Tough Love has returned for another season in yet another warm weather locale, and yet despite all the lessons that Steve and JoAnn Ward have taught on previous seasons, the ladies of America are still in a hopeless place. Wait, I wonder if Steve and JoAnn have ever considered using Rihanna‘s song as their anthem, because it just dawned on me that they’re helping people find love in a hopeless place…ANYWAY. Welcome to New Orleans, and welcome to this wonderful world of women who for one reason or another just can’t get their s— together and desperately need the help of a vagina whisperer. Steve, you okay if I use that as your nickname from now on?
Melissa: Miss Awkward
Melissa is a 25-year-old virgin, which isn’t a problem in itself, the problem is actually her awkwardness. Melissa hails from my home state of Massachusetts, so I’m more inclined to armchair analyze her knowing she’s the product of a place that I’m familiar with, and truth be told, I can relate to her dorkiness. I, too, can fit my fist in my mouth.
I purposely ruin every photo I’m in with a goofy face. But I know when to turn that off, and Melissa’s awkward doesn’t seem to have an off switch. Not yet, at least. Here’s hoping Steve can help with that, and can prevent her from ever saying “pump and dump” as a sexual metaphor ever again.
Danielle: Miss Low Standards
Danielle is a hairstylist and single mom who is also Velcro for deadbeats. She’s tired of attracting guys with no job, no house, and no money but it sounds like she doesn’t know how. “I just want to do it right this time,” she says.
Donna: Miss Ticking Clock
Donna is 40 but she clearly lives near one of those mythical, magical springs that allows you to never age, because she’s beautiful. However, she spent her youth with the wrong guys and now that she wants a family, her biological clock is on loan from 60 Minutes and it’s all she hears just tick-tick-ticking away. “It’s just time for me to go find love,” Donna says. Between her and Danielle, so far these ladies don’t seem that crazy this season. Very clever, producers, you’re setting me up right now, aren’t you?
Stephanie: Miss Husband Hungry
I’m pretty sure VH1 casts all of its reality shows at beauty school graduations nowadays, because like Danielle, Stephanie is a hairstylist. She is also a makeup artist. She calls her style “Barbie meets Lady Gaga” so at least she’s self-aware.
She’s had several procedures done to change her appearance and, yes, attempt to look more like Barbie. Alas, her Ken has not been found yet. (I have a feeling this will not be the first or last Ken reference in this girl’s story.)
Tiffany: Miss Phony
Tiffany admits she’s an attention whore but, like Avonte from last season, she’s obsessed with finding a partner who is “man enough” to be her man. This is a woman who admits to cruising the Craigslist Casual Encounters but also says she’s too guarded, so she’s a study in contrasts, this one.
Elizabeth: Miss Gold Digger
Elizabeth has been spoiled by past relationships and now she considers coffee dates, short-stemmed roses, and rings under 10 carats to be meager attempts at affection, signs that her date is cheap. And she will not stand for it!! Unlike some of the other women, the first impression I’m getting from Elizabeth is that she’s not self aware at all of how shallow this makes her sound. I’m hoping one of Steve’s challenges to her is to find a date at Occupy Wall Street.
Shalana: Miss Bitter
Shalana’s also a single mom looking for a man to share her life and her family, but she’s been burned in the past by a lot of guys. That’s it. That’s all we got for Shalana.
Despina: Miss Man Eater
Despina’s dating life is full on Mrs. Doubtfire, where she books her dates back to back and runs from one date to the next slipping in and out of a foam bodysuit to trick them (just kidding). But she does juggle multiple men at once and convinces all of them that she’s only interested in them.
The ladies all assemble at Chez Tough Love, but what they don’t realize is that they’ve already had their first challenge of the season. Their cab drivers were actually planted to secretly record them and report back on how the women behaved on the cab ride over. This is where my theory that most of these women were really nice and normal this season gets trashed. Donna told her cab driver about her fertility problems. Melissa does a nose scratch-pick while joking about the cab driver’s girlfriend taking her top off during Mardi Gras and fabricating a boyfriend. And the only thing that held Stephanie’s interest during her cab ride was her compact mirror.
Then Steve gives each woman her label. “Right away he called me a man-eatah,” Despina says (is she from Massachusetts, too?), “Oooh, that’s new to me,” she sarcastically deadpans. When Steve calls Melissa “Hands-down, the most socially-challenged woman” he’s ever met, the other women scoff, and Melissa cheers, underlining the point. When Donna starts to cry after Stephanie gets called out for her plastic surgery and also starts to cry, it seems like a nice moment of bonding…but not to Tiffany. “You just met this girl for all of ten minutes, stop the bulls—, please,” she says.
Steve brings in the aforementioned cab drivers who assess the women based on their first impressions. Gold Digger Elizabeth hears their criticism of her and can’t take it.
When it comes to Stephanie, they say she looks like a porn star that would make them look bad if they brought her home to their families. they also correctly assess that Melissa is a virgin and that Tiffany is self-centered. Tiffany hears what they’re saying, but she doesn’t care what a cab driver thinks of her.
For their next challenge, the women are going on a riverboat cruise. They’ll each get three beaded necklaces to give to three different guys, who will then be invited back to the house so they can mingle more. Despina automatically declares herself the winner because “give me enough beads and they’ll all be coming back with me,” is her opinion. Even this guy and his lil’ buddy.
“Guys love it when you compliment their hair because they’re all afraid of going bald, so I’m just going with the flow,” Melissa informs us after touching one spiky-haired dude’s head on board the ship. But at least Elizabeth seemed to make progress and give her beads to men who didn’t look like Daddy Warbucks. Danielle, who I had high hopes for at first, turns out to be stingy with her beads because, yes, none of the men on-board are tall enough. “Superficial is super lame,” Steve’s Rule #63 reads.
Meanwhile, Tiffany has spent all day getting trashed. As if navigating a boat ride wasn’t wobbly enough, she’s in rough shape after a few wine-vodka spritzers and even goes so far as to take her beads off one guy and re-gift them to another and tells tells everyone on the boat that Melissa is a virgin. So Melissa, despite being on a boat with no escape, runs away.
All the women are safely evacuated from the ship and brought home eventually, and all the men they beaded come over for the afta-pahty, in Despina’s words. “I kissed every single guy that walked in heah. But I looked like the hooka of the house,” she says. At this point, I feel like this accent is just like, what happens when a Matt Damon fan watches Good Will Hunting way too often.
“Every guy that a girl is interested in has to speak to her vergina. We need a vergina whisperer,” Melissa says at the house party, once again making no sense. Where did she hear these interesting rules and tidbits about relationships? “These guys did not whisper to my vagina.” Melissa totally worries that she’ll be in the hot seat, and we can’t argue that possibility.
Steve says that Elizabeth has done the best this week, and even she doesn’t believe it.
Her suitor seemed completely smitten with her and wanted to see her again, which stunned her, but then, Stephanie and Melissa also found men who were interested in getting to know them more as well, which was a shocker. Also a shocker is Steve’s new Three Strikes rule…anyone who lands in the hot seat three times is automatically booted from Chez Tough Love and will have to thumb it from Bourbon Street all the way home. And Tiffany just earned her first strike.
Tiffany’s not just up there for her phony behavior or her virgin comment at Melissa’s expense, she also lied about her age (31, not 29) and the fact that she has children. The age thing we can deal with but everyone is surprised by the kids, for sure. “I didn’t want to be judged because I have three kids,” she tells Steve, perhaps only now realizing that she’s being judged for being a liar.
The father of two of Tiffany’s kids was a married man, she admits. She’s no longer with him, but she’s already laid down a foundation of lies and Steve doesn’t know what to believe. “If you’re not going to be honest with me, I have no interest in helping you,” he tells all the ladies.
He then presents them with their necklaces, which he says are engraved with their name on one side, and blank on the other. By the end of bootcamp, hopefully each necklace will have something positive engraved on the reverse side. But if these ladies don’t put the work in…what message is Steve going to engrave on their necklace instead? A scarlet letter? A frownie face? We’ll just have to wait and see.