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All American Girl, Episode 1: The Good, The Bad, The BubblyPage 4
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We now move to the intelligence phase of the competition. The women are seated in a room where they have to answer a 20-question multiple choice test. The host makes it a point to remind the ladies to put their names on the answer sheets, thus warning those who tune in late that they haven’t accidentally found the MENSA channel. We are shown a sample three questions from the test:
What nationality was Vincent VanGogh? (16 of the 20 women get it correct, which means we aren’t down to 15 yet after all)
Which book features the character Holden Caulfield? (17 of 20 get it correct)
What name is given to the process of splitting atoms? (15 of 20 answer correctly)
Here are the answers, if you are playing along at home. Skip this paragraph if you don’t want to know, or if you are cocky enough to be certain you have them all right. (Dutch, Catcher in the Rye, fission)
The host announces that more than two-thirds of the ladies correctly answered better than half of the questions. We also see the worst five answers from the intelligence section. Presumably these are either recreated, or are from the very earliest parts of the auditions because it is a video of the girls saying the answers instead of it being from the written multiple choice test. The worst of the bunch:
Who was the first president of the United States? (George Bush)
Next up is the character challenge. Each girl must stand up in front of the group and face the judges. They must tell an anecdote from their life.
Melissa Cain tells about the turmoil of her pregnancy and its aftermath and how the hormonal swings have left her emotional to the point where she cries at the drop of a hat. Shannon McConnell relates the story of when her policeman father was shot in the head in the line of duty. This story, while doubtlessly true for the most part, seems embellished as she talks about her father saving children who were about to be shot by their own mother, but that’s just the impression I got. Shannon, if you read this and I’m way off base, please accept my apologies. Rachel Hartley, apparently recovered from the severe trauma she suffered from being asked to dance, speaks about her special relationship with her handicapped sister. Although she seems completely calm otherwise, she gets quite weepy and becomes the prime candidate for All American Tammy Fae Baker Wannabe.
On to the intimate one-on-one sessions with the coaches. The girls are forced to sit on the floor in the hallway until they are called in for their interview. The questions asked during these interviews are catered to the individual contestants, and consist of things like:
“How will you cope with being away from your new son for so long if you continue to advance?”
“If you were to win, how will it affect the rest of your life?”
“You can’t sing or dance. Why should we let you continue on?”
Evelyn the juggler is asked if she thinks she sometimes “goes to far.”
Shauna is questioned about her being frequent beauty contest entrant. The question leaves her in tears as she explains that they aren’t beauty contests, they are “scholarship programs.” Yeah, and I’m not a reality show columnist, I’m an “observer and commentator of sociological anomalies in modern culture.”
In the most honest and funny moment of the show, a young lady named Allie is asked if she uses her sex appeal as a weapon. “I’m trying to learn how to,” she replies.
Runner up for the funniest moment is when the coaches tell Kira not to be so critical of herself and she blurts out that she doesn’t shower every day. The looks on the coaches’ faces is priceless.
Each of the ladies gives the coaches an envelope when they enter. It contains their final score on the intelligence tests. We learn that Rachel came in dead last.
It’s almost time for the coaches to pick their teams. First however, we see each of the contestants briefly dance for the camera to “Dancin’ in the Street.” No names are provided and it’s amazing that after almost two hours of viewing most of the girls haven’t even left enough of an impression for me to be able to identify them.
The team selection begins and works as follows – each young lady comes forward. The three judges are given a moment to raise a hand to indicate a desire to have the woman join a team. If no coach raises a hand, the girl is eliminated. If more than one raise a hand, the contestant gets to decide which team she prefers to be on.
During the process, two of the women are selected by more than one coach. They are:
Natalie – chosen by all three coaches
Once the process has been completed, Suzanne has chosen five contestants. Geri and John have for some reason only chosen four. Perhaps the coaches are every bit as confused by these complex eliminations as I am. Regardless, the eliminated women are brought back onstage for John and Geri to round out their teams. The official teams are:
Next week the coaches must each eliminate one of their own team members, the girls are forced to endure a “performance workout,” and we will hopefully get the chance to start picking out the strongest contenders to make the final 10.
Mr. Barker is co-owner of Movie Boss (www.movieboss.com), a free online movie game, and author of "Zippers," a humor column that looks at mistakes in movies. He can be reached at BBarker@movieboss.com.
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