Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Interview With Melissa Mangold, Participant on MTV's Made

If you've seen MTV's Made, you probably realized that it's not exactly true to life. I mean, come on, all of the coincidences? The storylines that were strangely similar from episode to episode? The drama that bordered on unbelievable? Yeah, all of that. We sat down with Melissa Mangold, who appeared on Made, to hear what it's really like to be on this MTV series.

You appeared on MTV's Made to be made into a comedian. Did you enjoy the experience?

I enjoyed some of the experience! I enjoyed the opportunities I was given and the people I met. But I was happy for it to be over and I did not enjoy the final product.

What was the best part of appearing on the show? What was the worst?

Made's Melissa Mangold
The best part was being able to work with College Humor and learning from people in the comedy industry. The worst part was being manipulated by the producers and having the final episode reflect none of the highlights of the experience.

Would you say you were misrepresented at all on the show? What happened in real life versus what was shown on TV?

Yes I was misrepresented. The episode was edited in a way that made me appear as though I quit the show when in reality we were offered an audition after the filming was scheduled to end. I had a final that day and was unable to attend, but they cut from the most dramatic scene of the experience (aka me in tears) into me saying I would not attend the audition. It was embarrassing to say the least. The "final show" that we had been working towards was not even mentioned in the final product of the episode.

Do you feel that the producers manipulated any situations to create drama?

Yes. In my experience I was being "made" as a team with two other girls. The producers did everything they could to try to make us talk badly about each other. They also purposely scheduled events during our classes at school so we would have to choose school or comedy.

How did you get cast for the show?

My college sent out an email asking to student submissions. After an email submission, a Skype submission, a phone interview, an in person interview, and an in person interview with my then boyfriend, I was chosen.

Would you do another reality show if given the opportunity?

Absolutely not.

What advice would you give to future reality show participants?

Know why it is you want to do it (it better be worth it), know that the truth will be stretched, know that you'll be manipulated, know that you will not be treated as a person and your experience is nothing but a grasp for entertainment and good ratings. There will be fun moments but the best moments of filming will never make it to the final product, all they care about is drama.

Thank you, Melissa, for talking to us at Less Than Reality! We're sorry to hear that you were misrepresented on Made, but are glad you got a chance to tell the truth about it. Hopefully, your advice can help future reality show contestants.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Interview With Crystal Nelan, A Participant on Make Room for Multiples

Crystal Nelan appeared on TLC's Make Room For Multiples as she welcomed her triplet girls into the world. That's pretty amazing, if you ask me - not only was she preparing for a major life change, she was doing it in front of the camera. In our interview with Crystal, she tells us what she went through, and admits that while she did her best to appear positive, she could have been more honest - having triplets is tough!

You appeared on Make Room For Multiples. How did you get cast for the show?

Because I was having triplets, I saw a high risk doctor. He had worked with the show before and asked me if i would be willing to submit an application. Our application was chosen.


How was your experience being on the show? Did you enjoy it? Would you do a reality show again in the future?


I loved being on the show, it really was a lot of fun.  I don't think I would ever do it again though.  I wouldn't want to live my life publicly.

Do you feel that you were represented fairly on the show? Are you happy with what aired?

Yeah, the show did  great job. But it was amazing that they managed to whittle down about 50 hours of footage into 25 minutes.
 
What advice would you give to future reality show participants?

It's a lot of work. Constantly remembering where the camera was and trying to be real while trying not to embarrass yourself.  And although it's reality, they would kind of set things up sometimes, or you would say something & they would say "say that again, but like this".

If you could do it again, would you do anything differently?


I think if I were to do it again, I would be a little more honest.  Not that I wasn't honest exactly, but I definitely tried to put my best foot forward, and I really just shouldn't have cared.


Saturday, April 29, 2017

NBC's First Dates: I Loved It!

I caught NBC's new show First Dates, which showcases people set up on blind dates. While my expectations were low, and I wondered how they got Drew Barrymore to be the narrator, I was pleasantly surprised.

Produced by Ellen DeGeneres and based on the UK version, this show features couples as they meet and go through the awkward steps of a blind date. Some couples appear to be set up because they're great for each other (like episode 4's Sam and Rachael or Molly and Rena) while others are total trainwrecks (like Ommid's match with Candice).

I liked the diversity of the series: younger couples, an older couple, gay and straight couples, couples with different backgrounds and more.

On episode four, many of the participants came out looking great - they had the raw honesty and awkwardness of a true first date - but two contestants were not my favorites. Both Colleen and Candice looked like total ice queens. I mean, Candice freaked out because her date asked her age and left before the meal even began. But they were on a DATE. You have a right to know the age of the person you're dating, in my opinion. Her date, Ommid, tried to have a good time, but Candice was simply not having it. She's a big shot at her job, and her ice queen personality translated right into her date. Colleen, on the other hand, chose a key issue (gun control) and refused to see past it. Colleen came off really ditzy on the show, but I think that may be due in part to nerves - blind dates and reality shows can both make be nerve wracking!

Would I watch this show again? Absolutely. I've set my DVR to record it going forward. It was a fun, enjoyable watch, although some of the dates are rather infuriating!

Want to be on First Dates? They're casting!

Friday, April 28, 2017

It's a Good Time To Be a Teenager and Get Famous For the Wrong Reasons

With the resurrection of My Super Sweet 16 and 16 and Pregnant, it's a great time to achieve some fame, if you want to do it for the wrong reasons.

First of all, with 16 and Pregnant, it's different now than the first time around. The original participants, especially in season one, didn't realize that doing one episode on MTV would skyrocket them into fame. Even former 16 and Pregnant star Mackenzie McKee agrees with this, although her motives in speaking out are potentially to attract more fame. (She seems to be mad that former Teen Mom 3 co-star Briana DeJesus was chosen to join the Teen Mom 2 cast while she wasn't.) Here's some info on what Mackenzie had to say, according to Hollywood Gossip:

“The ladies whom are on Teen Mom did not get pregnant for fame,” she said, though it certainly did result in that through the years.
“They had no clue at the time how far with TV they would come. But they do boldly shared their stories to show others what a struggle it is.”
At face value, McKee does not make terrible points; Teen Mom is a TV juggernaut now, hence the current rebooting of 16 and Pregnant.
How much that inspires the motives of teenagers, no one can say, but there's no denying that it's a cultural force that it once wasn't.
I think Mackenzie has a point. Will a lot of girls get pregnant on purpose to be on the show? I'd certainly hope not. But people do crazy things for fame, and I doubt this will be an exception.

Interestingly, I wrote this back in 2011 in response to an interview conducted by Dr. Oz with the show's creator, Lauren Dolgen:

Dr. Oz asked Lauren Dolgen if she thinks that Teen Mom glamorizes teen pregnancy, and Lauren said no. She said that anyone that watches the show will realize that it shows the harsh reality of teen pregnancy and does not promote pregnancy.
I disagreed somewhat then, and even more now, that the show has led to massive fame and fortune for some of its participants.

Secondly, My Super Sweet 16 coming back sends the wrong message about, well, everything. Be a spoiled brat? Sure. Treat your parents badly and rant about getting a blue Ferrari instead of a red one? Yeah, go for it. While a more recent show about Quinceaneras on a different network showed a positive side of teen parties (grateful kids, involved parents, etc.), My Super Sweet 16 did nothing positive except showcase entitlement and bad behavior. I know that this kind of thing attracts viewers, but aren't we better than that? And should we be using kids for this kind of thing?



What do you think of these kinds of shows? Great for entertainment, or bad for society?

 

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Interview With Dating Naked's Shealyn Brand

Shealyn Brand took a chance when she auditioned for a spot on the first season of VH1's Dating Naked. After all, it was the first season, so she didn't know what to expect. Fortunately, her carefree, fun spirit got her through the episode and allowed her to show how awesome she is. Recently, Shealyn took the time to talk to Less Than Reality to share her experience, her thoughts on the episode, and her love of pizza.


You appeared on season one of VH1's Dating Naked. How did you end up on the show? Did you audition? Did you know what the show was, or was it a surprise?

I found the show on a casting website, and being fresh out of a relationship decided, what the hell, I'm gonna audition! The show was new at the time but I figured it had something to do with being naked - which I am totally okay with, for better or for worse.
Of course, you had to be naked on your date - how was that? Did you hang out naked in advance to prepare yourself or anything?
I'm one of those people who gets home and immediately takes off all clothing - which is okay because I either live alone or with a significant other. The thought of it grosses my Ma out though and she tells no one to sit on my couch because my bare ass may or may not have sat on it!
Dating Naked makes it look like everything happens really quickly. How long were you on location to film?
I was on location for a week. The audition/interview process took about a month prior to my trip to Panama (where it was filmed). 
We all know that reality TV isn't exactly reality. Did you have to film anything multiple times? Was what was aired relatively true to what happened, or do you feel that a lot was missed?
It's all in the editing. What happened and what ends up in the episode is always up to the editors. I chose to behave well (relative to the others on my episode). I already knew my parents would flip at me even doing the show - I wasn't about to bang or cry on camera - I figured my parents would see it eventually and I'm their little angel.
What was the best part about being on Dating Naked? What was the worst part?
 
Best part was a free trip to Bocas Del Toro and meeting someone very special in my life (he was part of the crew). Worst part was pissing off my folks, oh, and the fact that they didn't blur my butt! I was told they would blur my butt! Perhaps I would have done some squats had I known, but probably not.
On the show, we could see you had several tattoos. Tell me about them.
Mostly pizza related, which explains why I have joined the Brooklyn Pizza Crew. I have my version of a Mom tattoo and the city emblem of my hometown of El Centro, CA.
Did you get any feedback from friends, family or TV viewers after you appeared on the show? What did they say?
 
Obviously my parents and family were less than thrilled with my choice to appear on the show. However once they watched it and saw how great I came off, very down-to-earth etc., they learned to deal with it. Now, whenever it's on, my Nana records it or my Ma shows my nieces.
If you could be on the show again, would you do it?
Some days I think yes. Most days I would say no. However it did prove to me that I don't care what anyone thinks about me and I can do anything!


Thursday, April 20, 2017

Hollywood Darlings: Episode 2, My So Called Prom

On Hollywood Darlings (which is an improvised comedy, not reality), the girls drank a charcoal drink, which Jodie hated. Someone came up to Jodie Sweetin and Beverley Mitchell to ask for a picture, but she didn't recognize Christine Lakin, which made her mad.

The ladies reminisced about what they missed being kids in the spotlight. Although Jodie was opposed to a slumber party, Christine and Beverley were all about it. Beverley made a vision board for it.

Christine searched online to see if any teen boys would want her to take them to prom, but no luck. So she posted her own video offering to take a boy to prom. Christine's video kept being taken down because it said "looking for teenage boys" because it cut off the words "to take to prom".

Beverley and went to a VHS store for 90s movies, but ended up in a store that sold adult videos based on 90s movies (I Know Who You Did Last Summer, as an example).

Christine picked out a dress for the prom she hadn't yet been invited to. And she said, "If I wear this, they will come". Beverley asked her to rephrase that. Some girls who were prom shopping told Christine she's old. As luck would have it (as this is a scripted show), a mom at the store recognized Christine, and her son didn't have a date for prom that night. He wasn't interested in taking Christine, but she and the boy's mom ignored that. The boy, Caleb, was not happy, and ditched Chrstine at the photo booth. The mean girls spotted Christine, and she told them that statistically, one would get an STD that night.

Meanwhile, Jodie started getting her old stuff, including Mr. Bear, in an attempt to move forward with her life. The guy at the eBay sales store was like, are you sure you want to sell Mr. Bear? It's your childhood! Jodie replied that it's Stephanie's childhood and insisted he take it. Outside, Jodie talked about how she's glad she got Mr. Bear, but then she saw a stuffed bear hanging from a telephone wire, and ran back to recover Mr. Bear.

Even though Christine ditched Beverley's slumber party for prom, Beverley went ahead with it, prank calling Joey Fatone and trying to send pizzas to Jonathan Taylor Thomas' house. Christine came later, saying that prom was awful, and Beverley said that's how prom is for most people, which made Christine realize she had a real prom. Jodie tried to stop the eBay auction for Mr. Bear but when she saw he was up to $5,000, she realized that was way better than the bear.

The group toilet papered Caleb's house as revenge for prom. His mom came out and was thrilled to see the three of them, but asked Christine to take the picture of her and "two incredible celebrities". And so the show ended exactly where it started - with Christine being left out of photo ops that the other girls were offered.


Catfish: Kailani and Sam (Season 6, Episode 8)

Last night, MTV showed an episode of Catfish starring a person named Melvin, his friend Kailani and their catfish, Sam.

First, Sam, hiding behind the profile of a masculine guy, talked to Melvin, who called him out as a catfish. Then he moved onto Melvin's friend Kailani, who was badly hurt by a recent failed marriage.

Image from EmptyLighthouse.com
Most episodes of Catfish end with the catfish showing signs of remorse, but this episode had a bit more. Sam, who is transgender and transitioning from male to female, used it as a way to come out to the world. He wasn't catfishing Kailani and others to be cruel; he was doing it so he could make sure he was making the right decision with his transition.

While catfishing is never okay (and is obviously very hurtful to its targets), I feel for Sam. Sam clearly did love Kailani and never meant to hurt her. And he needed to do what he did to find himself and make sure he was making the right decision. I give Kailani so much credit for accepting Sam after what he did (they didn't end up staying in touch, but Kailani was very forgiving) and understanding why he did what he did.

I would guess that it's Sam who actually contacted Catfish to come clean. I read a while back that it's often the catfishes who contact MTV to reveal themselves, and the producers back into the story from that. I mean, come on, you don't really think every unwilling catfish is down to reveal themselves without being ready, do you? Anyway, my guess is Sam was ready to let the world know about his transition and did it using this. And I truly hope his family was accepting and kind following his news.

Here's a quick recap of the episode, if you missed it:

Melvin contacted the show (theoretically) on behalf of Kailani. Keilani, off the bat, told Sam the show had been contacted.

Melvin was chatting with a guy named Sam. He called Sam's bluff on his pictures and things, so Sam moved onto Melvin's friend Kailani. Kailani, at 23, had just gotten divorced from a 6 month marriage because her husband was cheating on her - he was actually engaged to someone else! Kailani leaned on Sam, and came to love him, as she recovered from her trauma. Sam claimed to love her too.

Nev and Max discovered that Sam's pictures belonged to a guy named Dom. They also found out that Sam had been catfishing someone else.

Sam agrees to meet Kailani and is genuinely apologetic, but it isn't until he meets with Nev and Max alone that he reveals that he's transgender in and in the process of transitioning. He talked about what he went through as a kid, knowing he was a boy stuck in a girl's body, and how his family wasn't exactly kind about it.

When this was revealed to Kailani, she was genuinely nice and understanding. She's a great person who's dealt with a lot in her life.

During the after the show segment at the end, we learned that Kailani has a boyfriend and Sam came out to some people, and appears to be doing much better.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Hollywood Darlings Series Premiere: Recap and Review

The Pop Network has decided that we need a 90s flashback, so they gave us a new show: Hollywood Darlings. It stars:

Christine Lakin from Step by Step
Jodie Sweetin from Full House
Beverley Mitchell from 7th Heaven

These real life friends spend the episode talking about their lives and performing in very scripted situations.

Here's a recap of Hollywood Darlings:

The show opened with the trio playing Marry, Sleep With or Kill. You know, the game where you name three people and decide what you'd theoretically do with each. Then, the pair talked about how it's hard to be a mom (true) and their lack of pedicures.

Jodie met with Andrea Barber and discussed that Andrea's character is listed on Urban Dictionary. Then, Andrea notes that she's teaching a kids acting class - and SURPRISE - she's unable to teach this week, so Jodie's got to step in.

Christine and Beverly headed to a spiritual center. They thought it would be a spa (somehow) but it turns out to be a spiritual massage place. And again - SURPRISE - Andrew Keegan owns the place. Then, the show plugged all of Andrew's accomplishments and dating history.

Jodie went to teach the acting class, but the kids challenged her with super scripted lines, insulting the fact that she began her career in a commercial and saying instead of learning, they can post on Instagram. They later asked Jodie for business advice, and a lot of things were bleeped out, giving us the impression that she said a bunch of highly inappropriate things.

At the spiritual center, Beverley fell asleep while Christine did some kind of dance to increase her sexuality. Then Andrew gave Beverley a snack which was supposed to represent orgasmic eating. Beverley ate, and Andrew said she seemed like she was faking it. He showed her how to do it correctly, and that led to a very over the top scene.

So...yeah...that all happened.

Here's my review:

Well, that was interesting! This show follows the format featured in VH1's Barely Famous and Candidly Nicole. The thing is, it was so overly scripted that it goes beyond the fake reality to just about completely scripted, along with a few remotely truthful conversations.

If you're looking to see a bunch of your favorite 90s stars come together, this show is right up your alley. It's very silly, mindless and strange. But if you're looking for reality or depth, don't tune in.

Want a second opinion? Yahoo TV's review had this to say:

The Pop press release says, “In this improvised comedy, the three actresses play exaggerated versions of themselves in their current Hollywood lives.” Yeah, sure: This show is about as improvised as a Catholic mass. Sweetin told The New York Daily News, “We wanted people to realize this is not our real life, it’s not reality. We wanted it to be very fun, ridiculous, over-the-top-silly. We wanted it to have the feel of a sitcom.” If this is a sitcom, it’s one that makes Step By Step look like Orange Is The New Black. Strained and poorly performed, Hollywood Darlings can’t make nostalgia seem like a fun idea. After sitting through this, I’m telling my editor I’m taking the afternoon off for a nice little nap.
 Looks like Hollywood Darlings will only be a hit for those who want nostalgia, even if it comes with a side of contrived situations and forced cameos.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Off Topic: New Mommy Must Haves

A bunch of people I know just had kids, and they've been talking about the items they absolutely need to have for their babies. While this is completely off topic for this blog, I thought I'd share some of the items they swear by in case it can help any other new mommies in the future.



This is the Brest Friend nursing pillow, which is a must have for breastfeeding moms. While the Boppy has its merits, this pillow straps on and is flat, making it easier to keep baby in place while you're nursing. Plus, the removable cover is easy to wash, and the inner foam is durable. You can even buy replacement covers so you can change them based on your current style.



When a mom breastfeeds, she can only use one side at once. And the other side, unfortunately, can leak. Hook this up on your other breast to catch any dripping milk. It'll keep you clean, and bonus, you can save the recovered milk to bottle feed later. This also acts as a quick alternative to heavy, bulky electronic breast pumps. You can even order this on subscribe and save on Amazon if you'd like a new one every month.



This car seat cover (or any other, for that matter) is perfect to protect your baby from the elements. Whether it starts to drizzle or the heat is too much for baby, a car seat cover is great for walks or the quick trips from the car to the store. Plus, it's adorable and can keep your baby out of sight if you want to keep him or her hidden (like if you're surrounded by germs).



Muslin swaddle blankets. Seriously, they have to be muslin. Why? They're soft and b'reathable, and they make swaddling super easy. Many other blankets won't stay folded around baby, but muslin does the trick. Aden & Anais makes great ones but they're much pricier than other brands. Not into swaddling? The Easy Swaddle is great too.



My friend swears by this. She says it gets her son to sleep quickly, and he loves hearing the ocean sounds. Her son needs sound in order to fall asleep, and this plays long enough to get him to fall asleep happily, then it turns off.



As everyone does, we have laundry to put away, bathrooms to clean, etc. This toy will keep a baby entertained for long enough for you to actually accomplish things. Babies love to hear the music, kick the piano, and look at themselves in the mirror. The mirror is key - I've seen babies kick like crazy, flail around happily and more - all while staring at their reflections.

Of course, you'll need a lot more for a new baby, but these are the key things that I've been told are must have. Congratulations if you have a little one due soon!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Do You Want to See Jon Gosselin Strip? Now You Can!

Not to be cynical, but I don't think seeing Jon Gosselin strip is something most of us have wished for. In any case, if you're into that, now's your chance.

Instagram/Menuntamed.com
On April 1st, 2017, Jon Gosselin will be featured with the 'Untamed Male Review' in Atlantic City, NJ. I have to wonder how this came about - did Jon seek out stripping opportunities? Is Atlantic City, which is struggling, seeking whatever celebrities they can get to draw in crowds? I really wonder how many people will attend this event, but for the sake of the venue and Jon, I hope it has a decent turnout.

Do you want to attend? Tickets can be purchased at menuntamed.com. A general admission ticket will run you $40, which is the same price as the next Saturday, making me wonder if Jon's making much a profit on this venture.

I have to give Jon credit - it takes guts to do something like this, and if the former Jon and Kate Plus 8 star is doing this for fun, more power to him. Here's to hoping his kids don't hear about it though - I can imagine that they'd be less than thrilled, especially teenagers Mady and Cara!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Brother Husbands on TLC - Well, That Was Interesting!

TLC gave us a new reality special called Brother Husbands, whose title is clearly a play on Sister Wives. The premise is exactly as you'd expect - a wife with two husbands, known as brother husbands.

Here's the scenario: Amanda and Chad married young, at 18 and 21 respectively. They met a guy named Jeremy at church, who became Chad's best friend. Jeremy told Chad he's in love with Amanda, and the trio decided to be in a relationship. From the show, it seems as if Chad and Jeremy are only each intimate with Amanda, but the show certainly doesn't rule out the possibility of threesomes, as all three share a bed sometimes and the guys joined together to buy Amanda lingerie. And the guys hug...a lot. I'm totally open to the idea of all three doing their thing together, but I feel like TLC was maybe afraid to push the limits too far. This is just speculation, though.

In any case, Amanda and Chad have two boys, Atreyu and Cassian. Then when Jeremy came along, he got Amanda pregnant with triplets. TRIPLETS! Fraternal triplets. They're named Eve, Sparrow and Lilith. For part of the show, although Jeremy is presumed to be the dad, the family didn't know that Jeremy was the father, although they did get a paternity test to prove it.

At the end of the episode, the family celebrated their two year anniversary and everyone was happy. You know, the typical TLC.

Oh yeah, and if you think Amanda looks familiar, Inquisitr tells us why:

She was seen on the TBS reality competition series King of the Nerds! It is unknown if this has anything to do with her being discovered for the show Brother Husbands.

So, how was the show?

While I didn't love another TLC special, Meet the Putmans, I did like this one. There was some actual conflict amongst this family - they were REAL. They put their dirty laundry and issues on the table to show the intricacies of a family such as theirs. Sure, some things were staged or played up for the camera (such is reality TV) but their story was pretty legit, and likely not common, but common enough to help others in similar situations to come forward.

An interesting part of the show was when the three parents went to visit Atreyu's teacher (clearly staged but whatever) to talk about their lifestyle and the teacher raised some tough questions: how will this affect Atreyu? Will kids treat him differently?, but ultimately made the most important point of all: if Atreyu's needs are met, no matter what, it's all good.

I give this family a lot of credit - Amanda works while the guys are stay at home dads, each with their own struggles to find where they fit in the relationship. One thing I wonder about is how Amanda's role as a paralegal pays for their beautiful home, plus food and supplies for three adults and five kids.  Maybe I just live in an expensive area, but unless she makes major bank, I cannot figure it all out. Props to them, though!

Would I watch this if it became a series?

HECK YEAH. These people are great. The guys are super hipster looking, there's likely a lot more to their story than we saw, and Amanda was very cool with how she stepped out of her comfort zone to get into this kind of arrangement. This family is a positive example of a non-traditional family. Rock it out!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Catfish - Season 6, Episode 1, Shawny and Jack

The season six premiere of Catfish is an interesting one! We have Shawny, who once missed a call from an unknown number. She texted to ask who it was, and she got Jack. They started a texting relationship (no talking or anything), but things got tricky when Jack started only texting at strange hours and not responding for long stretches of time. Even though they both live in Rochester, NY, they've never met.

To add to this, Shawny was in a bad marriage that had just ended. Her ex had cheated on her and caused her pain in other ways as well. She'd also had a talking relationship with another guy (who was much older) at some point. In my mind, both could be suspects for a potential catfish.

Nev and Max ran Jack's pictures and didn't find a match. They did find a potential address match on the phone number and came up with a 92 year old man, Robert, and a 31 year old woman, Angel. Angel came back as a suspect because while Shawny's only dated men, she noted that she was open to anyone, and Angel had a gay pride flag in one some her photos.

Nev and Max were skeptical about Shawny, wondering if she knew her catfish and wanted to be on TV. Shawny denied it, and I believed her. Nev and Max asked if the 92 year old man could be the guy she used to talk to, but she said that that guy's name was George. When asked about Angel, she said her husband used to work at a hospital with a woman named Angel. Still, Shawny didn't think her ex was keeping her tied up from meeting someone using Angel because he wasn't interested in her to begin with.

Nev and Max tried calling Jack, whose voicemail wasn't set up. Then they tried texting him, and Jack texted back. Jack said he wanted to meet Shawny but was afraid because he hadn't been honest. He said the reason is that he's divorced. He did confirm that Shawny is the only woman in his life. He offered to meet up with them.

Shawny then dropped some interesting news - she'd been using fake photos to send to Jack. Then things went crazy. Shawny's ex-husband showed up, but it turns out Shawny was catfishing him - her name was Ebony and she lied to Nev and Max about who she was. She wanted Nev and Max to put her family back together.

Here's the truth: Ebony got a new phone and texted her ex, Brandon. Brandon asked who it was, and Ebony said she was Shawny. Brandon did give a fake name (Jack) but Nev and Max said he's justified because this random person was messaging him. Ebony said she was surprised at how Brandon could be a perfect man for Shawny but terrible to her. Brandon was asked if wanted to make the relationship work, but he gave a weird answer about how he wants to be with her but also wants to sleep around. (He didn't say it like that, exactly, but that's what he meant.) Nev and Max clarified, and Ebony confirmed that she doesn't want to sleep with others and wants the same from her husband.

Nev pulled Brandon aside and explained the catfish situation. Max pulled Ebony aside, who admitted that she's afraid to be alone and doesn't know what she wants.

The team decided to take a day apart and reconvene the next day. On the drive away, Max encouraged Ebony to love herself  more than Brandon, because he doesn't want to be with her and she's hanging onto something that isn't there.

On the next day's meetup, Brandon admitted he was upset by Ebony and wanted to say things to upset her as much as he was. Ebony admitted she was wrong and was trying to hang on to something that wasn't there. She apologized and Brandon accepted her apology. She admitted that staying together wasn't healthy for them. Brandon admitted he caused some of their problems. Ebony said they should have talked earlier and avoided all of this. Everyone hugged, even Ebony and Brandon.

Six months later, Ebony was happy. She and Brandon stayed separated, but found a way to spend time together with the kids. Brandon and the kids had a much better relationship. Ebony was happy she did the show because it allowed them to clear the air and be normal. Brandon joined them on the call and was happy as well.

In the end, it all worked out, but this was a very weird episode of Catfish!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Off Topic: What The Women's March Meant To Me

The internet has been ablaze with arguments for and against Saturday's Women's March. Many people were for it, stating that it shows solidarity amongst women, and others said that participants need to get over it and deal with the fact that Trump is president. While I do lean to one side of the spectrum on this, I think there is some perspective that needs to be addressed.

I did not see the Women's March as a solely anti-Trump march.

Sure, some people marched in protest of Donald Trump and his policies. Many did. But others marched to protect special interests (education, gun control, women's rights, etc.). Everyone had their reasons, whether they were broad or narrow, angry or peaceful. What's important is that people showed that they care what is happening in America and the world, and that the people cannot be ignored.

I do not think people marched hoping for a miracle. I would say that most people are reasonable enough to understand that one march will not magically change history and make Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders the president. But showing that the people are engaged in politics sends a bold statement to all current and future political leaders: We are watching. We have rights. Our voices matter. You can't ignore the people; we have the ability to step up and share our thoughts and opinions. As an elected official, whether or not you agree with us, you are going to be aware of our existence.

Part of America's success is that we have differing opinions and we're allowed to share them. That's why there are checks and balances in government. We are a democracy. We are not always going to agree, but we have the opportunity to be heard. Let's be proud of that and exercise our right to stand up for what we believe in, even if it's not included in the final outcome.

Something to think about: while discussing Planned Parenthood, a friend who supports it made a valid point. She's a strong supporter but she's never had to use it. Why? Because many women who need it don't have the time or resources to fight for it. They may have been working on Saturday or busy watching their kids because they couldn't find childcare. My friend utilized the walk to walk for those who could not, because America isn't just about those with a voice - it's about those who can't speak for themselves as well. And if we can help those people, we absolutely should.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Scripted TV Talk: The Good Place Season Finale

The Good Place wrapped up its premier season last night, and wow, it caught me by surprise.

Okay, well, there were certain clues that made sense now that the season wrapped, which I'll outline below, but overall, I was shocked with the outcome of season one, and I look forward to how the show plans to handle season two.

There are spoilers below, so if you haven't finished the first season of The Good Place, stop right here.

It turns out that Eleanor, Jason, Tahani and Chidi are actually in The Bad Place. Michael, a Bad Place architect, set up an experiment to see if he could make The Bad Place more fun for him and his team, rather than existing Bad Places, which they designed and left behind. His plan was to make the group think they're in The Good Place, then create a series of events designed to make the participants go nuts. While Tahani and Chidi seemed to believe they should actually be there, Eleanor and Jason knew better, which put Chidi and Tahani in compromising positions once they knew.

Long story short, Eleanor and Jason ran away with Janet to The Medium Place to be safe from going to The Bad Place (before they realized they were already there) but returned once they thought their friends would be in danger. Right before being forced to decide who would go to The Bad Place, Eleanor figured out that they were in The Bad Place and Michael is actually evil. In retaliation, Michael erased all of their memories and started the experiment from the start, but kept the four participants separate, because Eleanor noted that their interactions are what made them stronger. Before their memories could be erased, Eleanor gave Janet a note advising her to find Chidi, which Janet gave to Eleanor as she awoke in The Good Place for the second time.

So, was I shocked with the ending of season one? I was. I definitely was. The only clues I caught previously were as follows:

- Tahani showed signs of jealousy throughout the season, and a lot of her intentions were less than noble, which is noted in the season finale. She spent her life trying to outdo her sister, meaning that her life achievements, while noble, did not come with the right intentions.

- Chidi's indecisiveness caused major problems for those in his life, which we saw in flashbacks and things. His morality and indecisiveness was so extreme that he screwed up people's lives, like when he was supposed to host his friend's wedding festivities but failed.

That being said, there was foreshadowing that could have been picked up on, but I didn't notice it. For example:

- Michael went out of his way to entertain those from The Bad Place when they came to claim the original Eleanor. Sure, he was trying to save fake Eleanor (allegedly) but he allowed Tahani's home to be trashed along the way.

- Michael allowed Tahani to see that her goodness score was low, and although it was supposedly an accident, it wasn't at all. I just chalked it up to Michael making careless mistakes, which is how I assumed Eleanor and Jason got in in the first place.

Now that we know the ending, was the first season of The Good Place worth watching?

Absolutely. I loved - and was shocked at - the surprise ending. I expected to see Eleanor, Jason and Janet stay at the medium place and maybe start a new life there, and I certainly didn't see the season ending and almost starting again with season two. I can't imagine how the show will go on without getting repetitive, but I look forward to seeing if Eleanor regains the morality she gained in season one as she starts over again. And I'm looking forward to seeing if Chidi and Tahani again believe that they belong in The Good Place. They never seemed to question it once - will that be different going forward?

I am so excited for season two of this show - it's so different than today's typical sitcoms and I want to see more!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Meet The Putmans: Recap & Review

TLC is bringing us another giant family, this time on a reality TV special. This special is called Meet the Putmans - it features 10 adults and 15 kids, all living in one home. They've got one set of rules, one bank account and only two bathrooms.

Bill and Barb Putman have been married 33 years. Instead of their kids growing up and fleeing the nest, Billy, Brandon, Blake and Blair stayed home, got married and had kids...but stayed in the home with their parents.

Apparently, the family is always together - work, play, etc.

The kids' spouses are as follows:

Billy & Jen
Brandon & Kacie
Blake & Megan
Blair & Jamie

The philosophy is that life is more enjoyable with other people, so why not live with them? And besides, they've got built in babysitters. They strongly refute that they're a cult, so I guess they're just...strange!

Billy, the oldest son, is married to the household matriarch in training, Jen. They have twins Isabella and Abigail, 9, Addison, 8 and Gabriella, 6. They met because Jen worked for Bill's business, and Bill suggested she date his son. If I understand correctly, Jen was 26 and Billy was 20 at the time. Apparently it worked, despite the age difference. The pair stayed in the family home after their marriage, and got pregnant after two months, so moving out wasn't an option.

Brandon's the second son and he's married to Kacie. They've got kids named Emma, Bella, Maya, Nova and Gia. They met at a wrestling match at which Brandon was participating. Kacie said Brandon's the one who defends the family when necessary. Kacie keeps the family organized and make sure needs are met.

The third kid is Blake, who's married to Megan. They have kids Mercy (or maybe Marcy, I couldn't tell), Noah, Lulu and Alina. Megan had an adjustment moving into the big household, but she said her strong relationships with the family made it make sense.

At first there was drama between Jen and Barb, which Bill likened to chickens pecking each other. There is still drama - a lot of it centers around who gets time in the bathroom.

The family is planning to build their dream house with 15 bedrooms and 19 bathrooms. It'll include a theater and racquetball court.

Two people work outside the home, and that's Blake and Jamie. Both are doctors. Jamie changed his last name to Putman because he and Blair it would be easiest if all the kids in the household have the same last name.

The family planned a Super Tuesday, which is a family meeting in which the family members can air their dirty laundry.

Blair told us that she was spoiled, and I hate to say it, but that's kind of evident from her current demeanor. Fortunately, she does it with a smile so it seems kind of endearing, but it seems like it might be a source of contention.

Jamie pulled Blair aside, and he told the confessional that he's working long hours and driving 1.5 hours to work at a hospital. Following that, we saw his conversation with Blair again, in which he told her it was time to tell her dad that they're thinking of moving out.

The family travels in a bus. In what I'm sure was staged for the cameras, the whole family went together to the grocery store. (Because really, who would do this voluntarily?) The women made the guys pick out pads and tampons.

They said that if anyone needs anything outside of the ordinary, they have to vote because they share expenses. That makes sense because their weekly grocery bill was $1,178.56 - that's nuts!

Four kids were sick so they were quarantined in one room.

Blair complained that her brothers expect her to act like them because she grew up in a household of guys. Blair said sometimes she needs a minute to herself and the guys won't understand.

Blair pulled her dad aside and asked him to pray about her and Jamie getting their own place, closer to the hospital, while Jamie finishes his residency. Jamie defended his need for safety, but Bill was still floored by the request. Blair questioned what she should do, because if the family didn't approve, would she go against them?

After that, we found out the truth of why the family's so attached. Bill's mom died when he was 8 and his family fell apart. He landed in foster care, and seemingly spent the rest of his life trying to make up for the love he didn't get as a child.

Super Tuesday happened and people argued about bathrooms in the new house. This, like anything else, had to go to a vote, and majority rules. After the bathroom debate, Blair and Jamie had to talk about how they wanted to move out. The room went silent, and people actually voted no. NO! THEY VOTED NO. WHAT? How is that even an option? It's about Jamie's personal safety! Barb said it would be hard on Blair because she's never been alone, but that seems like the wrong reason to be opposed to it. Bill reluctantly gave his blessing, as long as Jamie comes home when the residency ends. The family voted in favor, but the level of attachment seemed really unhealthy - it seemed like Jamie and Blair were not allowed to make adult decisions for themselves.

The family did a groundbreaking for their new home while chanting their last name. And that's where we left off, theoretically in case TLC decides to turn this special into a show.

My Review of Meet the Putmans

This was interesting but I don't think it's interesting enough for a series, which is probably why it's just a special at this time. By the time the show was halfway over, I was starting to tune out. Overall, this family seems interesting, but not enough to make me want to watch more of them.

Plus, they really lost me when Blair and Jamie had to consult the family before deciding to move out - I get that many decisions are communal, but this was a personal safety issue - this isn't up to anyone else. I did not feel good about that.

Oh yeah, we learned at the end of the episode that Blair's pregnant again - maybe because she and her husband finally have some privacy!