Taxi Drivers Scare Me – The Amazing Race 6, Episode 12

by LauraBelle

Throughout the show today it is apparent how close the racers are to the finish line. Everyone is so tense and focused; it made me glad Jonathon and Victoria were eliminated, as I am not sure Jonathon’s abusive ways could have handled this stress. It was so tense, even the normally clam, cool and collected Kris and Jon were on edge.

Kris and Jon are the first to leave the ninth pit stop of the race in Sri Lanka. They leave just before midnight and need to fly to Shanghai, China where they will find their next clue hidden within the Yu Yuan Gardens. Hayden and Aaron are the next to leave, and they note their excitement at being one of four couples left in the race. Aaron mentions again that Hayden is bullheaded. Really? We hadn’t noticed. Freddy and Kendra leave shortly after and Freddy notes how focused all the other teams are.

As Adam and Rebecca are leaving, they vow to never give up, but everyone watching last week’s show knows it won’t take much for Adam to change that attitude. After finding out they are going to Shanghai, Rebecca says she has wanted to go there since watching Madonna and Sean Penn in Shanghai Surprise.

All four teams end up on the same 7:45 AM flight to Shanghai. After they land, Kris notes it has been a full twenty-four hours since they left Sri Lanka. Each team has communication problems right off the bat. Hayden and Aaron struggle trying to get their currency exchanged, and Hayden mistakenly tries to get Japanese Yen. No one has an easy time catching a taxi in Shanghai. Kris notes they are in someone else’s country. It’s her and Jon’s fault, not the people who live there. Freddy’s communication problem is with Adam and Rebecca. He hates that Rebecca’s only strategy is to follow everyone else around, and Adam isn’t assertive enough to get anything done on his own.

Hayden and Aaron catch their taxi nearly twenty minutes after everyone else. Thinking Aaron agreed to pay too much for their taxi, Hayden says, “You got us ripped off!” to which Aaron replies, “Oh, shut up, Hayden!” Same ole Hayden and Aaron. When they don’t arrive at the Yu Yuan Gardens right away, and are unable to read the street signs, Hayden thinks they must be driving around in circles. Once at the Gardens, they end up getting a hotel for the night, the same as the other three teams, as the Gardens don’t open until the following morning.

The next morning all four teams run quickly through the Yu Yuan Gardens, which is maze-like, as they keep running into dead ends. Freddy and Kendra are the first to get the clue that sends them to Huaneng Union Tower. They are warned that there is a Yield ahead. When Adam and Rebecca can’t find their way through the Gardens easily enough, Rebecca tells Adam to stop getting mad. I’m wondering at this point why she even bothers.

Adam and Rebecca’s struggle in the Gardens has left them in last place. Freddy and Kendra, in a solid lead, have no doubt who they will Yield – it will be Adam and Rebecca who Yielded them in Ethopia, following Jonathon and Victoria’s urging. Adult Kendra finds herself saying, “Yeah, Yield them. Ha! Ha!!” Adult Hayden, seeing that Freddy and Kendra Yielded Adam and Rebecca also says, “Ha! Ha!!”

Directly after the Yield is a Roadblock. One member of each team will need to ascend a forty-story building, climb into a window cleaner’s seat, lower themselves down a few floors, and clean a window to find a hidden phrase. Both Aaron and Kendra do this challenge. Kris and Jon still haven’t arrived yet, as their cabdriver is lost, and Adam and Rebecca are running around looking for the Yield. Hayden is watching Adam and Rebecca, but hides behind a palm tree so that they don’t know how close they are.

Kendra and Aaron complete the Roadblock, reading “Tai Chi” on the window, and receive a clue that sends both teams to the Monument to the People’s Heroes on the Bund. Kris and Jon have finally arrived, and Adam says this is the first time during the whole race he has ever seen them upset. Kris and Jon find their way to the Roadblock which Kris agrees to complete.

Adam and Rebecca, once Yielded, find themselves arguing over whether Freddy and Kendra should have Yielded them or Kris and Jon. Adam, believing himself to be correct, sings, “They’re stupid for being smart people. They’re stupid.” I wonder if Rebecca fulfills her promises to not see Adam again after the race, if Adam will have a hard time finding dates. There has to be someone out there willing to clip his toenails and ride trains with him. Adam says he is not an arguer, he is a loud talker. Rebecca realizes that while they were busy arguing, the Yield timer ran out and they didn’t even notice, and rushes in to do the Roadblock. While she is descending, Adam thinks ahead, grabs a taxi, and loads the bags into the car.

At the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the teams need to search through a large Tai Chi class and find one of the four Masters that are holding clue envelopes. My martial arts training tells me to look for black belts with more dans on their belts, but this Tai Chi class isn’t wearing belts with their white uniforms. The teams have to walk around and ask everyone individually for a clue or if they are a Master. Rebecca tells one master he looks like her yoga teacher.

After receiving their clue from the Tai Chi Masters, the teams are sent to Jiang Pu Road via maps and taxi for a Detour. They will need to choose between Bricks and Ice. For Bricks they need to move three-hundred bricks with a traditional device that balances over their shoulder. Once the bricks are moved they need to be stacked. In Ice, the teams need to move blocks of ice on flatbed tricycles, then the ice needs to be broken into smaller pieces.

Arriving first, Hayden and Aaron choose Bricks, as do Freddy and Kendra. Hayden never stops complaining about how heavy the bricks are, and I can’t help but wonder why, after getting the first load of bricks unloaded, Hayden didn’t stack while Aaron carried the loads, as Hayden moved very slowly, or “a mile a frickin’ hour” as she described it.

Kris and Jon are lost in a cab yet again, and as they complain, the driver just keeps saying, “It’s okay, okay.” Jon loses his cool again, and yells, “No, it’s not okay, okay. We were going in the wrong direction!” They eventually get out of the taxi and start asking for directions. They ignore the taxi driver, who has his hand out waiting for payment, and pay him nothing. Adam and Rebecca arrive in the meantime and are also asking for directions.

Hayden and Aaron finish their bricks first and are headed to the pit stop on the roof the Peace Hotel South. Kris and Jon choose Bricks and ever the followers, Adam and Rebecca do the same. While Freddy and Kendra finish and head to the pit stop, Adam tells Rebecca, “If you call me Honey one more time, you’re dead meat,” to which she replies, “Alright, Ass.” Kris and Jon and Adam and Rebecca finish and race to the pit stop.

In the cab to the hotel roof, Hayden says that Aaron is calm and mellow and she is weird and neurotic. At least she’s aware of it. They arrive first at the pit stop and Phil rewards them with a trip to Hawaii. Freddy and Kendra arrive second and note how beautiful Shanghai is. Kris and Jon come in, and Phil hesitates before saying they are in third. He asks if he scared them, and Jon says, “No, taxi drivers scare me.” Last to arrive is Adam and Rebecca, but they are saved by this being a non-elimination leg. As he gives up his money to Phil, Adam says they should have stopped for a quick dinner on the way.

This promises to be a very exciting finale next week, if the tension is already so great. All the teams have continually said they need to not rush and work together as a team. Next week will be the most important for that. I’m betting Kris and Jon are hoping there won’t be any more taxis.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

From Desmond to Vonzell – American Idol, 02-01-05

by LauraBelle

As I sit and wait through the ‘From Justin To Kelly’ movie (my eight-year-old daughter believes this to be the finest piece of cinema to ever hit the film industry) for tonight’s American Idol to start, I wonder if this year’s crop of American Idol hopefuls will produce such a bona fide star as Kelly Clarkson. So far I have not seen anyone that has given me chills like Kelly or Clay, but I remain hopeful for tonight’s auditions in Cleveland, Ohio and Orlando, Florida.

Joining randy, Paula and Simon in cleveland is LL Cool J, a megastar in his own right in both music and film. First up before them is Jaclyn Crum. She opens her audition by saying she loves Paula, and has grown up listening to her. Simon tells her she is potentially good, but she lacks experience. He isn’t sure in the duration of the show if she can raise her game to the level needed. LL feels she is good for a beginner, but Randy votes no. After Paula votes yes, Simon gives her a chance and invites her to Hollywood.

Sarah Sue Kelly is up next, and she says she has a Karaoke business that she runs. She makes her way beautifully through “I Could Have Danced All Night” with lots of hand gestures along the way. LL says it was like she was holding a secret while she sang and says he’s on the fence with her. Randy says no, but follow the musicals road if you enjoy it. Simon states what everyone else had hedged around, that it’s Sarah’s appearance holding her back. As a heavyset brunette with glasses, she says she doesn’t need to look like Barbie, much to LL’s delight. They ultimately reject her, but LL says, “Stay focused; I loved the Barbie comment. Kisses and hugs.” He then bounds out from behind the table and hugs her. I like him.

Scott Savol is up next and says he’s “gonna rip” and give 150%. He talks of how his dad has no confidence in him. After sucking up to all the judges, he sings Superstar. There’s the chills I’ve been waiting for as he sings with such emotion. Simon asks if his dad has ever heard him sing, telling him he has quite a good voice. He also feels because of his looks, Scott would have a hard time getting his foot in the door of a record company. Paula says she didn’t expect a voice like that from him, and LL says they would never see him coming. He is invited to Hollywood.

Next up is Jennifer Page, a mime, obviously looking for some exposure. She writes notes saying it’s not a gimmick and that she’ll be singing Aerosmith. LL and Paul guess through her miming that she’s doing the theme to Armageddon. Joking that she’s the best they’ve heard, Simon sends her away. Maybe she should stay locked up in that pretend box.

Apparently living and working on a farm affords you the time to work on your craft. Farm girl Carrie Underwood from the St. Louis auditions is the most promising female so far, and here’s overall-wearing Patrick Norman, who enjoys camping and square dancing, singing Smile. Randy tells him “You can blow; you were born to be a singer.” LL tells him to pack all his overalls and head to CA. He’s on his way. Maybe he and Carrie could do a Green Acres duet.

The Jackson sisters, Lashunda and Leandra, are fighting over who will be the next American Idol. They both have spent their lives singing in the church choir. Lashunda is up first and is told she needs more time to work on her voice. When Leandra enters next, her version of Summertime is met with stunned faces and laughter. She leaves after being rejected, as LL runs up and hugs her, leading Simon to call for a group hug. Have I mentioned I like LL?

Blue-haired Briana Davis enters wearing a rainbow skirt that matches Paula’s rainbow shoes. She isn’t blue-haired by age, though; it’s dyed bright blue. She sings a song from Phantom of the Opera, and her voice sounds a little to me like Snow White. She says she has been taking voice lessons since the beginning of the year, and is told she doesn’t need them. Simon is out-voted three to one as Briana is sent to Hollywood.

Anthony Federov has a unique story. As a sickly child he received a tracheotomy, and his parents were told he may never speak again. He not only speaks, but sings Angel by Jon Secada beautifully, reminding everyone of Clay. This guy really emoted while he sang. He makes it to Hollywood as well.

The judges, minus LL, don’t seem to have as much luck in Orlando as they did in Cleveland. Marissa Ganz is up first screaming, I mean singing, White Boys. Paula tactfully tells her she should do theater, and Simon says yes, do plays, meaning anything non-musical. Obviously, not a candidate for From Justin to Marissa.

Eschrine Cral is next and says her voice surprises her, and she sometimes has a hard time believing it’s coming from her. As she sings Greatest Love of All, and is so obviously tone deaf, we can’t believe it’s coming from her either.

Vonzell Solomon prepares for her audition by doing jumping front kicks in the hallway. Preparing for my Senior Red belt testing tomorrow, it brings out the martial artist in me. She had beautiful technique, and her voice matches it, singing Chain of Fools. Her clothing matches too, wearing a green shirt, pink belt and one green shoe and one pink shoe. All three judges love her, with Simon adding they needed her that day.

Desmond Meeks is a great dancer and singer; an all-around great entertainer, singing I Feel Good. Paula fights hard to keep him, as both Randy and Simon say no. Paula threatens to leave the show, and eventually Randy gives in, allowing Desmond through. From Desmond to Vonzell just might make it. Remember, you heard it here first.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com.

Surreal Life 4, Episode 4 We are here to PARTAY!

The cast wakes up at the camp site. Adrienne seems really happy to be snuggling with Chris.

Joanie says they seem like one big happy family (for now). They clean up the campsite, well everyone except Verne as usual. Brat says he is spoiled and set in his ways and he is never going to change.

Everyone wonders what today’s adventure is going to be. They go home to find a spa set up in the house. Brat thinks that meditation is a bunch of BS and just wants to get the massage part. She leaves while they finish the meditation. Chris gets really into his meditation. Yeah REALLY. He… FARTS.. Oops!

The cast begins to receive their massages and enjoys it. They get every kind of massage possible, including one woman who does this singing therapy which brings Verne to tears.

Adrienne continues to talk of her fascination with Chris. Oh yeah, she wants her a Brady!

The cast decides to go to a strip club. Chris asks Verne if he wants to go and he doesn’t want to (of course). I mean Verne would go to a strip club on his own, but since it involves his housemates whom he usually tries to avoid, of course the answer is no. Chris says for every step forward Verne has made, he has taken just as many backward.

Adrienne talks more about liking Chris. Brat runs to Chris and starts grilling him on his interests in women, but not telling him why. Meanwhile Joanie starts eyeing Marcus.

At the Strip club, Chris gets surrounded by three strippers. He really seems to like it. Adrienne looks as if she wishes she was one of the strippers, so she starts doing whatever she can to get his attention. She even gets a lap dance from another woman.

Joanie, who is the party animal (and quite drunk) is all over Marcus and Jane. She tries to make out with Jane. She says she is here to PARTAY!

Chris says Adrienne might have a future in stripping (please don’t encourage her). The cast has a great time.

Adrienne says that she thinks fate has it for her to be with Chris. Joanie and Adrienne get back to the house and go skinny dipping in the hot tub. They begin to drink (A LOT). Joanie tells Adrienne to go “get her man”. Joanie says that she sees Adrienne being a nice supermodel mom, taking care of Chris.

The girls get really drunk and Adrienne writes on the memo board on the refrigerator that she wants to see Chris naked.

So, maybe a little less “eventful” day for the cast, but they can start enough craziness on their own. Stay Tuned!! :five:

Holes and Gaps – Starting Over, 02-01-05

Holes and Gaps – Starting Over, 02-01-05

By: Cori Linder
clinder@realityshack.com

Our past often shapes our identity. However, many of us look back through rose-colored glasses, forgetting it is often the most challenging or negative experiences that can teach the best life lessons. Removing these glasses lets us truly see ourselves so that we can change our future.

Denise wakes up refreshed and deliriously happy that she no longer has to endure the pain of acting like her house nemesis, Candy. In the last few episodes it seems that Denise is especially brutal in her relations with Candy, and in today’s episode, Denise really cracks the whip.

In group, Candy acknowledges that there’s more to femininity than just the physical—there’s confidence, inner beauty and emotions that help to define it. Iyanla declares Candy has completed her first step to “Define Femininity” and now must learn to “Transcend Taboos,” one of which is that if you are assertive than you are a bitch. Don’t let the world define you, says Iylana who then produces a box labeled “tabu fabu.” Only, we must wait until later in the show to find out what it contains.

Candy is given her next assignment: For the next 5 days, she cannot clean the house, make her bed, wash dishes, cook, etc., for her roommates will be responsible for it all. Now, for many of us, this would be pure heaven, but for Candy, it’s hell. Iyanla believes that it is through dust rags, mops, and sponges that Candy acts out her anger. Well, no more, and we begin to wonder where her anger will go…onto Denise, perhaps?

Rachael meets with Iyanla who has noticed considerable gaps in Rachael’s life story due to deep emotional pain and denial. How can a girl not acknowledge her blackness in an all-white family, Iyanla wonders. She then leads Rachael step by step in remembering her childhood.

Meanwhile, Dr. Stan works with Renee. Her problem seems more multi-dimensional and that her lack of self-esteem plays a big role. Renee admits she feels unintelligent and uses her physical appearance to compensate for her mind. She claims she is stupid, but Dr. Stan tells her otherwise and puts her in contact with an education consultant to discover her learning style.

Back to Rachael…The experience of remembering the details of her past is obviously painful. She finally realizes she was homeless, abandoned, and in denial. Her story is enough to make nearly anybody cry, however, she seems more shocked than mournful.

It is always particularly amusing when Denise and Candy are confined in the same room. Denise is ecstatic at the sight of brooding Candy amidst clutter. “Welcome to my world!” notes Denise. “Let everything be a mess…and you’ll love it!” This is Denise’s mantra.

Candy meets with Iyanla and realizes she continually cleans the house to camouflage her anger. An experienced ‘Starting Over’ viewer already knows that Iyanla is silently plotting how to unleash the anger. Finally, the explosion occurs—only in a soft feminine voice. Candy is mad, mad, mad, and sick and tired of how everybody treats her. “Girls who wear makeup are whores!” she says repeatedly, recalling her father’s words. Her emotional breakthrough manifests itself on the poor pillow she’s beating.

For those of you who thought Marcus, the 24-hour physical trainer, disappeared along with Sommer, he’s back. Believing that exercise is a good stress reliever, he shows Bethany and Candy how to power-punch. “Wow, this feels good!” exclaims Candy. She is glowing.

Rachael is continuing to piece together her past. She finally realizes that even though she started to exhibit good behavior, her aunt still did not want to care for her. It was only when Rachael was successful that she was “good enough” in her aunt’s eyes. Rachael now acknowledges that she has suppressed a lot about her past.

The drama involving Denise and Candy ensues. “Armies of ants are coming,” shrieks Denise in glee. Denise delights in the fact that she gets to be the corrections officer and put Candy under arrest. It’s a wonder that Candy hasn’t hit her by now.

The “tabu fabu” box is revealed, and the games begin. The ladies of the house must argue why something (breastfeeding in public, dating your best friend’s ex, etc.) is or is not taboo.

On a positive note, Rachael talks with her long lost friend and discovers she was loved. After a day of having to face her sordid past, this revelation is most comforting.

Ain't No Woman Like the One We've Got – The Bachelorette 3, Episode 4

by Rachel

The fourth episode of The Bachelorette starts with Chris Harrison telling the remaining six men that there will be two one-on-one dates up for grabs, and one group date. The men will compete for the individual dates by writing Jen anonymous letters telling her why they would make the perfect couple. Jen will choose two and won’t know who’s she’s chosen until they show up for the dates.

Ryan’s letter is the first to impress Jen. For their date, they go to the NYC Fire Department and ride on the truck through the city. Jen says that for a while she forgot that she was dating five other guys and was very happy to be with Ryan. After that trip, the duo get take out and go back to Jen’s apartment. When they’re done with dinner, Jen doesn’t want Ryan to leave, so she invites him out to the hot tub where they chat and make out.

Jen chose Jerry’s letter for the second date. They have a roof top dinner at Lincoln center. After dinner they are treated to a private concert by Peter Cincotti. Jerry and Jen dance together and kiss and seem to have a great time. Jerry says that he hopes it’s his last first date ever.

The group date is left for Wendell, John Paul, Ben, and Fabrice. This date takes place in Little Italy. Jen makes pizzas with Ben and John Paul. Ben feels that he is at a disadvantage because he hasn’t had any quality alone time with Jen. Jen talks to Fabrice alone for a few moments, and he expresses his frustration with the odd process they are going through. Jen asks him to hang in there.

Chris shows up with a surprise twist for this group date. A limo will be taking Jen to the Empire State Building. The four men have to race to get to her. The first man there gets to spend the remainder of the evening alone with Jen. There is one twist: all four must surrender their wallets and money.

Ben, John Paul, and Wendell run out the door and hail taxis. Wendell promises his cab driver $300, and tells the driver to call a number and tell the person Wendell said to send money. Fabrice is not in the mood for games, so he just walks home. Pretty humorous.

Wendell wins the race. Ben shows up next, and you can see the disappointment on his face when he sees Jen and Wendell together. John Paul shows up last, and Fabrice, of course, does not show up at all.

It’s time for the rose ceremony. Ben has a few moments alone with Jen, and he tells her that he wishes he had more time to get to know her, and he hopes that he doesn’t have to leave with regrets. Jen talks to Jerry alone and asks him if they were in a “normal” dating situation, if he would be bringing her home to his mom. Jerry seems a bit taken back by that. He says that he hasn’t really brought many women home. He later says that he’s afraid he blew it with his answer.

At this ceremony, two men will be sent home. Before Jen can give out the first rose, Fabrice steps forward with something to say. He tells Jen, and everyone else there, that he doesn’t feel a connection with Jen, he doesn’t want to marry her, and he’s stepping down. Way to save face when you know you’re getting dumped. After Fabrice leaves, Jen picks Ryan, Jerry, Wendell, and John Paul, and sends Ben home.

Next week are the hometown dates. It looks like Jen gets grilled about Andrew Firestone yet again.

What do you think? E-mail me at
Rachel@realityshack.com .

The Queens of Denial – Starting Over, 01-31-05

by LauraBelle

Every time they show the women of Starting Over going to church services, it always brings a peacefulness to the show, both in spirituality and making the house seem even more like home. Even when PJ was searching for a new faith, only to end up staying with her original Church of the Latter Day Saints, it was fascinating to watch all the different faiths presented, and in every single one, there was a sense of peacefulness. When the show starts out today with the women and Iyanla going to church services, you know it will be a good day.

Rachael had asked Iyanla if she could go to church as she wanted to keep honoring her mom, and wanted to feel even closer to her. Bethany, Renee and Iyanla join her, and all are moved by the service. It brings Bethany to tears, missing her church back home and her father, the pastor there, yet she feels a closeness when Rachael puts her arm around her and Renee slips her arm through Bethany’s, and she is thankful for the support.

Cassie had a hard day yesterday, being told the adoptive mother doesn’t want the birth son to meet Cassie, and that she is being blamed for his addictive lifestyle. To make matters worse Denise has insulted her by calling her a high class hooker once she put on a gold necklace. What Cassie shares with Denise later is that the necklace she put on she bought when she originally gave her son up for adoption, and she hasn’t been able to wear it ever in the past eighteen years. As she put it on for the first time, to help deal with feeling rejected, Denise further hurts her feelings. Denise apologizes.

A box is delivered to the house, and inside are materials for each woman to decorate a bird house; these will represent each woman’s house of denial. Once decorated the women bring the bird houses to Group with Dr. Stan. They of course are talking about the pitfalls of denial today. Each woman is asked to explain why their house represents their denial issues. Rachael is in denial of her parents death subsequent abandonment, and Denise is in obvious denial how her humor can hurt people’s feelings, and is also in denial that her humor covers her anger. Bethany chose to paint hers with all her excuses, apparently still stuck on the last Group’s discussion. Yet when pressed, realizes she is in denial of her anger, tired of feeling like a guinea pig after way too many medical procedures.

Cassie notices that everyone else’s is pretty but hers, but denial isn’t exactly supposed to be pretty. Renee is in denial of how the way she has hurt others has impacted them, pretty much the same as Denise. Candy has so much denial stored in the tiny birdhouse, not many birds will be fitting in there. She’s in denial of her desires, needs, anger and uncontrollable rage. She keeps threatening to unleash that anger, and something tells me it’s coming. Dr. Stan ends the session saying denial keeps you from facing the truth. Gee, thanks for that insightful moment. Sorry, Denise creeps into me from time to time.

Rhonda brings Candy and Denise together to talk about what irritates them about each other. Neither woman has much of a problem listing the irritating qualities. Candy noting the Denise is “always on*, is messy and uses an irritating sound machine. Denise notes Candy is always politically correct, is never angry, is robotic and perfect and too clean. For the rest of the day Denise and Candy will need to switch personalities and be each other. This will be interesting.

Candy and Denise help each other dress in clothing that would represent the other. Candy dresses very flamboyantly, blow dries her hair and has Denise do her makeup. Denise puts on what she calls “Candywear”, her most plain unpadded bra and the ugliest clothes she has, and wipes off her makeup. The Faux Denise says it is liberating to say whatever she wants and her day is spent “all about me” as she lies on the bed and watches Faux Candy clean and cook. By the end of the experiment, when they meet up with Rhonda again, Real Denise says it was difficult to be in control, and never hurt anyone. Asked to defend the other’s irritating qualities, Real Candy says what others sees as lack of self care is because she doesn’t know how to. She realizes if she allowed herself to be a little more of a free spirit she would have more fun. Denise admits this experiment was an eye opener as neither one see the extremes they go to that the other person sees so vividly.

Bethany meets with Dr. Stan to discuss what he sees as her guilt over separating from her father. He tells Bethany it’s part of every person’s development to make that separation at some point. He asks why she is in constant need to always be Daddy’s girl. Bethany tells him her father is the only one that accepts her for who she is. Dr. Stan shows her how her sister is away at college and hasn’t been forgotten, and she hasn’t forgotten the rest of the family. If Bethany would allow herself to separate more often, it would be the same. She would not be forgotten, and she would not forget them.

It is Rhonda’s turn with Bethany, and she takes her to the top of a mountain near the Starting Over house, overlooking the house and the city. Rhonda asks if Bethany is so enmeshed with her father, will there ever be room for friends and lovers? She tells Bethany she is a beautiful woman and her dad shouldn’t be the only one that gets to see that. Rhonda finally leaves her on top of the mountain to be isolated, and encourages her to come down when she feels she needs others.

Bethany finally descends the mountain and tells Rhonda she realizes there are five women in the house waiting to greet her with hugs, and she is excited to tell them how she needs them. The first person she goes to is Cassie. Bethany tells her she realizes she doesn’t need to be by herself, and she appreciates Cassie’s smile and love, as it makes her feel home and safe. Cassie, still feeling rejected by her birth son, needed that more than anything today. They have done what they came to the house to do, support each other.

Rhonda meets with Dr. Stan and Cassie to discuss how Cassie should proceed from here. Dr. Stan is quickly brought up to speed on the adoptive mother’s hostility and the threat of legal action if Cassie pursues seeing her birth son without her permission. Knowing now that the birth son does know he was adopted, Rhonda wonders if he was told in a bad moment, if he was told at the height of his addiction, making him feel it’s Cassie’s fault, since she also suffered from addiction. Cassie says she is very hurt and wonders if she will ever be good enough.

Dr. Stan tells Cassie it’s not about her. It’s about stability, and her birth son has never had it with the four times the adoptive mother has been married, making his life influenced more on his environment the past eighteen years and not his birth mother’s history. Dr. Stan feels is Cassie entered the picture now, she could be used by her birth son to get back at the adoptive mother, basically a “screw you” to them. He suggests they go in another direction and try contacting the adoptive father. If he hasn’t been with the adoptive mother these whole eighteen years, he might have a different view of Cassie, and might be more helpful letting her into her son’s life.

It was a good day, difficult, yet still a good day. Bethany has begun to reach out to others, peeling off those layers of fear little by little. Denise and Candy continue to make slow and steady progress at realizing being polar opposites they are more alike than different, and Cassie has regained her hope, and so have we. As Starting Over’s faithful viewers, we want a happy ending, just like when Susan found and reconnected with her birth father after such a long search. We want that so badly for Cassie who deserves it. Hope is good, and so much better than denial.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Wickedly Perfect, Episode #4 – Living Works of Art

by Heather

Episode four opens with the Wickedly Perfect contestants hanging out in the estate’s kitchen eating Mitch’s homemade biscuits. Host, Joan Lunden, enters with a member of the Board of Directors for the Bruce Museum in Greenwich, Connecticut. Joan says for the next challenge the teams will serve as the entertainment for the museum’s season opening party. Each team will create a living work of art inside a life-sized frame. The teammates will be judged on the quality of the frame, the overall concept, and the costumes. At least one of the costumes must be made from scratch. For the individual project, the contestants must each make a masquerade mask. They have 36 hours to complete this week’s challenge. Each team gets $1500 to buy supplies for both their group and individual projects.

Team Artisan’s Darlene and Kimberly are excited about the challenge. Darlene says she has a lot of sewing experience and is looking forward to making the costumes, while Kimberly will tackle the task of making the life-sized picture frame. Tempers flare when Margo tries to help Kimberly build the picture frame. Margo says Kimberly wants all the glory but won’t finish projects. Kimberly says she’s going to have to ‘watch her back’ around Margo from now on.

Meanwhile, the Crafty Beavers are getting along well, particularly Heather and Amy, who have become good friends. The team has chosen a “pop art cabaret” theme, and this time Amy is taking the leadership roll in the project because of her fine arts background. Heather gets annoyed with Mitch because he is taking a backseat in this project, choosing to spend most of his time working on his individual project. When he finishes his eccentric, black boa laden mask, Mitch decides to play mind games with Team Artisan. He walks through the kitchen where the ladies are burning the midnight oil on their project to show off his creation.

It’s show time at the Bruce Museum. In this episode Bobby Flay is replaced with guest judge Patricia Fields who is best know for her work in dressing the cast of HBO’s hit series ‘Sex and the City’. Judges Candace Bushnell and David Evangelista are also at the museum as Joan unveils Team Artisan’s living work of art, entitled “Women Through the Ages.” Amy, Darlene and Kimberly are wearing dresses reminiscent of the 1800’s, all made from scratch. They’re surrounded by a gold-painted frame as they act out a scene of women drinking, smoking cigars and playing cards. Denise and Margo (who say they wouldn’t fit inside the frame) watch their teammates from across the room as museum guests laugh in amusement at the skit.

The crowd gasps in amazement as The Crafty Beavers are unveiled. All the teammates are dressed in colorful cabaret garb, except for Tim who has a tuxedo jacket painted on his bare chest. The group is inside an intricately hand-carved frame, complete with special theatrical lighting. David says he loves the colors used in the Crafty Beavers’ project. The judges ask Team Artisan who built their frame. Margo says she did, infuriating Kimberly. Back at the estate Kimberly confronts Margo saying what she did was sneaky and ugly, and that ‘the gloves are off’.

Amy says she feels confidant that the Crafty Beavers will win because they are a team of ‘really creative people’ against a bunch of ‘housewives’. The teams assemble to hear the judges’ critiques. David says Team Artisan’s hair and make up didn’t look like that of women from the 1800’s, however, Patricia was impressed with the team’s handmade costumes. As for the Crafty Beavers, David says he loved their use of color, calling it ‘eye candy’; however, Patricia was not impressed with the bland color of their frame. Candace adds the team’s lack of a storyline made the crowd lose interest quickly.

After deliberating, the judges decide that Team Artisan is the winner, saying they had substance while the Crafty Beavers were all flash. Patricia says she wasn’t impressed with their individual projects, saying Mitch’s prized mask was downright ‘ugly’ and looked like a spider. Nevertheless, the judges choose Heather’s and Tim’s masks as the weakest individual projects.

Out at the Rock Garden, Mitch, still scarred by the ‘ugly’ comment, confronts Patricia saying he didn’t think insulting his mask was professional. Patricia stands her ground saying his individual project was all flash and no content. Candace goes on to say that Mitch needs to develop a thicker skin and that creative people should to learn to deal with criticism. It’s time for the big decision. Amy and Mitch both decide to vote Tim off the show.

Reminder: Wickedly Perfect has moved from Thursday to Saturday night on CBS.

Heather can be reached for comments or questions at heather@realityshack.com.

Episode 4 – You Are The Weakest Link, Good – Bye

Since none of the celebrities made their targets last week, the panel is looking for answers. ANT mentions that the celebs aren’t putting in quite a stellar performance at Fit Camp.

Daniel doesn’t participate due to his back issues. They say Judge Mablean gives a lot in the exercising process but gets annoyed at herself and others. Harvey feels the answer is this:

**** the celebs are too used to being pampered. They’re laaaaaazy. *****

Perhaps, VH-1 should consider my idea to prove this. Have a group of regular “Joe’s” like me and a few other fat Americans and have them compete against some celebs. Let’s see who does better.

Losing weight isn’t easy and the aggressive weight-loss targets on this show are hard to meet. Having said that, it does seem that some of the stars are resistant to what the program requirements are.

This week, in order to shake things up, ANT tells us that the teams have to vote off one member – the weakest – and send that person to the other team. Mablean felt like it was bad news. Her predictions are that Kim Coles and Joe G will be making the switch.

That seems to be the overall consensus, although Team Baldwin aka the “Eastsiders” are NOT happy. Daniel says he’d take anyone but Kim. Kim doesn’t want to be on his team, either. Nananabooboo. So there!

In the end, I was a bit surprised by the vote. Kim, Wendy, Ralphie and Mablean herself all voted for the judge to get the heave-ho. Mablean says that, because she was the team lead, and the team wasn’t doing well, she is taking responsibility for that and feels it’s her fault.

Daniel’s Team did trade Joe. Joe voted for himself, but Mia also voted for herself. Daniel had some harsh words for Joe and said that he wasn’t a team player because he gained weight and well, he didn’t want him on his team anymore. This was after Joe had said that the “Eastsiders” were the closest thing to a family he has ever had.

Ralphie’s team needs to vote for a new captain, but that’ll happen later.

Daniel gets up to weigh himself. He needed to lose 7 lbs; he lost 6, but that was without exercise. Marisa asks him how he’s going to cope with having another (former) team leader on his team.

Daniel says that the Eastsiders is a democracy so Mablean’s just going to have to get used to that. He has a new target of 3 lbs. Harvey doesn’t want him to ‘break himself’.

ANT leads us through the story line of Kim and her crush on Harvey. He also mentions that Harvey doesn’t think of her that way. He looks at her as a client. In order to step it up, Kim has hired her own personal trainer to give her that something extra.

Did it work?

I guess the jury’s still out on that since Kim, who was targeted to lose 5 lbs, only managed to lose 3. Marisa asked her if she was over her man problems. Kim said, “What man? Ain’t no problem?” Marisa reminded her that she can find a new man, one who won’t give her the same type of problems.

What does Harvey say to that? He told her to do more exercise. Her new target is 4 lbs.

Judge Mablean had her day in court, so to speak. LOL. She has been having a tough time. She had some issues and struggling with her teammates, who just traded her. She lost Zero. Zilch. Nada.

She is hurt most because people tell her she doesn’t listen. Dr. Katz told her pretty much the same and asked her to stop lecturing the panel when they are just trying to help her out. Mablean has resisted working on the emotional stuff with Marisa Peer. She doesn’t believe in that ‘mumbo jumbo’.

Mablean then turns around and says to the panel that she wants them to tell her what to do. Of course she does, but only so long as it’s what she wants to or thinks she should hear. She’s awfully resistant to giving up some control and is not going to get back on track until she reevaluates.

Harvey told her that he respects her for being a strong woman and that he will give her a target of 2 lbs. He knows she’s got the will power of a POW (Prisoner of War).

Mablean’s issues make me wonder – Will the pressure of the weight loss targets, the public weigh-ins and such like that cause some of the celebs to do drastic, and potentially unhealthy things?

I know that’s not the intent of the show, however. It’s possible.

Next up is the spin class. Harvey thought it’d be a treat. Little did he know how the celebs would b*tch and moan. Ralphie ended up working a one on one session with Harvey while Cindy, the spinning instructor, worked with Biz, Mablean, Kim, Wendy and Joe G. Daniel had to bow out due to his back.

Ralphie quipped that when he tried a spin class with his girlfriend, Lahna that he fell off the bicycle. The visual was enough to keep them from pursuing the issue, I suppose.

Cindy told the cameras that this was the most resistant group of people she’s ever worked with. Wendy bailed mid-way through the session. She asked for padding. She and Kim mentioned that their ‘private parts’ hurt.

The one thing about this show is that NOTHING IS SACRED! It borders on too much honesty sometimes. I didn’t need to or want to know that their hoo-haws hurt, okay?

Eventually, Wendy got back on the bike, but Ralphie got the best workout of them all. Harvey kept him moving and grooving the entire time.

Ralphie was ready for a good weigh-in. He told Dr. Katz he’s been busting his a$$, exercising and eating right. He’s been walking a lot, doing sit-ups and he was so hurt when the result was a 1-lb. gain. You could see it in his face.

He said he felt like got punched in the face by the scale. Dr. Katz told him that he’s improved his lean muscle mass. He’s gained 34 lbs of muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. The scale isn’t the whole story.

Marisa asked him if he considered quitting now. He answered honestly and said there’s a part of him that said, “I’ve got to go.” I know the pain of that and I applaud him for owning up to it and trying to work on it. I know how disheartening it can be.

Harvey asked him if he did any cardio. Ralphie said yes and he’s been sweating like he’s “R. Kelly at the Kid’s Choice Awards.” Yes, he went there.

ANT asked him how last week’s challenge was considering he had an ear infection at the time. Ralphie and Joe were chosen from their teams to take a stress test. Since stress packs on pounds, the team member who had the lowest stress score would win computers for their team.

While a monitor checked the levels, the opposing team badgered poor Ralphie and Joe. Ralphie got screams in his ears. He handled it well and scored a 2.8, which is pretty low on the stress scale. (I think I’d score much higher for much less stress. I am stress-personified!)

Joe had to listen to Mablean berating him and saying that his fiancée didn’t really love him and he wasn’t serious about losing weight. It was harsh, but Joe kept his cool. He scored 2.5 so the Eastsiders won the competition again.

It’s Biz’s turn to be weighed in. His goal was 8 lbs. He only lost 3. He told the panel that he didn’t exercise. He was very busy and said he would make it up next week.

Marisa asked him if his women friends noticed the change in him. He said yes. Harvey told him to do his best to make the time that diet and exercise go hand-in-hand and he has to do it. His new target is 4 lbs. Biz says he’ll double that.

I’m betting he won’t! Who wants in on that action?

They show Wendy at the Diet for Health Center. She’s excited because Jill, who owns the place, tells her that her goal weight is not 125 lbs as Wendy often thought. Wendy has almost that amount of weight in lean mass. She needs to be more realistic about her ideal body weight.

Wendy’s thrilled. She only has to lose about 50 or 60 lbs to get to a good weight for her frame. The best thing about this plan, to me, is that the scale is NOT the only indicator of success for the celebs. They do metabolism monitoring, fat composition testing and more.

So, how did she do? Well, her goal was 5 lbs. Wendy only lost 2. It seems she had a run-in with some frozen yogurt or something. Dr. Katz told her that he felt she could’ve done better. Harvey gave her a target of 3 lbs and told her to look and move forward.

Mia’s goal was 7 lbs. She lost 4.5 lbs. Dr. Katz said it wasn’t quite the goal, but still pretty good. He asked if she’s sticking to the dietary guidelines he gave her. Mia talked to him about how she’s trying to get into soy cheese and trying to get everyone around her to get into it too. Marisa notes that Mia has a fan base, supporting her.

(I tried finding the site, but it’s a group that’s private. However, post a message of support to Mia at her forums on http://www.miatyleronline.com)

Harvey told Mia her weight loss target was 15 lbs. She was shocked. Then, he said he was just kidding – it’s 3 lbs. Jokes like that are frightening to me. The only way to lose 15 lbs in 2 weeks is not healthy.

We see Joe now. He talks about how his new diet has been giving him gas. Joe’s fiancée realizes that it’s an embarrassing problem not just for Joe but for her. He can’t seem to contain his gas. Even the Eastsiders have noticed. Biz says, “why you always be playing the trumpet around here?”

ANT quipped about the situation, “Whoever said Love Stinks knew what they were talking about.”

Joe’s goal, since he had gained 12 lbs the previous week was 14 lbs loss. He didn’t make that. He lost 9. Dr. Katz was pleased; however, Harvey rolled some footage that showed part of Joe’s secret – he lit up again.

Joe returned to smoking to help him deal with the diet. He has a new goal – 5 lbs. He does intend to tackle the smoking as well. Personally, I think it would be extremely hard to do both at once.

This week, the losing team gets a punishment – a house guest for the evening. Will Ralphie’s team win again – especially now that switch has occurred? Mablean’s weight loss, or lack thereof, counts for the Eastsiders and Joe’s counts for Ralphie’s Angels.

Daniel’s team won for the first time. They lost 13.5 lbs and Ralphie’s team lost 13 lbs. Funny thing? If Daniel’s team kept Joe, they’d have won by a bigger margin.

Anyway, Ralphie’s team had one on one sleepovers. Kim got ANT; Ralphie had Marisa; Joe and Dr. Katz shared a room and Wendy got a workout with Harvey.

Next week we get to see the fall out from the team trade.

Can’t wait – Ralphie threatens to get naked to avoid some drama!

— Email me at panndyra@realityshack.com with questions, comments or HEALTHY weight loss tips! I’d love to hear from you!!!!—

Episode 2 – Butt Crack Attack

In this episode we learn how the teams got their names. Daniel’s team (Biz Markie, Mia Tyler and Joe G.) are the Eastsiders because they all come from the East Coast originally. The other team is called “Ralphie’s Angels” ‘cuz it’s three ladies and Ralphie May. The ladies are, of course, Kim Coles, Wendy “The Snapple Lady” Kaufmann and Judge Mablean.

We also know that the Eastsiders’ game plan is to engage in psychological warfare, under the auspices of their Baldwin Brother, Daniel.

Mablean was first to weigh in. She obviously felt confident because she said, “I’m even stepping light.” Her goal was 5 lbs. She lost 6, so she exceeded the goal. The panel asked her how she did it. She told them that she is motivated by being team captain and really wants to lead by example. She also says she feels ‘cared for’ because of the panel helping them along the way.

Her new target is 9 lbs.

ANT asks Mablean to do her impression of Kim. Kim’s none too happy with it, but – from the editing, it seems accurate, if not flattering. Kim’s been vocal about how difficult the process is and can often be caught complaining instead of exercising.

Daniel, who doesn’t miss a trick, comments on the dissension among the “Angels”.

Biz Markie is ready to weight in. He’s always rapping, but it does take some practice. I guess you can’t get a rap perfect on the first try. It was kinda funny watching Biz work on one for a ‘commercial spot’ for the show. I think it demonstrated exactly why the guy hasn’t had a mainstream hit in — oh, about 15 years. (Yes, that was cruel, but that’s me. B*tchy & cruel!)

He had a 7 lb target weight loss. Last week he was 344; this week, he met his goal exactly. He was down to 337. Dr. Katz told him that was a ‘bull’s eye’. He also wants to be sure that Biz is making changes that he can stick to for a lifetime.

That’s one of the best parts of this program – that it takes the proper approach of lifestyle changes because that’s what will get long-term success. (As if I would know. LOL!)

Marisa, the hypnotherapist, reminds Biz why he’s doing this. Biz told her that he wants to be outlive people
older than he is. He doesn’t want to die of his own stupidity.

We also get to see Biz in his workout gear. He wears these pants that show off his prodigious butt crack. TMI (Too Much Information) y’all. I guess VH-1 feels that celebrity butt crack is more appealing than, what, plumber butt crack?

YUCK! The only celebrity butt I want to see is Brad Pitt (or Johnny Depp, or just about anyone else but Biz Markie. EWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW).

Biz’s new target is 7 lbs. He tells Harvey that he’ll double it. (We’ll see, won’t we?)

Ralphie’s up next. He’s tired. He doesn’t feel good. His schedule is very grueling. His girlfriend is Lahna Turner. She’s a very funny comedian in her own right. (I’ve seen her live; she often performs as Ralphie’s opening act. And she can sing too.) Lahna talks about how it’s been non-stop for Ralphie for over a year.

Ralphie jokes that his 481 lbs were a ‘light’ weight. He told the panel that he really took Dr. Katz’s nutritional advice to heart.

*No Fried Foods
*No Red Meat
*No Cheese

He admitted that the last part was hardest for him. Cheese really makes a sandwich. I agree, Ralphie!

He also exercised; forced himself to do so. His perseverance paid off – the man lost 12 lbs. His next goal is 16 lbs.

Mia Tyler has a reputation as a tough-chick. She and Harvey, the fitness trainer, don’t get along. They got off on the wrong foot, especially when Mia forgot her sneakers for Fit Camp. She asked Harvey what to do and he told her she was stupid for forgetting sneakers and to stop making excuses.

She doesn’t like the way he talks to her.

She told him, “I’ll pop you.” I’d like to see that. Maybe FOX will pick that up for another round of Celebrity Boxing.

Harvey joked that he and Mia must’ve been married in a previous life. Her goal was 4 lbs. She thought she had hit it. In the end she lost 5 lbs. Way to go Mia.

Marisa asks her why she’s here. Mia says she doesn’t want to be ‘thin’. She wants to be healthy. She also tells Harvey that her size doesn’t make her less sexy because sexy is more about attitude than size. Harvey, obviously, disagrees.

Mia, I agree with you. Keep staying positive. Health over thinness is important. Health over obesity too! Mia does tell Harvey that his attitude can have a downside and may drive some people to be thin at all costs.

As a model, I’m sure Mia’s seen her share of eating disorders – and as a woman, I know I have. I struggled with Bulimia for over 14 years. Health and fitness, not thinness and certainly NOT at all costs. I like the fact that Mia is sticking to her beliefs and isn’t afraid to speak up. Go, MIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Time for another segway.

Kim Coles has a crush on Harvey. They show her giggling with Mia and objectifying the man. Daniel thinks it’s very funny that Kim likes him. I can’t see it, but stranger relationships have happened. Kim says he’s sexy and passionate. I don’t think a romance will develop, however at least not until Kim’s at a fighting weight in Harvey’s eyes.

Anyway, Kim’s goal was a 6 lb weight loss. She lost 7 and celebrated it, especially since she’s premenstrual. She said she did lots of cardio, on the elliptical machines. (By the way, I love elliptical machines. If any elliptical machine company is reading this and wants to dontate one to my fat a$$, I’ll sing your praises all day, all night and all over the internet!)

Now, for the team challenge. This week’s challenge had the teams doing a swimming pool relay. Because Kim was so self-conscious about how she looks in a suit, she put on a wetsuit. Unfortunately, it was buoyant and made her float, not swim. Big surprise! Team Baldwin (the Eastsiders) won the challenge.

They got a bucket o’ prizes:

**Mia got a Celeb Fit Club doll and the opportunity to get her image made into a doll as well.

**Biz got a digital camera.

**Daniel got a diamond but he gave it to Joe G. so he could give it to his fiancée Dianne.

I was so impressed with that action by Daniel that I forgot to write down what the last prize was.

Now, it’s Joe G.’s turn to face the scale – and the panel. He’s having trouble with the fitness assessments. Harvey was concerned as was Dr. Katz. They had him undergo some testing on his heart to make sure he was up to the exercise portion of the challenge. Joe’s been a lifelong smoker and he’s a little upset at how out of shape he’s gotten. He used to be very athletic and played ball when he was younger.

Dr. Katz was encouraged when he received the results which showed that the problem wasn’t with Joe’s heart. He had a 7 lb. target. He told them it wasn’t high enough, so they made it 8 lbs.

I guess Joe knew what he was asking for. He actually registered an 11 lb. loss and shattered the goal. When asked what his secret was, he said: hard work, determination and his fiancée.

Joe reminded Harvey that he promised he’d give him a pat on the back if he met his goal. So, Harvey did. 14 lbs is his next target loss.

Wendy’s turn. She’s so sweet and refreshing. Her target was 5 lbs; she lost 7. She was so excited. She also talked about her dealings with hypnosis and Marisa Peer. She admitted her skepticism, but told everyone that she’s working hard on the emotional reasons why she overeats.

She did a ‘regression’ – that’s when you go back in your own lifetime (or in another if you do believe in that) – with the clear intent to figure out what’s going on in your present life. It was discovered that Wendy felt pushed aside after she went from being the baby in her family at the age of 2 to one of the older siblings of twins.

She says that this process is empowering her to understand why she overeats and is helping her to not do it now. The panel recognizes her determination and resolve. They congratulate her for it.

I also congratulate her on her spirit. She’s classy and sweet, but not a pushover – either. (Plus a family friend has a huge crush on her – Wendy, call me. I’ll hook you up with him!)

Finally, it’s the Eastsiders’ captain, Daniel Baldwin. His target was 10 lbs. Daniel’s having some serious trouble with his back and his knees. He hasn’t been able to exercise very much. Regardless, he still lost 7 lbs. He’s trying to lead by example, but seems to have a lot of respect from his team (even if he doesn’t get or give much to the other team!)

In the end, “Ralphie’s Angels” won the final assessment. They lost a combined total of 32 lbs; whereas, the “Eastsiders” lost 30 lbs.

— Hasta la vista, babies. I’m going to go eat some cookies, sit on my fat a$$ and watch more TV. I’m out!

***Got questions, concerns or comments? Email them to panndyra@realityshack.com

Isn’t ANT the greatest? —

The B Word – Starting Over, 01-28-05

by LauraBelle

We all have excuses. We may think we have extenuating circumstances, but in the end run, it doesn’t matter, and excuse is an excuse. I can say I have good excuses for why I’m just now, on Saturday night, typing up Friday’s review, but the truth is, it’s by choice. I chose to sleep last night. Good choice for me, but still my choice. Instead of saying I have an excuse, perhaps we should say, I made a choice.

Rhonda pulls Cassie out of the house in her bathrobe and towel-wrapped head and tells her she has news. The adoptive mother called Rhonda that morning. She doesn’t not want to talk any further with Cassie or Rhonda. The son does know he was adopted, and the adoptive mother feels it’s his responsibility to find Cassie if he wants to meet her. He is on his way to college after battling addiction and ADD. The adoptive mother blames Cassie for all this. Rhonda explains to Cassie he does not have a pretty picture of who she is, only the ones painted by the adoptive mother from the Cassie she knows from eighteen years ago. Rhonda is stunned as Cassie’s first remark is “Thank you, God! He’s okay.” She knows she is not the same person. Asked how she will feel if she never meets him, Cassie says she can live with it, because she now knows he is okay. She can have hope she will meet him someday, but it doesn’t have to run her life anymore. She is not sorry; he is okay and thriving. She thanks Rhonda, who continues to be stunned by Cassie’s attitude with this.

Rhonda wants to talk about excuses today in Group. She says we give excuses because we aren’t willing to invest. Bethany says her excuse for not wanting to work hard in the house is that she can do it by herself, and she realizes this comes from her fear of depending on others and being rejected. Candy’s excuse is that she doesn’t have time for herself. Not being smart or good enough continues to be Cassie’s excuse, but anyone witnessing her earlier discussion with Rhonda knows she is working hard to not use that one anymore. Rachael minimizes her story as a way of offering an excuse. The women are being asked to tie a green ribbon on their wrists today if they realize they are making an excuse, and then they will need to do something to get past that excuse. Rhonda ends by telling everyone there is a Board of Review today.

Iyanla believes Rachael operates on an irrational belief that all with cancer die. Today’s mission is to speak with cancer survivors who also have children. Rachael is very fearful of seeing anyone sick, and Iyanla tells her they are surviving, they aren’t necessarily sick. When she meets these people she will give away some of the hope and faith shells she has been working on.

Rachael is so frightened and says she doesn’t know how to act. Iyanla urges her not to minimize her feelings. Rachael never let her parents see her cry over their illness, she needs to let it out now. Iyanla and Rachael meet with four women from an African-American breast cancer survivors group. As the women begin to share their stories, Rachael is soaking in the information; she had never thought that cancer was something people could recover from as she had only seen her parents die from it. She asks them how they prepared children, and is told there is no easy answers, and if you want to live, you have to believe it in your heart you’ll survive, thereby not preparing your children. Rachael, for the first time, realizes her mother told her she would survive only because she had to desperately believe it just to be able to face it and live as long as she did. For the first time letting her anger, fears and full range of emotions out, Rachael, through tears, gives out her hope and faith shells to these survivors.

After forgiving her father for his abuse of her and her family, Denise tells Rhonda she feels a weight has been lifted from her shoulders, and is not as angry or snappy with her comments. Rhonda tells her maybe she should also forgive her sister, and makes Denise draw a picture of her sister with eyes closed. Denise wants to be sure to include the “sourpuss face.” Asked if she sees her clearly as she is, Denise realizes she doesn’t, and thinks her sister probably needs similar therapy to what she’s receiving to get past that difficult childhood. Asked to write down her positive qualities, Denise struggles much more than she did writing down her father’s positive qualities. Rhonda wants her to get support from someone who has been there, and tells her to call Starting Over graduate Kim, who resolved the conflict with her sister while in the house.

Denise follows through and calls Kim who says she hadn’t worked on her relationship with her sister because she felt it was unmendable, and she was fearing rejection. She finally decided she would rather heal than be right. Kim reiterates her new mantra, “It’s you. It’s always you.” Denise is realizing this is a problem she has with herself, not her sister, and knows now she needs to reach other unconditionally. Kim tells her maybe the reason why it’s so much harder for her with her sister than it was her father, is because her sister is still living and her dad isn’t.

Denise grabs the bull by the horns, no excuses, and calls her sister out of the blue. She is met with the sourpuss attitude she remembers, and feels like her sister was saying screw you. Denise hangs up and calls Rhonda, telling her of the conversation. Again, Rhonda asks is this about you or her? Denise realizes how easy it was for her to veer off the course, just by getting that little bit of attitude.

Cassie is the first one up for Board of Review, and this is the first time everyone has been seated around this table since Sommer was asked to leave. Cassie feels she is taking responsibility for her life and loving herself, knowing she is worth it, and knows she still needs to work on not beating herself up. Denise provides some feedback, saying she sees a new confident, assertive Cassie, and Rachael says Cassie juggles most of it so well, but knows Cassie still struggles with her GED readiness. Asked to grade herself, she feels an A-, since she still holds fears. Asked why not more, she is afraid if she is too assertive she’ll be seen as a bitch. Told by Rhonda that a bitch is just a broad in total control of herself, Cassie likes the sound of that, and changes her grade to an A.

Rhonda tells Cassie she was so surprised by her response to the adoptive mother, and that she accepted the blame knowing it’s not her with the problem anymore. She realizes she is starting to integrate the tools she is learning. Rhonda says something odd, and says in the Board of Review she has graduated many and also asked a few to leave, but she has never done the following. I prepare myself, thinking she will be introducing Cassie to her son for the first time. Instead Cassie gets a step for claiming her self-worth and an A+. Both absolutely wonderful, and even though steps aren’t normally given at Board of Review, I feel it was almost teasing in a way. Sorry Rhonda.

Rachael, wearing her mom’s dress for the first time, is next up for review. She believes she has been examining her emotions and trusting herself, and is now ready to throw away the shame and guilt. Through tears she says she is wearing the dress to feel close to her mom and to say she is still thinking about her. She believes she deserves an A. Denise offers feeback saying she still needs to work on trusting the women a little more, and Cassie thinks she still needs to let go of the anger.

Iyanla tells Rachael when she first heard her story she was horrified. Rachael represents Iyanla’s granddaughter in ten years. As a motherless child herself, Iyanla sees that having that loss creates a hole in your being. She thanks Rachael for showing up in the house. Watching her today, Iyanla believes she deserves an A, and just hopes she can maintain that progress.

Cassie says if “the B word” feels like this, she wants to be “the B word” all the time. Everyone enjoys dinner together, and no one is arguing over cooking chores. Everyone is taking responsibility for something and themselves and not offering excuses for their behavior. No one graduated tonight, so the excuses aren’t completely gone, but they are choosing to celebrate tonight, and this is the happiest the house has seemed in awhile.

I welcome all questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

Everything Reality TV