We're about a week late getting to this show — about a former Playmate and her three arguably pretty, definitely wild daughters — but we finally watched it last night and had to say something because it is seriously terrifying.
Have you seen it? If not: It's on E! (of course) and is about Andrea Arlington, an impossibly wide-eyed (like literally, physically wide-eyed) former Playboy model raising her three precocious wannabe model daughters (Tess, Alexis, Gabby) in some dreary corner of Los Angeles. That on its own doesn't sound terribly remarkable, maybe like a younger version of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. But then you look a tiny bit closer and you realize that there is a whole host of other crazy going on.
- In one episode, middle girl Alexis is arrested for being part of a roving band of young Hollywood burglar that robbed the likes of Hayden Christensen, Paris Hilton, Rachel Bilson, Audrina Patridge, and Lindsay Lohan of some $3 million in jewels and other trinkets. Her legal troubles feature prominently on the show.
- When Alexis is arrested, the mom and other sisters hang outside the police station, reveling in the "millions of paparazzi" (about four) who have showed up to document their woes. The paparazzi crew was almost certainly dispatched by E!
- The mother has a series of bizarre exercise contraptions that are like something out of The Road to Wellville.
- There's a step-father involved who seems to have an uncomfortably close physical relationship with (at least) the youngest daughter, sixteen-year-old Gabby. (Lots of hugging, cuddling, etc.) That's probably me just looking a little too much into things, but it's creepy and unsettling and, in a strange way, the mom seems to know that something is off.
- Mom home schools the girls, basing the entire curriculum on "the movie The Secret." Last night she had the girls do an important assignment where they flipped through magazines cutting out pictures of inspirational people. All of the magazines were fashion magazines.
- The family has regular Buddhist- and The Secret-inspired prayer sessions, blesses a new rental house with incense, and have enormous golden Buddhas everywhere. The mom is an ordained minister in The Secret.
- The girls have a stripper pole installed in the house and regularly use it, to the delight of their mother. (And possibly the step-father.)
- Update: I forgot to mention and a commenter pointed out below that the mom gives out Adderall to her girls every morning like vitamins.
After all this unpleasant business, the gang tries to have nice sentimental family moments for the cameras, as if they've earned anything but us shrieking at them. (I believe my refrain last night was "This woman should be thrown in jail," about the mom.)
I know much noise has been made for years and years about reality television and how awful and soul-sucking it is, how it's destroying society, and that that moany intellectual trope has gotten cliched and tired. But seriously guys this show must represent some new nadir of the form. It's reality grubbing that's self-aware in certain depressing, cynical ways but at the same time completely clueless too. Tiresome comedienne Chelsea Handler is a producer on this heap, which must be because she thinks it's funny to encourage the insane family to hang themselves with their own desperation. And the show is certainly edited to mock the poor creatures. And yet the cast seems to think, in some small way, that this show is an actual Thing that will get them real places. They play up the sexy theatrics so much — because ridiculous shit like that gets good ratings — that I think they've gone over the top to the point that it's come full circle and is weirdly real. They aren't people pretending to be reality stars. They're reality stars pretending to be people. And that is scary to behold.
That said, you simply have to watch it. At least one episode. Something involving The Secret. It's really something.