Jaws, Not Scales, Are Dropping – The Biggest Loser, Episode 2

by aurora

We kick things off this week watching the Blue team as they react to Dana’s elimination. They sit looking depressed, trying to console themselves and talk themselves into getting their mojo back. The Red team arrives, and Ryan blurts out “What the hell took so long?”. Even his teammates are shocked at his rudeness. Gary goes off on Ryan and ends up leaving.

The next morning, Lizzeth is out running while everyone else is still sleeping. She tells us that she’s working out even more than what’s required of her because she wants this so badly. She wants to do this for her family, to set an example. Her sister recently had gastric bypass surgery, and now is gaining weight because she doesn’t know the right things to eat. Lizzeth’s heart is at home, but she has to stay and do this for them.

Bob arrives at the ranch to meet with his Blue team, and says that he feels they have nothing to be ashamed of. His goal is to get these people healthy, and the game comes second. He tells them he’s proud of them, and rounds everyone up to work out.

Over at the Red team, Jillian has arrived to shape up her army. She says that she’s stepping up the workout so that they continue to lose weight and do not plateau. Jillian pushes the team to their limits, and Kelly M admits that “sometimes when she’s yelling I just want to kick her in the face”. The team gloats that they worked out ten times harder than the Blue team last week, and that’s why they won the weigh-in. Dave is having trouble keeping up with the workouts, however. He gives up easily and even Jillian is annoyed with his slacking.

Lunch for the day is provided by Subway. The table is laden with wraps, mashed potatoes, a grill with chicken and beef, salads, bread, etc etc. A lot of people seem to have trouble with their food choices including Maurice, who tucks into a nice slab of beef brisket.

It’s time for the weekly challenge, and the teams meet up with host Caroline Rhea at Universal Studios. They head into a giant kitchen which is decked out with eggs, sugar, chocolate, sprinkles – baking items. The challenge is a good old-fashioned bake sale. Each team has two hours to bake as much as they can, and then they have to sell their goodies outside. (Hey Mr. Trump, are you watching?) Whoever sells the most wins. Since the Red team has one more member, the winning team will decide which member willhave their weight not count at the weigh-in. But the big prize is an afternoon at the spa, which would sure sound good to sore muscles at this point.

Both teams whip up fidge, cupcakes, cookies, brownies, and all sorts of illegal foods. They are subjected to the feel, look, and smell of sugary stuff that they’ve been denied for two weeks.

Once the treats are baked, it’s time to hawk their wares. Dave thinks he’s Mr. Salesman, complimenting people on what they’re wearing, while Gary is selling himself as the executive chef of Universal. Not only are they selling though, they’re watching people dig in and enjoy their baked goods – that can’t have been easy.

Time’s up, and Caroline calls everyone over. She tells them that there’s one more thing – the first team to have taken a lick, bite or taste of anything in the kitchen would automatically lose 50% of their earnings. That team was…everyone looks at each other…no one! They all held their ground. That’s impressive.

The Blue team hauled in $245, while the Red team made a whopping $362. So the Red team gets to board the waiting Humvee and head off to the spa, and when they return they can decide amongst themselves who will be sitting out at the weigh-in. The Blue team is very upset, but go back to the ranch to work out some more while the Red team enjoys their massages.

Bob is really pushing his team now, stepping up their workouts. The women are holding pushups with Bob laying underneath them, which is actually rather comical (although I’m sure it was anything but funny for those women). Maurice just wants to know when he can go eat.

It’s now weigh-in night, and Caroline asks the Reds who they are excluding from their total weight loss, and they decide on Lizzeth. Here are the results (Lizzeth gets weighed anyway, it just doesn’t count):

Lizzeth – 0 pounds
Aaron – 7
Ryan – 3
Andrea – 6
Dave – 0
Kelly Mac – 1
Lisa – 1
Gary – 2
Kelly M – 2
Maurice – 0
Matt – +3 (yes, he gained 3 pounds)

Matt begins to cry. The Blue team, with a total of 14 pounds lost, wins this week. The Red team lost a total of 3 pounds. Matt just stands there with tears rolling down his face, and even Kelly Mac says that her heart was breaking for him. So was mine.

I’m going to go off on a little rant here, so if you just want the facts of what happened on the show, skip this paragraph completely. Now that you’ve been warned, here it is. I cannot for the life of me figure out why the trainers, producers, nutritionists, and/or doctors on staff did not warn these people that this would happen. They were mortified, disappointed, and scared. I know this is a reality show, but messing with their heads is unforgivable. Anyone who is remotely familiar with low-carb, low-calorie, low-fat diets knows that in the first week the body lets go of a lot of water and other fluids. This results in significant weight loss, and is one of the things that is heavily marketed in diets like Atkins and South Beach. After that first week, the body is shocked and hangs onto whatever it gets. Not only that, but the water weight is gone – these people are now losing fat and increasing muscle mass. Of course their weight loss will slow down. The part that makes me furious is that they reacted with such shock – no one warned them that this would happen. Kelly M wanted to quit and talked about just accepting herself the way she is. Even Ryan wondered what the hell he did wrong, and poor Matt was reduced to tears. This was unnecessary and could have been avoided. Losing weight is such an emotional process as it is, but this just put it over the top. I give these contestants all the kudos in the world for sticking with it after going through that kind of shock.

Okay, back to the show. Bob admits he’s nervous to meet up with his team, but he is pleasantly surprised to find out that they won the challenge. He tells them finally that the pounds they lost are real pounds of fat, not water weight. I hope he took the time to explain things to them fully. Jillian faces the same questions from the Reds, and she tells them to just stay the course and keep eating the way they’ve been eating. To her credit, she tells Lisa that the worst thing they can do is to drop their calories even more.

Ryan starts right in on the elimination talk, and points the finger at Lizzeth. She says that she’s a ‘little girl’ who can work her ass off and only lose three pounds. Matt says that he’s the one who gained weight and should be the one who is going home, but he also thinks he has the potential to step things up and get rid of the weight. Kelly steps up and points out that Dave isn’t giving it his all, and that’s not good enough for the team. Ryan argues that in the long run, Dave can lose more than Lizzeth. Dave says that he can lose 30 pounds by the end of the show. Careful Dave, you have no idea how your body is going to react.

Next up is a clip of Lizzeth talking about how she’s been overweight for a long time, and used to get picked on a lot. There are short clips from Kelly M and Ryan, then it’s back to Lizzeth saying that she won’t quit and wants to go home skinny. Could they have made the elimination more clear if they tried? C’mon, I know NBC has better editors than this.

Kelly goes to Lisa to plead Lizzeth’s case. Lisa doesn’t know which way to vote – she was ready to vote for Lizzeth, but admits that Kelly makes a good case for her. She decides to watch Dave at the workout that day, and if he doesn’t step things up she’s going to tell him she’s voting for him. Lizzeth seems to be working twice as hard as Dave, and Lisa is watching. Will it affect her vote?

The Reds sit in silence waiting to be called down to the elimination. Lizzeth bursts out that she can’t believe that Dave is walking around whistling while she’s stressing so hard about leaving. He doesn’t contribute as much as she does, and she’s pissed. Dave makes some sarcastic comment and starts whistling again, while Lizzeth softly cries.

Elimination time. Caroline asks Matt what kept him from coming downstairs and eating all the carrot cake in his fridge after gaining 3 pounds. He says that he didn’t come here to cheat, he came here to win. Lizzeth is asked why she thinks she should stay, and she says that she worked her butt off and believes she deserves a spot on the team.

Caroline says that it’s time to vote. Dave is first, and he votes for Lizzeth. Kelly and Lizzeth both vote for Dave, saying that he just isn’t putting enough into it. Ryan makes a goofy little speech that ends in “Dave, I’m sorry to tell ya…I voted for Lizzeth.” He grins while Lizzeth shoots him the look of death. Matt also votes for Lizzeth. It’s down to Lisa’s vote, and we’re told that if there’s a tie the Blue team will decide who is leaving. Lisa says she’s been struggling all day, and complains about the pressure. She then reveals her vote for Lizzeth without an explanation.

Caroline tells Lizzeth that she’s not the biggest loser. It’s time for her to pack her bags and say goodbye. As Caroline starts to give the rest of them a pep talk, she notices that Kelly is dying to say something. Kelly tells Ryan that she doesn’t think he could have been less classy if he tried. It hurt Lizzeth enough to sit here, but to pull that prank was too much. Ryan says that they’re not here to cure cancer, and if he can have a bit of fun with it all the better for him. Fun is good Ryan, but not at the expense of others. I have to side with Kelly on this one. Caroline tells them all that the have the rest of the week to regroup and reorganize themselves.

Lizzeth gives advice to all of the overweight people in America – don’t give up! She’s going to miss her team, especially Kelly. The next time everyone sees her, they’re going to see a hot girl. Someone who is beautiful inside and out. Just before the credits, we see a recent picture of Lizzeth as well as the news that she has lost another 9 pounds since leaving the show. She is also inspiring her family to lose weight with the tools she learned on the show.

I welcome your comments! Am I being too harsh, or did you feel awful for all of these people too? Contact me at carrie@realityshack.com.

Comedy of Errors – The Benefactor, Season Finale

[i]by atarus[/i]

Mark opens up by saying that the final 3 contestants have passed all his tests for success, but he had one more test to give them. He needed to get to know them better, so he would be visiting their houses. We go to Linda first, headed to Boston. Mark says that Linda needs the money for herself, that her mother has trouble financially, and she’s said she needs the million to help her mother out. Mark first meets Linda’s fiance, Dan, and they talk. They are then swept to Linda’s mom’s apartment, and Linda says that she thinks that Mark enjoyed the time there, and she knows her mother did. Mark says that he knew Linda grew up in poverty, and he saw that her mother had a small apartment, so he could see where she was coming from.

And then the ball drops. They head into a very suburban area, very nice houses, Mark is expecting to head into a less expensive part of town. But they keep going further, and the houses keep getting nicer. Then they get to the water, and they pull up to Linda’s house, and he says “no way is this living in poverty.” Linda was very nervous about Mark seeing where she lived, and as well she should have been. Mark says “Linda had no idea I’d be coming to visit, she was fearstruck.” He points out all the nice things in her house, like the big-screen TV. He says “Linda played the game, she tried to play me, and she was busted and blew her chances in a big way.”

But it gets better. On the car ride back to the airport, Linda’s friend slips out that “Linda is such an internet geek.” Linda responds with “So how ’bout those Red Sox.” Mark is furious. “I was pissed.” quotes Mark. “It took everything I had not to cut her on the spot.” Everything she had said was a complete lie. We are treated to flashbacks of Linda pretending to have computer-phobia. Honestly, I hadn’t liked Linda before, but this dropped her down on my list and earned her the title of “Reality Scumbag.” We aren’t even treated to what Dominic and Femia’s homes were like, as Mark says that Dominic and Femia were just like he thought they were, and his mind had been made up.

Back at the house, it was obvious. Linda was cut. Mark said that he wanted to rip into her, but he didn’t. Linda said after losing that “I made a mistake taking him home”, and her solution was “Maybe I should have taken him to someone else’s house.” Yeah, that’s very good Linda. And then she has the gall to say “Femia is a poser, I can see right through her.” Um, hello, Miss Poverty. You’re the one that was made to look like a complete ass on public television because you said you were poor and your mother needed help, but you have a big-screen TV in your living room. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

Back with the final 2, Mark tells Dominic and Femia that he doesn’t have to do the math for them. To the cameras, Mark says that Dominic had had the luck at all the right times, and had passed all tests so far. Femia is the competitor that just keeps getting stronger. Their final test, or so he says, is that they will have one minute to tell him why they should have the million dollars. And that will determine who wins the game. Femia says that “if Dominic wins, it will be Mark rewarding him for stupidity.” Dominic says “Femia, you’ve met your match, bring it on girl.” Mark wants them to be sweating bullets before they answer. It’s a neck and neck decision, and that’s what he wanted it to be at the end.

Femia is the first to give her spiel. She told him “I knew you knew that we were stars, I wanted to shine in a situation that I couldn’t control.” She adapted like a chameleon, and she wasn’t playing in a game against 15 other players, she was in a game against herself. She wanted to think outside the box, and she knew she was a strong person, but she needed to work strong with other people. To me, her speech sounded contrived and like she had written it out on note cards beforehand. But eh. Mark tells her that he’s sorry, but she is not the million-dollar winner. Femia is dejected, and says “I gave it my best shot, but it didn’t work out.”

Dominic’s turn. He says he brought the rock star attitude, he rocked the house and he rocked Mark, and they had had a great time everywhere they went. They had gotten to know each other, and Dominic hoped he could remain friends with Mark outside the game. It was the best time of his life, and he had brought the rock star to Mark. There were lots of “Dude”s spread out through his speech, and he didn’t go the entire minute. But I still thought he was more natural than Femia. Mark, of course, also tells Dominc that he didn’t win the million.

After both had left, Mark said that there was no doubt in his mind who the winner was. He put their name in an envelope and sealed it. But now there was one more test, how they dealt with failure. It was the winner’s game to lose, and the loser’s game to win. Femia says that “she was suffocating, knowing I’d come so far” and that her best wasn’t good enough. Dominic states that “Femia had money, and he didn’t understand.” We are then treated to a shot of Femia looking at a card her boyfriend had given her, which said “I believe in you” and she instantly felt better. It just reminded her of how certain doors open and close, and this one had closed, it was time to move on to the open one.

Mark had now set up photo shoots and interviews for the two “losers.” The photographer asks Dominic if he won, and Dominic says “no…” Mark had instructed the photographer to put them into loser poses and call them “loser.” Nothing hurts more than being called a loser, says Cuban.

The interview is next. He has a friend of his doing the interview, and he knows his friend can sniff out the resentment if there is any. Dominic is first. He tells the interviewer that his heart broke, when you can taste the money but don’t get it, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. He says he didn’t get a vibe from Femia that she wanted to be friends with him, but it’d be cool if she did. When asked about Femia, he said that she was “overbearing, controlling, and when she talked everyone had to listen, or she’d talk over them.” But he conceded in that she was a very smart person. “To every gray cloud there’s a silver lining” is his interview’s end. We then go to Femia. She says she had plenty of shining moments. She didn’t want to say that Mark felt sorry for Dominic, but maybe that Mark saw that Dominic needed a little help. She says that “he’s a genuine and sincere person” and outside of the game he’s a very nice guy. When asked why she was so calm, she said there wasn’t a point to being mad, it was said and done, why bother?

Mark then brings Femia and Dominic back to the house for a “reunion” dinner. Both are thinking they’re going to congratulate the other. But there’s no reunion, only them and Mark, to see who REALLY won the million. Femia and Dominic arrive at the house. When Femia walks in, Dominic says “Congrats millionaire.” But it doesn’t register with Femia. She then hugs Dominic and says “Congratulations on winning.” Dominic looks confused. “What?” “You won.” “No, you won.” “No, you won.” “Wait……what?” We are then treated to several minutes of what Mark called a “comedy of errors” as Femia and Dominic try to figure out that neither actually had lost yet. Finally Femia gasps “We got played!” and Mark shows up. “You didn’t think the game was over? It’s not over until I say it’s over!”

After a few minutes of suspense-building, Mark asks both to stand up. He waves the envelope, saying “One of your names is IN THIS ENVELOPE.” He hands the envelope to Femia to open. She opens it….and sees her own name, and she nearly faints. Femia is the millionaire!

Femia says after that she swore Dominic’s name would be in the envelope. Mark says that “Femia won the million, her one-minute speech made my mouth drop.” It was her game to lose, and she had plenty of opportunities to bash Dominic, but she never did. He was expecting a tirade from her, as on many occassions she said she didn’t want to lose to Dominic, but she kept her cool and kept the high road. Mark invites her family into the house, and Femia hugs them all, while Dominic awkwardly stands to the side. Mark states that “Dominic will be going to college, and most of his financial worries will be taken care of, he is a good friend.” The shows ends with Femia talking with her family and boyfriend, and eventually the family and co. jump into Mark’s pool in celebration. WEEEE, WE HAVE A MILLION! LET’S RUIN OUR CLOTHES!

As the credits roll, we are treated to Dominic taking Mark to a hair salon in his home town. Mark gets red highlights in his hair, but he says “Never again.”

This concludes The Benefactor’s first season. Will there be a second? Will it be, perhaps, a bit longer? Hopefully! I’m liking this whole columnist thing though, because so far I’ve got my favorite finishing 1st (TAR, Chip and Kim) and 2nd (Dominic, here). So maybe I should write more columns, so my favorites will do better. Hey, it seems to be working in Vanuatu!

E-mail me at atarus33@yahoo.com! And Dominic, if you ever want to do an interview, I’d love to send a few questions your way! Maybe I should poke around ABC for contact information….hmmm. Anyway, toodles!

Swan 2 – Episode 1: Which Scars Run Deeper?

This is the first episode of the new season. Jennifer Patton and Kimberly Wilborn are vying for the first spot in the pageant.

Jennifer Patton is a mom of 3. She was burned in a house fire at the age of 6. For some reason, that is never explained to us (nor to her, it seems), she was alone at the time. She currently lives in Mesa, AZ.

As a child, she was called ‘firestarter’ and ‘scar face’. Poor kid had to be compared to a bad Drew Barrymore movie and a good Al Pacino one. Kids can be so cruel.

Her mother says Jennifer became withdrawn after the fire and didn’t want to go back to school. Hmmm? Can’t imagine why. Puh-lease.

Currently, Jennifer is a stay at home mom. She is afraid to leave her kids even with a babysitter. She is afraid that they’ll get stuck in a fire too. She says she wants to hide from the world.

Jennifer hates her scars, her nose, her teeth and her whole body. She hates the cellulite and the stretch marks.

The Swan team knows she’ll be a challenge. Dr. Hayworth isn’t sure that he can eradicate the scars, but figures with dermabrasion and some other techniques, he can reduce their appearance. She’s also getting a diet and exercise plan, therapy with Dr. Ianni and full veneers and tooth reconstruction. Her nose will be reduced and straightened; she’ll get a tummy tuck and more.

Next up, is Kim Wilborn. She’s a mom of 4. She says, “beauty, here I come.” Kim’s a pretty lady. She’s overweight, but she doesn’t take care of her appearance. With 4 kids, I can understand. Trust me. I have 2 and if I shower, that’s a good day.

She had a traumatic childhood. She didn’t know her dad and her mom left her with her godmother. At the age of 14, Kim discovered her dead godmother. After that, she lived with different friends until she graduated high school. She went on to college as well.

Her scars are emotional and they run just as deep as Jennifer’s. Her husband says that food is like a drug to her. Kim just wants “to be me again.”

She’s getting a breast lift and augmentation, a tummy tuck and a nutrisystem diet plan because she’s got lots of weight to lose.

The ladies get to their rooms. Kim’s upset because security took her cookies. She notices that the Swan crew has not only removed all the mirrors, but has put a coating on all reflective surfaces so the girls can’t look at themselves that way.

Dr. Haworth tells Jennifer that he sees her beauty. In her eyes, there’s both “beauty and pain.” He tells her that he can make the scars look better, but they won’t be all gone.

Kim, in the meantime, has a run-in with the nutritionist — over carbs. The nutritionist tells her to just do it. She’s reluctant. In fact, Kim seems to have some reluctance to getting help. She complains in the gym and even with the therapist. Her walls which have helped her overcome so much may be a hindrance to her success in the Swan Program.

Jennifer goes to the Dentist and gets the first of her full mouth reconstruction treatments. She calls home looking for comfort and gets her baby boy who cries for her. It broke my heart and I’m not even his mama. Poor Jennifer. I couldn’t do this program for so many reasons, but the most major one is my kiddos. I couldn’t leave them for 4 mos. I just couldn’t.

Kim’s excited about her surgery. She says she can “handle pain for the sake of being fly.”

At the last minute, Kim tells Dr. Dubrow that she wants to do her nose, but she doesn’t want “a pig snout, a Michael nose” and wants it to be pain free.

After surgery, Kim freaks out. She’s afraid she won’t be able to breathe.

Jennifer still misses her family, but she’s working hard at the program and especially in therapy. Through a role play, Dr. Ianni has her get out her frustrations at her mother for leaving her alone to be hurt in the house fire.

Nely, the Coach, has to visit both ladies. She tells Kim to get an attitude adjustment and says to Jennifer, that “the scars are preventing you from living your life. You have to wear your scars like jewels.” That’s profound and all, but much easier said than done.

Cindy Ingle makes a visit to Kim to cheer her up. It worked. Kim wanted to meet her.

The reveal— Both ladies looked hot. Kim was like Little Kim, “Diana Ross in Mahogany” (according to Nely), and so much more. She was a diva. She shook her thang and enjoyed her cute self.

Jennifer was shocked. She really shone. She was stunning and the scars were not very noticeable at all.

Jennifer ended up winning the first slot in the pageant because she worked so hard.

Next week — another contestant will get a spot in the pageant. Who will it be?

— Panndyra, Goddess of Chaos. Email me at panndyra@realityshack.com if you want to debate the effects of plastic surgery on self-esteem. I’ll listen — NOT.

Swan Reunion: Mirror, Mirror on the wall…

I am a big fan of the Swan. I admit. I like seeing trolls turned into goddesses. I know that’s harsh, but some of these poor women really do need these makeovers. The one thing I hate about this show, despite the fact that they say to the contrary, is that it seems to say that if you’re beautiful on the inside it shows because you’ll be beautiful on the outside.
That’s not always true.

Most of these women were beautiful before their transformations. They just didn’t know it.

The reunion gave a recap of what the ladies are up to since the pageant and a brief preview of Season 2, the first episode of which I will review shortly.

Hostess Amanda Byram, a true beauty herself, walked out on the pageant stage, looking oh so stunning. (I hate her! Nah, just playing!)

They start by mentioning that Kelly Alemi got engaged. She and her boyfriend proudly told America that they made up for all the lost intimate moments they hadn’t had before because of Kelly’s low self-esteem within the first week of her return. Thanks.

Kelly, who looks a bit like Barbie (TM), said, “I”m happy with who I am now and no one can take that away from me.”

Self esteem does come with huge tatas, I suppose. When I was pregnant, I felt awfully ’empowered’.

Next up was Belinda Bessant, the former model. She lives in Las Vegas and is so happy now that she’s a Swan. She has a boyfriend and confidence. They show her talking to her son and he says, “Mommy, I’m getting bigger and you got little.”

Her quote: “I’m so happy. I love my life now.”

That’s great, Belinda.

Beth Lay had the husband who kissed another woman and she couldn’t get past it. She wouldn’t leave him either because, as she said, “I was afraid that no one would ever love me.”

Thank God this program includes therapy. These ladies need it.

She was also the 1st runner-up in the pageant. She’s gained a few pounds and feels self-conscious about that, but otherwise, everything’s great. She has more confidence in her life and her marriage.

Kathy (can’t remember last name) was the rocker-looking chick. Now, she’s working in fashion and she’s secure in herself. Wow! You go, Swan.

Cindy Ingle was next. Remember her? She was the lady who had to shave and had a ‘witch’s nose’. As a “witch”, I hate it when people refer to a nasty hump nose as a “witch’s nose.” I know it’s the stereotype, but really. I don’t have a hump on my nose. It’s actually on my a@@, idiots.

Regardless, she’s modeling now and trying to get some work on television. She and her husband are like girlfriend/boyfriend again. Awww. How sweet? I guess she cast a spell on him. It’s amazing what botox and new boobs will do to a man.

Marnie, who looked like Michelle Pfeiffer even before her transformation, felt like she had a new beginning. She’s getting lots of attention. Even an audience member in the Q&A period asked her out on a date. She said she feels better largely because she treats herself better.

Kelly Becker wanted to set the record straight. On the show, it appeared as if her boyfriend, Ethan, wasn’t supportive. Ethan says, “I was just scared I wouldn’t recognize her.” Interesting defense, pal. The highschool sweethearts are now engaged.

Serena Voight couldn’t get rid of her bad Lucky (LOL — I made a punny. Her ex-husband was called Lucky). Now, they’re just friends. Hmmm? They say that in the tabloids all the time.

Amanda announces that 300,000 women applied for Season 2. Can I say “self-esteem crisis”? Jeez.

The two Kellys weren’t the only ones who got engaged. Merline Norman, the daughter of deaf parents, who had some serious dental issues, also got engaged to her boyfriend finally. She works less hours now and takes better care of herself. She has a passion for life and realizes that “therapy was the best part. It teaches you that you are in charge of your emotions.”

Dawn Goad always felt like that ‘little fat girl’. Her transformation continued. She looked even better than when her reveal happened. She also inspired her teenage son to lose 45 lbs. The whole family is eating better. I applaud her for that.

Andrea Morris actually left the jerk she was married to. She is working hard on being the best single mom she can be.

Cristina Tyree is bellydancing in public now. She’s also modeling. She is thankful that the Swan helped her ‘find Cristina.’

Tawnya Cooke was unemployed and had suffered one tragedy after another. She is now embarking on a new career — as an actress.

Rachel Love Fraser — the winner of the Swan pageant, made her husband take back the “average” comment. He romances her now. Good. She’s working hard to maintain her weight loss and a healthy lifestyle.

The ladies shared a few vignettes from life now.

Rachel’s stepson bought a bunch of People magazines of which she was on the cover and asked her to autograph them. Then, he sold them at school. Enterprising kid. Future Apprentice, perhaps?

Merline’s daughter told her she was the prettiest one at the pageant. Aww. My son tells me I’m the prettiest mommy all the time and well, I didn’t need plastic surgery to get that compliment. So there (nananabooboo!)

Cindy Ingle was almost denied access to her hubby’s military base because she didn’t look like her ID anymore. LOL.

Despite my cattiness, I really do wish these ladies the best. They went through a lot. Good luck, Swans. Now, it’s on to a new season.

—- Okay. Email me at panndyra@realityshack.com if you’ve got something to say. I dare you.

Who Zat Lady-Starting Over, 10/25/04


Jen, Towanda, Kim and Sommer are grousing about the good grade Josie received at the previous evening’s Board of Review. Sommer says Josie has learned to impersonate Rhonda to get on her good side, which would not have worked if she had Iyanla for a life coach.

Then we see Iyanla showing Jen how she “steps into” her name. Whenever she hears her name, Iyanla imagines herself stepping into it and feeling grand. She tries to get Jen to do the same but Jen looks awkward doing it. They try it a couple more times, Iyanla encouraging Jennifer to grow all the way up, that Little Jennifer will become Lady Jennifer. Jen takes off what’s left of her necklace of labels, saying “These are HER labels.” Iyanla declares this a breakthrough and Jennifer closes her eyes and imagines that she is calling up the beauty, grace, excitement, freedom, that hearing her own name should bring. (I might try that one myself.)

Next it’s up to the loft where everyone gets to see Sinae’s completed steps on the plasma screen. She’s crying because it will be sad not to see the others graduate. (actually in Season One, the women did come back to attend each others’ graduations.) There is a knock on the door of the loft and it’s Andy Paige, a graduate from Season One. (Andy started her company Cents of Style after graduation. She’s an expert at beauty and something she calls “strategically building your wardrobe for $100.00 or less.” (I am hoping to someday be able to ask Andy if it’s possible to find great bargains and still buy American, which is an important principle for some of us.) Andy asks Sinae what she would like to be telling the world and Sinae says she’s just tired of announcing “I am a college student” with jeans and t-shirts. Andy explains she can still wear nice jeans, and maybe dress them up with good shoes, a jacket or handbag. They go shopping to build what Andy calls “a polished, pretty look.” She gets an idea of how much Sinae can see in the store and they explore shopping on a budget while sticking to the rule of 3’s: that each item you buy must go with at least 3 things already in your closet and be able to be worn in 3 different ways. (Uh oh. I flunked.) Andy narrates that Sinae’s catching on really well.

Cut to Rhonda, unzipping a suitcase for Josie. All Josie’s “burdens” will go into it so that Josie can “pack up all the baggage and move it all out of the Starting Over house.” Rhonda suggests different things to signify Josie’s burdens, like single parenthood, memories of Grandma, being a burden to friends. Josie adds a cell phone and empty wallet to signify how Chloe’s father gives her a hard time whenever she asks for money. More loud swearing in front of the baby as she gets ready to drag the suitcase around the house with her all day.

Then we are invited to text a question to Rhonda, who might pick your question to answer. (My question would be, why don’t you wash Josie’s mouth out with soap.)

Andy and Sinae are discussing fit. Andy narrates that Sinae can feel when something fits properly. She gives practical advice, like all tops should be no more than 3 to 5 inches below the hip, to make your legs look longer. They look at fun chunky jewelry and then go off to meet Michelle, who Andy describes as “a really famous celebrity stylist.”

Josie drags her suitcase out to where the roommates are playing cards, swearing at the top of her lungs but clearly revelling in her newfound attitude of co-operation. Rhonda notices the roommates’ bad mood.

Back to Andy, who’s talking babytalk to Sinae. (Please let it be because Sinae’s 18 and not because she’s blind!) Sinae is up for anything, and Andy says they will darken her white hair and add bangs.

Then more of Josie swearing about having to drag the bag everywhere with her, even to the bathroom. On the baby monitor, Chloe has woken from a nap and Josie is out at the pool with her bag. The roommates discuss whether they are expected to care for the baby, or tell Josie she’s awake. Sommer finally gets Chloe up and brings her downstairs. They’re all irritated that Josie did not ask anyone to watch the baby, so Sommer leaves a message on Rhonda’s voicemail to ask for a clarification. (Read: TATTLING)

Josie abandons her bag for a minute and the others are p-o’d that now she has neither Chloe nor her assignment, so they hide the bag. When Josie asks where it is, at first they pretend not to know, but finally Jen relents and tells her. Josie narrates she knows there’s more to the aggression, and that she’s proud of herself for moving forward and disappointed that they are not. After a while Sommer offers to explain, and she & Josie go upstairs to talk. Towanda eavesdrops from downstairs. Sommer explains to Josie that they are all back to walking on eggshells with her, and Josie retorts that this is because of their own insecurities. Towanda, agitated, tells Kim, “She feed’n Sommah bullsh*t and Sommah eat’n it!” (Unlike swearing, ebonics is fun, if the person doing it happens to be ethnic.) Towanda narrates that Sommer’s a people pleaser and Josie has a way of attacking until you back down. And in fact, that seems to be exactly what is going on, as Josie skillfully gets Sommer to backpedal. Josie believes the others are jealous of her progress. Then she turns on the waterworks and makes it be about Chloe. Towanda, still listening, tells Kim Josie is brainwashing Sommer.

We see Andy helping Sinae practice blending makeup by feel, so she can look pretty and polished but not overdone. Sinae’s hair is finished but we only see it from the back, and she looks just like Jennifer!

Sommer comes downstairs to start spinning for Josie. She doesn’t feel Josie has manipulated them, just that she made a mistake. Jen retorts that a mistake is something you do once, and that ya don’t leave your daughter alone.

Next Josie meets with Dr. Stan and they talk about how having a child doesn’t automatically mean you have a burden, but it can often seem that way because now you are a package deal. Josie announces that she is a burden to everyone in the house except Sommer, because “we had a talk.”

Then cut back to Sommer defending Josie to the other women and Towanda, sarcastically, “ooh, that’s good for you.” (I believe Towanda could cut a person to ribbons in 3 words or less, and no doubt has.)

Dr. Stan is trying to look at things from Josie’s point of views. “OK, you didn’t do your assignment right so they hid it.” He encourages Josie to invite them to explain why they did it, and asks her what she would say if they did. This gets her to crying, so he continues the role play and asks “what if I’m telling you you’re not responsible with your daughter?” Josie replies that it makes her feel like she’s a bad person. Dr. Stan asks if it’s possible to be a great mom yet not be perfect. She acknowledges it is, and he urges her to go inside, take everything out of the bag and think of positive meanings to turn the burdens into gifts. Josie is also getting up the guts to ask the houseguests why they are upset.

We get a preview of Andy sneaking Sinae back into the house. Sinae’s wearing a scarf and sunglass and looks like Julia Louis-Dreyfus playing Elaine Bennis playing Jackie Onassis.

Josie confronts the housemates and they hedge, telling her it’s not Josie per se but really the Board of Review. Josie tells them she wants them to know they reflected it onto her. She gives them the dickens for it and then proceeds to make it be about Chloe. Jen calls her on this, and Josie interrupts, tells Jen she’s entitled to her opinion and Josie’s not trying to change it but really wants to know how Jen feels. But she makes sure Jen can’t finish the thought. This is actually an improvement for Josie because she’s staying with it, and even though she’s not listening, at least she doesn’t seem to be screaming with the baby in her arms. Towanda speaks up and says she’s afraid Josie is going to punish them by withholding Chloe, and Josie promises that was the “old” her. Kim says they really just all had a bad day because of Sinae leaving. (Coward.) Josie, satisfied, leaves to go finish her baggage assignment and Towanda sends her out with a cutting verbal pretend-cheery flip-off.

Then we see Andy sneaking Sinae around to a back door. It’s hard for Sinae with sunglasses in the dark, but she doesn’t stumble very much.

The women put on their Sunday best for Sinae’s graduation. They go out to the pool. Chloe’s not there. Before Sinae gets there, they are each given a candle in a glass cup to set afloat on the pool to symbolize their wishes for Sinae, and then they seat themselves. (Much safer than last year’s ceremonies where the graduate had to walk down the living room stairs with a roommate on each step holding a candle. I was always quite sure they would set the guest of honor on fire.) Andy guides Sinae out the door and everyone is astounded at her new look. (She does look older and very pretty. She still looks exactly like Jen from behind.) Rhonda does highlights of Sinae’s stay in the house – holding her new cane like it was a dead rat, her courage using public transportation and asking for independence from her mother. Rhonda tells Sinae she hopes she believes she can accomplish all the dreams she had before losing her sight. Iyanla gives her usual spiel about what a great opportunity it has been to know her, and lots of advice culminating in “you must never give up 5 minutes before the miracle.” (I like that one.)

Doctor Stan tells her never to get too smart or too confident to ask for help.The women all get to give their parting comments. They are all genuinely nice to her. Sinae is still trying to get used to her new bangs while they are calling her “Nay Nay.” Iyanla presents the graduation gifts: a closed-caption TV/reading machine to replace the one she has borrowed from the Braille Institute, and some software to enlarge type and add sound on a computer. Sinae offers a silly speech to each Life Coach, telling Rhonda she’s not to hot to be a mama, exhorting Iyanla to stay in her own world in the big world, and telling Dr. Stan he taught her it’s ok if your clothes don’t match. Rhonda asks Sinae to stay by the pool to contemplate her stay in the house while she leads the others topside to prepare for the goodbye. Sinae narrates that at first she was scared she would not be accepted in the blind community as well as not being able to get around like she wants. She comes up to the driveway and they are all lined up with a flower, including Chloe, who doesn’t recognize Sinae with the new hair and screams when Sinae holds her.

Sommer narrates that whoever comes to the house next will turn the house upside down for a while and that she’s scared to have a new roommate.

roller boogie

We start the show with Jennipher explaining how bad she did at the last judging. Ann wants to get herself together so that her pictures come out better. Kelle is upset because she has not had one good judging. We see Tocarra on the phone speaking with her father because she is upset with her mom.

Tyra Mail: the girls receive a message that pretzels are not the only things that can twist.

The girls go the next day to meet with their personal trainer Saavas. The girls are learning yoga and in come Janice Dickinson. She will show the girls proper poses for swimsuits. As the girls begin posing Jennipher is removed from the photo for not posing correctly. The next photo will be Gown Poses. Janice tells Kelle to just hide her face if she can’t get the look right.

Later that evening Tyra comes by for some one on one. The person who really touched was Tocarra who is having problems with her parents and Tyra encourages Tocarra to stay strong.

We later see Kelle standing in the mirror crying and not able to really look at her and like what she sees.
The girls later receive Tyra Mail: They are going to be posing underwear in a store front window. Kelle won the challenge and received five thousand dollars. She picked Amanda to receive fifteen hundred and Tocarra to receive five hundred.

Back at the loft the girls receive Tyra mail telling them to roll with the punches. The next morning the girls discover they will be doing a spread for dooney and bourke on roller skates. The girls did fairly well. Ann was upset with Jay for yelling at her, but that is when she did much better.

Back to the chopping block, the last challenge is for the girls to pose with a male model. Ann is an orgasmic let down. Jennipher just did badly. Tocarra was boring but Tyra liked it. Nicole was at a highschool dance. Ya Ya did excellent. The votes are in and Jennipher is out.

Who Ya Gonna Call? Ghostbusters! – The Surreal Life 3, Episode 8

by LauraBelle

Why VH1 didn’t wait until next week to air the Haunted Hospital episode is beyond me. Instead on Halloween they will be airing a Surreal Life episode centered around Sally Jesse Raphael interviewing the six celebrities like they are on a talk show. I guess they figured Sally is scary enough.

Normally each episode opens with Dave Coulier the only one awake in the house and playing tennis or working out on the machines in the workout room. But this morning, they show Jordan Knight exercising, Charo playing with the puppy, Ryan Starr swimming, Flavor Flav shooting hoops, and Bridgette Nielsen drinking wine and smoking cigarettes, to which she says, “I don’t really like working out, but I love to drink and smoke!” They never show Dave, but I am assuming he is just getting back from running a marathon or two.

The newspaper they have been waiting for finally arrives with the headline, “Surreal Life Covers The Graveyard Shift.” This informs them that they will be volunteering their time that evening in a local hospital. Dave thinks he may know what to expect since he has volunteered often at hospitals.

As the Surreal Life van pulls up in front of the hospital, the Surreal Life housemates, clad in green scrubs, are shocked at the appearance of the hospital. All the doors and windows have been boarded up, and it is dimly lit on the outside. They are met by Dr. Larry Montz, Ph.D., a doctor of parapsychology. He tells them that the hospital has been closed for forty years. He would like their assistance in investigating the hospital, as all the locals believe it to be haunted. This immediately terrifies Ryan, as she admits that at twenty-one, she is afraid of the dark.

Ryan and the other celebrities are led to a Command Center in the hospital. As Dr. Montz begins to explain their mission of investigating the hospital, Charo is concerned, as she says, “People alive … don’t understand me. How in the world is a ghost … going to understand me.” Dr. Montz tells her it is because they communicate more telepathically than verbally, and they won’t even notice her accent.

Dave is asked to investigate first, and he says he is not worried, as he believes he has seen the paranormal before. He dons a Flak jacket with lights and walkie talkies and goes down the first flight of stairs. Dave can’t see anything and he begins to get freaked out. Dr. Montz tells him through the walkie talke to look for a large metal door. Dave provides us with a fill-in-the-blank as he says, “I’m #*%&#* my pants!” He is told to look for t he door with an exit sign, and when he finds it, is asked what it feels like. He says he sees a guy wearing overalls and no shirt. Dr. Montz tells Dave to ask him his name, and Dave tells him the man says his name is, “John.” He is asked to go straight down the hallway to the door on the left, and Dave says John is still with him. He tells Dr. Montz, “I see something in here again.” When asked if it’s the same guy, Dave says he doesn’t know. He shines the light and realizes he is in the morgue.

Dr. Montz tells Dave there should be two wooden drawers. When Dave confirms, he is told the story of Joseph Owens. As a doctor was operating on him in 1953, the doctor left the room, and an orderly accidentally removed Mr. Owens, and took him down to the morgue. He was placed in one of the wooden drawers, where he suffocated, lending to his death. Dave is asked to sit down for a minute and “get tuned in.” He feels something move his chair. And for a few moments, he can’t be reached on the walkie talkies. He comes back and says it felt like something pushed the chair, making him feel like something wanted to spin him around. Then he feels something hit his shoulder, and as he walks away, he feels something walking with him, and hears footsteps up the stairs.

Dave returns to the Command Center, and is happy to be finished. He thinks that when the others saw that he was freaked out from it, that they got freaked out as well. Ryan is asked to go next with Jordan. She refuses, saying, “It’s not funny anymore!” Dave tries to comfort her and says if she just “…dive in, you’ll see it.” Ryan still refuses saying, “I don’t want to sleep by myself with those thoughts going through my head.” I’m pretty sure there are plenty of men out there in the viewing audience who are willing to help her out, so she won’t have to be in bed alone with those thoughts.

Charo is asked to go in Ryan’s place and is “scared as heck”, but goes along with Jordan. They see a long tunnel with a blinking light, and are asked to go to the light and stop. A noise scares Charo, and as she screams, Jordan says it was just a noise. They approach a door that says “Authorized Personnel Only,” and follow directions to proceed through. They find a small room with two large metal springs on the floor. Reluctantly, they close the door as asked by Dr. Montz on the walkie talkies. Shining the light on the ceiling, they are told this is an elevator shaft. In 1920, Karl Warner escaped the confines of his cell, and slipped out through the ward. As he hid in this elevator shaft, the door shut and locked behind him, and hospital personnel heard a blood-curdling scream through-out the hospital as Karl was crushed, resulting in his death. Jordan can feel a draft, and Charo is asked if she hears a guy. She says, “I hear the guy, but I want to be alive!

Jordan is told by Dr. Montz to leave Charo alone in the elevator shaft and go to a different room. She objects saying, “I’m chicken … I have a big mouth, but I’m chicken.” They both leave together, and enter a door that says “Blood Sampling Room,” and Jordan notices blood on the door. They enter and are told electroshock therapy was done in this room. The shock were so severe, they would shatter and break bones. Jordan is now told to leave Charo in this room, and go back to the elevator shaft. Dr. Montz is looking for activity, and wants to see which room it will occur in. He asks Charo to pull the sheet off the electric chair. As she does, she yells what I think is something in Spanish, then, “Jordan, get me out of here!” She adds that this is not fun, and wants to know how many people were electrified in that chair.

Next up is Flavor Flav and Bridgette, and he talks in the third person as he says, “Your boy Flav ain’t freakin’ out.” They take off down the hallway, and Flavor Flav says, “Operation No Doubt is in place.” On the left they find the Medical Records room. There are two filing cabinets in the room. Flavor Flav is asked to pull a Ouija board out of his backpack. Dr. Montz tells him, “There is a large man in white that hangs around in there that feels he doesn’t get any respect.” I just want to know how Rodney Dangerfield made it here already. Dr. Montz wants this man’s name. I’m telling you, it’s Rodney. They ask the Ouija board, out loud, two separate times for the man’s name, but never receive an answer. Maybe he’s too busy doing a Triple Lindy somewhere. Flavor Flavor says, “Operation Nothing is now in progress.” He asks the board if the man is angry they are in the hospital, and a door slams loudly. Bridgette begins to cry, and says, “I want to get out of here! I care for people!” I don’t really understand what it means for her to say she cares for people, unless she believed she was literally pleading for her life.

As they return, Ryan is asked once again to help investigate, but she flat out refused citing the Bible, and says when it comes to her fears, she has nothing in common with these other people. Dr. Montz tells them that he will bring a team into the building to clear it, the energy will shift, and they can then re-open the building.

I still don’t know what to think after watching this episode, whether it was real or a put-on. There is no doubt in my mind, though, that everyone of those six celebrities believed in what they saw, felt and heard fully. I do hope if it was fake somehow, that they let those people know that so it doesn’t continue to affect their lives. What I do know is I have always refused to go in haunted houses, and this episode of Surreal Life did nothing to change my mind.

I welcome questions and comments at LauraBelle@realityshack.com

At The Judges Homes – The X-Factor, 16th October

by Luke

In the last of the shows pre-taped episodes viewers and the fifteen remaining
acts were treated to a trip around the judges homes. As the X-Factor took a
“Cribs” style look poking around Simon Cowell’s plush London pad, the Osbourne
mansion and Louis Walsh’s Dublin home the contestants were about to find out
which two from each category were about to fall at the last hurdle. Yes, only
nine acts will be singing on the live shows where viewers will vote each week to
ditch the worst. It’s getting quite exciting as preview shows this week have
taken a look around the brand new state of the art studio set and profiled the
remaining contestants and shown them rehearsing.

The star of the X-Factor is without a doubt Sharon Osbourne and in this episode
she went to hell and back with the anguish and responsibility of deciding the fate
of her group. While Simon’s style is very “last year”, Sharon has the edginess
and the honesty that made him famous but with added compassion. As the
16-24 year old singers hung out at her mansion they were asked to sing for her
team (which included son Jack) and then took part in a “jamming” session
outside in the grounds. Simon’s girlfriend Terri Seymour answered the door to
his palatial home and it has been revealed she will also be presenting X-Factor
preview show “The Xtra-Factor” from now on. Inside, Simon had been reviewing
tapes of the remaining 25+ contestants along with his team. As they were not
required to sing he decided to interview them and have a chat one-on-one.
Everything was much more formal than life at the Osbournes and there are
reports Simon made them wear plastic bags on their feet when not filming to
keep the carpet clean. Lastly, a rat was smelt at Louis Walsh Dublin “home” –
not because he has a rodent problem but as it was discovered the house had
been rented only for this occasion and he had never lived there. He asked his
vocal groups to sing a song chosen by his team and went from there to pick his
top three.

So as each judge was shown telling their groups who was in and who was out so
near to the public vote nine acts remained and as they will be featured here so
heavily over the coming months now would probably be a good time to profile
them. They consist of :

Simon Cowell’s Group (25 and Over)

Verity – She’s your run of the mill middle aged cabaret style singer who was
never allowed to sing by her domineering husband. Now divorced she is trying
her luck and seems to be the underdog of the finalists. Simon has said she is
the weakest singer and she has been very nervous. I don’t see her lasting long.

Rowetta – Much mentioned in my articles here at Reality Shack this is the former
“Happy Mondays” backing singer who can only be described as “nuts”. She
breaks down continuously, cannot take feedback and Simon looks very worried
that she may not be able to hack the pressure of the live shows. She is good fun
though and has a belting voice which I predict will keep her in the show and
maybe even win it.

Steve – He was featured in the very first episode of X-Factor where the judges
didn’t think he cared enough about winning and was probably too lazy to turn up.
He proved them wrong when he turned up ready and on time for a second day of
auditions and has proved popular with the public for his cheeky, laid back image.
His voice isn’t amazing though but he’ll probably last a while.

Sharon Osbourne’s Group (16-24 Years Old)

Tabby – He is a young Irish guy into rock music and usually plays in a band.
He’s very edgy and has a great voice for that style of music. He’s current
favorite to win the show and will be playing guitar as well as singing on the first
live episode so he will show he is very much the “real” musician of the finalists.

Roberta – She’s a good looking blonde girl who is probably the closest thing the
show has to a typical Britney Spears style bubble gum pop singer. She’s a bit
more matured and down to earth than that though and has a great singing voice
but perhaps not the personality needed to have the all important X-Factor.

Cassie – A quite plain and bland singer who has been told that her image needs a
lot of work if she is to go much further in the show. She has a nice enough
personality but nothing that gives her the spark some of the other acts have. If
it wasn’t for most of the vocal groups being equally weak she would (in my
opinion) be a definite to be voted off the show by the public first.

Louis Walsh’s Group (Vocal Groups)

Voices With Soul – Also known as “VWS” these are three black girls, two nieces
and their aunt. They are all fairly overweight and are badly styled – like a cheap
version of 50 cent. While that shouldn’t exclude them from winning a
competition like this some of their singing (although great sometimes) has been
a little off the mark. They don’t really have the right look on screen or the
personality to pull in votes so I’m not quite sure why they made it this far.

2 To Go – This group consists of blind Peter, and best pal Emma. He has been
told he has a good singing voice but she has been told that she may not be good
enough. However, she has made remarkable improvements during the last few
episodes. They look way out of their depth to me and I fear this may be the
group Louis Walsh commented Simon Cowell would “annihilate” once they got
onto live television. They will be singing a love ballad, which could save them
from the axe first time around.

G4 – They are classically trained musical students who sing in the style of a
Barbershop Quartet. Louis feels he is taking a risk on these as he’s not sure the
public will like their style but it is felt they will add something different to the
competition. Considering the weakness of his other acts I don’t think they will
exactly hurt his chances.

Onto final predictions and I feel the Rowetta may well have the connection with
the public to win “The X-Factor”. Yes, it would mean Simon would end up as
winning manager which the public probably don’t want but seeing as this is the
first “Idol” style show to feature over 25’s I think maybe the public will vote for
one the most. As to who will be voted off the show first it is hard to work out – 2
To Go are very weak, as is Verity – but they may get a lot of sympathy from the
public so Cassie is my choice.

Don’t miss “The X-Factor” show updates and episode recaps each week here at
Reality Shack and check out the shows official website at www.xfactor.tv for
video clips, competitions and the latest news.

You can contact Luke with comments or questions at luke@realityshack.com.

You Are Fearless – Starting Over, 10/22/04

by LauraBelle

As I work on making changes in my own life, coincidentally they seem to coincide with lessons the Starting Over women are learning. Last year I learned to trust, right along with Andy, and worked on my relationship with my son alongside Lynnell and Hailey. This year I am learning to forgive along with Towanda and Jennifer.

Josie is calling yet another expert, the image consultant, to apologize for acting inappropriately when they had met before. Rhonda has gotten Josie to realize she was rude to the people that were only trying to help her. The image consultant tells her it takes a lot of courage for her to make this call. Josie adds that she had realized that the image consultant was there to boost her confidence, and all Josie did was think the opposite, and then shut down. The image consultant ends the conversation by telling Josie that she’s a good human being, and she should believe that other people care and want to help, and accept it gracefully.

Towanda and Kim are talking, and Towanda is upset with Iyanla … again. She is still upset about being placed on probation with a C at the last Board of Review, and is unhappy again with the way Iyanla talks to her. She tells Kim that there is something about the way Iyanla talks to her that reminds her of her mom. Kim asks her if she has told Iyanla that, and Towanda says she has. Kim helps her draft up what she wants to tell Iyanla the next time.

Rhonda arrives for group, and announces today they are going to discuss the difference between criticism and constructive feedback. Josie says criticism is negative; constructive feedback is positive. Rhonda acknowledges that that’s a big step for Josie to be able to see that difference now. Sommer says criticism is someone pointing your problems out, and with feedback they are offering you options to solve the problems. Jennifer disagrees, as she would rather have criticism than feedback. Rhonda shows how they all have different opinion on the subject, and that is where people would begin to disagree. The first person to come to Towanda’s mind in this discussion is Iyanla. After this thought, Towanda says it is the tone that makes the difference for her. Rhonda tells them the key is to know how to communicate with people so your intentions aren’t misunderstood. Lastly, she tells them there is a Board of Review that night, and that someone may leave, someone may graduate, and someone may not be pleased with their grade.

Rhonda meets with Josie immediately after, and Rhonda asks what she learned about herself after apologizing to the experts. Josie learned she wasn’t as open as she could have been, and she listened until she heard one thing she didn’t like, and then would shut down. Rhonda tells her that today’s assignment will be to meet with another expert, a professional reporter. Josie is to learn how to properly interview someone through his advice. She will learn how to ask thought-provoking questions. Later, with her newly-learned skills, she will interview three different babysitters for Chloe.

Josie meets with the reporter. She discusses the problems she has had meeting the experts. She wants to know what you do when the other person says something you disagree with. The reporter says this is the best springboard for a debate. An opposing view isn’t wrong or bad, just different. He tells her the key is to listen and ask questions based on what you hear. Josie says she has an abrasive tone “that bites me in the butt.” The reporter says that it is good that she is at least aware of it.

Towanda calls Iyanla and asks to meet with her one-on-one. In the meantime she waits in the kitchen with Sinae and Kim, and they are discussing who they think might graduate or be asked to leave. Kim thinks Sinae might graduate, and Sinae thinks Towanda might be asked to leave.

Josie meets with the first of the three sitters. She has decided to put the three sitters in three different situations, but ask the same questions of all. She asks this sitter to just sit on the floor and play with Chloe. Josie asks what her worst babysitting experience is, and she doesn’t have one, but if forced to come up with one, she would say a broken arm, although points out that it has never happened to any of her charges.

Towanda and Iyanla finally meet, and Towanda says she has a few issues, and that she is confused. Asked to define confused, she says she is mixed up. Iyanla explains that confusion means you have gotten to the end of all the information, and it usually means a breakthrough. This is why they make intentions, to clear confusion. Towanda tells her she can’t hear the intention because she’s too frightened of Iyanla’s tone. She feels there is no compassion there, but she needs to communicate in order to grow. She asks how Towanda hears her when she’s speaking, and Towanda tells her it reminds her of her mother.

The second sitter arrives, and Josie asks her to feed Chloe. I can’t help but notice all day how Josie has her hair pulled back like the image consultant had suggested. Josie is finally listening today. While the sitter is feeding Chloe, she is asked what her worst experience was as a sitter, and she claims to not have had any. Josie thinks it’s not likely that neither of those two sitters ever had a bad experience.

Sinae is reading Jennifer and Kim her off-campus housing request letter. Normally they don’t allow someone as young as her to live off-campus unless with a parent, but she is asking for an exception due to her having a disability, and having different needs. Everyone feels Sinae will be graduating tonight; they know she is ready for her independence.

Towanda says she feels like four years old again, and that her mom is speaking to her when Iyanla talks to her. Iyanla asks what she heard back then wearing her little dress, ruffled panties, and patent leather shoes. Towanda says she hears her mom saying, “Wrong note,” and that she has a squint in her eye that lets you know you’re in trouble. She hears her mom saying, “You know that note. Stop acting like you don’t know the song.” Iyanla herself repeats it, and asks what she did then Towanda says she never made that mistake again. Iyanla tells her to tell her mom now what she wants to tell her. Towanda says, “I’m just a little girl trying to grow up. Let me be Towanda. Let me be who I want to be.”

Josie meets with the third sitter and has her give Chloe a bath. Asked what her worst babysitting experience was, she has an immediate response. A couple choking incidents. Having been through that with Chloe, Josie knows how she feels. The sitter explains the baby choked, she put her over on her stomach, gave her a little thump, and the food came flying out across the room. She immediately called the mother afterwards. Josie thought it was great she called the mom, as she never would have even known about it, had she not told her. Josie feels immediately more comfortable, and this will be her choice of the three sitters.

Kim and Jennifer are in the bathroom getting ready for the Board of Review. Jennifer thinks she is going up and has been sick to her stomach all day. Kim says she knows Jennifer is nervous as she’s been very clingy all day. Towanda is doing Sinae’s makeup to get ready for Board of Review. All of the women are clearly tense. A nice touch is that Towanda is wearing the Tiffany necklace Kim gave her yesterday.

Josie is asked to go up for review first, and is shocked it is her. Asked what she is doing well, she says, “Honestly? Nothing up until two days ago. I was being a stubborn brat.” She believes she now has better awareness and compassion, and that she is learning to see the gray. She feels she deserved a C then, but expects a B now.

Josie’s roommates are asked to give her feedback, and Jennifer is up first. She knows Josie has a hard time accepting constructive criticism, so she’s afraid. She finallly says Josie’s tone can be offensive, and Josie simply agrees. Kim says Josie’s anger is sometimes blunt. Towanda tells Josie, “You feel you can say whatever you want, but when someone else does, you snap.” Again Josie concurs.

Iyanla tells Josie the joy is in the journey, not the results. Feel the joy along the way. She needs to stop wearing her wounds; they’re no longer attractive. Asked if she should stay or go, Sinae thinks if she wants to stay she should, but if she intends to plateau, just leave. Everyone else feels she should stay, with Towanda saying she wishes everyone could see Josie like she does at night during the calm of everything. Rhonda tells her no one wants to feel like they have to walk on eggshells around her. She tells her “You have been living a paradox to not put yourself first; you actually were, as they had to adjust to you. True power is from vulnerability and courage.” Two days ago she would have given her a C, but because she worked hard today, she gets a B. Towanda is angry, feeling it’s undeserved, and thinking she worked harder and only got a C.

Next up is Jennifer. Asked what she is doing well, she says she is much more open to love and trust. Towanda tells her she has a problem releasing her anger. Josie says, “You’re willing to love me, put love out, and become vulnerable. When you question my love for myself because you love me … none of my other friends would do that for me.”

Jennifer says she wants to love unconditionally, without being afraid of getting hurt. She wants to be free of all the crap she’s been carrying around. All say they want her to stay with Kim saying she wants Jennifer to know what it’s like to know and receive love. Iyanla tells Jennifer she fought her every step of the way and complained. She acknowledged and appreciated the work, but she wasn’t always present. Jennifer gets a B-.

Sinae is the last up, and when asked what she’s doing well, she says her assignments. She’s always been excited to get them. Josie tells her she sees a difference in her with Sinae now accepting what God has given her. Kim adds she has the courage to be eighteen, and be an “animal.” She notices a huge change in Sinae’s independence. Towanda says she has seen her accept her fate with maturity. Rhonda says to be able to admit at eighteen that she wants to start over, even Rhonda herself wasn’t that strong at eighteen. She has seen Sinae grow from not wanting to go out to being the instigator in going out. “You are fearless. Your grade? Congratulations, you’re graduating, Sinae.”

Everyone is crying and happy for Sinae, or NaeNae as Kim has been calling her. Towanda is happy for Sinae, but just can’t get past Josie’s B which she still feels is undeserved. Towanda thinks everyone is as upset as her about it. That right there shows why Towanda got the C, but she can’t see it.

Despite usually working on the same things, I have learned something Towanda hasn’t. You can’t compare yourself to other people. Each one is different, and in Starting Over they all have different goals. Josie gets it now; this is why she earned a B. Towanda still doesn’t get it. Live for yourself, Towanda; no one else will.

Every Dog Has Its Day – The Apprentice 2, Episode 7

by aurora

Last week on The Apprentice, the teams were asked to design and market a line of clothing for women. As a result of bad pricing, Mosaic was sent to the boardroom for the first time in four weeks. Project manager John kept Andy and Kevin with him in the boardroom but was unable to excape the fickle finger of the Trump and was fired. 12 candidates are left – who will be fired this week?

Wes explains to the women why Andy was chosen to stay in the boardroom, saying that John thinks he’s a weak player. He adds that he thinks Andy makes more of a contribution to the team than John does, just as Andy and Kevin return. Ivana tells the group that dinner is ready and they all sit down to a Mexican feast. Just as they’re digging in, the phone rings. It’s Robin, who tells them that Trump wants to see everyone in the boardroom immediately.

Trump asks each team to choose a project manager. Wes and Jennifer are chosen, and Trump explains that he’s realized that the teams are now even. Therefore, it’s time for a corporate restructuring. He wants to see how they will work together with men and women on the same side. He asks Jen and Wes to each choose three people who they don’t want on their team, and those people will go to the other side.

Jen goes first, and she picks Sandy. Wes chooses Raj. Jen sends over Maria and Stacy, and Wes selects Chris and Kevin. Jen’s team is the new Apex, and Wes’ team is the new Mosaic. Trump says that some people may be happy with their new team while others may be upset they were traded away. That’s life, he says, and now is the time for them to all step up to the plate. Sandy is indeed angry to have been traded, and says privately that she’s looking forward to kicking some Apex ass and making Jen regret her decision.

Back in the suite, Wes talks to his new teammates asking what their strengths are. He tells Stacy that he knows she’s good at arguing and asking questions, which of course leads to a ton of questions from Stacy. Wes says privately that he’s never known anyone like her, she just won’t f***ing shut up! Meanwhile, Apex is doing the same thing, but Jen is asking the men to describe each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Raj tells us that Jennifer is analytical, calculating, and beautiful – which makes her especially dangerous.

The following morning the phone rings again, and Rona tells Wes that Trump will meet them all in Central Park at 8am.

In the park, Trump tells the group that the pet business is a 30 billion dollar industry, and points out that New Yorkers truly love their dogs. He wants them to create a dog service business – any type of business they want. At the end of the day, the team who makes the most money wins. George is away again, so Trumps’ Chief Financial Officer is standing in for him. After reminding them that the team who loses will meet with him in the boardroom, Trump is off. Stacy confesses that she’s not a dog person, but will do whatever it takes to win the task.

What would an episode of The Apprentice be without words of wisdom from The Donald? This week the lesson to be learned is “Sell Your Ideas”. As he talks to a contractor about fixing the facade of a building, he tells us that we should go after an idea if we think it’s really that good. Just don’t stop. Once again, thanks Mr. Trump.

Jennifer is on top of things for Apex. She wants to keep things simple, find a high-traffic area, get some supplies, and start washing dogs. Raj and Chris head over to Petco and buy $100 worth of puppy shampoo and dog treats. They go to the location and start washing dogs. Elizabeth and Raj walk around the park telling dog owners about the “Doggy Makeover” station, but don’t seem to have much success. Apparently a lot of people don’t carry cash with them while walking their dogs – go figure.

Raj wants to set up a second station in another location, but Jen shoots him down. She doesn’t want the team split up. Raj confesses he thinks the team is walking down the path to defeat and doom.

Over at Mosaic, Kelly is already annoyed with Stacy, who is asking questions. She wants to know why people would trust them with their dogs. Wes wants to donate some of their proceeds to charity, but has trouble finding an organization who will accept it. Andy and Kelly head out to get supplies, and Andy finds a cat shelter that is open and will take their donations. When they return to join the rest of their team, Andy leaves the cellphone in the taxi which throws a wrench in their plans since now they can’t split up and still stay in contact.

Apex is still washing dogs, and Raj still wants to split the group up. Jen finally agrees and sends Ivana and Chris out to massage dogs. They charge a dollar a minute or $10 for 15 minutes. Chris, who is really getting full of himself, is mortified at having to massage the dogs. He says that he’s got a “Rolex Presendential” on, and he’s sitting there massaging someone’s dog. “It was just so degrading and embarassing” he adds, pointing out that the dog smelled bad too. Suck it up Chris and deal with it.

Mosaic is still setting up shop, adding a sign advertising “Extreme Doggie Makeovers”. They’ve already missed the busiest time of the day for dog-walkers, so they need to ahul ass to catch up. Andy had thought of buying Polaroid cameras to take before and after shots, and Stacy wants to take the idea one step further. She suggests that they buy some dog costumes and take photos of dogs wearing the outfits. Wes indulges Stacy and they go to look at some outfits. The costumes are too expensive, so the two of them have just wasted more time.

After washing a few dogs and giving massages, Apex starts clipping canine nails. Kevin is nervous as he knows that a dog has very sensitive claws. Jen doesn’t seem phased though, and clips away even when the dogs squeal in pain.

Carolyn watches as Mosaic washes dogs. She says that it looks like they’re doing well. Sandy and Kelly are washing the dogs, and Carolyn says they look like they’re having fun. She says that Maria is walking around looking provocative, and looks like she’s marketing herself rather than the dog wash, Andy is running around after customers like a ‘lawyer in an ambulance’, and “Stacy is, uh, I haven’t figured out what Stacy is doing yet.” Sandy says privately that it annoyed her that Stacy didn’t offer a drink of water or to take over for a few minutes, and then at the end of the day Stacy had the nerve to complain that she was filthy. Wes says that if they win he’ll be a hero but if they lose he’ll be a jackass.

It’s 8pm and Apex is closing up shop. They go back to the suite for a shower and head out for a few drinks and something to eat. Jen is proud of the way she handled the task, but Ivana thinks that Jen is too quick to take credit.

Time for the results of the task. Everyone gathers in the boardroom, and Trump asks Jennifer what it was like to lead a new team. She thinks it was challenging but think she did a good job. Wes is asked the same question, and says that his team is hard-working.

Carolyn, in overdub, says that she thinks Mosaic got started a little late. She adds that they made a profit of $122.12, and did okay.

Alan says that Apex had a very good plan. They were diversified not only in location but in services offered. Their profit was $307.41. Trump congratulates Apex, and tells them that their reward is a meeting with the mayor, Michael Bloomberg. He reminds Mosaic that he’ll see them later that evening where someone will be fired.

Apex heads over to Gracie Mansion, where several NY mayors have lived. Mayor Bloomberg uses the property for official functions, however. Ivana is excited because Mayor Bloomberg is a successful businessman who has also succeeded in politics. He gives them some advice and answers their questions. Raj says that any time there is a reward that involves acquiring knowledge from people who have succeeded, it is much more valuable than a fancy dinner because knowledge is power, and that can never be taken away from you.

In the suite meanwhile, Stacy is talking everyone’s ear off. She’s not disappointed that they didn’t think of a dog massage because it’s hideous, disgusting, and unnecessary. She thinks they missed out on a goldmine by not jumping on the costume thing. Wes says privately that there’s no way Stacy will end up being the Apprentice because people don’t have confidence in her. He promises her that he will not badmouth her in the boardroom, if she promises the same thing. Stacy tells the camera that Wes screwed up on the task and he’s going to be fired tonight. We shall see Stacy, we shall see.

Time for some firin’. In the boardroom, Trump reminds Maria that she’s exempt this week, so she is free to speak her mind. She says that the problem was leadership. Kelly agrees, pointing out that they missed out on the prime doggy washing hours. Carolyn asks him how many dogs he washed in the first two hours, and he guesses eight. She corrects him and says it was four. Trump says he hates people who exaggerate. He wonders if the traffic flow was because they were in the wrong location. Wes says that he wanted to try another location, but it was difficult because Andy had lost their cell phone.

Trump tells Andy that he’s been a bit of a disaster so far, even though he’s been sticking up for him all along. Wes explains that Andy needs a lot of supervision during tasks, and Andy defends himself by saying that he closed the deal with the charity when Wes failed. Donald isn’t impressed with the cat shelter, saying that “the last thing dogs wanna know is that they’re helping cats”. Alan pipes in and says that they should have added more in the lines of services.

Stacy is then asked if she thinks she should take any blame for the loss. She says no, and that she would fire Andy if she had the choice. Wes says that Kelly and Sandy worked hard and are completely accountable for what they did, and Maria is exempt. Therefore he would like to bring Andy and Stacy back into the boardroom with him. Trump sends the rest of them back to the suite, and the three remaining to the lobby.

Carolyn thinks Stacy didn’t produce, Andy is all over the place, and Wes is a poor leader. Alan thinks that Andy made a huge mistake in losing the cell phone – if this was a military operation and he lost his communication, he could have lost his entire batallion. However, he does feel that Stacy was under the radar and doesn’t know what she actually did besides debate everyone. Trump nods and asks Robin to send them back in.

Trump asks Wes why he brought Stacy into the boardroom. He says that she wastes time with her banter. Trump wants to know why he didn’t listen to Stacy’s idea, and Wes explains that it would have been too expensive for the amount of time they had.

Stacy says that the idea for the costumes was great, since they had the camera laying around anyway. Carolyn asks her if she’s just a bad salesperson who can’t get her ideas across. She adds that it’s been seven weeks now and she’s still trying to figure out what Stacy brings to the table. Trump echoes that and asks Stacy what she brings. She starts to explain that she was promoting, and Carolyn shoots her down again.

Andy is asked if Stacy could be a good leader. Andy says that she does have some good ideas, but actually getting them implemented is something she needs to work on. Carolyn and Alan both try to explain to Stacy that she needs to step up and sell her ideas (just like Trump’s lesson of the week!). Wes agrees with them and says he feels that he is a very strong leader. Trump disagrees, and says that Wes was a lousy leader. He adds that losing the phone was a stupid move on Andy’s part.

Trump further blasts Stacy for not taking responsibility for anything, and she reacts by asking them to make her project manager. Carolyn tells her they won’t do that – she has to do it herself. Trump (in another bad overdub) tells Stacy that week after week she makes excuses and is always complaining. When she failed to sell her idea, she blamed the project manager. So…Stacy, you’re fired.

There’s a little awkward scene in the lobby where Wes looks like he’s going to give Stacy a hug or a peck on the cheek, and Stacy hides behind her suitcase repeating “Good luck Wes”, and shakes his hand. Trump says that he really didn’t like the fact that Stacy kept making excuses.

In the cab, Stacy says that she feels that Wes tried to pin the loss on her. She thinks Trump didn’t get a chance to get to know her, but she wouldn’t change anything about the way she handled things.

Couple of random side notes. First, the overdubs are annoying and distracting. Surely NBC can blend these better into the dialogue? Also, I am loving the fact that Carolyn is getting more air time. We haven’t been able to see much of her personality outside of the boardroom, but these last couple of weeks during the tasks her commentary has been interesting and very, very funny.

Comments are welcome! Contact me at carrie@realityshack.com.

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