The ending of this installment of Charm School is so sweet, I’m not even going to put up a glib comment by way of introduction. You’re on your own with this one.
With their work in New Orleans complete, the girls are going back to Cali.
Risky interviews that it’s the finale, so you don’t know what’s going to happen at this point. To be fair, I think she’s said that in approximately every episode. Risky’s world must be one of perpetual awe. This show might as well have the expanded title of Charm School: Risky in Wonderland.
Ashley, meanwhile, is surprised to have made it to the Top 3, much less to have lasted a day in the house. Well, aren’t we all?
The girls return…
A nervousness hangs above them as though they are all waiting for the results of a collective pregnancy test.
To cope, Marcia makes up fairy tales that wildly exaggerate VH1′s financial means:
See, I was thinking a more conventional cinematic twist involving seeing dead people or Darth Vader being one of their fathers or being 20 years older than you’re claiming, which is possible thanks to proportionate dwarfism. That’s the kind of turn I want my reality TV to take.
Stryker tells them to change into their uniforms and meet downstairs in 10 minutes. Now they’re really crapping themselves. I hope they wear bloomers under those skirts.
Ricki introduces their final commandment…
Instead of elimination, it’s time for reintroduction. The girls will be reunited from people from their pasts. And it’s gonna feel so good! First up, Risky’s lovely mom:
What’s awesome about this is that Marcia is seriously freaking out in the background as Risky and her mom embrace:
It gets to the point where Ashely dusts off her heart and comforts Marcia with an embrace. Good thing she did, because next through the door are her baby daddy James and her son Al…
Al is inconceivably adorable…
And Ashley is never more endearing than when she’s around children.
It is such a good look for her that she should always have one strapped to her. I know her line of work might complicate things, but she should really try to maneuver it.
Finally, in comes Marcia’s also comely mama…
This is the moment that Marcia has been freaking out for.
“I only get to see her once a year, so I never in a million years thought I would see my mom in Charm School,” says Marcia. Doesn’t she mean that never in 12 months, she thought she would see her mother in Charm School?
Everyone gets cozy with their loved ones…
And then they show them around. At one point, Ashley and James sit on her bed watching Al, who’s decked out in Mardi Gras beads.
Ashley wonders if they’re “like, setting him up to be gay,” since he loves jewelery and pink and purple. “I don’t care if he is. He can be whatever he wants,” she adds. Given the parenting alternative (i.e. gay panic), this is sweet. Even James doesn’t seem bothered at the prospect, though he does point out that Al just likes to look good. Ashley adds that their son also enjoys wearing lip gloss. That doesn’t mean he’s gay; it just means he’ll make a good contestant on Daisy of Love 21.
With reintroductions out of the way, the girls are all called back downstairs, where they find Doc Ali, who helped them confront their fears five episodes ago.
Doc and Ricki are going to talk to each girl with her respective love one(s). An interpreter, Cassandra, will assist Marcia’s Portuguese-speaking mother.
First up are Risky and her mother.
Doc Ali says she’s going to have them do an exercise she calls T.A.G. That’s Truth, Amends and Gratitude. For the first step, she asks Risky if there’s anything that needs to be said to her mom. Risky says that her mom did a great job raising them, regardless of various situations. She has a lot to do with the good things that have happened in all of their lives, and she doesn’t blame her mom for unspecified bad stuff. Her mom says she did hold herself accountable for a lot of mistakes that occurred after she divorced Risky’s dad.
For the next step, Doc Ali asks Risky if there’s anything she needs to apologize for. She does: she blamed her mom for certain things when they weren’t her mom’s fault. Also, the “situation” with her stepfather went on for so long and she’s sorry that she told her mom about it when it was already too late. Risky’s being vague about her situation, but more and more, I feel like I’m hearing her loud and clear. Then again, it’s the finale: who knows what’s going to happen? Her mom says she’s sorry for not knowing Risky’s pain. It’s all very touching and tear-filled.
Finally, it’s time for gratitude. Risky doesn’t know what she would do and where she would be if it weren’t for her mom. Doc Ali sees a change in Risky since her mid-season visit. Indeed, Risky says she could relate to so much that they did, specifically helping out underprivileged kids and the homeless, because she experienced those things at different points. God, Risky’s had it tough. It’s kind of amazing that she’s as pleasant as she is. Doc Ali says it’s Risky’s responsibility to talk to those in those situations. So in addition to being a doctor, she’s an employment counselor, too? Her mom says that Risky has learned patience and that the world doesn’t revolve around her. Yep, that’s a big one.
Next up is Ashley and James.
First of all, when I saw James, I was like…
…damn, baby. If James is your type, you’re probably swooning now.
Ashley interviews that their relationship has never been about sharing feelings, so therapy will be a new thing for them. O…K? I don’t even want to hanker a guess as to what they’re sharing if not feelings. For the truth part of their T.A.G., Ashley says she loves him and she always did but he’s cheated on her a lot. The swooning ceases. Ashley comes close to crying, so that’s new. It’s hard for her to forgive him, but she doesn’t want to be without him, especially for the sake of their son. Is James committed? Yes, the past is the past. He says that he loves her as much as she loves him. Until I see “Ashley” tattooed above his breast, I’m not believing it. Ashley apologizes for all the times she was cold and mean. She also says that she needs more respect than that which can be gleaned from a cheater. Ricki thinks Ashley’s learned to love herself. I’m not so sure — Ashley’s never struck me as anything but smitten with Ashley.
Finally, Marcia and her mom. Marcia is reluctant to tell her mom about her drinking problem.
She finally does, though.
She apologizes and says she’s changing that. She’s going to make her mom proud. Her mom understands and she’s not angry. Ricki notes that Marcia has come far not just by quitting drinking, but by avoiding arguments with the girls. Marcia thinks she is strong because of her abusive stepfather; Ricki thinks that stepfather is what drove her to drink. It’s really neither here nor there because Marcia isn’t going to open up about the pain caused by her abusive stepfather. She’s afraid her mother will take it to heart and she would rather protect her mother’s feelings than reveal anything. Despite the best efforts of Ricki and Doc Ali, Marcia does not talk to her mom about her stepfather.
The loved ones depart.
Upstairs, Marcia tearfully tells Ashley and Risky that she doesn’t want her mom to think she was a bad parent because Marcia drinks.
Ashley interviews, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’m really feeling bad for Marcia right now.” If Ashley’s heart grows any more sizes, her chest is going to burst. Actually, given the state of her chest, I guess that’s a constant threat, anyway.
The girls eat. Ricki comes in and tells them their final assignment, which should be no surprise if you’ve followed this franchise: they have to write speeches on how Charm School affected them and why they deserve to win over their classmates. I guess the trick is to figure out how to do that charmingly? Marcia interviews that she’s worried because she used to get boys to write her “spiches” in school. Thankfully, she doesn’t go into detail as to how she actually worked that out.
Additionally, Ricki tells them, “We have beautiful gowns upstairs for you in your locker.” After that description, I imagine post-prom crumpling.
But instead, what they get is strictly pre-prom.
Ashley spells “Ricki” wrong. That’s a highlight. Exciting episode this week, huh, kids?
And then, it is time for the final elimination ceremony.
Ricki looks pleasantly shocked at how the girls have cleaned up.
She tells them that as of right now, her mind is literally not made up. The spiches begin. Ashley’s up first.
When she first came to Charm School, she thought it was a continuation of the Rock of Love Bus party. To be fair, those early episodes were wild. Ah, the good old days. Ashley didn’t come to change, but the fear lesson proved pivotal. Ashley faced her biggest fear: saying out loud that she didn’t want her son to grow up and not be proud of his stripper mom. That made her feel bad for the way she was living her life. She was not proud of herself wanted to change. New Orleans made her proud of doing something for someone else for the first time. Ashley admits that she was being mean to make up for lack of self-esteem. I know she said it, but I’m still having a hard time buying it. She’s leaving with self respect, committed to making better life for her and her son. Cute.
Next up is Risky.
Risky says the whole experience has been awesome. She’s learned not to keep feelings bottled up and worry what people think of her. She immediately applies this lesson when she references the fact that her brother is in jail for doing something violent to the dude that molested her when she was younger. You know, hearing this stuff doesn’t ever get easier, despite (or maybe because of) how many girls reveal it. If Risky were to win, she’d start a charity for girls with incarcerated parents. She says she’ll carry the Charm School name with honor. I guess that means she’ll be wearing her Miss Charm School sash even to the grocery store.
Marcia admits to alcohol addiction and references her pledge to not drink and that she stuck to it. The hardest thing to do, however, was to tell her mom that she’s an alcoholic. It wasn’t her mother’s fault – it was Marcia’s fault, though. She’s happy she got to learn about herself, and she knows she will not disappoint her mom. She still feels like a winner even if she doesn’t win. Well good. Hold on to that feeling, Marcia.
Ricki interviews that Marcia is a “Charm School success story.” A rare breed, indeed. Stryker says they all did an amazing job and is glad he doesn’t have to be the one deciding today. Forget the big-time celebs and authors; these girls are Lala’s heroes.
Lala is not unlike the young girls who look up to Risky for being a Real Chance of Love finalist. Well, at least now there’s prestige involved.
Ricki feels that they all deserve to win, but unfortunately, there’s no twist. Not even ribbons to hide the scars. Ricki says it came down to the speeches. Risky is, like, trembling in anticipation…
But she need tremble no more because Ricki connected most with her speech. Risky wins it!
Risky is so appreciative that you just know that Ricki made the right choice.
She even gets low to show you just how down-to-earth she is…
On other VH1 shows, she’d be in this position because she dropped it like it’s hot. Here, she’s dropping it like she’s grateful. Ah, progress.