All American Girl, Episode 3: 12-3=10by Bruce Barker -- 04/04/2003
Episode 3 of All American Girl begins with the news that tonight each of the coaches/judges will make another elimination from the remaining 12 girls. In the teaser last week it was promised that America would vote and eliminate a contestant as well, but apparently this was a teaser for future weeks where the top 10 would be voted on by the viewers and each week one will be eliminated. Of course, if each of the 3 coaches eliminates a girl from the 12 still competing, that will leave a top 10 of only 9, but this is the sort of thing we’ve come to expect.
The focus for this episode will be personality. It has been decided that the best way for each of the three teams to place personality at the forefront of things will be for them to throw parties for their respective coach. The girls are allowed to go shopping, plan, prepare, clean, and do all the other fun things to surprise the coach. There is trouble in paradise, however, as the egos and tempers of some of the contestants begin to emerge and frustrations build around such earth-shaking decisions as which glasses to purchase for the evening. The only team that doesn’t seem about to self-destruct from infighting is the team of former Spice Girl Geri Haliwell. This group, which I admit I cannot resist dubbing as “Geri’s Kids,” seem to have no problem cooperating with one another.
Geri’s Kids even plan a theme for the evening and put together a luau complete with a harmonized hula song of welcome. What they don’t know is that the coaches are bringing an unexpected guest. Geri’s guest is comedian John Fugelsang and the girls immediately brighten up at the thought of laughing through the meal. John’s team is greeted not just by the former NBA star, but also by his guest, professional party planner Cheryl Cecchetto. Over at Suzanne’s shindig, the Motown exec has brought along Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.
Ms. Cecchetto plunges into her meal with John’s team by plunging daggers into the hearts of the contestants. She complains about everything from the place-setting (forks in the wrong order) to the manner in which the table was set (you shouldn’t reach across a guest while laying out the silverware) to the meal itself (the meat is too overcooked for her taste) while the helpless girls sit there in frustration. John says his goal is to see how the girls can handle criticism. Considering that last week he watched as a beauty consultant ripped these same girls apart, I can’t help but wonder why he decided that a party in his honor should be the perfect place to take his team down yet another peg.
Meanwhile, at Suzanne’s soiree, discussion turns to books. The young ladies bring no surprises to the table at first as self-motivational books and J.R.R. Tolkein’s Lord of the Rings trilogy are both mentioned. Then, in an odd moment, instead of talking about what books she’s read, Tarah goes off on a long rant about the novel that she’s written most recently. She brags that she will be getting it published, but she just hasn’t had the spare time to do it yet. Her teammates are more than a little put out at this obvious attempt by Tarah to not only dominate the conversation, but lay in a sales pitch about herself that would make a used car salesman blush in embarrassment.
Geri’s Kids have retired to the other room where the heavy topic of discussion is former boyfriends. The producers don’t spend a whole lot of time here and wisely cut away as one of the girls starts gushing about having made out in the back seat of a car. Ahh, reckless youth. This inspires me to think back to kinder days of abandon. I too will come clean and confess to steaming up the windows of my Chevy Nova on more than one occasion in my never-ending quest for the perfect smooch. I got quite good at it, in fact. So good that to this day my reputation precedes me almost everywhere I go. I can be walking down the street and women who have never laid eyes on me before will point at me and say, “Wow, would you look at that kisser!”
What can I say? Some of us have it, and some don’t.
Where was I? Oh yeah, back over to John’s party. Here the topics have gotten very serious and the girls appear to be talking about personal problems. Shauna speaks of the death of her grandmother and soon the room is filled with so many crocodile tears that John should have brought Steve Irwin along to wrangle things back into line.
Soon the parties are behind us and we learn that each coach will now choose two girls that will pass on into the top 10. The remaining girls will be placed on “Probation” for 24 hours. During this time they have to prove themselves to their respective coaches by preparing a one-minute speech in which they make a plea to stay. The coach will then free one the girls from Probation and put the other on Double-Secret Probation in which they will built floats for a founders day parade and…
Sorry, I was having an Animal House moment. My mind tends to wander like that when I have to be led by the hand in order to keep up with what’s happening on the TV screen. The remaining girl is sent packing.
Geri goes first, with Monika and Kira moving into the top 10. She then meets with Kristi. She tells Kristi that she wants her to prove that she has what it takes to be the All American Girl and places her on Probation. She then meets with Jessica and tells her that she still sees barriers that are preventing her from seeing the real Jessica. Jessica too, is placed on Probation.
Suzanne is next and agonizes over her decision. She passes Natalie and Ali through with flying colors and then sees Carrie, telling her to stop holding back. When she sits down with Tarah, she asks her to step up and be more assertive. I found this somewhat confusing considering the fact that Tarah attempted to completely dominate the dinner party, but Suzanne must have been successfully snowed and viewed Tarah’s sales pitch as mere conversation instead of assertiveness. Regardless, both Carrie and Tarah are now on Probation.
John passes Ashley and Shannon along, but Shauna is placed on the Probation list along with Andrea, who almost got sent home last week.
The next day passes with the young ladies facing the axe preparing for the one minute that will hopefully save their professional careers.
Suzanne sees Carrie first. Knowing that she has to be more forthcoming, Carrie opens up and says, “I’ve gone through tremendous changes here. I’m so blessed to have grown so much and learned that I’m more than just a singer.” Unassertive Tarah strolls in next and lists her skills saying, “I’m a great dancer, a good singer, and an intellectual. I just need to find a way to focus and channel it.” Suzanne comes away from the meeting with the two girls deeply upset. She’s mad, she explains, because both of the girls followed her directions and she has to reward them by eliminating one of them.
John’s girls are shown next. Andrea wastes no time and makes John a promise. “I guarantee,” she says, “that if I move on you will see who I am. I will push, I will drive, I will succeed. I will never quit.” Shauna stands before John and says, “I’m letting you and America see my flaws. I’m going to let you see my heart. I represent All American Girls – the girl in the sandbox and the congresswoman. I am substance and a smile.” I got a substance caught in my smile once. I think it was broccoli. It might have been spinach. I’m not certain.
Geri prepares for Kristi and Jessica. Kristi comes on strong with a gallon of sincerity and a butt kiss so hard that if Geri had stopped short she would have had to have Kristi surgically removed. “I have one minute to crack open my heart,” Kristi begins, “I want to stand before you naked. (now THAT would pick up the ratings!) I put up walls all my life to not let anyone get too close to me, but I’m standing here now in all my vulnerability. I want to grow and you inspire that within me.” Jessica has a speech all prepared but decides to toss it at the last minute and wing it with what she really feels. She says, “My dad used to tell me I was the carpenter of my own life. He talked a lot about having a solid foundation and that’s what I’m all about.”
It is now time for THE CUT. John tells the girls that one of them truly got to his heart and it was Andrea. Shauna, who rehearsed her speech to death in preparation, apparently lacked the sincerity that John was looking for. Shauna is excused from the competition. Suzanne explains just how much she agonized over her choice and informs Tarah that she will move on. She apologizes to Carrie and tells her that she is very proud of her for working so hard. Geri goes last and must eliminate either Jessica or Kristi, who have become fast friends in the two weeks they have known one another. Geri explains that from the beginning Jessica had been Geri’s first choice but that Kristi had worked hard – even with the knowledge that she wasn’t Geri’s favorite. Kristi moves on and is all but heartbroken because her new friend won’t be around anymore. Real or not, it’s actually kind of nice to see one of the girls look outside of herself and actively grieve the loss of a competitor.
At this point the show cuts to a commercial, but not without first promising us that there is a shocking twist coming after the break.
After the commercials, we see the girls sitting out by the swimming pool. There is a strange man with them. It is only when he begins to speak that I recognize him as the show’s host, Mitch. He spends most of his “on air” time narrating and explaining things and so seldom appears onscreen in the flesh that he’s still a stranger to me. He’s about to explain the big twist to the girls. Now given that this show has already thrown more curve balls than Jose Canseco has seen in his career, this one should be a beauty. The big shock is…
I almost weep in relief. Next week you see, the top 10 is supposed to perform live in front of America. The official website promises us photos and bios of the top 10 girls as well. Since this show has already juggled the rules and the numbers more than a mob accountant, I was worried after they cut the field down to only 9 contestants. I’d already watched American Idol and seen an entire hour go by only to learn that nobody was going to be eliminated there, so I wasn’t in the mood for any more shenanigans.
The 9 remaining girls will vote by secret ballot, choosing a girl eliminated earlier in the evening. The girl receiving the most votes will fill the final slot in the top 10. Geri’s Kids and Suzanne’s girls each vote for their old teammates, creating a two-way tie between Carrie and Jessica. John’s team rebels and decides that they are better off without Shauna. The first two girls split their vote, leaving Andrea to cast the final ballot and break the tie. She votes for Jessica, who comes back to a cacophony of cheers and tears.
Next week the 10 remaining girls will perform live and we will finally have the chance to vote as the first of the viewer elimination rounds takes place.
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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