Thursday, June 16, 2011

Toddlers & Tiaras - Can I Get an Ultimate Grand Supreme, Please?

Welcome back!

I should begin by saying my all-time favorite episode of Kathy Griffin's "My Life on the D-List" is called "Toddlers and Remodelers" (, where she "infilitrates" a child pageant. Ok, she's just one of the judges, but she makes it into an investigative report, complete with undercover shenanigans. The kids and parents who appeared on the show were funny and seemed to be in on Kathy's joke: that these pageants are crazy weird.

Cut to last night, after watching Basketball Wives (which I couldn't bring myself to blog about because the only exciting thing was Royce telling Evelyn to shut up, after which Evelyn threw a drink at her, and they almost fought - by the way, there's a lot of almost fighting on that show, can't they just throw down already?) and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon episodes on my DVR, sleep would not come, so I did what any rational person who has to work at 8 am the next day would do. Watch more TV. I stumbled upon "Toddlers & Tiaras", a show that I used to put on while visiting my mom with the sole purpose of making her mad. I would point at the TV and say, "See, Mom! I could have won all those pageants when I was little! I could have been a STAR!" Then I would come up with some clever play on words about her crushing my childhood dreams and get a rise out of her. "Turn that off! Those poor kids are miserable!" To which I would respond, "That girl that won seems pretty happy." Other than torturing my mother, the show really wasn't anything that I thought I would be invested in. Until last night.

Apparently, there are these two child pageant stars who are at the top of their game right now. One is a blonde, fun-size Barbie look-alike named Eden. Eden's mother is ... interesting. By interesting, of course, I mean scary. Eden hardly looks like a real child when she's in full pageant regalia, she looks like a perfect little porcelain doll. In her interviews, she says the normal pre-pageant stuff about liking pageants and wanting to win. But this little girl, at 6 years old, is already building an empire. She's got a CD coming out, she's filming music videos, and has plans to do a mall tour a la Tiffany. And, frankly, Mom looks more excited about it than anyone else.

Eden's competitor is a 5 year old from Louisiana named Makenzie. This girl is hilarious. Let me just say, they showed clips of her from last season - crying for her pacifier, throwing tantrums, and being a straight up brat. But that was last year. She's past all that now. Well, a little. There's no more pacifier. It seems she was embarrassed by the footage that was shown last season and quit that nasty habit. If only all young starlets would do the same. Makenzie is a year older and wiser, and she has a huge presence and sense of humor. They keep calling her "quirky" on the show. I call her entertaining. She is super cute, and genuinely funny. She cracks jokes and makes herself laugh, and seems like a happy kid. Makenzie's mom is much easier to tolerate. She's young and soft-spoken, and talks about letting Makenzie have fun while trying to keep her in line, which is not always easy with a pageant "diva". Mom bought a flipper (a denture-like apparatus that goes over your real teeth) for Makenzie, since the pacifier stage lasted a bit too long and has affected her bite and caused gaps in her teeth. The flipper is a little large and bright white, prompting Makenzie to cry and say she looks like a bunny. Mom consoles her and tells her it looks good. That damn pacifier! Good thing Makenzie broke the habit. Just hope she doesn't relapse.

The big pageant coming up is doing an 80's theme (these kids were born in the 2000s for crying out loud), so everyone is getting their leg warmers and crimpers ready to go. The pageant is broken up into age groups, and there are prizes within each age group. However, the big prizes are up for grabs no matter what age group you're in. First place is called Ultimate Grand Supreme and second place is called Supreme. The Ultimate Grand Supreme gets a crown, a princess canopy bed, and $1,000. Cha-ching!

It seems Eden and Makenzie won't be competing in the same age group, since Eden is 6 and Makenzie is 5. But they will be vying for that canopy bed, no doubt about it. At this point, I think Eden is pretty, but Makenzie is funny. And I'll take funny over pretty any day. Then Eden does the unthinkable. In an interview segment, she pulls out a pacifier with two big teeth (resembling a cartoon rabbit) and says, "This is what I have for Makenzie." Oh, no you DIDN'T!! I know you didn't just clown on my girl, Makenzie! Ooh, ok let me calm down. She's 6, and her mom probably put her up to that. But come on, Eden. Low blow, low blow.

So it's the day of the pageant and everyone is sizing up the competition. Beauty is first, and both girls do great. The judges interview that Eden is more elegant, while Makenzie is sassy. But they both get high scores. The 80s look is next and that's when the breakdowns start happening. Eden's costume didn't arrive on time, but it comes just before the competition. Makenzie's leather jacket ensemble seems to be uncomfortable because she cries and keeps trying to take it off. The 80s portion of the event is underway and Makenzie is still fighting with her costume. Drama! She finally makes it onto the stage and does her thing, although with not as much pizzazz. Eden tears it up. She really wowed the crowd. It's anyone's race, but Eden may have just sealed the deal.

Judging begins. Makenzie's age group is up first and Makenzie wins ... nothing. Not Most Beautiful. Not even Best Dressed. Nada. But there's still Supreme and Ultimate Grand Supreme. Eden's age group is next. Eden wins two trophies ... and Supreme! Some other chick we didn't even meet wins Ultimate Grand Supreme. What a shocker!!! I was honestly disappointed Makenzie didn't win anything. When she realizes what's happened, she's obviously upset. Mom is upset as well. The time, the energy, the hairspray ... Meanwhile, Eden is even more upset because she's not going home with that bed. But her mom still has hope that Hollywood will call any minute to give them a $2 million deal. I'm not kidding. That's what she said. Seriously.

When the episode ended, I thought back on my comments to my mom about crushing my dreams. Sure, I was a cute kid who liked to sing "What's Love Got To Do With It" for anyone who would listen. But the 5, 6, 7, even 8 year old me would have been much more crushed by a competition like that. I'll still give my mom a hard time about it, but I understand why she didn't try to make me a star as a child. She wanted me to have a childhood instead.

What do you think about child pageants? Do you watch "Toddlers & Tiaras"? Are you Team Eden or Team Makenzie? Let me know! Comment or tweet me @humorandspice!!