Friday, December 30, 2016

Valerie Fairman's Mother Blames 16 and Pregnant for Her Downfall

Valerie Fairman, who appeared on MTV's 16 and Pregnant, passed away recently. Her adoptive mom Janice blames the show for her life ending.

Per DailyMail.co.uk:

'She was a gorgeous girl and it all went to her head,' Fairman said in an exclusive interview with DailyMail.com as she and her husband Gary spoke outside the four-bedroom home in Oxford, Pennsylvania, where they have lived for more than 40 years.
'She thought she could pretty much do whatever she liked after the show. She was determined to get everything she wanted.'

The twenty-three year old teen mom died from a drug overdose.

Per the article, the show tore the family apart because Valerie's parents didn't want her to participate, leading to Valerie leaving home. However, Valerie's appearance on the show showed a girl who was already acting out, in part to get attention because her adoptive parents had so many foster children in the home.

Did the show contribute to Valerie's eventual downfall? Probably. But is it fair to blame the show? I would say no. Valerie was clearly troubled before the show, and there's no way to say how her path would have turned out if not for the show.

In any case, we hope that Valerie's family finds peace and her daughter grows up to have a wonderful, fulfilling life with fond memories of her mother.

A&E Cancels KKK Reality Show, Cites Money As Reason....Not Logic

A&E was all set to air a docu-series about the KKK, then cancelled it, citing the fact that a nominal payment was made, which was against their documentary policy. It's more likely that on the heels of Leah Remini's Scientology show, the network thought this series was a good idea, but then realized they were so, so wrong.

Granted, the show was created with anti-hate groups and was meant to show the negativity of hate groups in America, but it was a risky move. Per the article linked above:

The series, produced in association with multiple civil rights groups and scheduled to debut Jan. 10, generated substantial criticism upon its announcement last week, included even calls to boycott the show.

The article also cites the fact that producers made payments to the show's participants and the network learned this through a third party. This sounds like tricky language to me - like the producers are not network employees and a third party was an intermediary (like a lawyer) who normally communicates between the two parties anyway. So, while it sounds like a crazy discovery later, it's probably status quo.

Here's my thing - networks have to take risks, especially in today's day and age, to gain and retain viewers. I get that. But this, even as an anti-KKK show, may be more than we're ready for right now. Plus, even with that being the message, from the minimal things I paid attention to, it didn't come across that way at first sight. And people make pretty quick snap judgments at first sight, which could easily create the kind of outrage that we've seen.

Would the show have had a positive, anti-hate related message? Maybe. But was the world ready for it? I think we are not. The better option is to skip this show and not give any attention to an organization that promotes negativity.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Should The Rockettes Be Required to Perform at Trump's Inauguration?

If you've been following the presidential news lately, you may have read that the Radio City Rockettes will be performing as President Elect Trump is sworn into office. Not all Rockettes were thrilled about this, and one was very vocal that she shouldn't be forced to perform for someone she doesn't support. While news has come out that the women will not be forced to perform, this caused quite a controversy before that happened.

So, should the Rockettes be required to perform for President Elect Donald Trump? I thought about this today, and I really don't have a definitive opinion. Here's where I stand on both sides of the issue.

Yes, They Should be Required (The Pro Stance)

Back in high school, my class was asked this question: would you work for a company who you don't support? As idealistic teenagers, many of us said yes. I imagined myself working for a cigarette company or something, where even though I don't smoke, I'd be able to fulfill my responsibilities. No problem. But as I've become an adult, I realize it's not that simple. I could never work for a company that treated women unfairly or said negative things about groups that don't deserve them. For example, I believe that women should have access to birth control - I would not be able to work for a company that refused to provide it to employees. With something like this, though, it's a one-time issue, and many of us disagree with some things that our employers choose to do. Especially in a unionized environment, people have to do things that may not line up with their values, but have to as part of their contract.

Whether or not someone supports Trump, he was elected, and we need to accept the outcome. If the hiring organization for The Rockettes agreed to perform at Trump's inauguration, the Rockettes need to go.

I can see the reasons why some Rockettes would not want to perform, but then the question becomes, where do we draw the line? Can a Rockette refuse a Sunday performance for religious reasons, even though she signed on to perform on Sundays? Where do the needs of the employer and employee's personal boundaries meet, without sacrificing the values of either?

No, They Should Not Be Required (The Con Stance)

Donald Trump is as polarizing as they come, and if performing at his inauguration makes someone extremely uncomfortable, they should not be subjected to such a thing. If it would negatively impact someone's mental health or long term job satisfaction, it's their manager's responsibility to work out a solution with them. Nobody should be forced to work in an uncomfortable work environment.

Whether you support Mr. Trump or not, he did make misogynistic comments, and today's modern woman should not be forced to stand for, or support that, if she chooses not to. Rockettes are role models for today's youth, and part of that means standing up for what they believe in. While they are part of a group, they are individuals, and they're entitled to their opinions on this polarizing subject.

There are plenty of Rockettes - it's likely many are willing to perform, and there's no need to force those who do not want to.

A Final Thought

Part of the reason this is so tricky for me is a tweet that went out in response to this controversy. Someone commented that a Rockette shouldn't have to dance for Trump, the same way a baker shouldn't have to make a cake for a gay wedding. Before I read that, I was pro-Rockette - you shouldn't have to perform if you're completely against it. But then I saw that tweet, and I don't think it's fair for a baker to deny a cake for a gay couple. So, that's how I ended up torn on this subject. Sometimes the issue is bigger than we are, and this is one of those cases. I don't think I can truly choose a side without being at least somewhat hypocritical.

What do you think about this?

Monday, December 12, 2016

Scipted TV Talk: The Last Man On Earth

While I normally focus on reality TV, The Last Man On Earth left me with so many questions last night that I thought it was worth discussing. If you haven't watched it, this post may contain spoilers.

The Last Man on Earth had a few key elements for last night's (12/11/16) season finale - or maybe it was mid-season finale - but either way, it's over until spring.

- Nobody was concerned about Gail being missing, in part due to their focus on Melissa's mental illness. At the end of the episode, Gail, who's still stuck in an elevator and hurt from her own accidental gunshot wound, loads her gun and shoots. We don't know if this is one final cry for help or the fatal blow, but we think it was her ending her life out of desperation. What are your thoughts on this? The show likes to keep things open ended so I think we may not have an answer for quite some time.

- Melissa, after disappearing, reappearing and standing menacingly on the edge of a roof, was locked in a room where she could be observed. While this may have been the best option, solitary confinement isn't known as the best treatment for those with mental illnesses, is it? It looks like she'll blame Todd next season for the lockup, even though he was one of the most hesitant to do that.

- Why isn't Carol looking pregnant yet? I am not good at understanding the passage of time in this show, but I feel like it's time for her to start looking the part, at least a little. Is this an indication that maybe the pregnancy isn't as viable as she thought? Is it meant to leave us questioning things? Is it just that time is moving super slowly and she wouldn't be showing yet? And what's going to happen when Erica has her baby, for that matter?

- Earlier in the season, we were left to infer that Tandy's brother Mike died and that Pat, the crazy yacht guy who tried to kill Mike, is still out there somewhere. Are we going to get any closure on these items? I think the answer may be no. This show doesn't seem to like to close open items, probably in an effort to keep us hooked. I mean, there's only so much that can be done with a show without adding extra characters, and that's more difficult in a post-apocalyptic world.

What are your thoughts? What do you think will happen when the show returns?

Sunday, November 20, 2016

90 Day Fiance Season Finale - 11/20/16

Tonight is the 90 Day Fiance season finale, and we will finally find out what happens with Matt and Alla, Nicole and Azan and the rest of the group. Here we go!

Jorge and Anfisa kicked off the episode and they're getting married. THEY ARE GETTING MARRIED. WHAT THE (BLEEP)??? Seriously? After Anfisa's ridiculous abuse of Jorge, his decision does not seem wise, and reports I've read online make it sound like they spend a lot of time fighting. Anyway, Anfisa couldn't possibly be any less excited about the wedding, and when Jorge gleefully declared his love, she just glared. She made it clear that this is just a courthouse wedding - she wants her dream wedding later. She did say that she feels ready, which is probably the most positive thought we've heard from Anfisa all season long.

Jorge had some work stuff in the car on the way to the wedding, and of course Anfisa had a problem with that. And when Jorge said she could stay indefinitely now that they'd be married, she asked what if she didn't want to stay. Lovely.

Anfisa asked Jorge if he was 100% sure about the marriage, and he said yes, but he paused. And Anfisa found fault in the pause. Again, lovely, Anfisa. She also made it clear she expects bags and shoes, and won't take Jorge's phone off of "Find my iPhone" so she could keep pinging him.

Anfisa shed a tear at the wedding - was that actual emotion? Is there something more than what we're seeing? And wow, their kiss looked real! Did we underestimate Anfisa? Oh, never mind - she just said she doesn't care as long as Jorge makes money. Back to normal.

Matt geared up for his fourth wedding, this time to Alla. Matt fretted about whether his friend Patrick would object to the marriage. Alla's sister Iryna and her friend Julie helped her prepare. Alla was secure in this marriage despite her previous marriage and Matt's, and she said she could feel how Matt feels about her.

When asked if anyone objected to the marriage, Patrick stayed quiet. He later told the confessional that he saw emotion in Alla at the wedding, and that gave him faith that they could make the relationship work. My question is - why did they take the chance of asking for objections in the first place? Whatever, their choice! I guess it makes for good TV, in any case.

Lowo and Narkyia were up third, and Narkyia was reeling because she'd found out Lowo was chatting up his ex during the beginning of their relationship. Lowo regretted his lies (as he should) and Narkyia told us she didn't know if she could continue the relationship. In a smart move on Narkyia's end, she told Lowo she couldn't trust him and she walked away. He wanted her back, but it wasn't happening.

Narkyia sat down with her twelve year old son, Malcolm. They talked about some trivial stuff, like a place called Chicken Street, which was comprised of places to eat chicken. The topic of Lowo came up, and Narkyia said she doesn't know when he's coming. She explained that he'd lied but refused to explain it to her son. She then said she wasn't sure if he'd come at all. Her son was disappointed because he wanted someone to play sports with, etc. - he wanted a father figure. Malcolm still wanted Lowo to come, saying that some people lie to not hurt people, and Narkyia had to explain that lying is not okay. Malcolm was clearly upset, but he sweetly said that he supports his mom's decisions.

Narkyia felt stuck - she still loved Lowo, but she knew his lies were not okay.

Azan and Nicole followed. Nicole had to admit that her trip to see Azan wasn't as perfect as she'd envision it would be. Nicole hadn't told Azan that she'd need a co-sponsor to bring him to the states, so she decided to get a feel for if he was serious about the relationship. While Nicole beamed with every statement from Azan, he seemed about as interested as a child would be in steamed broccoli. (Hint: not excited.) Nicole broke the news to Azan that she didn't make enough money for his visa to be accepted. She said she'd have to get a job, show income, etc., for this to work, and it could take two years. Azan said he'd be interested in waiting the two years to be Nicole's husband. (What?) Nicole said she'd continue her quest for a co-sponsor. She was thrilled when Azan said he loved her, seemingly forgetting all of the madness of Morocco.

And that was it! The end of this season of 90 Day Fiance.

Monday, November 7, 2016

It's Getting Even Harder to Watch Jorge and Anfisa

Is anyone else having trouble while watching Jorge and Anfisa on 90 Day Fiance?

I mean, Nicole and Azan are frustrating (she should really be done with that relationship) but Jorge and Anfisa are infuriating. Yes, Jorge allows Anfisa to walk all over him, but she's complaining that she needs money, yet also complains that Jorge has to work. And the pinging the iPhone thing? Ridiculous. I get that Jorge wants his relationship to work, but he's not a bad guy - it might be worth finding someone who treats him at least a little bit less like garbage. (Or a lot, but let's start our standards low, here!)

I don't really know where they end up (reports have conflicted) but I hope Jorge is able to truly be happy with his decision, and if they do stay together, Anfisa gets herself together to be less awful to Jorge all the time.

Thoughts?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

90 Day Fiance: Red Flags For Jorge!

On tonight's 90 Day Fiance, Anfisa, who I think we've all questioned, said something that should be a major red flag for Jorge.

Anfisa wants to be famous. And not just internet famous. Real life famous. She's using modeling to get there, but how can Jorge not see that she's using this show as a catalyst for her fame? I really want to believe all of the couples on this show are here for the right reasons, but I'm having a lot of trouble with Jorge and Anfisa. Well, Jorge is in it for real, but he's only one half of the equation. Anfisa knows this show is going to catapult her into the spotlight, and if she leaves the US, she'll leave a ton of opportunity. Plus, she's got a pretty sweet meal ticket with Jorge. I hope he realizes what he's getting into.

Honestly, I hope I'm wrong and the 90 Day Fiance cameras are painting an unfair picture of Jorge and Anfisa. As of now, though, I'm not convinced.

This site reveals whether Jorge and Anfisa are still together today, allegedly, anyway. So read away if you want to know if Jorge and Anfisa are still together!

Monday, October 10, 2016

90 Day Fiance: Alexei's Parents

Am I the only one disgusted by the guilt trip that Alexei's parents were laying on him on 90 Day Fiance? I understand that they're upset that their son moved away, but he's a grown man. He has every right to move to America, and his parents are being irresponsible by blaming him for their sadness. Yes, they may be having a tough time with health issues and such, and I sympathize with that, but how is it fair to inhibit Alexei's life as a grown adult with their guilt?

I feel terrible for Loren - she's trying so hard to make everything work for the pair, and she's being set back by Alexei's parents' guilt trip. And she's being so accommodating by trying to get them to move to America - it's more than she has to do, given the way they're acting.

Thoughts?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Sweet Fifteen: Quinceanera vs. My Super Sweet 16

I came across the show Sweet Fifteen: Quinceanera, and decided to give it a try. I was initially horrified by the idea, as I thought it was going to be another version of My Super Sweet 16. Fortunately, I was wrong.

Sweet Fifteen: Quinceanera showcases a company that organizes Quinceaneras and the families who plan them. What's great about this show is the creative party planning ideas that we see, as well as the families and teenagers that we meet. I thought we'd be seeing mental breakdowns and crazy demands, but instead, we see some very nice people celebrating wonderful moments in their lives.

Yes, there is drama (someone collapses in one episode), but we see girls and their families as they go through the planning process and enjoy their special days. And we see some really awesome stuff, like a photo shoot featuring baby tigers. (Hint: they're adorable. ADORABLE.) Whereas My Super Sweet Sixteen focused on drama and not getting the right color car, Sweet Fifteen sheds a much more positive light on party planning.

If you're looking for a fun show that will make you feel good about our youth, give this show a try. I loved it! Sure, parents go all out on their party plans, but the kids are likeable, so you want them to love their big days. Plus, watching party planners Alexis and Jarling make Quinceneara dreams come true is awesome, and you can truly see their talent shine.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

90 Day Fiance: Jorge's Secret Revealed

Tonight on 90 Day Fiance, Jorge's big secret was revealed. As we know, he couldn't find an apartment, but we weren't told why.

So what's the big deal that Jorge has been hiding?

He was convicted of a felony for his marijuana business before there were permits and things for his work. He spent a few days in jail, accepted a felony plea, and moved on.

Okay, I get it. But as for not telling Anfisa, his excuse was:

I didn't think you'd ever find out.

What?

I don't think Anfisa's intentions with Jorge are genuine, but this is pretty messed up of you, Jorge.

So that's it. That's the secret. What are your thoughts?

Monday, September 19, 2016

In Defense of Danielle (Sort Of) and Some Other Thoughts on 90 Day Fiance

To say the internet has been unkind of 90 Day Fiance's Danielle (of Danielle and Mohamed fame) would be an understatement. So I'm going to share my perspective on the situation, following last night's 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? episode.

You know when something happens and you just don't understand why? It happens to all of us. There are large scale things (global disasters) and small scale things, like a friend being upset with you, but you have no clue as to what happened and why. These things occur, and not always with a clear explanation. Okay, so, we've all been perplexed before, but we either accept that things are confusing or we understand that we don't have all of the answers.

So how does this tie in with Danielle? I legitimately don't think she understands why things went south with Mohamed. While it's clear as day to us television viewers, I really don't believe that she sees it. As an outside observer, we see the following:

  • Mohamed's obvious lack of interest in Danielle from the start
  • The warning signs Mohamed displayed with each passing episode
  • A man who clearly wanted a life that wasn't what he'd get in small town America
  • Danielle not being truthful with Mohamed about finances and other things
  • A recipe for disaster

What concerned me the most about the Happily Ever After? episode is Danielle still wanting to find and work things out with Mohamed because she loves him. That, tied with a lack of self awareness, is problematic. First and foremost, the love issue - even if she does love Mohamed, he doesn't love her. Even if he truly did love her at first and want to try a true relationship, that is clearly no longer the case. He walked out and wants to move to another state, for goodness sake. He's not willing to try. No amount of love on Danielle's part can fix Mohamed's indifference, and (mildly) in his defense, Danielle did lie to him about finances and her stability. Money can break many relationships, let alone those with the stress of a K-1 visa.

So, my defense of Danielle is this - I truly don't think she understands what happened, and I truly don't think she knows better than to want Mohamed back, thinking she can recreate her happily ever after. I think there's really the "If only he'd talk to me, then we could make it work!" mentality in her mind, whereas the sad reality is that nothing is going to save this relationship.

Oh yeah, and there's also a strong lack of accountability, like blaming Mohamed for their cable being turned off. Sure, the bills were put in his name, but as a person not living in the household, I see no reason why Mohamed would pay the bills. So is he out to ruin the family? No. He's out to save himself.

This relationship draws strong parallels to relationship between this season's Nicole and Azan. I don't mean their physical characteristics, I mean the codependency and insecurity displayed by Nicole. Nicole, like Danielle, clearly suffers from low self esteem, and seems to have a hard time seeing beyond herself. The difference is that Nicole is young, and I think she may look back at this and have a different perspective, whereas I think Nicole's is locked where it is.

In the most recent episode, Nicole displayed some warning signs that show that she needs a therapist more than a foreign romance:

  • She announced, giddily, on camera, that she and Azan had sex. He looked horrified, as he's from a conservative nation and that's not something that he was comfortable announcing on camera.
  • When Azan mentioned healthy eating and exercise, Nicole looked like she'd burst into tears as she said, "You'd want me to change?" We all have things that our partners may like us to change - giving vegetables and exercise a chance isn't so bad. She did, after all, blatantly state that she doesn't like vegetables, and vegetables are important for the sake of your health.
  • Nicole seemed to do no research on Morocco before going, and blamed Azan for pushing her away in public when public displays of affection are not widely accepted in Moroccan culture (at least per the show's explanation).
  • She left her daughter for five weeks - FIVE WEEKS - to chase a foreign romance. Is that really okay?
 As for the others, Chantel clearly wants to be with Pedro but his motives are questionable, and the lies they're telling aren't helping. Anfisa isn't very convincing that she's not just into Jorge for the money, and I think Matt and Alla are legit, however strange their background circumstances may be. But we will see!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Quote from Entertainment Weekly from Kenya Barris - I Respectfully Disagree

There is a quote from Entertainment Weekly spoken by Kenya Barris, the creator of the show black-ish, which I truly enjoy and think is fantastic. I have a lot of respect for Barris' work and creativity, but there's a quote from him in the Sept. 16/23, 2016 edition of EW that I think requires more thought. Now, I realize that God and religion are deeply personal for people, and the opinion I share will not be shared by everyone. And that's okay! I am sharing my personal outlook on it, and I recognize that others may not share my view.

There's an upcoming episode of black-ish in which teenage Zoey tells her dad, Dre, that she may not believe in a higher power. Barris pulled this from his own experience when his daughter shared her potential lack of belief. The quotes from the magazine are as follows:

The genesis of the episode came from a conversation Barris had with his own daughter during a routine car ride when she shared her doubts about her faith.

"What I realized [about my daughter] was the idea came from a sense of entitlement that [my wife and I] gave her. For me growing up, you had to have something above you to give you hope. She didn't need that. Her hope was us."

I think this statement sets a dangerous precedent about kids questioning their beliefs. Sure, parents want to pass their beliefs down to their kids. But is it really okay to shut down your kid's feelings because you don't agree with them? And believe that because you gave your child a good life, they have no right to question their belief system?

I understand what Barris is saying - he needed faith to get him through tough times, whereas his daughter has her parents to lean on for her needs. But why is it okay to deny her feelings as a sense of entitlement?  Many people believe in a higher power, many do not. It's totally okay for Barris' daughter to seek her own answers to faith. Perhaps Barris could have considered some different options:

- My daughter has all she needs, so she doesn't need faith. (His takeaway.)
- My daughter may genuinely not share my opinion. Let me talk to her about why I believe in a higher power, and see where we agree and disagree. She may consider some things I've never thought about.
- My daughter may not share my beliefs, and she's a teenager. She's going through a lot. Maybe she can speak to a counselor to discuss her feelings. She's entitled to her opinions, whether or not I agree. She's entitled to her own belief system.

The danger of Barris' wording is that it's not okay for his daughter to not believe in a divine spirit - but it really is! In the way that it's okay for Barris to believe, his daughter has the exact same choice. And sweeping her feelings under the rug as entitled and wrong isn't going to help her with her critical thinking skills or to have confidence in herself and her opinions. Being a non-believer is NOT the sign of an entitled person; it's the sign of someone who has a viewpoint that works for them. You don't have to be entitled in order to not believe, likewise, you don't have to live any particular type of life to be a believer.

My point is this - and I firmly stand by it - if you live your life in a moral and ethical way, you can believe anything that you want. In reality, we may believe what WE believe, but that's our own personal opinion, and we should be open to discussion with those who have different belief systems. Do we truly know what's right? I don't think so, otherwise there wouldn't be so many differing opinions in the world. We can only go with what we think is right, live our lives in a positive way, and love and respect others for who they are, regardless of whether or not we agree with their views.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

A Super Disturbing Statement on This Week's Toddlers & Tiaras

Pageant culture is tough, and not all kids are cut out for pageants. On top of that, some moms probably plan to put their daughters in pageants before they're even born, regardless of the child's ability. That being said, one mom's statement took things too far, and way beyond the point of responsible choices.

The below quote is brought to you by Deb, mom of Jayliana, who should be thanking her lucky stars that she was born with pageant talent. The quote was in regards to moms not being happy with where their kids place in a pageant.

Get more practice. Get a better looking kid. Have another baby or something with a different man. I don't know, do what you gotta do to get a cute kid.

What the...WHAT? I'm sure if you asked her, she'd say she was kidding or being sarcastic when she stated this, but does anyone else see how this statement is problematic? What kind of message is this sending? Sorry, kid, you're just not good enough because you're ugly, and looks are all that matters?

Not all Olympians have Olympic bound kids, and I would hope the Olympian parents wouldn't reject the kids because they prefer academics over sports. Your dreams are not your children's dreams. And that's totally okay.

I get it - some people reproduce in order to pass on their genetic lineage, so a less than picture perfect child can be devastating for some. But finding a new father for a replacement child, well, that's just...you know what? I'm done. You can let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

Just so you know, I don't think that Deb meant this statement literally - I think it was meant to be a commentary on how serious some pageant moms are, as she was also commenting on how some mothers take losses personally. I believe Deb likely has a biting wit and strong sense of humor and may have been commenting on how some parents take pageants way too seriously. But the statement itself, taken in a context of its own...it's harsh!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Toddlers and Tiaras, Season 7 Episode 2 Recap

Toddlers and Tiaras episode 2 picked up where episode 1 ended, with Selyse missing her turn on stage. Fortunately, Tonya Bailey is awesome and let Selyse go on beause it's not her fault that she had bad preparation. Unfortunately, Selyse walked right offstage in the middle of her beauty routine. Kim, Selyse's mom, blamed the lack of preparation on coach Jaimie.

Lilly was next to compete. Her stage presence was incredible! It's amazing how poised she is for such a young child. Kallyn followed, but questioned what she was doing onstage (she asked her mom "what?" and paused) but she picked back up. Jacquelynne followed. Her personality was very strong.

Outfit of choice, which featured jungle wear, was next. And wow, people went all out for this! However, Kim didn't have a song picked out for her daughter. She wanted to wing it. That's risky! Both Megan (Kallyn's mom) and Jaimie realize that Kim's blaming Jaimie for everything, but she's really unprepared. I'm not sure if there ended up being music, but judge Barbie Eason was unimpressed with Selyse's makeup, anyway.

Kallyn struggled with getting her hair and makeup done, but mom Megan did a great job keeping her in line.

Lilly was hyper before outfit of choice. She did great, despite that the wrong version of her song played. Kallyn followed and froze up on stage. Judge Chloe Brown said that could mess up her score. Jacquelynne did great, and it was refreshing to see a kid in a conservative, kid-appropriate outfit.

The Winners

If you don't get a divisional title, you've pulled a higher title.

Taking the 3 year old outfit of choice category was Isabella.
The divisional supreme queen was Selyse.

For the four year olds, outfit of choice went to Aniston.
The divisional supreme queen was Taliana.

For the fives and sixes, outfit of choice was won by Kaylee.
Jacquelynne won best dressed, as I understood it, but I guess maybe I heard wrong because her mom said she bumped for a higher title.

0-3 Mini Supreme went to Hailey.
4 - 8 Personality Supreme went to Lilly. Her mom was not thrilled.
4 - 8 Beauty Photo Supreme was awarded to Jacquelynne. Mom Sylvia was disappointed because she'd rather her daughter win for her onstage work.
Kallyn won the Face of 2016, which is highest in her age group. Lilly's mom Amber did not take this well, insisting it was a mistake.
Abby took the 9 and up Ultimate Grand Supreme.
Mega Ultimate Grand Supreme went to Landry.

Lilly cried because she wanted to win the car, and she said it's all her fault. This concerned me because she was blaming herself as if she was a failure, which was completely untrue.

Kim continued to blame Jaimie for everything, so when she ran into Cambrie, she told her she wanted to switch teams. Cambrie said they'd schedule a consultation. Jaimie and team were not amused.

It looks like we'll see this drama get heavier on next week's episode. And, on top of that, it sounds like the pageant director of next week's pageant is Jaimie's mom!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Interview With Tonya Bailey, Founder of Bailey's Pageants, Featured on Toddlers and Tiaras Season 7


On the season seven premiere of TLC’s Toddlers & Tiaras, Tonya Bailey, founder of Bailey’s Pageants, made things very clear. Everyone wants to win the supreme title. You won’t always agree with who wins. A loss is not the end of the world. And most of all, don’t badmouth the judges or the winner – pageant wins are based on opinions. Just because you think your kid is the best doesn’t mean an impartial pageant judge will agree.

We at Less Than Reality sat down with Tonya to get a feel for today’s pageant world and what it’s like to be part of the Toddlers & Tiaras reality franchise.

Less Than Reality: You’re the founder and head of Bailey’s Pageants, which hosts multiple pageants throughout the year. Tell me about your pageants and why girls are clamoring to compete in them.

Tonya Bailey: At Bailey's Pageants we work hard to make each child feel like they are the Mega Ultimate Winner! We work hard to have one of a kind amazing crowns and the best prizes. We do lots of special extra things for the contestants to make them feel special



Less Than Reality: How did you get involved in pageants? Did you compete before you began your own company?

Tonya Bailey:  I competed until the age of 16 and began directing at 18. I am currently 45, so it has been some time. My husband Todd is the pageant emcee. My sister Shelia, her daughter Kristi and my Mom Lila also help with everything. So, everyone puts effort in making Bailey's Pageants great.

Less Than Reality: Your Jungle Safari pageant was featured on Toddlers and Tiaras. Do you think the fact that this pageant was on the show encouraged more girls to compete? Do you think anyone shied away because of the television coverage?

Tonya Bailey:  I believe some enter the pageant for the chance to be seen on TV and the excitement of a filming crew.

I have heard of some people who would rather not attend a pageant that is being filmed. I guess they feel nervous of possibly being filmed doing something they wouldn't want on TV, or something being taken out of context.

Less Than Reality: Do you think Toddlers and Tiaras has changed the pageant world? Has it made it more competitive, or made it even glitzier than it was before? Did you notice a rise in pageant enrollment as the show gained popularity?

Tonya Bailey: I have had many people tell me they entered the pageant because of the show. They saw the show and wanted to see what a pageant was really all about! The pageant world has always been competitive, just like any sport, and is always evolving. Someone is always taking it to the next level.

Less Than Reality: Season 7 is the first of Toddlers and Tiaras to focus on pageant coaches. Do you think a pageant coach is necessary to win a pageant?

Tonya Bailey: I believe a coach can only help you  in your pageant quest. They can help guide you in so many aspects besides your stage routines. Just like gymnastics, cheer or football, a coach can only help you be the best you can be.

Less Than Reality: What are some key factors that make pageant competitors winners? Are there are any primary things that the girls absolutely must do? Are there any things that can be detrimental to a competitor’s success?

Tonya Bailey: Pageants are hard work! It takes lots of dedication and discipline to be able to compete. I see some who may not have practiced, and when they hit the stage they are not prepared and it shows! Knowing you did all you can for your child to be the best she can be is what every parent wants to provide.

Less Than Reality: If you could give advice to anyone thinking of getting involved in pageants, what would it be?

Tonya Bailey: It's an expensive hobby but very rewarding! Learning to overcome shyness and come out of a shell are one of things I really enjoy seeing. How a contestant can evolve just like a butterfly. Just be prepared to put in the work because that is what it takes to be a top competitor.
Less Than Reality: Anything else you’d like to share?

Tonya Bailey: Pageants are a passion of mine. I enjoy the hobby and love to see all the hard work each contestant does show as they shine on stage.


Thursday, August 25, 2016

Toddlers and Tiaras is Back! Recap of Season 7, Episode 1

Toddlers and Tiaras is back on TLC after its long hiatus! We were brought back in as kids get collagen sprays, hypnosis and all kinds of other crazy things.

We met Cambrie first, and she's the coach of Cambrie's Court. She's been in pageants since the age of two. She says that she's so into pageants, she can't hold a boyfriend.

Cambrie's up against Jaimie's squad, the Sassy Supremes. Jaimie, like Cambrie, says it's impossible to win pageants without a coach these days. She competed in pageants until the age of 18, at which time she began coaching. She said either she or Cambrie's girls win most titles, so the competition between the pair is fierce.

This week was Tonya Bailey's Jungle Supreme Pageant in Louisiana. It's the first pageant of the season (and there are pageants weekly), and all of the big coaching groups will be represented.

The first kid we met was in Gilbert, AZ. Her name is Kallyn, who's 4 years old. Her mom, Megan, seemed like a lot of fun - she said her little lion was going to win the jungle pageant, then burst out laughing. Although Kallyn was sick, all of the pageant fees had been paid, so they were still going. Megan says Kallyn's advantage is that she looks like the quintessential pageant queen: blond hair, big smile, etc.

Jaimie, Kallyn's coach, showed up at Megan's home. Jaimie said that she charges $55 an hour or $30 for half an hour, which is the most reasonable she knows of, but she wants everyone to have a chance. Kallyn sees Jaimie at least once, if not twice, a week for coaching. Kallyn also had extensions, tanning, and loads of costumes....leading up to the most expensive pageant Kallyn's ever been in, at $2,500.

The second child featured was Selyse, 3 years old, in Pheonix, AZ. Her mom is named Kim. They're part of Jaimie's group. Kim's income pays for pageants, and she's actually put off dental work so can pay for pageants instead. Kim said Selyse always takes home a supreme title. Kim felt unprepared with the work Jaimie has done for her, and felt like she wasn't getting enough attention.

In Benbrook, TX, we met Lilly, a 4 year old. Amber, her mom, said Lilly has won most of her thirty-five pageants. Amber designed a $1,000 dress for the upcoming pageant. Amber's husband is only home one week a month because of his job, and Amber realizes that she and her family make sacrifices so Amber can have what she needs.

Lilly's on Cambrie's team, and Cambrie noted that Lilly can be a great kid, but can also be a terror at times. Cambrie costs $175 per class. Cambrie said she charges more than Jaimie because she helps more, and that Jaimie's probably jealous of her.

Cambrie brought her team together to prepare for the jungle pageant. She likes to take around 5 to 8 girls to a pageant so they can claim all the big titles.

Finally, we met Jacquelynne, 5, and mom Sylvia. This was Cambrie's first time meeting Jacquelynne - she does her normal coaching via Skype. Though they live in Louisiana, they work with Cambrie because they say she's the best. Sylvia says they've been criticized by family and friends for their pageant participation, but people don't understand that Jacquelynne's not in pageant wear every day - this is just like dress up.

Cambrie had actress/acting coach Dallas Lovato (Demi's sister) come in to help the girls. She and Demi both started out in pageants. She had the girls become the animal characters they'd be playing in the pageant.

Cambrie had a confrontation with a girl named Jayliana and her mom, Deb, who didn't want her wearing a cheerleader bow because she's not a cheerleader. Cambrie stood firm - the girls need to match. In the end, Jayliana and her mom left.

In Tempe, AZ, Jaimie brought her team in public to perform so they could build confidence. Jaimie chose to bring two of the twenty girls she coaches to the jungle pageant, because she chooses quality over quantity. Jaimie was frustrated by Selyse's lack of practice and her mom, Kim's, defense of it.

The Pageant

We got a tough talk from Tonya Bailey, letting us know that not everyone will win, you're paying for an opinion, and a pageant win is not that serious. It bothers her when a mom wants to win more than a kid does.

Jaimie tried to prepare Selyse, who was feeling clingy towards her mom. Kim said it's because Selyse is picking up on her stress. As the three year olds got called on, Selyse was still preparing. Kim had to run her downstairs. As the episode ended, we weren't sure if Selyse would get to go on because she was late.

Now Toddlers and Tiaras stretches over more than one episode! Next time, we'll see issues with Lilly's music and all kinds of other drama. I can't wait!

Monday, August 22, 2016

90 Day Fiance - Season 4, Episode 1 - Season Premiere

90 Day Fiance is back! It's crazier than ever.  A couple who's never met, a woman who was catfished but wants to marry her fiance anyway, a guy who spent $70K on the woman he's seeing...this season is going to be great!

We first met Nicole and Azan. Nicole is 22, from Florida, and has a two year old daughter named May. When she turned 18, she moved to Texas to be with the guy she'd been dating. When she got pregnant, the relationship ended. Six months before the show was filmed, Azan messaged Nicole, and the rest is history. She was attracted to his body and great looks. She realized he lived in Morocco, but didn't know where it was. Nicole felt a strong connection, and they started talking about marriage three weeks in. He asked her to marry him, despite the fact that they'd never met. In order to get a K-1 visa, you have to have met your fiance, so Nicole was flying out to Morocco for five weeks, and this is the longest she'd been away from her daughter.

Nicole's family gathered before she left for Morocco. The family doesn't support her choice to visit Azan but they seemed to support her. Her father, step-mother, mother and step-father seemed to be worried about things like human trafficking, as well as Nicole's lack of knowledge about going to a primarily Muslim country.

Chantel and Pedro were next. Chantel, 25, is from Atlanta, Georgia. She's been a cheerleader since she was four, and she teaches cheerleading. She lives at home with her close-knit family. She's at community college pursuing a degree in nursing. A friend introduced her to Pedro, from the Dominican Republic, so she could learn Spanish and he could learn English. There was instant attraction, so Chantel visited him. On the third trip, he proposed. She was thrilled because Pedro treats her like a princess, which is different than the American relationships she's experienced.

Chantel's parents don't know they're engaged. She thought her parents would flip if they realized Pedro was coming on a K-1 visa

Chantel got her own place to share with Pedro. Chantel's mom was supportive but encouraged Chantel to focus on herself and her studies. Chantel's mom was happy that Pedro was just in the US to study - or so she believed. She made it clear that Pedro must start working when he's here - he better not be here to use Chantel.

Chantel dressed up and was so excited to meet Pedro at the airport. Though his plane landed, he wasn't on it - he had landed in Florida and wasn't at her airport. Chantel didn't know why he wasn't there, and she cried with disappointment. She considered that she may have created a fantasy world, rather than reality.

Jorge, 26 from Los Angeles, was next. His fiance is Anfisa. He is an entrepreneur in the medical marijuana industry. It provides him with a six figure income without a 9-5 job, and has potential to make him a millionaire if marijuana is legalized. He's had bad experiences with dating, as he thinks women are feminists, and instead wants a woman who wants to be taken care of and not compete with him. His fiance is from Russia. When she flew to Spain to study, Jorge flew out to meet her, and they'd spent about a month of face time together.

Their relationship is great, according to Jorge, but they fight a lot. Their current fight is that Anfisa wants a $10,000 purse and Jorge would prefer to save some money. However, he'd spoiled her in the past (spending $70,000 since they began dating) and continued to do so.

Jorge had secrets he was afraid to tell Anfisa, and was worried that they'll affect their relationship.

Anfisa hadn't returned Jorge's calls since the purse issue, even though he was due to fly to Russia. She then, using his Apple ID and password, erased his phone. CRAZY! She emailed him and told him to cancel his flight. And she then changed his email password. EXTRA, SUPER CRAZY. And why did she have his passwords?!? WHAT?

Jorge met with his sister, Lourdes, and niece, Cassandra, to talk about how he'd be going to Russia to get his fiance. There was concern about her photos looking fake. Jorge explained that he's head over heels for her, and the marriage has to be fast. Jorge's family saw the red flags about the purse debate mentioned above, especially because Anfisa's goal is admittedly to stay home, do housework and shop.  They supported Jorge if this is what he wanted, but warned of lessons learned.

Matt, 43, runs his family's car dealership. He's been married three times. He fell fast for people, which doesn't work well - he was cheated on in his first and third relationships. This gives him a lot of baggage and made it hard to meet people. He specifically looked in Eastern Europe for a date, and there he found Alla, 30, from Kiev. He fell for her and accepted her son Max, 7. He proposed, and Alla and Max will be moving to the states.

Matt worried about Max's reaction and how it can affect their relationship. Matt discussed Alla with his friends and family members at the car dealership. They were concerned because his life falls apart with each divorce. Patrick, one of  Matt's friends at the dealership, refused to support Matt even though the others respected his decision.

As the season progresses, it looks like Nicole will have some trouble with acceptance (Azan didn't realize she was bigger), Chantel's fantasy will break into pieces and we'll meet another couple.

That was it for episode 1 of 90 Day Fiance - I can't wait for more!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Biological Clock Web Series: Reality Meets Scripted Series

There's a new web series that brings us behind the scenes of the lives of single New Yorkers. The series, called Biological Clock, came from the mind of insightful and talented Jamie Mittleman, who created the series and stars as main character Julia.

The show gives us a raw look into the world of dating, including the unflattering moments, because it's based on true experiences. Spending hours upon hours talking to people, Mittleman interviewed friends, colleagues and strangers to find out about their experiences, nightmares, fears and successes in the world of dating. She blends these stories beautifully to create the worlds of her cast members.

Featuring raw humor and honest confessions, Mittleman tackles both gay and straight relationships, and gives us messages that some people really need to hear - sometimes, you need to change your dating style or you're going to continue to go nowhere. And a second date does not mean an impending marriage proposal, so while you can dream, jumping in too fast can do more harm than good.

One of the best parts of the series is Mittleman's take on human interaction. You can truly feel the discomfort of the characters' encounters with others. The show captures the intentional awkwardness that has been done so well on mainstream sitcoms like The Office (hello, Michael Scott!). Plus, the dialogue rings true with what we've all told ourselves and hoped to believe it: "I'm not alone. I have a blanket and peanut butter."

Want to check out the web series? Take a look here and let us know what you think.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Sing It On - Series 2 Premiere

Sing It On Season Two Premiered on Pop today. This follows a capella perfomance groups as they fight for their spot in the ICCA finals.

We'd be getting to know the following teams, all of which were looking for new team members.

UMass' S#arp Attitude, an all girl group, was first. They were in search of singers and a beat boxer. The first thing you learn when it comes to beat boxing is called "boots and cats", and the girls were over hearing girls do that as their only beat boxing skill. One of the girls, Linnea, left the group suddenly, leaving a gap.

UMass' Hexachords were next. They're a group of six and they took on Linnea, who left S#arp Attitude. Another member was Linnea's boyfriend, Xander. All members are performance majors. They've twice made it to the semi-finals, and have to do auditions because some of their members graduated. They decided to have fun and give Linnea's car a Hexachord makeover with paint and post-its. Linnea likes that the Hexachords are more real, whereas S#arp Attitude was more bitchy (her words, not mine).

The University of Maryland's Faux Paz was next on the show. Lynique introduced us to this group, which was the first co-ed a cappella group at the university. The group is known for their big, impactful sound. Their problem was that they lost most of their female members, so they had to find new ones. They were down to seven members from last year's seventeen. Lynique was thankful for the group because they helped her through tough times. David, the president, was 'discovered' as he sang alone in his dorm room, and someone told him to try out for an a cappella group.

The group set out on a mission to find women for their group. They had people sing 'Raise Your Glass' by Pink. The team felt the girls trying out were shy and missing confidence....or talent. Then, as reality TV does, it made it seem like they found some people they liked and everything was great.

Then, we got another surprise - a guy came to try out, even though the team only wanted girls. Of course, as reality TV does, the guy, Brad, looked nervous at first, then ROCKS IT. He sang the song in the original key and everything. The group deliberated over whether they wanted this person in their group. They decided to accept him, as well as Joanie, Cat and Amrita.

University of Pennsylvania's Off The Beat was the fourth group we met. They've won twenty awards that are the equivalent of the a cappella Grammys. Jasmine's the music director of this group, which has often been branded as a rock group. She noted that while academics are important, their rehearsals are very intense. Last year, they went to the ICCA competition for the first time and came in third in the semi-finals. This year, they want more. Jasmine and group president, Rohan, have a strong rivalry but their goals help the group succeed.

The group was looking for a male soloist. Rohan was confident that he'd be great for a solo spot, but he got nervous and got lost on the words during his audition. He was up against Alex and Brian. Still, even with his flaws, Rohan was the winner to most of the group....except Jasmine, who fought against him. He was eventually awarded the spot, despite Jasmine being hesitant.

Karaoke Competition: Faux Paz vs. Off The Beat

Because Off The Beat didn't beat the Faux Paz in the past, they set up a karaoke battle. I'm sure it's actually because this is a TV show and drama has to happen, sure, let's say it was just because of last year's grudge.

While Rohan sang a Boyz II Men classic while forgetting the words, some of the guys danced around....to be funny, I think. Jasmine was not happy when a Faux Paz guy rocked a rendition of Creep. Faux Pas sang Bye, Bye, Bye but it was noted that their choreography needed some work. Jasmine sang Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.

The winner of the competition was Off The Beat, although it was noted that they may have had a home field advantage, as they were in their territory.

This season, we'll see lots of words morphed with the "a capella" and group names, like "a ca-gods" and some other stuff. Also, lots of drama, tears and vocal loss. This should be a fun season to watch!