Irvine, has fallen ill after eating nothing but McDonald's chicken nuggets and fries since she was two. Well, she's also eaten store brand nuggets and KFC, but still. She claims to have never eaten a fresh vegetable.  I hope that she's either lying or someone has a serious discussion with her mother about why she allowed her daughter to eat like this throughout her childhood.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Three Things I Hate About Celebrity Gossip Reporting

I love reading about celebrity gossip. It's entertaining, highly exaggerated, and occasionally contains a grain of truth. That being said, there are three things I hate about celebrity gossip, and I've listed them below.

1. Everything is super-something.

"Kim and Kris looked super happy together." That was a quote that was read in tabloids around the world. Little did we know that the opposite was true. After all, tabloids told us that the pair was super happy, so why would we ever think otherwise?

Not only are people always super happy, but weddings are always super beautiful, children are always supercute (sometimes 'super' even joins itself into the word it's accenting), and outfits are super sexy. Whatever a thing or situation is, it can be made into super something...and it will be.

2. All pregnant celebrities are so happy and can't wait to be moms.

I'm not saying that celebrities don't want to have babies, because plenty of them do. But what I am saying is that celebrities, like the rest of the world, sometimes get pregnant by accident. We never hear a news report that says, "Kristin wasn't completely ready to be a mom yet, but it's a nice surprise." We always hear things like, "Kristin is super excited that she and her fiance are having a baby and can't wait to be a mom."

It's not the celebrities' faults that they have to spin stories that way - heaven forbid a celebrity show a sign of weakness or regret - the tabloids would be all over it!

I read a blind item once about a married couple who were having a third child and were less than happy about it. Although I never learned the true identity of the couple in the blind item, the other readers and I had an idea of the names of the couple. However, when news reports of the wife's pregnancy came out, everyone was all happy and sunshine and YEAAA! We totally wanted this baby and are so excited to bring another bundle of joy into the world!

3. Random observers love to tell us how happy celebrities looked when they passed them on the street.

Admit it - you've seen something like this more than once in a magazine:

"Jim and Reese looked super close when they walked down the street. They looked so in love!" said an observer.

Okay, really? First of all, the line sounds exactly like something the magazine would say, and who is this mystery observer that looked so carefully that they could tell two people strolling through LA holding Starbucks cups looked completely in love?

In some cases where two celebrities are oh-so-obviously in love, the pair ends up not even being a couple. Like, if Bradley and Michelle grab dinner as friends, you can be sure that at least one 'observer' will tell a hungry magazine that the two looked like they were going to kiss and seemed to be very comfortable with each other. Even if they looked uncomfortable talking about an upcoming movie they'd be filming together.

What do you think? Do you recognize these types of items from tabloids? What do you think of them?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras: Crown Beauties Glitzy Divas Pageant

This week, Toddlers and Tiaras featured the Crown Beauties Glitzy Divas pageant. The pageant director, Bonnie Crow, said a couple of true but questionable things in her introduction.  She said that to win, a girl can't be overweight - she needs a Barbie look. She also said that pageants are not for the poor, which is true, but is still a little bit sad. (Note: the statements Bonnie made are horrible in general, and I mean that they're true for this pageant, not all pageants, since she's the director.)

The first girl we met today was four year old Adriana. Mom Jade said for pageants, she goes from tomboy to pageant queen. Adriana had been in pageants since she was two, although she first participated in natural pageants, and Crown Beauties Glitzy Divas would be her first full glitz pageant. Jade admitted that she's more into pageants than her daughter. She's been getting her daughter to eat healthy so she can look thin for the pageant.

Madi, the ten year old daughter of Kerry, has reached more than $100,000 in winnings and has been in more than 300 pageants. That being said, she seems like a well adjusted kid, and her winnings are going towards her college fund, which is totally respectable.

Third was Ever Rose, the eight year old daughter of Kayla. Kayla likes the aspect of throwing off her child and thinks it's very normal. She does have a point - lots of moms like to show off their kids - but not all moms do it through pageants. Mom and Ever Rose watch their diets before pageants. Mom said that Ever Rose has taken off 10 pounds, and she does that by watching calories.

The Pageant:

Adriana was late for beauty, but she did make it onstage. She didn't look as confident and poised as some of her competition. Ever Rose appeared second. Her dress didn't flatter her at all. She also didn't make eye contact with the judges. Madi, in contrast, was fantastic. I think her makeup was a bit heavy, but I'm not a pageant pro, so maybe that's what the judges want. Although I found her smile to be a tiny bit too big and fake, Madi looked great and did awesome on stage.

Casual Wear was next. Don't be fooled by the name - the outfit has to be a full custom outfit, and it certainly can't be an everyday casual outfit.

Adriana, again, was late for this part of the pageant. Ever Rose was on time, and she wore a pink and black pinstripe outfit that the judges loved. Madi, despite not being allowed to choose her own magic for casual wear, did a great job on her routine. She wore a black, red and white outfit that made her look somewhat like a scantily dressed matador. Casual Wear ended without Adriana's mom realizing it, but she was allowed onstage to do her routine. She was dressed as a sailor. The outfit didn't fit quite right and she was clearly off her game.


4 Year Old Division
Photogenic and Casual Wear Winner: Maddie
Princess: MaKayla, Jaycee and Adriana
I don't blame the judges at all for Adriana's score. She wasn't that good and was late for everything.

7 - 8 Year Old Division
Photogenic and Casual Wear Winner: Olivia
Princess: Anne Marie

9 - 10 Year Old Division
Divisional Supreme: Haylee

Supreme Titles
Novice Supreme: Maddie B.
2011 Face: Ever Rose
Ultimate Grand Supreme: Madi


I can not stand when moms say that they're living vicariously though their children on this show. The mom is not in the pageant. The mom doesn't have to spend her youth practicing her beauty walk. I can understand being excited and hopeful for your child, but living through your child's life is hardly a healthy way to live. I've been thinking about this a lot since the T and T episode with mom Melissa and daughter Carley - it was a bit overwhelming how much Melissa lived through Carley's success.

The names on this T&T episode were interesting. We had Ever Rose, first of all, which I don't hate, but certainly don't like either. There was a Marley, which was interesting but not my style. There was also a Lynzee, which is a name that I like but a spelling that I detest. There were other weird names, too, like Cavanaugh, MaKayla (bad capitalization) and Haylee (not my favorite spelling but I understand why people like it).

Adriana's mom was upset that Adriana lost and blamed it on her not having the Barbie look that the pageant judges like. I disagree - she lost because she wasn't that good, and she was late for Beauty and was so late for Casual Wear that it ended before she could even go onstage.

Dance Moms: Season 2, Episode 3

This week on Dance Moms, the girls went to the Starbound competition in New Jersey.

As usual, Abby Lee opened the episode by showing us the pyramid of her dancers. On the bottom was Nia for her mistake in the group number, Kendal for starting a dance move early, Paige and Mackenzie, who would not be in the group number, but would have a solo at Starbound.

The middle row brought us a surprise: Maddie! This was because Abby wanted her to see what it's like to be back in the middle, even though she won for her solo. Chloe joined her in this row.

Brooke was at the top of the pyramid because she proved herself to Abby.

Next, Abby announced the solos for the Starbound competition. Mackenzie would do a jazz dance to a song called Showtime in an act that Abby called My Parade. Maddie was assigned a jazz dance to Lights, Camera, Action. Chloe was given a lyrical routine to Don't Catch Me. Maddie and Chloe would be going head-to-head in the competition.

The group number was called Born to Dance and it's about a baby being born and features a touch of mystery. Abby said the song is provocative, yet wondrous, and is done artistically. She said she wants the dancers and their costumes to appears if they're just being born. Brooke was the featured dancer, and Abby told her that she needs to be the glue that holds the group together.

Not shockingly, the mothers were not thrilled with the nature of the group number. They firmly believe that their kids should be kids and not learn about mature topics too early. I agree with them, and I think that Abby chose this number strictly to cause controversy and interest for the show Dance Moms. I don't know Abby in real life, but I don't think anyone in their right mind would have girls under thirteen dancing as if they've just come out of the birth canal. Even to an adult, the subject matter being featured in a dance is kind of disturbing.

In a scene that was obviously staged, Brooke went to a football game after dance practice, and in the confessional let us know that Abby had been too hard on her at rehearsal that day. She sat in the front row, and her friends and one of the cheerleaders encouraged her to try out for cheerleading. Then, we saw a shot of Brooke, suddenly in full cheerleading attire, on the field giving it a try.

Brooke approached mom Kelly about her desire to be a cheerleader. As if by magic, her mom knew that tryouts were on Saturday and Brooke would have to (gasp) miss a dance competition. If she did this, Abby would freak out. Kelly pointed out that if Brooke didn't go to the competition, Abby may not let her back onto the competition team.

Kelly approached the other moms about Brooke's decision to possibly pursue cheerleading. Kelly wasn't sure what to do because she didn't want to make the decision for Brooke and not let her go to tryouts. She wanted to give Brooke the opportunity to make her own choice, even though she may not enjoy cheerleading.

Group practice was already in progress when Abby said, "Stop! Where's Brooke?" as if she magically didn't notice when she lined up the girls that one was missing. When Abby made the realization that Brooke was missing, Kelly hid upstairs waiting to find the right time to tell Abby. She didn't have to make the choice because Abby went to find Kelly to ask for Brooke's whereabouts. Kelly told Abby that Brooke found something that she wanted to do at school and wouldn't make it to the weekend's competition. Kelly also said she was allowing her to do that.

And then there was silence. Just for a second, there was silence. Kelly had stunned the words right out of Abby.

Then, Abby opened her mouth and said, "So she's out." Abby went off on Kelly, saying that Brooke was determining Abby's fate and the group's fate. Kelly argued that she was determining her daughter's fate. In retaliation, Abby cancelled the group number.

Holly, Christi and Melissa approached Abby after the announcement of the cancellation. Abby immediately shot Holly down and said she wouldn't be traveling this weekend. Christi spoke up and said that she and Melissa (who I guess are getting along now) wouldn't travel just for a solo and wanted to stand behind Brooke's decision.

So what did the oh-so-mature Abby do? She called Christi an a**hole. Then an a**. Abby followed that up by saying she wouldn't support someone breaking a contract, to which Christi said that she was supporting a friend. Then, Abby got personal about Kelly, asking if Christi would support her friends when her kid goes to Harvard and Brooke goes to community college like her mother. Ouch, Abby. Inappropriate!

Without a competition there wouldn't be a show, so Abby decided to let the girls go to the competition...but not perform under her name. And she wouldn't choreograph. She would let one of her employees, Gianna, choreograph, but she just couldn't tarnish her name by participating. Oh, the drama! Even after this, Abby wouldn't let up, saying she'd never let her daughter shake her pom-poms so some guy can go to college for free.

The Competition

Gianna loaded the girls on the bus to the competition, and it seemed that Abby wouldn't be joining them. The atmosphere on the bus, like it seemed to have been at rehearsal, was light and fun. And then, darkness descended, and by that I mean that Abby boarded the bus.

The mood only got darker when Melissa got a phone call from Cathy (yes, Candy Apple's Cathy) saying that they should get their girls together. In a totally not staged at all fashion, Melissa asked if Cathy was headed to a competition, and SURPRISE, she was headed to Starbound as well! Since Cathy's dancers are closer to Brooke's age and Brooke wasn't in attendance, Abby pretty much declared war on Brooke if Candy Apple's beat her group in the competition, especially since the Abby Lee Dance Studio was last year's national winner.

Mackenzie danced first. Abby told her not to even get onstage if she thinks she'll forget her routine, and Melissa even worried that she might run offstage. On the contrary, Mackenzie rocked it. For all of the BS that Abby gives Mackenzie for not being as good as Maddie, she was incredible! She has gymnastic flexibility that I've never seen from Maddie. She actually seemed to be more like Brooke than Maddie.

Chloe was second. I think she executed her dance beautifully, but I didn't love the choreography. That being said, Abby said she messed up some things, so maybe those weren't the moves I didn't like.

Maddie was third. Her facial expressions, as always were on point. She was good, although she didn't seem to believe it. She said that jazz dancing felt weird.

The screen flipped to Cathy, who (like magic) noted that Brooke was missing, and also came to the revelation that she's trying out for cheerleading. After that, the camera broug ht us to Brooke's tryouts. Brooke had trouble saying the words while dancing, but her jumps were immaculate. In the end, Brooke made the team...which meant she'd be walking away from dance.

Solo Awards

Mackenzie took first place for the Junior Petite Overall award.
For the Junior soloists, Maddie took third place and Chloe took first. Abby told Melissa that Maddie didn't win because she looked professional, whereas the other girls looked like amateurs.

The Group Number

Abby was interested in the group dance again, presumably because she wanted her girls to beat the Candy Apple's girls. The Apples danced first to a song called Mermaids. They danced well for the most part, although I didn't love their choreography, and I hate to say that Vivi-anne, who just ran on and off stage, made their routine look bad because her dancing was flawed. Abby noted that Vivi was only in the routine at all to bring the age group down so Candy Apple's could compete against younger girls.

Abby Lee's girls danced next. I have to admit that I really liked it, although that's probably because it didn't even remotely think of babies and birth, aside from the song.

Group Awards

The girls competed in the Junior Groups award category.

Candy Apple's came in 8th. Ouch!
Abby Lee's girls came in 1st. Cathy looked mad! And after all was said and done, the girls danced - and won - using the Abby Lee name.

Abby took her girls to see Cathy's team under the guise of saying good job, however, she had an ulterior motive: she wanted her bee costume back.  Cathy said, "The ugly bee costume? I gave it to Goodwill." And then she insulted Christi's nose again. The women then got face to face and argued until Holly pulled Christi out of the room.

Next week, we'll see Payton (remember her from last week?) join the dance team, presumably in Brooke's place. We'll also see Chloe cry and Abby yell some more.

And that's it for season two, episode three of Dance Moms, featuring the Starbound competition in Nutley, New Jersey.

Monday, January 23, 2012

2Gether is BACK!!! U+ME=US!

If you were a fan of MTV and pop music in the 90's, you were probably a fan of the satirical band and television franchise 2Gether. If this is the case, you're about to be VERY excited.

2Gether was a satirical band shown in the MTV movie and television show of the same name. Their music was said to parody boy bands like New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys, but I think they're more like 5ive. I mean, doesn't Calculus: U + ME = US remind you a lot of When The Lights Go Out?

Anyway, early this year, the band proposed the idea of a 2Gether reunion show and movie to MTV, who gave them the go ahead to give it a try. Whether the reunion movie will actually be seen on MTV has not yet been decided.

The band will be comprised of its four remaining members, as cast member / bandmate Michael Cuccione passed away while the original 2Gether series aired. He lost his life to respiratory failure after a life plagued with sickness, including cancer.

My question for 2Gether would be, why now? What made you decide that 2012 was time to rekindle the 2Gether franchise?

Here's my thoughts on the subject. The guys from 2Gether (Evan Farmer, Noah Bastian, Alex Solowitz and Kevin Farley) are hardly household names these days, and given the success of the NKOTBSB tour, they probably saw an opportunity to get themselves back in the spotlight. And while boy bands aren't exactly the hottest music acts out there right now, there are fans in their 20's and 30's now that are more than willing to reconnect with the bands of their youth.

Do I hope MTV airs the 2Gether reunion show? Absolutely! I loved 2Gether during its first run and might even see the band in concert, given the opportunity and if the price is right. Plus, many of the proceeds from the 2Gether reunion will go to the Michael Cuccione Foundation for cancer research, and that's a cause worth supporting.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras: Why That (Bleep) Is (Bleeped) Up

I'll admit it - I sometimes enjoy watching Toddlers and Tiaras. Other times when I watch it, I find myself becoming completely appalled by the tragedy of bad makeup and bad parenting. Whether I enjoy an episode of the TLC show or not, I find myself feeling the same thing when the episode ends: This (bleep) is (bleeped) up.

So, why do I think Toddlers and Tiaras is so messed up? Here are my main reasons:

1. Many of the parents on the show aren't involved with pageants for the sake of their kids. Yes, we've seen some cases where moms participate for the sake of their kids' self esteem or because the kid genuinely wants to participate (like with Queen, who was awesome), but more often than not, we hear things like:

- I was in pageants as a kid so I want my daughter to be in pageants.
- I knew I wanted my daughter to be in pageants even before she was born.
- I wanted a daughter so she could be in pageants, but I had a son, so now he's the one in pageants.
- My daughter's so beautiful that she just has to be in pageants.

Okay, fair enough. If I had a great experience taking piano lessons, I might want the same for my theoretical child. But I wouldn't want my kid to be taking piano lessons before she can even walk or say 'mama', and I think the same should be said for pageants. Just because you loved pageants when you were old enough to remember them doesn't mean your kid will feel the same way. And, just for the record, just because a child is beautiful doesn't mean that she has to be in pageants. Just saying.

2. Babies! There are babies in these pageants! Shouldn't babies be busy learning their ABC's, not dressing up like the dolls in their playpens?

I don't think I really even need to explain this one. Although to be fair, if babies aren't spray tanning or anything crazy, and they have fun onstage, I actually think this can be a good mommy-and-baby experience.

3. Being in a pageant requires a lot of time and work. What about school or a social life? At one point, a mom said that pageant practice is no different than having a kid in gymnastics practice for several hours a day, and we don't criticize that, do we?

Well, yeah, we do. I think life is all about balance and unless your kid is Olympic-bound and loves a sport, he or she shouldn't be forced to participate in it full time.

4. Some kids just aren't pageant material.

This is particularly a problem for me when moms say that they knew they wanted their kids in pageants even before they were born. That's great and all, but not all kids are made to be in pageants. What do I mean by that? Well, most kids are cute, but not all kids are beautiful. Most kids are good at something or another, but not all kids are especially talented at things that can be done at pageants. Little Sally may be great at drawing, but walking across stage with a picture of a cat isn't going to cut it. Neither is having Sally try to sing when she's completely tone deaf.

5. Some kids don't like being in pageants.

I know some parents really want their kids to be in pageants, but if the kid doesn't want to be, why force the issue? Your child may have the potential to be a future sports star, but she may not be given the chance because she's being forced to be spray tanned and wear false eyelashes at the age of five instead.

6. Pageants are expensive. On one episode, a mom told us that her mother said she'd help her pay for the rent for her home or for pageants, and the mom chose pageants.

There should never be a choice between basic necessities and pageant costs. If you've got the funds, sure, pay for pageant dresses and whatever else will make your kid a winner. But if the choice ever comes down to food, shelter, or your kid's future, please, choose the necessity over pageant wear. I think I'd be pretty angry when I turned 18 and found out that there was no money for me to go to college, but don't worry, I can decorate my dorm with the crowns I won when I was seven.

7. The favoritism displayed by parents is appalling. Remember AshLynn and BreAnne Sterling? Or Braxton and Alaska? Scary stuff.

There have been some scary sibling scenarios on Toddlers and Tiaras. My first encounter with this was when mom Jamie Sterling clearly favored the daughter that she claimed looked like her, BreAnne, over BreAnne's twin AshLynn. As we saw on the episode, mom let AshLynn go on stage with a flawed dress while she fawned over BreAnne. However, BreAnne acted like a spoiled brat while AshLynn was sweet and grateful. When AshLynn pulled a higher title in the pageant than BreAnne, Jamie actually told BreAnne that she'd won anyway. Sad. Very sad.

8. Some of the parents that we've seen on Toddlers and Tiaras are delusional. I realize that you think putting your kid on Toddlers and Tiaras is her key to stardom, but for most of you, it's not.

I'm not going to say it never works, because being on the show did pretty well for Eden Wood and MaKenzie Myers, and maybe even for Paisley the Prostitot (the girl who dressed up like the prostitute from Pretty Woman). However, it's not going to work for everyone, and in some cases, it may even count against the kid. Some moms insist that their kids will be stars, and telling us that will make us believe it. Hint: it won't. Plus, ramming it down our throats that your kid is awesome does not make us automatically believe it. (It's like the Teresa Giudice / Gia Giudice syndrome, for those of us who watch The Real Housewives of New Jersey.)

9. Some of the parents on the show are mentally poisoning their kids. Let's take Mia's mom Marina, for example.

Mia, who we saw in the Universal Royalty Pageant, seemed like a happy, fun kid. Her family seemed to be great as well, until her mom flipped the (bleep) out when the judges reportedly kicked Mia offstage early in her beauty routine. (Note - they actually didn't.) She yelled and bugged out in front of her daughter, who ended up getting so upset that the four year old walked right out of the family's hotel room. Mia's mom wasn't even happy when her daughter took home a $500 prize.

Actually, as an add-on to this, some parents are poisoning their kids in a different way - with loads of Red Bull and candy. I understand that it may take a bottle of Mountain Dew or a can of Red Bull to get your kid to perform, but come on, do you genuinely believe that sugar-fueled energy drinks are healthy for kids?

Oh yeah, and while we're on this subject, parents are allowing and encouraging their kids to dress and dance in a manner way too mature for their ages. That can't be healthy.

10. Some of the names we see on Toddlers and Tiaras are appalling. I'm not convinced that some of the moms on Toddlers and Tiaras realized that their kids have to survive in the real world when they named them.

For example: Makynzi (good name, bad spelling), Torrann (a mix of mom and dad's names), Saliz, Zanna, Claiborne, Chesney, Cassadee (what's wrong with Cassidy?), Trenleigh (which sounds like a Star Trek character to me), Alexes (which is supposed to be Alexis but to me looks like the plural of Alex) and Brystol. Maybe I'm just drinking the haterade, but these kids will grow up one day and need to put these names on resumes and wedding invitations. Can you really imagine President Cassadee? I know I can't.

After reading this, you may think I'm simply anti-beauty pageant, but the truth is, I'm not.

I think beauty pageants can be very healthy for kids in moderation. You know, like when we eat carbs. It's not healthy to avoid them altogether if you like them, but we don't need to eat carbs with every meal. Pageants can help to build a child's self esteem if they participate to gain confidence, make friends and learn to take losing gracefully. Pageants become toxic when a child is forced to participate, when a parent mentally poisons a child through pageants or when a parent convinces a kid that she's going to become a star because she participates in pageants.

The reason that I think Toddlers and Tiaras is (bleeped) up is because the show features some of the extreme moms of the pageant world. After all, no one wants to see a show full of nice, normal moms and their well adjusted children. Yes, you can throw one in per episode for good measure, but no one would watch a show full of happy, non-controversial individuals. The show perpetuates bad behavior and seems to tell participants that if you don't act like a crazy person, you won't get any screen time. I understand that reality TV in general teaches us this lesson, but that doesn't mean that it's appropriate.

Does Teen Mom Ruin Lives?

I was thinking about the Teen Mom girls and what's been happening to them. Amber Portwood's been to jail. Jenelle Evans has been arrested on multiple occasions. Leah Messer had a blink-and-you'll-miss-it marriage, and is now engaged to a new guy and smoking while pregnant for the second time. Did Teen Mom cause these girls to lose their way, or would it have happened anyway?

Amber Portwood has been quoted as saying that Teen Mom ruined her life. I think she may be placing the blame in the wrong place. Yes, Teen Mom affected her life, and probably for the worse, but it can't be solely blamed for the downfalls she's experienced. It allowed her to fall for guys that may have only wanted to be with her to get famous, and it allowed her pain and depression to be worsened exponentially. But would Amber be depressed and somewhat lost even without Teen Mom? I'm almost 100% sure the answer is yes.

Here's my theory on the matter: Teen Mom didn't cause Amber and the other Teen Mom girls to lose their way, but it certainly didn't help them either. Amber Portwood had anger issues before her pregnancy. Jenelle Evans was also troubled before her pregnancy, as evidenced by her relationship by her mother. I think their newfound fame certainly caused their issues and insecurities to worsen, but I think they would have had issues even without it.

Here's the thing - our personalities are our personalities. Factors, like MTV fame, can affect how we handle things, but the way these girls think and act were in place way before the MTV show came into their lives. Did the show help them? Absolutely not. But that's the nature of being famous. It takes normally sized situations and problems and escalates them into giant situations and problems. More people know the girls, more people judge them, more people support them, and more people are against them. On top of that, the girls are expected to be role models in a way - the point of 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom is to show the world that being a teenage mother is hard, so the girls are both expected to thrive and fail in order to make good television.

While I firmly believe that Teen Mom did have a negative affect on Jenelle Evans and Amber Portwood, there are other girls I'm not so sure about. As far as Leah Messer goes, I think fame did affect her negatively and change her life, however, it isn't the sole reason that she is where she is today.  If I recall correctly, part of the reason that she separated from Corey Simms is that he took money from their shared bank account to buy a truck. She never would have had enough money for the truck if it wasn't for her Teen Mom income. Her life could have gone a different way entirely if not for the income she earned from the show. I also read that MTV wouldn't have let her stay on Teen Mom if she and Corey didn't get back together for the sake of the show. I don't know how true that is, but her quickie marriage certainly was a life changer, especially if it was required by MTV.

As far as Leah's second pregnancy goes, that may have happened with or without Teen Mom. However, I think between her marriage, her daughter's handicap and the fame brought on by the MTV show, Leah seems to think she's more mature than her 19 years indicate. She may genuinely believe she's ready for another marriage and child, even though in reality, she probably is not.

Farrah Abraham is another questionable case. She's a spoiled brat onscreen, but was also a brat before the show aired. The show may have given her more opportunities (like the report that she was dating a Jersey Shore star a while back and the modeling opportunities she's gotten), but I think Farrah is just Farrah, and she might have been the same without being on Teen Mom. Well, I think she would have been a slightly less exaggerated version of herself. I think the show took her normally dramatic personality and put it into hyperdrive.

Okay, so let's say that Teen Mom affected all of these girls negatively. The easy conclusion would be to say that the show ruins lives, right? If you use only these girls as an example, sure, you could say that. But what about Kailyn Lowry and Catelynn Lowell? Of all of the girls, I would say that Kailyn's remained the most normal and grounded. She's used her fame to support causes she supports (NO H8), but she dated a normal guy (Jordan) and remains a dedicated mom to son Isaac, even though she faces issues with baby daddy Jo and her mother.

Catelynn took her fame and used it in a positive way. She showed the world that you can give a baby up for adoption, and even though it'll cause you to struggle, you can move on and live a successful life. She is the best success story from Teen Mom, in my opinion. She shows us that she still has problems and insecurities (which is totally normal), while speaking publicly about her experience to help others. She took her fame and used it for good, rather than cracking under the pressure.

So, does Teen Mom ruin lives? As a hard and fast rule, no. But like any source of instant fame, it can become overwhelming and has the ability to escalate the negative facets of someone's personality. As far as Amber's claim that Teen Mom ruined her life goes, I'm not buying it. She could have said no to 16 and Pregnant. She could have said no to Teen Mom after that. Her choices are what theoretically ruined her life, not the sole existence of the television show. Did the show help her? Absolutely not. But it didn't cause her problems, either.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Dance Moms is Getting a Spin-Off!

Lifetime realizes that they have a smash hit with their show Dance Moms, and they're looking to cash in even further by giving the show a spin-off called Dance Moms: Miami.

Six episodes of the spin-off show have been ordered so far, and I'm sure there will more if the show can keep up with the craziness portrayed by Abby Lee and crew on the original Dance Moms series.

The show will feature Miami’s Stars Dance Studio, owned by contemporary dancers Angel Armas and Victor Smalley. Smalley was a contestant on So You Think You Can Dance, so this won't be his first time on reality TV. Click here to visit the dance studio's website.

Casting notices for Dance Moms: Miami were first seen in October, so for anyone that thought the Dance Moms series were completely real, they aren't. The original Dance Moms girls were also cast through a casting call.

My main question about Dance Moms: Miami is whether this series will focus more on the Dance Moms than the current installment of the show. While the moms do play a role in Dance Moms, it can't be argued that Abby Lee is the star of the show. The show was originally planned to be focused on the moms and their antics, but once producers saw what Abby Lee could do on camera, the focus shifted - and I'm sure you can all see why.

Am I completely sold on Dance Moms: Miami? Not yet. I think that Dance Moms was such a fresh idea, and I'm not sure that the identically themed show will live up to the expectation set by its predecessor.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras: Universal Royalty Pageant

This week, we saw the Universal Royalty Pageant, with director Annette Hill (again), and an old Hollywood glamour theme. Oh yeah, and a $10,000 cash prize.

The contestants and their parents this week had some issues, to say the least.

Isys, 6, and mom Erika both sounded congested during this episode. I'm not convinced that Isys genuinely enjoys being in pageants. Isys' dance trainer was named Teffany (awful spelling) and I'm pretty sure Teffany is a man. Props to Teffany if she is, because everyone has the right to be themselves, but I'm just not sure if I'm imagining it.

Mia's, mom Marina is from Russia, and she said her husband wanted a Russian bride, so he found her online and they got married. They seem to have a happy marriage, so props to them. Dad's even interested in Mia's pageant career! 4 year old Mia seems like a genuinely happy kid, so I really liked this family, until I saw them at the pageant.

I love that Mia performs for elderly people as pageant practice. It seems like a great way to for Mia to practice while making people happy. Also, Mia was adorable - she has a teddy bear named Mischa who only comes out for pageants. The smile on Mia's face was priceless when she saw Mischa. Mom said giving Mischa to Mia is like giving Pixi Styx to most kids, although in my opinion, much healthier.

Saliz, 7, claims to be a diva impersonator. Her mom, Sarah, seems to really want to make her famous. It also seems like mom Sarah combined her name with someone named Liz to get her daughter's name. I'm definitely not a fan of the same. It's pronounced Suh-liz, but I want to say it like Suh-leez when I see it in writing. Saliz's mom spent $1,200 on her beauty dress, which seems like a lot, but I guess it's not crazy if you genuinely believe that you can win the pageant's $10,000 cash prize.

The Pageant

Mia went first for beauty. I loved her onstage! She had a great, genuine smile. She was very poised and the judges reacted very well to her. She may not be as picture perfect as other girls, but she had way more personality than many of them. Unfortunately, mom wasn't happy because pageant director Annette Hill cut Mia's beauty walk short. I didn't like that mom got so emotional about this and told Mia that she didn't win and it's already over. Ouch, mom! Build Mia up, not break her down! Mom wanted to quit, and sometime during her meltdown, Mia walked out of the hotel room. (Note: the judges thought that Mia did have her time onstage and actually stayed on longer than the other girls.)

Isys was next in beauty. Her smile wasn't as strong as Mia's, and I have to say, I didn't love her dress. It was a bit too colorful and overwhelming in my opinion. Plus, the judges didn't seem to love her - one said her heart wasn't in it.

Saliz was great. She was very polished, although I don't think her facial beauty was as strong as Isys' or Mia's. I also didn't love the color of her dress (red) but the fit was perfect on her.

For celebrity wear (after dad convinced mom to continue in the pageant), Mia was Shirley Temple. Unfortunately, many other girls were as well. The difference for one judge was that Mia actually sang, and that made her stand out. Although one other Shirley Temple went out cute and authentic, and then went into a non-20's themed sexy dance.

Isys was second, and I think Annette Hill was dressed as J-Lo. She looked like something between a belly dancer and a flapper in cowboy boots, and was completely uninspired. Unfortunately, this pageant was kind of a mess for Isys, probably because she wasn't feeling well.

Saliz was Nicki Minaj. (Again, not 20's themed, but whatever.) She did okay, in my opinion. Her moves looked like something out of a Zumba class and she kind of lip synched to the words. Despite my opinion (and the fact that a judge found her costume age-inappropriate) her mom thought she did great.


4 - 5 Age Group
Queen: Zoey
Mia didn't realize that not winning yet was a good thing because she pulled for a higher title. And who could blame her after her mom's outburst?

6 - 7 Age Group
Most Beautiful: Isys
Photogenic: Isys
Miss Congeniality: Saliz
Queen: Isys

Overall Titles
Ultimate Photo Supreme: Hailey
Ultimate Novice Supreme ($500 cash winner): Mia
Mom was not thrilled, thinking that this was nothing. On the other hand, Mia was thrilled and wanted to use the money to go to SeaWorld. I hated how Mia had to cheer up her mom after winning Novice Supreme - it was a good title and Mia shouldn't have to cheer up her mom.
Ultimate Grand Supreme: Meaghan (an 11 year old who looked much older, but maybe just in comparison to the other girls).
Saliz was upset because her mom promised her she'd win some money...bad call, mom!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Dance Moms: Season 2, Episode 2

This week, the Abby Lee Dance Company headed to Columbus, Ohio, the hometown of Cathy Nesbitt-Stein and the Candy Apple's Dance Studio, for the Rising Star competition.

Abby began the episode with two announcements: Kendal looked too scared in her dance routine and the Abby Lee Dance Company was going to beat Candy Apple's at this week's competition.

The pyramid was next. Kendal was at the bottom with Mackenzie, Brooke and Paige. Nia and Chloe were in the center. Maddie was on top, even though Abby said she's danced better.

The group song this week was called Bad Apples. Abby described it as 40's mixed with Katy Perry. Brooke was given a solo to compete with a girl on Cathy's team. Abby told Brooke to make the girl, Erika, cry before she even hits the stage at the competition.

Kendal's mom started her complaining right away, saying that Kendal shouldn't have been at the bottom of the pyramid. This did not sit well with the other moms because Kendal moving up would mean that one of the other girls had to move down. It was speculated that Jill, Kendal's mom, had trouble with Kendal's placement on the pyramid because she was a star at her old dance school and now she ranks the lowest. If you were wondering, Jill specifically believed that Kendal should rank higher than Nia did.

Jill went down to talk to Abby. She said that she was upset with Kendal's placement on the pyramid and wants to know what to do to pull her up higher. Abby made it clear that Kendal needed better technique training, and the other dance moms watched their interaction like kids watching a movie.

The moms later discussed Jill at lunch. They were suspicious about Jill's motives. Why had Jill and Kendal lived so close to Abby Lee's studio but never gone there? Was she a studio hopper? Did she have ulterior motives? The moms ran through it all. They later did some research. In one of Chloe's old competition books, they found the results of a previous competition, in which Maddie took first, Chloe took third and Kendal took tenth. The moms later hypothesized that Jill's going to do everything she can to look like a team player until she secures her spot, then she'll turn and be completely different.

Christi, already skeptical of Melissa and Jill, was disgusted when Melissa and Jill gave Abby a gift. I guess Christi shouldn't be too upset because Abby immediately put it away as if she didn't like it and asked if next time they could find her a husband.

When the Abby Lee Dance Studio arrived at the competition, they received invitations from Cathy Nesbitt-Stein to go to a party. This was part of Cathy's plan to keep her friends close and enemies closer and show them that Candy Apple's travels in style. Also, at the party, Cathy (the only guest besides the dance moms) tried to convince the Abby Lee dance moms to leave Abby's dance studio for one that didn't treat them badly. Very shady, Cathy! When the women told Abby, she was furious. Cathy also went up to Kendal before she danced, wishing her luck, probably to throw her off her game.

The Rising Star competition began with a fight - not only did the moms not like the girls' costumes, but Holly got her daughter a snood that looked different than the other snoods. Abby had a hissy fit.

The Competition

The Bad Apples costumes, while not my favorite, did go with the dance and music, also not my favorite. However, Christi seemed to think the girls pulled it off, especially with their facial expressions. After the dance, Abby went off about Kendal's performance. It doesn't seem like Kendal's going to have much luck in this group!

Candy Apple's did their group dance second. I hate to say it, but they were really good. They did complex moves and their costumes were great. That being said, the girls seemed to be much older than the girls on the Abby Lee dance team. Abby went as far as to say that she thinks that Cathy lied about her kids' ages to get them to compete against Abby's team.

Despite the worries and fights, Abby Lee's team took first place. Cathy was less than thrilled, noting that her dance was superior. She questioned the judges, and despite her questioning, it turns out that Abby's team did win fair and square. (Cathy said she doesn't ever rock the boat...haha...not true!!!)

Brooke's dance was next, and she danced to the song Garden of Eden. Again, this song was apple themed, and Brooke danced with an apple on the stage. Erika danced to Through the Looking Glass. Abby said that Brooke did great, but she was worried because Erika looked much more mature than Brooke, age-wise.

After the girls' ages were questioned, things got nasty. It was proven that Erika is 14, and Candy Apple's had her in the wrong age division. In retaliation, Cathy had the staff question Brooke's age. As it turns out, Brooke was in the right age division. Because of this, Erika was disqualified and Brooke was not. Brooke even ended up taking home first place in her competition.

After this all went down, Cathy got nasty with Abby, and even went below the belt by insulting Christi's nose. Oh, Cathy...I have absolutely not missed you.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras: Lollipops and Gumdrops Pageant

On this episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, we saw the return of MaKenzie, as well as two squabbling sisters, compete in a candy themed pageant.

The director of this pageant is Tonya Bailey, and I am pretty sure I've seen her before as the director of other pageants. She let us know that the pageant winner would get a custom crown and a custom play home...so there was sure to be some competition.

MaKenzie Myers
We were introduced first to MaKenzie, daughter of Juana, who was a giant brat. Her mom said she's realizing she's making, which is changing her attitude for the worse. At the age of six, she did a TV spot, a People magazine spread and had a Funny or Die video about her. She's a spoiled brat now and is sure to be a monster as she gets older.

In her last Toddlers and Tiaras pageant, MaKenzie didn't take home any crowns, so she and mom Juana seemed to be especially determined to win at the Lollipops and Gumdrops pageants. Her mom even bought her an outfit to wear as she arrived at the pageant!

Next up was a girl whose mom bought her first pageant dress before she was even born. Brooke began doing pageants from the moment she was born, and Kaylie began before she turned one. Their mom, Joni, and their dad seemed to have made their house a shrine to the girls. I saw their faces on the walls, on the couch...everywhere! On a positive note, these girls seemed down to earth, and even though they compete against each other in pageants, they seemed to get along and enjoy being sisters.

Hailey was third, and at nine, she seemed to be quite a polished contestant. This is surprising because she started at the age of seven. Mom Shemanda seems to be a supportive, but not overbearing, pageant mom. Hailey seems to really bring it, and I can see how she'd be stiff competition. She's trained by a drag queen, and as we've learned in past pageants, having the drag queen edge can help the girls bring home the crowns.

The Pageant

During pageant prep, MaKenzie was a brat (shocker), the sisters were fun and Hailey handled pageant prep like a pro.

Beauty was the first competition, and it's heavily based on facial beauty. The girls in each division stood in a stage for this, and at this point, I became pretty sure MaKenzie wouldn't be taking home the crown. Not only was she smiling like a maniac, but her stomach was showing...it was not good! Next, they did their walks one by one. I hate to say it, but I am not convinced that MaKenzie has what it takes anymore to compete in pageants. She didn't look confident and she didn't seem to be the best in the competition. She even made some missteps during her routine.

Kaylie and Brooke were both phenomenal on stage. You could truly see their personalities, and you could see how different they truly are. Hailey was third. Her poise onstage was just as good as it was during practice, and her smile was genuine. After her routine, Hailey was devastated because she "almost fell on her face," and mom was very supportive, which was nice. Granted, she really didn't almost fall on her face - I barely noticed her misstep - but I give her credit for sharing her emotion in a quiet way and her mom credit for handling the situation in a proper, supportive way.

Up next was Candy Wear. MaKenzie was first of the group and she saw the MaKenzie Mouse outfit we saw in People Magazine. She danced to the 'meet me at the apple tree' song. She made up the routine as she went, and it wasn't too bad. However, the song choice and outfit didn't seem to go together for me...and I'm not convinced as to what they had to do with candy.

Kaylie was next. She wore a candy colored striped dress and pretended to be at a boutique. She was good, but lost her smile at the end. Brooke was dressed in a costume that looked like it was supposed to look like fire, and she rocked her routine. She did back handsprings and kept her smile glued to her face.

Hailey's outfit actually had to do with candy. She pushed a cart that was labeled Hailey's Glitz Candy Cart. She wore a colorful striped shorts / overalls set with a white shirt. She looked a bit 50's, which a judge noted. It was awesome.


6 Year Old Division
Queen: Allison

8 Year Old Division
Queen: Sierra

9-10 Year Old Division
Queen: Erika

Supreme Titles
Candy Wear Winner: Kaylie
Mini Supreme: Hailey
Beauty Photo Supreme: Brooke
Beauty Supreme: MaKenzie
Ultimate Grand Supreme: Sadie

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Dance Moms: Season Two Premiere

Dance Moms was back tonight on Lifetime! And I was VERY happy to see season 2 of Abby Lee's dramatic dance studio.

Dance Mom Melissa started the season by saying she'd have only positive thoughts during this dance season, and Nia's mom Holly was a no-show at dance practice. Abby Lee got on Nia's case about this, saying that her mom should leave work to be there. She also noted that Nia probably feels left out without her mom there, although I think Nia probably just feels bad because Abby Lee makes her feel awful for her mom not being there. (Later, Abby went off on Holly because Nia's dad dropped Nia off and left. Abby went as far as to say that her father took her to the speech where she learned about her period, so Nia's dad should be at dance practice.)

Abby Lee started the season with drama - she said that Cathy and Vivi-anne were out, and she'd be doing an open casting call to replace Vivi. The moms did a prayer, hoping that the new mom and daughter pair won't be like Cathy.

Maddie, Nia and Chloe were given solos in this week's competition. The group would also do a number called Sassy Dolls, which included all new choreography. The new girl (who is named below) was also given a solo to the song Bring On The Boys.

Meanwhile, at the Candy Apple's Dance Company, Cathy was ready to compete against Abby's girls. She took Abby's pyramid idea and did a similar one, only hers was computerized, and everyone was equal except for the best girl, who was at the top and got a solo in the upcoming competition. Cathy's dancer Erica was given the solo in the first competition.

Abby started her open auditions, and tons of people lined up to give their kids a chance to join the Abby Lee Dance Company competition team. Leslie and daughter Payton were appalled that they had to be a part of the open audition - Payton had been an Abby Lee dancer for four years - her mom believed she should be given the spot. Unfortunately for Payton, she didn't make it because she's too tall. Kendal, 8, ended up making the team. She seemed to fit exactly what Abby needed - not too young, not too old, pretty, a look kind of like Maddie's. And, the girls seemed to like her. Abby got mom Jill started right away, scheduling private dance classes for Kendal.

Leslie, Payton's mom, had a huge hissy fit. When Abby defended her choice, stating that Kendal's too tall and dances too maturely for this team, Leslie didn't take it well. She screamed at Abby and demanded that she find a spot on the team for Payton. Abby refused, and Leslie stormed out.

Next, Maddie practiced her solo song, Jubilation. Nia's song was based on a Broadway musical called Once On This Island. Abby said it is not an ethnic routine, so Holly can't complain about it like she did last season. Chloe danced a song called Dreams because she has big dreams, although Abby thinks the fame from being in a pop star's dance video got to her head.

The moms then speculated about new dance mom Jill. They'd heard that she was an overbearing dance mom. Almost immediately after Jill arrived in the room with the other moms, Christi began to question Jill. She asked why Jill and Kendal didn't come to Abby's studio earlier even though they're local, and Jill admitted that she hadn't heard good things about Abby. The tension between Christi and Jill rose immediately, so that's sure to be a storyline this season. The moms wondered how Kendal snagged a spot on Abby's competition team when tons of girls from Abby's studio could have been chosen. I say it has to do with the fact that Dance Moms is partially cast. Come on, did you think that this reality show was actually completely real?

On the bus to the competition, Jill gave Abby a thank you gift. Christi was again cynical of her for that, stating that Jill seemed like another Melissa. She'd earlier criticized Jill for being fake and too sugary sweet - and to her credit, Christi may be right. Jill seems kind of like she's sucking up to Abby. I hate to say it but that's probably why she was cast - to cause drama and tension among the moms.

The girls arrived at Dance Trouble in North Carolina, their competition for this episode.

Abby and Chloe both did amazing in their dances. Abby even smiled during Chloe's routine, showing more support than last season, but criticized one of her moves after she finished. Nia did great and once again, Abby Lee looked happy. She even hugged Nia! Kendal wasn't perfect, and Abby was quick to criticize.

At the awards ceremony, Nia took fourth place. She was so happy and grateful. Chloe got first overall in her age category. Maddie took a first place title as well.

After the solo competition, Jill asked about Kendal's probation, and Abby said she's still on it because of her mistakes. Jill was not happy, and neither was Kendal. She cried, and Abby didn't like that - it made her yell even more. Oh, Abby.

 The group number was last. From the snippets we saw, the competition looked fierce. The Abby Lee dancers were good as well (although Abby said they only danced so-so), and I was happy to see that Mackenzie got to participate in the group number. My only issue is that the song repeated the lyrics "I'm a sexy girl" and it seems a bit mature for the young girls. The dance still took home first place, despite Abby's reaction. Back in the dressing room, Abby started reaming out the girls for their performance, even though they won. It looks like watching herself on TV hasn't changed Abby a bit...she's still the same angry Abby Lee from last season.

At the end of the episode, we saw Jill admit that she has a not-so-sweet side and bond with Melissa. We saw Christi yell at Abby. And we saw previews of the rest of the season...and it's going to be a good one.

Okay, We Have to Address It: Blue Ivy

Jay-Z and Beyonce went along with the celebrity trend of naming their kid a weird name. They chose Blue Ivy. While I understand the meaning behind it (blue being Jay-Z's favorite color and Ivy for the roman numeral for 4 - IV), I'm not loving it.

So, why am I not loving the name Blue Ivy? Well, the words in the name are a thing. The phrase Blue Ivy reminds me of an ivy plant covered in spray paint or something. Like, I decorated my house with Blue Ivy because I like the way it looks. It doesn't seem like a name to me.

Second, Blue isn't a name. It's a color. It's not a particularly pretty sounding color, at that. And the full name of Blue Ivy doesn't flow well, so I'm pretty sure the kid will end up just being called Blue.

I prefer Ivy Blue to Blue Ivy. Ivy is a legitimate name, and the kid can go to school without being picked on for having a color for a name. Ivy is creative enough and not so common that the kid will have other Ivy's in her class.

I guess I'm just not feeling it!

You know what, though? Blue Ivy is a great celebrity baby name. It's weird, we questioned by Beyonce and Jay-Z chose it, and it doesn't quite make sense to all of us. So it fits right in with the Apple / Maddox / Peaches / Moon Unit celebrity kid naming style. If Jay-Z and Beyonce want their kid to fit in with the other celebrity kids, they did well at naming Blue Ivy.

Update: Apparently, a type of marijuana sold in California dispensaries has been named Blue Ivy after the baby. Great way to enter the world - having marijuana named after you!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras - Precious Moments Pageant

I thought it was over-the-top and gross when Lady Gaga wore a meat dress, but it was just sick when a pageant kid wore meat on this week's Toddlers and Tiaras. However, the pageant director did say moms go over the top for this pageant, so what did I expect?

The first girl we met this week was Alana, 6, daughter of June, an extreme couponer. Mom said they've spent between eight and nine thousand dollars on pageants, but have saved that much with coupons so it doesn't matter. If you're into coupons, you'll like June's stockpile - it's big but not crazy. For example, they may never run out of deoderant, but they'll certainly use all the laundry detergent at some point! Alana's full of spunky attitude and seems to genuinely enjoy pageants.

Second was Laci, 8, and mom Alicia. Laci was sassy, and mom said she flip-flops between being an angel and a crazy person. No matter what, though, Laci can be bribed with chocolate. Laci also has two sides to herself - pageant girl and country girl. She wants to win a pageant and hunt for a deer, all in the same week.

Mom Brooklyn and daughter Heaven, 6, were next. Heaven had been bumped up an age level for this pageant, so she'd be competing against older girls, whereas she was previously one of the older girls in her division. I give mom credit because she won't give Heaven energy drinks. She thinks Heaven's too young, and I agree. Red Bull can't be good for a six year old!

The Pageant

Alana went first in beauty, and that girl absolutely transformed in her beauty wear. She did a fantastic job onstage, but didn't show her belly like mom wanted her to. I don't blame her, honestly! Heaven was next. One of the judges said they enjoyed watching Heaven because of her bubbly personality. I agree, but her smile seemed very fake.

Laci was third in beauty, and in typical Toddlers and Tiaras drama, she couldn't be found when her division was about to begin. As it turns out, Laci was outside with her grandmother. It turns out that she wanted to tell her grandma that she wants her mom to back off. Laci did make it onstage on time, and she was awesome. Her smile looked very real and her movements were polished but not stiff. Judge Amanda agreed, saying that Laci stands out and has good facial beauty.

Outfit of Choice was next. Alana led the way in a Western Wear type outfit. She did something where she opens her mouth wide during her dance. That looked really weird, although the rest of her routine was good and she looked like she was having fun. Heaven was Pinocchio for Outfit of Choice. It was adorable and creative. She got a bit tied up in her strings and velcro, but she recovered well and continued her routine like a pro.

Third was Laci. Her mom's goal was to wear the judges, so mom tried to dress Laci up in a Lady Gaga-style outfit - a meat bikini. Fortunately or unfortunately, there was no time to make the meat bikini, so Laci got out of wearing it onstage. Still, Laci was late, and a judge noted that the lateness would cost her points. Laci finally made it out, and pretty much immediately fell out of her Lady Gaga egg. I have to say - I wasn't feeling Laci's performance. She held the microphone too close to her face, she was off her game and her outfit was a bit skimpy for a girl her age.


4 - 6 Division
Runner up: Alana (Her mom actually called this, stating that Heaven might beat Alana. Mom was happy for Alana's placement, which was refreshing - she was actually happy for her daughter, not angry that she didn't win it all. Go, mom!)
Queen: Claiborne

8 - 9 Division
First runner up: Caroline
Queen: Jayda

Overall Titles
Beauty Supreme: Kaylee
Personality Supreme: Laci
Mini Supreme: Heaven
Grand Supreme: Jayla

My Comments

This week's episode of Toddlers and Tiaras wasn't too bad for bad names. The two weird names that I heard were Chesney (it is the country, right?) and Claiborne. I'm not a huge fan of Chesney, but I can understand it if her parents really liked Kenny Chesney or something. But Claiborne? I'm really not feeling that.

Teen Mom's Leah Messer Pregnant Again. Seriously, Leah?

Despite the negative publicity surrounding her, her bad decision making and her blink-and-you'll-miss-it marriage to Corey Simms, I've always kind of supported Leah Messer. But now, that's out the door.

This baby is fathered by Leah Messer's boyfriend - excuse me - fiance, Jeremy Calvert. The pair were engaged on Christmas day after only a few months of dating. Reportedly, Leah's other baby daddy Corey Simms is cool with Jeremy, so that's a plus, but I can bet he's less than thrilled that his 19-year old ex-wife is about to have a third child, especially when daughters Aleeah and Aliannah require so much work.

Based on the engagement date (Dec. 25) and today's date, I'm going to say that this baby was an "oops!" followed by an engagement. Otherwise Leah would have found out she's pregnant only days after conceiving. That being said, I think the "oops!" may have been pretty intentional on Leah's part, based on the rumors that have been swirling about her whirlwind relationship with Jeremy and desire for another baby.

Leah's decision to have another baby makes me sad for her, and society, in a way. She had two babies, and then a failed marriage, from a one night stand with Corey, and now she's rushing into yet another relationship. You'd think Aliannah's handicap would make Leah think twice about procreating because Ali will require lifelong care, and Leah has enough on her plate without adding a newborn to the mix. Not to mention that Leah's actions show us that being on Teen Mom has taught her nothing. She was given an opportunity to fix up her life with her Teen Mom paycheck, and instead she decided to have another baby. Oh, Leah.

In any case, I hope Leah takes a moment to consider proper spelling before naming her next baby. Aleah and Aliana would both be fine names, but the extraneous letters make the names utterly ridiculous. Leah, please consult a baby naming book this time!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Toddlers and Tiaras: Crown Beauties in Arkansas

Toddlers and Tiaras, once again, brought us screaming kids during the Crown Beauties pageant in Arkansas. This pageant's central theme is calendar wear, in which the kids dress up in outfits that represent an event that occurs during a month of their choosing.


First we met mom Alisha and daughter Cassadee, 9. (You know, as normal people spell it, Cassidy.) Cassadee is following in mom's pageant legacy, since mom was a pageant girl herself. The family has a bunch of cats and dogs as pets, and even a pet monkey.

Mom Alisha is hardcore about pageants. She actually owns Perfection Studios, a pageant coaching studio that employs 14 assistant coaches. Further proving Alisha's dedication to pageants, she has her daughter practice for four hours a day.

As if pageants aren't enough, mom and dad RD own a cheerleading studio, where Casadee goes to practice cheerleading after pageant practice. She competes in cheerleading as well as pageants.

When Casadee's mom called Cassadee out on cutting her own hair (she likes it short), her mom and hairdresser were not happy. In fact, the hairdresser made a comment that Cassadee's hair needs to be long so it can be put in a fancy updo for pageants. She called this "Jackin' it to Jesus" and said the higher the hair, the closer the girl is to God. Um, wow.


Torrann, 7, (pronounced like torrent without the T at the end) was next. Her mom's name was Ann, and her dad is Torrey, which explains where she got her name. She's been competing in pageants since she was only a few months old, and her parents admit that she's spoiled. Like Cassadee's mom, Torrann's mom was also a pageant girl.

Mom insists on tanning Torrann because she says that even though Torrann's biracial, she'll be whiter than the white girls if not tanned. (Her words, not mine.) Dad disagrees and thinks it's ridiculous to tan his daughter.

Torrann was bummed that her mom, as a pageant coach for others who seemingly works for Alisha's studio, had to spend time with other kids at pageants. Cassadee's mom seemed to do the same, noting that she does makeup for twenty girls or so.

Penny Lane

Penny Lane, 3, was last. Mom Gannon named her daughter after The Beatles, since she was a huge fan. As it turns out, Cassadee's mom Alisha is actually Penny's coach. During Penny's prep before the pageant, the "Jack it to Jesus" comment came up. Again, wow.

The Pageant

Although she's three, because of her birthday, Penny Lane got to compete in the 2 year old division. She cried before she went onstage for beauty, but she made up for it by performing her routine perfectly onstage. She looked a bit vacant, like she was just going through the motions, but that's probably pretty standard for girls her age. Next we saw Torrann. She was perfect onstage. She has facial expressions that can draw the attention of the judges.Unfortunately, one of the judges noticed a bit too much and said she looked fake. Cassadee was third. She looked like a living doll. Her walk was perfect, and the judges seemed to react well to her.

For Calendar Wear, Penny Lane was dressed as the month of July. Her outfit was cute, and she looked like she was having fun, but she had a sneezing fit on the stage. To her credit, she sneezed each time and kept going with her routine. Torrann's theme was New Year's Eve. She dressed as Prince and had a sign saying, "Party like it's 1999." Not only was her costume great, but she did crazy gymnastics routines as well. Cassadee was third in her Valentine's Day outfit. It had only arrived the night before, and the shoes didn't fit properly. Still, she did really well and you could tell that she's a professional.

Outfit of Choice was third. Penny Lane wore an outfit that looked like what we'd see in a Western Wear competition. She did well and looked like she had fun onstage. Torrann was dressed as a space girl, but wasn't comfortable with her routine since she didn't feel that she knew it well. She was good but didn't do anything special. On the flip side of this, Outfit of Choice seemed to be Cassadee's time to shine. She wore Western Wear like Penny Lane, but she seemed to be genuinely into her routine.


2 Year Old Division
First Alternate: Emma
Division Supreme: Trenleigh

7-8 Year Old Division
First Alternate: Anna
Division Supreme: Riley

9-10 Year Old Division
Second Alternate: Lindsey
Division Supreme: Maddie

Supreme Titles:
Mini Supreme: Penny Lane
5 - 10 Grand Supreme: Torrann
Ultimate Grand Supreme: Cassadee

While I enjoyed this episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, I had to question a lot of the parents for how they named their kids. I realize that this is just my opinion, but Cassadee is just silly with that spelling. Why not Cassidy? And I understand combining mom and dad's names, but I'm not convinced that Torrann truly spells Torren (which is how they pronounce it). And Trenleigh? Seriously? It sounds like some kind of alien from Star Trek. Think about your children, people! Can you really imagine someone named Cassadee as the president of the United States? Will Trenleigh really look nice on a wedding invitation? Just think about it for a minute...it's kind of wrong.