Sometimes with an all new cast on a reality show I find it to take a few weeks before I get used to everybody and decide I like them, always thinking I liked the last group much better. But there are such strong personalities from the get-go in this new group of Starting Over women that it’s instantly a likable group with personalities you can’t wait to get to know better and to find out how and when they will clash.
Lisa is the first one to walk into the house and finds herself all alone. Rhonda and Iyanla had been there earlier in the morning setting up food for the new arrivals and putting signs on the door to who will sleep in each room. Lisa’s room only has her name on the door.
Jessica walks in second and says she has been so isolated and living alone for such a long time, she doesn’t know what will happen to her living in a house with five other women. The next to walk in is Jill saying she is hardheaded and needs to hit a wall until her skull bleeds until she finally gets it. She has enough one liners coming out of her that we know she is going to be a complete trip. Almost like having Denise back on the show again. Looking around at the other two ladies Jill says she feels like she’s walking onto the set of Steel Magnolias.
Christina arrives saying she knows her story is different than the others. She is greeted at the door by Lisa saying, “I want to personally greet you, since there was no one here to greet me.” Next to arrive is TJ saying she is not very self aware, but if she is aware of not being self aware, wouldn’t that mean she’s now more so than she thought just based on that statement?
This is only five women. We were promised that cancer survivor Allison would be returning, but the show seems to be continuing on like there will only be five women. Jill doesn’t seem to notice, though. She’s busy on the phone talking to someone saying she thinks her personality is too strong for this group of women. She compares Lisa to a gnat saying she wants to swat at her to get her to go away.
Iyanla, Rhonda and Dr. Stan gather the women for their first group session. The House Rules are explained, number one being that it is the six ladies’ house and they need to create it and live in it. They can leave by quitting, failing at Board of Review or by being a danger to themselves or others. They will each be given a journal to assess and review their progress. Their first assignment will test their readiness to start over. The women are told to dress in comfortable clothes, make sure they eat, and drive together in the house SUV to a designated place.
Jill tells the others on the road trip that she has shoplifted before, and tells a story about being caught shoplifting at Neiman Marcus. She says it in such a way that makes it sound like commonplace and not a big deal. A pretty odd thing to be saying to a bunch of people just a few hours after you’ve met them.
Meeting up again with Iyanla and Rhonda, the women find they will be spending the day “adventuring.” The women are led to a wooden platform in the center of a bunch of gravel. A red key is placed in the middle of the gravel, and the women are told they have ten minutes to collectively retrieve the red key without touching the gravel. This is the key to starting over. They are given a carbiner, rope and a harness.
Iyanla says they don’t realize they are showing much right here on how their behavior will be in the house. She thinks there will be some interesting moments and that TJ will be in the center of all of it. TJ tells Jill that with just her and Jessica doing all the work, it won’t be happening as fast as Jill wants. We finally get to hear the quote from Jill that we had heard as a preview at the end of the Couples Boot Camp. Talking about TJ in a confessional, Jill says, “Bitch, shut up!” and compares her to the Tasmanian Devil.
The women try a few different ways, but can’t even get close to the key. Rhonda and Iyanla take notes on how all the women were reacting to each other and solving the problem. The life coaches begin counting down the seconds left and TJ counts aloud along with them. Iyanla reprimands her that they can count. Her job is still to get the key. Time runs out as the women stand there confused and frustrated.
After being told their path to Starting Over is more difficult than they most likely anticipated, the women are then led over to a group of harnesses in front of a fifty foot alpine tower. They are to climb in pairs as high as they can get. The harnesses, they are told, are equipped to carry a Volkswagen.
Lisa and Christina attempt the tower first, with Lisa saying she has a fear of sports. She was afraid of gym class even. Wow, I am now finding myself unexpectedly identifying with this woman. This is not comfortable to her, but she and Christine go on to reach the top.
Jill tells Iyanla on a scale of one to ten, her fear is at a four. Iyanla urges her to think another thought than “I can’t,” thinking “I’m unable,” would be more encouraging. She tells Jill that apparently where she is is not a fit forher and is already realizing Jill’s tendency to beat up on herself. She tries the climb and tells Iyanla she doesn’t want to be a disappointment. There’s a very telling statement. Iyanla urges her to try a different way if she’s stuck where she is.
She does try another way and then feels stuck, like she has reached her limit. Iyanla feels she has made an honest attempt, and allows her to rappel back down, but doesn’t want to completely let her off the hook. Everyone is led to a giant swing where they will take a thirty-five foot freefall. I think we need Tom Petty in the background here. Iyanla asks Jill to go first, telling her she has to let go. She does it and feels better. The other women follow suit.
Back at the house for another group session, the women are told that Allison will indeed be the sixth roommate and share a room with Lisa, but personal challenges kept her from being at the house on this first day.
Brought up in the group session is the women’s integrity. Iyanla and Rhonda say there were rules to the red key to not touch the gravel. They noticed TJ fall into the gravel and jump back up. Jessica had told her not to worry as no one saw. Never underestimate the eagle eyes and ears of your life coaches, ladies. Rhonda says this shows how easily we lie to ourselves to rationalize our behavior. Jessica says it’s hard to not get defensive here, and realizes they are right; there are some definite connections to her personal life.
The women are told a leader has to have integrity and a plan and look at TJ. There wasn’t anyone that stopped to create a plan. TJ was acting as leader, making Jill wonder why she assumed she knew more than the other women about how to do this task. Yet TJ jumped right in without a plan, and when it wasn’t working, she failed to find someone to take her place as leader.
The first housemate’s story that will be told is Jessica’s. As we look through her pictures we hear she has an older sister and younger brother. We see a picture of her dog, Pepper. After she had a cool boyfriend and great career, she figured the next best step was getting a dog. She was with the boyfriend for four-and-half years and they lived together until they broke up a few weeks ago. A picture is shown of her parents, and Jessica starts to break down.
Jessica’s mom was her best friend and they talked every single day. Her last phone call with her mom was to tell her she had leased her first apartment. Her mom was going to California to visit her own mom, and when she returned she was going to help Jessica decorate. We already know there isn’t a good end to this story, but we never would have guessed the outcome. Jessica’s mom was on the American Airlines flight that crashed into one of the Twin Towers on 9/11.
Despite this happening four years ago, Jessica has not mourned or grieved for her mother. Her family allowed a reporter to live with them in Boston for the week directly following the tragedy. People recognize her connection to 9/11 because of her name. She has been comforting others for four years, yet never dealt with it herself. Jessica finally realized her great career was just covering up her feelings and quit. When she allows herself to feel it, she loses it.
Jessica is told the love she and her mother had still exists. Jessica is very honest and says she doesn’t know if she wants to mourn her mother or not. She fears what would happen to her feelings for her mother if she did. In her self-portrait, Jessica draws a picture of herself and Pepper sitting alone in their apartment. It’s raining outside, and out of reach from the rain and apartment are the good things in life. It’s raining so hard she can’t get to it. Her goal will be to heal personally from a public tragedy.
The women are preparing dinner with TJ complaining she can’t wait for a thirty minute marinade. She suggests they wait only fifteen minutes. Really, what else do you have to do for the next few months, TJ? Remembering back to the group session, TJ says it’s not her intention to control. Lisa is becoming more uncomfortable with TJ, saying it’s because she talks all the time.
Allison finally arrives at the Starting Over house. The first season her goal was to learn to live, and she has, but she stills feels a disconnect and knows she doesn’t know how to receive love. She has had her mastectomies and hysterectomy and has had a reconstructive surgery where they took fat and skin from her stomach and recreated breasts. I find that fascinating. TJ is one of the first to greet Allison and says she feels emotional and tired. Allison asks to help and TJ leads her into her bedroom where she can’t figure out how to turn on the vanity light. I don’t even think I have words for that.
The women receive instructions to grocery shop together as a group. Lisa admits she doesn’t cook at all and gets all her meals from the gourmet takeout across the street from her home. When the women question whether they should shop with one big list or split the money up, Allison says last year they shopped separately and split the money up evenly. Jill says she can tell Lisa can’t handle money and Lisa believes that Jill will do all the cooking.
Jill prepares a list of the basic items she feels they will need and is allowed to control the grocery shopping. TJ wonders if they’re going overboard buying all different types of oil and says this is the longest she’s been shopping in her whole life. This is followed by her flipping of Jill, disguising it as scratching her head.
In group Iyanla and Rhonda are excited to see Allison again and greet her with big hugs. It’s the day for Jill’s story though. As much of a character as she can be, it’s going to be interesting. She explains she is at the Starting Over house to cut the cord with her mom who is currently living with her in Florida.
Jill feels suffocated and is conflicted in her feelings for her mother. Iyanla tells her to join the human race. You have to love the honesty in that statement. Jill goes on to explain she loves her mother to death; she just wants her mother to get her foot off Jill’s neck. Her mother moved to Florida, moved in with Jill and went into business with her. When the PR business didn’t work out Jill felt guilty.
She backtracks a little and says she was writing for a little newspaper. She was offered a job at a new talk radio station as a DJ. She ended up having a very popular raucous gossip show. She ended up having an altercation with her producer over the wrong music being played, and unbeknownst to Jill, the producer had turned her mike on and put her angry words on air. It ended up costing her her job as she was fired two years ago.
Jill begins showing her pictures and a studio shot from her radio show days is shown and she is much thiner. She explains she is addicted to food and uses it to pick her up and keep her down. It covers up her feelings of resentment, guilt and not being good enough. Allison sympathizes with Jill here having much the same relationship with food. Jill says she uses food to punish herself for not being good enough and uses the food to hide behind as well.
Iyanla asks why Jill is crying and wonders if although it is sad, if she has somewhere in her a propensity for drama. She admits there is a part of that in her and goes on to show another picture of her where she is in a hospital bed. She was discovered to have a thyroid problem and ended up having a stroke and lost her vision for awhile. With this life-threatening health challenge she lost eighty pounds, kept it off for a year, then gained it all back.
Jill shows a picture of her beautiful view from her home. She explains her mother began living with her after her mother had a bout with depression and lost her home. That was three years ago and she is still there living on Jill’s sofa. Just like Jennifer’s self-portrait from yesterday, Jill’s is showing it raining.
Iyanla gives her the goal of “Come Out of Hiding” and says she believes Jill is hiding because somewhere there is a belief that if she just shows up, she’d be too much to take and too big. She then turns to Jill and says she knows the truth about her. She knows who she is. Iyanla believes she’s hiding something big, and the gig is up.
TJ and Jill are in the back yard while Jill is smoking, and TJ says she is extremely intrigued with Jill and identified with her pain. Privately to the camera Jill says TJ thinks the world revolves around her and will find out soon she has met her match in Jill. This is true. They both come off larger than life. Although Jill’s humor makes her more likable than TJ.
Rhonda meets with Jessica who says she thought her mother’s death wasn’t going to change her, but it did. They go over the steps to her goal, the first of which is to grieve the loss of her mom. Just writing the goal down on the board, Jessica says, is reality enough for her. It’s interesting that the only other person that has shared her story is trying to get rid of her mother.
The difficult part of her mother’s death is that she is reminded of 9/11 everywhere. That has to be tough. As a country we are all reminded of that horrible day and tragedies, imagine losing an important part of your life that day. As much as it’s brought up in the news and in other forms of media, it must be extremely difficult when you can’t find a way to face it yet. Jessica’s first assignment will be to create the person that her mother was as a woman, not by the public way in which she died.
Iyanla and Jill meet privately and Iyanla wants to know how many people there are that really know the real Jill. Jill figures there are four people that fit that bill. Iyanla realizes Jill values external validation and says it must take a lot of energy to just keep herself down, as she must be wondering if her personality would be as strong without all the chaos.
Turning to the subject of her talk shown, Iyanla asks Jill where she received all the gossip she reported. She explains she dug it up and admits she also embellished it at points as well. Iyanla tells her to supposed every work came back onto her that she has said about others, and thinks all this is an effort to hide a lot of dirt of her own. Her first assignment will be to down a talk show for the rest of the housemates and life coaches where she gossips about herself.
On the radio show Jill explains herself to be on “The Cupcake Diet.” This is where people respect you, seeing you work out every day, but when you open the door to your home, you sit down and eat a six pack of cupcakes. She also says Winona Ryder has nothing on her, taking about her shoplifting and saying she never thought twice if she would get caught. She wanted the finer things in life and had little money. She felt forced to do whatever she had to do to stay fine and fabulous.
Moving on, Jill tells the women to clutch their breasts. She says she has also cheated with her friend’s man. TJ “calls in” to the radio show and asks where Jill’s friend was when the cheating was going on. She was busy with her children. You have to admire Jill for putting it all out there, but there still has to be more. I don’t think it’s all, and it’s clear Iyanla doesn’t either.
Iyanla “calls in” and asks where Jill picked up her taste for the finer things in life. Jill explains her family was into gambling Lisa “calls in” and asks if Jill has any girlfriends, and Jill answers she has a number of them, but she always takes the friendship for granted.
After the radio show Jill says she feels much freer, and Jessica notes that the first time they heard her stories of shoplifting, when they were in the SUV on the way to the grocery store, the story from Jill was much different and reflected a more cavalier attitude about it.
Privately with Iyanla, Jill reiterates it felt great to get all that out there. Iyanla says to remember that she knows the truth. She won’t have a lot of time in the house, though, so she has to remember to always give it to Iyanla straight. Iyanla still thinks Jill was trying to make herself look good and says the dishonesty was keeping her facade up. No one would treat someone else that badly. She tells Jill if she continues the self-hatred it will begin to have major consequences. Something tells me it already has and she doesn’t know how to stop it.
Wow, these are huge personalities with lots of secrets to discover. Just after two days, of the two stories we have heard, one lost her mother in 9/11 and the other is a popular radio DJ that shoplifts. We know about Allison’s story. I can’t imagine what the other three have waiting for us.
What do you think of the new chicks? Email me at LauraBelle@realityshack.com