Charm School Recap – Episode 9 – Masking Emotions

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Who gave Risky a mask? Now she’ll never open up!

The girls are going to New Orleans! Risky says goodbye to their home/school

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But whatever, this ain’t America’s Next Top Model (even Tyra would have a hard time spinning N.O., as a “fashion capital). They’ll be back next episode. No need for the dwelling-based sentimentalism. But at least we know Risky has charm to spare…on inanimate objects.

They fly there. Here’s a graphic to prove it:

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Brittanya says, “I’ve never been to New Orleans before and I’m so excited to see another state!” Nobody tell her it’s a city — she might not be able to handle the disappointment. On the way to the hotel, they drive by the Superdome. Brittanya doesn’t know what it is. It’s where a lot of people stayed during Hurricane Katrina, explains Risky. I don’t know if that aided Brittanya’s understanding, but you know, at least they tried.

At the hotel, there are people on stilts, per the usual mini-circus that greets Celebreality travelers upon arriving anywhere. There are also drinks, perhaps insensitively called hurricanes…

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Marcia asks if they are virgin. Girl, this is VH1. It’s no place for virgins. Dub this incident the first temptation of Marcia, because there are more to follow. Ashley scoops up her drink as well as the one that was intended for Marcia because she’s really that kind and helpful.

Up in their suite, Risky suits up for their location, while Marcia consumes not a virgin but a zygote daiquiri…

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…as they read a note from Ricki promising an authentic New Orleans dinner on Bourbon Street that night. In preparation for dinner, Brittanya asks Ashley if she should wear clear heels. Ashley responds…

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Uh, does the Pope wear Prada?

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Commandment!

Wait, there’s no graphic? WTF? Maybe this is such an obvious truth of this franchise that it goes without saying? Regardless, this is the rule of VH1, and no amount of Charm School could ever diminish its importance. It’d be like trying to diminish the importance of oxygen.

Marcia, meanwhile, worries that the temptation of the bars they’ll be visiting that night will cause her to drink. She weeps as she puts on false eyelashes, perhaps diminishing the importance of lash glue.

Dinner!

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The girls find out they’re going to be working with HandsOn New Orleans, a group set on rebuilding the storm-torn town. But first, they’ll enjoy a night on New Orleans. Ashley tells Ricki that this show has taught her about the not-so-nice way she treats people at times. It would seem that if anything, this show merely brought it to her attention and didn’t spur change, per the fact that the saga of Retardedgate continued well into the last episode. Ricki says that Ashley “only vaguely” resembles the mean girl that walked into Charm School. Her eye makeup has been looking nicer, it’s true.

Speaking of looking nicer…

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…Marcia has been looking great. But she’s still worried about what she faces on Bourbon Street.

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Well, at least it’ll be spared the drunken wrath of Hurricane Marcia.

But not Hurricane Ashley…

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Just storming through and getting stuff wet, doing what hurricanes do! Ashley interviews that she’s not going to censor her drinking around the abstinent Marcia. She’s basically shoving it down Marcia’s throat, except not literally because that would be sharing and ew gross: sharing.

We see a shot of Marcia’s hand hovering above a rack of test-tube shots (and you know what a lethal concoction a Rock of Love girl and a test-tube shot can be)…

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And it’s scary, you know! Scary that she might put it in her mouth. Scary that she might put it elsewhere. I don’t know if I’m more afraid for Marcia’s sobriety or the test tube, all I know is that I fear. But what ends up happening…

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…is really no biggie! She was just getting the thrill of taking a shot without actually taking the shot. Virgin shots, everyone! They’re best taken with others, ironically enough.

So, Marcia goes back to the hotel to preserve her sobriety. Ashley, the yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang to Marcia’s yin, meanwhile, parties it up on a mechanical bull…

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Her riding skills, of course, were refreshed last episode. Charm School: is there anything it can’t teach?

On the way home, Ashley screams for a corn dog. Considering that it’s New Orleans, it’s kind of shocking that a guy doesn’t approach her, unzip his fly and attempt to accommodate her. On the way in the hotel, she yells for a Snapple or a piece of pizza. But no cheeseburger? She must be really drunk.

And that’s exactly what her hangover confirms…

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Breakfast arrives bright and early along with a note that says to be ready in 30 minutes. “Shut up, I hate everybody in here!” is post-drunk Ashley’s message to the world. How the tides have turned: she only vaguely resembles the former mean girl that Ricki touted last segment.

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The girls prepare and they meet this woman, who’s going to be showing them around the lower 9th Ward of New Orleans before they get to work:

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They tour in a partially covered school bus. Even four years after Katrina, the devastation is apparent…

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It’s so insane that conditions are still like this. And what’s worse is that Mary Beth says they have at least 10 years of more work ahead of them before the city is rebuilt entirely. I’m at a loss, but then it feels almost privileged to say that, considering all that was taken from the people of New Orleans.

But the girls are giving back! Ricki informs us that the ninth commandment is Thou Shall Put It To Good Use. We’ll just let her think that. Meanwhile, we know the real commandment of the week.

Ahem.

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They meet with Kellie Bentz, an executive director of HandsOn New Orleans, who’ll supervise their work today. Their first task will be to build flower boxes and paint various basketball, hopscotch and four square lines at a playground.

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Risky references their unsuccessful turn building a playground earlier in the season, and wonders if they really want the Charm School girls building anything. It’s at least comforting that she recognizes that for the disaster that it was. At the time, they seemed way eager to pat themselves on the back for their failure.

There’s still more failing, namely when it comes to Brittanya using a hammer…

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She’s so bad at using it, you’d think it was common sense cast in iron. But, as she interviews, she’s not a handywoman. “I don’t ever want to build stuff. That’s a man’s job,” she adds. Sometimes I feel like we’ve traveled back in the ’50s, and then I just realize that a world exists outside of New York that’s full of such gleeful embracing of gender roles and my mind is blown far more than it would be by time travel.

Risky paints a hopscotch…uh, court? Is that what it’s called?

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Then the girls rest and eat lunch…

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…but not Marcia! (You can see her sawing or something in the background of the screen shot above.) Brittanya thinks Marcia is being fake, and if this weren’t a challenge, she wouldn’t be working through lunch. If this weren’t a challenge, no one would be working, period. I think it’s fair to say that all charity on this show is relative, you know?

The girls are told that they’re going to vote on whom they think worked the hardest, and that person will get to go back to the hotel to rest instead of progressing on to the next challenge. Marcia has been picking up “everything.” She thinks she’s worked the hardest. Look at her fingers!

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Impressed?

Anyway, the other girls agree. Brittanya even votes for Marcia, although she then interviews that she just didn’t want Marcia to be around her anymore. See? Relative charity.

Ashley says, “Marcia’s back at home doing whatever annoying people do and we have to go to the next challenge,” which is a wonderfully put segue to their next stop, the New Orleans Mission. Here, they will be providing and serving meals for about 150 homeless people. New Orleans’ homeless population is at about 4 percent, which is among the highest rates in the nation. Put that in your pipe and hoard it.

They meet a woman named Miss Loretta, who tells them they’ll be serving turkey, pasta salad and Jello with pears, she believes. Given the menu, Ashley says…

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Miss Loretta (which just happens to be the name of my mom’s cat, who’s shaped much like the human Miss Loretta we see here) says that’s good because they’re going to be eating some of this food, as well. “They look like they don’t eat that much!” she adds.

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I don’t know, these girls are ample enough to look like they eat plenty. They just don’t look like they overeat. I guess “much” is in the mouth of the be-muncher?

Ricki arrives and lets the girls know that she’s watching and that there’s one more two-person task after this, so they’re going to get to vote again on who did the most work.

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This doesn’t seem to be amazing incentive or anything. Just service as usual…

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Brittanya does seem particularly sweet to the people she’s serving orange stuff (which from what we can tell is not Sunny D).

Before they deliberate on the hardest worker, Miss Loretta bids them goodbye with: “I wish you the best of luck in what you are endeavoring to do.” That’s an extremely diplomatic way to express confusion in the wake of these ladies and their “education.”

Ricki sits the girls down to determine who’s going back to the room.

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Risky announces that she’s going to keep going and do the next task whether she’s voted the hardest worker or not. Well, she isn’t, so that’s a moot point, but hey, at least she got to look self-sacrificing for 15 seconds. Impressed? Anyway, the distinction goes to Brittanya, who gladly goes back to the hotel. Don’t go looking for strategy from Brittanya. That’s what that means.

Ashley and Risky perform their final task at the HandsOn warehouse. Here, they unload a truck.

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Risky is impressed by how hard Ashley’s working. She refrains from complaining, figuring they had just a 16-hour day. Her mom does it all the time, so why can’t she? Risky is clearly gunning for sainthood here. Baby, I can see your halo.

Meanwhile, back at the hotel, Marcia and Brittanya sup:

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Brittanya is shaking from hammering today. Manipulating a tool can be quite chilling. Marcia says she loves Risky, but she doesn’t think Ashley will change. Besides, since Vegas strippers make $240,000 a year, what incentive does she have to change? Marcia then seemingly out of nowhere tells Brittanya, “Stop being follower, dude.” If you only read her words and didn’t watch her say them, you might confuse Marcia with Michelle from Full House. Brittanya thinks Marcia is wrong. Marcia thinks that Ashley would do anything for her son, and Brittanya needs to remember her son next time she gets into an argument because mommy’s going to be in jail. Seriously, that’s what she says. You got it, dude.

Brittanya tells her to, “Shut up, bitch!” but it’s so abrupt and at a weird volume that it sounds dubbed. Maybe Brittanya’s been practicing throwing her voice in her spare time? The argument ends with her storming off.

Also, Marcia’s got “bubbles” on her fingers.

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Aw, I miss Bubbles.

The next day, they return to the playground to finish their work.

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Here, Marcia finds it within her soul/willingness to look good for the judges to tell Lala that she doesn’t think Brittanya’s here to make things better for her son, because if she were, she wouldn’t have tried to get in a fight with Marcia last night.

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This does not at all line up with what we saw, which was Marcia antagonizing Brittanya and then Brittanya telling her calmly that she needs to stop talking. Even with the clearly dubbed in “bitch,” that Brittanya said to close the argument, she still seemed like the more reasonable party. Lala confronts her…

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Brittanya wanted to beat up Marcia for just mentioning her son’s name, but she restrained herself. Would she have if this show weren’t one big challenge? Hard to say (except, no it isn’t).

Anyway, the job is done. The playground now looks moderately nicer and a hell of a lot more balloon-filled…

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The kids who’ll reap the recreation of this fine playground come out to thank the girls…

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Ashley says that meeting the kids made it worth it. We don’t see any crestfallen reaction shots, so we can assume that the appreciation is mutual.

Elimination!

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Stryker polls the girls about their thoughts on winning Charm School. Risky feels like she’d be a good person to win because people already look up to her. Winning would give little girls a better reason to look up to her, not just because she was a finalist on Real Chance of Love, as much of a distinction as that is. Ricki can tell that Risky is getting emotional, so she tells her to open up. Risky doesn’t want to because she doesn’t know what’s coming. Here’s a hint: the season finale.

Stryker asks Marcia about whether she’ll drink after the show. She’s never going to say never, but she wants to be able to control it. That’s uncommonly honest. Stryker mentions Ashley’s night out on Bourbon Street, which elicits this response:

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It’s nice to know that as much as Ashley is “changing” and as “vaguely” as she resembles her former self, her sense of shame is eternally nonexistent.

Anyway, she had a really good time on Bourbon Street. Ricki recognizes Ashley as a “work in progress” with “a long way to go.” Too bad there’s just one episode left! Stryker asks what Ashley’s plan is if she wins the money. She’ll go back to school. If she loses, she has no choice but to go back to stripping. No matter what they take from her, they can’t take away her dignity. And by dignity, I mean:

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Finally, on the subject of Brittanya, Stryker says he doesn’t see any dedication there. Brittanya says she would be in jail or dead were it not for her son. Winning would allow her to “pay a lawyer to stay out of jail.” And a book would give her a better understanding of the way the legal system works, but I somehow doubt her stop after Charm School was the library.

And now it’s time to send a girl home. Ricki calls down Marcia:

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Ricki’s crying. She’s proud of Marcia’s work in abstaining from alcohol, but she has to look at who’s going to best represent Charm School. I guess she’s thinking ahead to future grants. Anyway, this set-up sounds like she’s kicking Marcia off, but she’s not: Marcia is in the Top 3!

Next, Brittanya is called down:

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Ricki thinks Brittanya has come far, and she believes that she’s a good mom for her son (even though Brittanya indicated otherwise in those words just one episode ago). But Brittanya has not come far enough. She is leaving. Ricki cries as she lets her go but she interviews somewhat curtly that this show was just about the money to Brittanya. OK, then. If she says it, it must be. Ricki Lakey wouldn’t lie to us.

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Brittanya interviews that she’s a hustler, and that she’ll get the money somehow. “I guess I’ll always be a G!” she chirps. Too bad she didn’t make the transition to a gent. Oh wait, wrong show. Wait, what? All of a sudden, I’m feeling a little bit not too smart.

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PEACE!

Get more information on what HandsOn New Orleans does and how you can help at the organization’s official website.

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