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Sundries
...a sweatshop of moxie

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Ladettes & Joes

I am not much for reality shows, which is why sadly, I cannot participate in the doubtlessly excellent Althouse threads surrounding these programmes.

But by chance, I did catch two reality shows last night, on rather obscure channels at that, which might be of interest to my readers.

If there is enough feedback, I can even attempt some threads about the shows, so let me know if your interest is peaked.

Ladettes to Ladies, is an ITV reality show which debuted this past Thursday, at 9-10 PM EST.

For whatever reason, the progressive Sundance Channel decided to purchase the rights and is the reality show's American host.

(I won't point you to a website, because I fear I will accidentally find out which girl won -- this series having already played in the UK, of course)

The premise is simple:

10 women compete to transform themselves from ladettes (working class tomboys vying for the Eliza Doolittle Award) to ladies.

This comes courtesy of a team of "Finishing School" matrons at Ecclestone Hall, a stately manor home which is supposed to provide the perfect setting for these mass transformations.

Have I lost you so far? Hang on. It gets better.

The kicker is that some of the girls were "nominated" by their peers or families, and don't want to be there at all, unlike most reality shows which are usually populated by eager volunteers.

You'd think that some of these girls, then, would kick and neigh their refusal to be gentrified, and you wouldn't be wrong.

They swear, they drink to excess, they have no concept of how to act in public, because they (a) were never taught to, (b) never felt they had to act "feminine", (c) didn't care beans about it.

The instructors are all of them, past mistresses in the art of being ladies, and trust me you lads reading this, it's an art all right.

It's not just being able to walk and talk properly, but it's about being good conversationalists, good dressers, and very good hostesses, who enjoy fine living for the pleasure it gives others, as much as themselves.

Finishing schools used to be quite popular in the 1930s to the 1950s, when they were populated by rich Americans, who however became so rich so fast, that the families didn't know how to behave when they moved up in the world.

Americans called these private classes in etiquette, "Charm Schools", and a few exist even today, all around the UK, Switzerland, France, and the US.

The UK ones follow a set pattern:

  • You get lessons in deportment (learning how to carry yourself publicly)


  • Lessons in grooming (appearance is your social calling card)


  • And elocution (how you sound, is not just a matter of choosing "big words")


  • Practically speaking, the instructors teach you how to eat, talk, dress, set a table, cook a fine meal, and know what is expected and allowed, versus what is demanded and unexcused.

    These social graces might seem fuddy-duddy to many, but Finishing Schools are today as in demand than ever.

    Instead of the tonnes of American ketchup and toolbelt heiresses, now these institutes cater to Russian mafia and Arab oil-rich girls whose parents want entré to a social world previously closed to them.

    And it's not just the girls, but many boys are now sent to these schools, since you can never know just how difficult an artichoke is to eat, until you've tried it.

    I wasn't sent to Finishing School, since my own school was supposed to fulfill this purpose, but I know all too well the paces these ladettes will be put through.

    Already the first episode gave us a surprise: not just one, but 2 girls were eliminated.

    To me, the second shock of the night was, how much the rest of the girls desperately wanted to stay, despite many of them being very rebellious about the whole situation in the beginning.

    Perhaps something deep inside them, realises that though their way feels good, like an old shoe whose contours feel comfy and worn, the new way is a peek into a life of endless possibilities and associations.

    Any good reality show needs to have the promise of a rainbow, even if in this reality show's case, this happy show of colour at the end, will only shine from inside.

    Incidentally, my mother noticed that these instructors often look a bit ungroomed themselves.

    A typical Finishing School mistress is very similar to one of the two remaining "Fat Ladies", Clarissa Dickson Wright, the blonde heifer shown here to the left.



    Clarissa had indeed been once, a Finishing School marm, though a more slovenly looking creature you've never seen.

    And one of the Ladettes instructors could be her twin...

    Well. No one said being a lady was easy.

    The second show is Pros versus Joes, Mondays at 10-11 PM EST, on Spike TV, the male equivqlent of the Lifetime Channel.

    "Each week, three ordinary “Joes” go up against former “Pros” in a variety of sports challenges — some related directly to that pro's sport and others that aren't.

    For instance, in the first episode, the “Joes” try to cover Jerry Rice and prevent him from scoring as he catches passes from Jim McMahon.

    They also take on Bill Goldberg in a wrestling ring, which — like trying to stop Rice — is not easy. Neither is trying to get a rebound against Dennis Rodman."

    Renato called me on Monday, and suggested I should watch it, which I did.

    First up, were three very competitive reality show stooges trying to get a hit off off Jennie Finch, the US Softball pitching babe.

    (How tall is she? She towered over Mugsy Bogues, which admittedly, even I do)

    Only one tagged her for a hit, although she made all 3 look very silly, since they couldn't lay off the high heat.

    (Neither could I, truth be told. I was always a sucker for the up and ins, which are murder to us lefty-hitters. If you're wondering, they made me short-stop, emphasis on the "short" bit)

    The other pros were Bill Romanowski, that nutcase, Mugsy Bogues, the smallest NBA player ever, and Dan O'Brien, Olympic decathlete champion who however, has to work on his skeet. And did I see Bo Jackson too? A bit before my time, alas.

    Most of these athletes, with the exception of Jennie Finch, are way past their sell-by date, so at first you're like,

    "Come on, this is silly. Dennis Rodman can't even rebound Carmen Elektra anymore, let alone on the basketball court"

    But oh no.

    He might not be good enough to play professional b-ball anymore, but he can more than hold his own against the Schmoes they had playing against him.

    The same is true for almost all the athletes I saw in this episode, although all had obviously lost a step due to age and lack of conditioning.

    Even Jim McMahon could still sling it around, despite still looking like he is on a permanent Colombian gold high.



    What makes it intriguing is that the viewer wonders how he or perhaps even she, would do against these legends of old.

    I really enjoyed the heck out of these two reality shows, and despite not having had the gumption to carry out my promise to watch The Donald's The Apprentice this season, I can offer you more updates about the ladettes and the jockettes, as the episodes unfold.

    You in, or out?

    8 Comments:

    • I don't think I will be watching either of those. However, I probably could get into Ladettes vs. Joes!!!

      By Blogger Jose Aguirre, at Tue Mar 14, 08:39:00 am GMT-5  

    • I came here for Tarzan and all I got was this reality show blog:)

      The Pros vs Joes is interesting because it allows the viewers to have fun seeing high school jocks who used to tease them get whipped by real athletes. A couple of the contestants from last night still thought they were jocks. A couple of those tackles taught them differently.

      How long will they stay a lady before they revert back a ladette? I'm not sure people can change that much of who they are. They can probably smoothen out some of the rough edges but I'm not sure they will be trading pints for flutes anytime soon.

      By Blogger Renato, at Tue Mar 14, 03:56:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I don't think I will be watching either of those.

      Spoilsport!

      It seems the readers I have here are not as big into TV as on other blogs?

      Truth or lie?

      However, I probably could get into Ladettes vs. Joes!!!

      Whoa, good idea!

      And believe me, those girls could drink the Joes under the table.

      One girl said, when the Finishing School instructors allowed them the treat of a night out at the village pub, that they "only" had £10 worth of pints, rather than the £40 they knock back usually...

      40 pounds is approximately 60 dollars.

      I could buy 2 books, and still treat myself to a Neiman Marcus pashmina with that.

      What fools these Ladettes are.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Mar 14, 05:00:00 pm GMT-5  

    • I came here for Tarzan and all I got was this reality show blog:)

      All's fair in love and blogging. :)

      The Pros vs Joes is interesting because it allows the viewers to have fun seeing high school jocks who used to tease them get whipped by real athletes.

      Heh. I hadn't thought of it that way.

      And yet, I think that's a very male point-of-view.

      I don't think one woman watching a jockette go up against Jennie Finch, would have that same glee.

      Maybe though. Who can really say. :)

      A couple of the contestants from last night still thought they were jocks. A couple of those tackles taught them differently.

      True! However, that annoying Greg guy, with the trash-talking mouth, did score some points off of Dan O'Brien.

      And the other little fellow, Eric, had such a competitive gleam in his eye, as he twice evaded a Romo tackle.

      How long will they stay a lady before they revert back a ladette?

      It depends on the ladette. :)

      I'm not sure people can change that much of who they are. They can probably smoothen out some of the rough edges but I'm not sure they will be trading pints for flutes anytime soon.

      I kinda disagree.

      Perhaps not about these girls, but that you cannot change (although my shrink mother tends to agree with you...must be the psychologist fraternity ;).

      True character change may be difficult to impossible, but the externals can surely change, because they have throughout history with some people.

      It strikes me the most successful changes depend on just how much the person doing so, wishes the change, and why.

      Some people are embarrassed of their backgrounds, their associations and their behaviour.

      Most of us think that's a bit sad, and we look down upon people who think this way, but let's face it:

      As uncomfortable as this makes us, there is nothing like embarrassment to change the world.

      Cheers,
      Victoria

      By Blogger vbspurs, at Tue Mar 14, 05:15:00 pm GMT-5  

    • The only "reality" show I watch with any regularity is "Survivors" and I got hooked on that when they had that bear, I mean Rupert, as a contestant.

      I think "Pros vs Joes" might be interesting, simply because you aren't expected to follow the travails of a group from week to week to some conclusion. So it seems more like a game show.

      But I haven't got cable, can't afford it, and only have a few tv shows I like. NCIS, CSI, House, and a few sitcoms, are about it.

      I can't imagine yet another show with scummy people in it being enjoyable. I could watch Jerry Springer for the $60-at-a-pop drinker types. Yeesh!

      Sorry, ma'am, but I'll read ANYTHING you post. I won't watch those shows! LOL

      By Blogger benning, at Wed Mar 15, 10:30:00 am GMT-5  

    • "let me know if your interest is peaked"
      The following is a public service announcement from the Over-starched – Underpants Wearers Union of America: I think you meant “piqued”, Victoria.

      in admiration,

      By Blogger Carlo, at Thu Mar 16, 02:46:00 am GMT-5  

    • austum, no disrespect to you but how very dare you refer to Clarissa as a blonde heifer?? she is probably a million times a wonderful lady....than...you will um ever be???? And "slovenly creature"...?? How about "saad creature.." oh that woudl be you my friend.

      By Anonymous jSaraB, at Fri Jan 16, 07:57:00 am GMT-5  

    • ladettes versus sadesttes me thinks.

      By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Jan 16, 08:00:00 am GMT-5  

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