'Crowned': I feel like I'm being tortured

Annette_alana_crowned_240 Welcome back, fellow masochists, to Crowned, what is to my knowledge the very best mother-daughter pageant currently airing on network television today! Last week we learned that, sadly for Andrea and Amanda, "modern beauty" and "raging b****" are not synonymous. The Reigning A's were summarily defrocked and sent home without so much as a paper Burger King crown to grace their domes.

This week, we get to see a lot more of these modern beauties than we necessarily ever wanted; that's right, it's time for the swimsuit competition! Some of the ladies have, with a little urging by the judges, started to rethink their team names.  Thus, the Blonde Bombshells become the Goal-Driven Gals; Silent But Deadly are now The Realists; the Redhead Bombshells think that somehow Sincere Sexy Redheads is a better name, somehow; the Sassy Sisters are the Goal Getters (hey, is this a trend I smell brewing?); and the Diamond Dolls are the Gifted Dolls, which make them sound like something some unlucky tot will find under her tree next week.  See any of our charming teams missing from this list?  Of course!  It's Hot and Not, the one team who was flat-out told to change their team name!

But who can focus on semantics when there is so much self-exploitation afoot? The remaining ten teams are instructed by pageant director Linnea to congregate around the pool in their swimsuits, heels and sashes, where they are introduced to Miss Teen USA 1995 Keylee Sanders. Keylee, although clearly not relishing the fact that she's 13 years past her great achievement, runs each team through a brief swimsuit clinic. By and large I was honestly very impressed by the swimsuits these women, particularly the mothers, chose for themselves: nobody's straining against a sausage-casingesque suit.  Hey, I'll take what I can get, pageanteers! Keylee calls out a few of the suits as being age-inappropriate (although I thoroughly disagree with her assertation that polka-dots are for five-year-olds) and points out - quite rightly! - that a few of the mothers are wearing full-on skirts over their, ahem, trouble areas. The daughters are given 30 minutes to find themselves and their mothers new bathing suits, and the mothers aren't allowed to challenge or question their decisions. The Tomboy Queens do surprisingly well after their poor showing last week, with tasteful, color-coordinated suits. Overall all of the girls do well, but the Goal Getters win. They are instructed to pick a wrapped box which may! contain! valuable crown jewels! They choose wrong and end up with corsages instead.

Back at Barbie's Dream House we see that the contestants have essentially divided themselves into two groups: the Dream Gals, the Goal Getters, The Realists, the Daredevil Divas, and the Gifted Dolls on one team (applause!) and the Redheads, the Blondes, Skin Deep, and Hot and Not on the other (boo! hiss! throw popcorn!) The profoundly unattractive mother half of Skin Deep criticizes the Goal Getters on a shared nasal bump, then breaks into the Humpty Dance.

For the elimination challenge, once again the daughters are in charge, choreographing a one-minute-long fitness routine for their mothers and themselves. I find this dynamic really to be a strange choice: in almost every team (The Realists perhaps excluded) the daughters are already so clearly running the show that this isn't in any way an inversion of standard operating procedure. The daughters are by and large frustrated with their mothers' lack of flexibility/stamina/coordination. Weird old Felicia speaks for all of us when she says "I feel like I'm being tortured."

The teams perform on stage and mostly acquit themselves well. The Redheads lead off with a very impressive routine that highlights both their fantastic physical shape and mom's remarkable ability to jump up and down without bringing her face or breasts along for the ride. The Dream Gals trot out with yoga mats and do a cute routine that's a little too Broadway for Carson, who admits that this is unlikely as he himself seems to be performing in a Broadway show at all times. The Tomboy Queens make a mess of their routine. The Daredevil Divas have a really knockout routine that includes mother-daughter splits and a flip that turns into a shoulder stand. The judges are wowed. Hey, me too, judges! Hot and Not come out, have the gumption to defend their horrifying team name, and still can't get their routine together. The Gifted Dolls are a little disjointed, with the daughter doing almost the entire routine on her own, but then the judges and I remember that her mom just had a kidney transplant and feel bad. The Goal Getters seem to be performing in totally different routines from each other. The Realists are just a disaster - bad routine, bad execution, no solidarity. Skin Deep one-up them by being all of those things, but also boring. And the Goal-Driven Gals bust out some step aerobics, but mom can't keep up, as her daughter is quick to point out.

This week the bottom three teams are called forward: The Realists, Skin Deep, and the Tomboy Queens. Although the judges want to see less tomboy and more queen from the Tomboy Queens, and although Skin Deep has no discernible talent whatsoever, the judges wield the Bejeweled Shears of Fate upon The Realists, thereby reducing the IQ of the remaining pageant pool by at least 50%.

But hey! Next week, weaves are tossed around and crotches are flashed.  Oh, Top Model, are you back so soon?

But what really matters is what you really think.  Are you sad to see the smarties leave? Are you so excited for the Great Crotch War next week? Are you just kicking yourself for spending another precious hour of your life with these women?

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