Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Reviews: Television: Flavor of Love Girls, Charm School

Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School. Sunday, 10 pm, VH1.

Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School (or VH1 Program Development: Out of Ideas) is off to a slurry, jiggly, inauspicious start. In the premiere episode, the ironically-cast host cum headmistress Mo’Nique strips the contestants cum students of the nicknames Flavor Flav gave them in the original series, Flavor of Love. This was a counter-intuitive move because, as every good debutante knows, cutesy calling cards like Kitten or Muffy or Mimzy are the hallmark of high society. Maybe “Buck Wild” (Christian name of Becky) isn’t quite what a young lady of distinction would like to be called, but at least it’s a start.

Later in the same episode, Mo’Nique reveals the Ten Commandments of the acrimonious academy. Mixed metaphors aside (perhaps producers should consider “codes of conduct" in lieu of “commandments,” in the unlikely event this series gets picked up for another season), Charm School has got it all wrong. The commandments amount to little more than bizarre non-sequiturs, seemingly strung together after too many boxes of wine. “Check thyself before thou wreckest thyself” is a nice sentiment, and the faux Bible-ease is a fun touch, but its relation to etiquette is tangential at best. Other directives, like “Thou Shall Goeth, Girl,” and “Thou Shall Represent,” sound more like abominable tokens of third-wave feminism than phrases you’d hear sipping Tom Collins’ by the pool at the country club.

Ultimately, Charm School is hindered by conceptual problems: its execution is antithetical to its concept. Reality television is inherently lacking in acceptable decorum. All of the subtlety of climbing the social structure is lost on the girls in favor of cat-fights, temper-tantrums and uncontrollable sobbing. The real test will not be to determine who comes out a lady, but rather who can fake it long enough to take home the fifty grand. - Amber Sutherland

Rating: When charm is on the line, there are no winners.

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