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Toddlers and Tiaras: Worshipping for that Tin Crown

9 year old Daisy Duke costume on Toddlers and Tiaras
9 year old Daisy Duke costume on Toddlers and Tiaras
TLC

So after last week’s quasi-grudge match, Toddlers and Tiaras goes back to its normal format, featuring one or two nutty, over-the-top pageant families, and one relatively normal one. Only this time, it’s a Halloween themed pageant hosted by Mr. Todd, who has a costume change for every occasion. And then we hear from the pageant director for the first and only time in this show; she snots that glitz calls for plenty of naked little girl skin, and people who don’t like it just need to get over it. It seems a little random, but considering the hyper religiosity of one mother and the woohoo-my-sexy-nine-year-old mother, it makes a bit of sense.

(The director seems to have come down on the side of sexy nine-year-olds. Not like that’s a surprise for this show.)

First up: super adorable Hallee and her not-that-crazy mother. She dips her toes in the pool of pageant insanity: For one thing, she says that Hallee has been in two hundred pageants, which is an unbelievable amount for someone who isn’t even in kindergarten. She also pulls that distasteful “diva” crap, and says she was “put on Earth to serve” Hallee, as opposed to rearing and teaching her. However badly that may end up, though, Hallee is a normal-seeming kid, and when she runs around all silly for the cameras, her mother plays with her instead of scolding her for not working harder.

Even better, instead of the Pixie Sticks and Red Bull routine, Hallee’s pageant treat is beef jerky. And when she cries and protests about having to have the spray tan, her mother shrugs and says they’ll just do without it. At the pageant, Hallee’s costume is an adorable and age-appropriate Bo Peep outfit. She wins “Princess,” “Best Costume,” and one other crown plus some money. She and her mother are both pleased with the outcome.

So it’s sweet, but kind of boring. Fortunately, there’s no lack of inappropriate and loony elsewhere. Nine-year-old Chloe is introduced while she climbs the inside of a door jam, which is silly and charming, but it all goes downhill from there. Her mother Jaime (too bad that other TLC show already stole the pageant appropriate J’aime) is quick to explain all the things that are wrong with her daughter’s appearance: her features aren’t really pageant pretty; her brown eyes and dark blonde hair are boring and not nearly as pleasing as a blonde and blue eyed combo; she has a jack-o-lantern smile which is “gross.” Jaime talks in the first person plural (“We won the last pageant.” “We have to do well in this next event.”) and says that pageants are her job seven days a week. She knows very well that Chloe’s costume, which is Daisy Duke, isn’t appropriate, but she also doesn’t care. Chloe explains that her costume includes “booty shorts,” and her mother has certainly taught her to work them like a pro on stage. Jamie, during this performance, actually wolf-whistles at her and says “giiiiitttt it, girrrlllll!” in a cadence just like a slack-jawed cat-caller on a street corner.

It’s so incredibly gross, but it gets possibly grosser when Chloe’s competition, Maybre ( . . . no, seriously. And it’s not even the worst name of the night.), takes the stage in straight-up stripper gear, and gyrates and makes sex-face. It’s the sort of thing that feels a little like the enter viewing audience ought to turn itself in to their local police for having watched it. Anyway, Chloe gets first place, and Maybre gets second, which means they both get the giant spider crowns Chloe and Jamie were so excited about.

Finally, there’s a mother-and-daughter duo who is more much more wholesome, but actually even more fruit-bat nutty. Ca’Trina is a very, very religious woman. She talks to God unceasingly, incessantly. You know how four-year-olds go through that phase where they talk and talk and talk and you wonder how they’re still breathing since they don’t ever seem to pause for breath? It’s like that, only with praying. She at some point decided that she wanted to marry a man with a five-year-old girl whom she could put into pageants, and directed God to make it happen. God, perhaps hoping for a moment’s peace, delivered to her exactly what she had ordered. Which is how she came to be the mother of little (brace yourself if you care about the written English language) Saryniti (who even thoughtfully came with pageant-ready name. See? It really was Kismit! Or whatever the Pentecostal version of that is.) Ca’Trina ran right out and bought a china hutch with which to fill all the crowns and trophies Saryniti (prounounced "serenity," in case you're still going ". . . Sahrineetee?") will win.

Unfortunately, Ca’Trina has put all her faith in praying about every. single. step. she takes in her preparations instead of getting more Earthy advice. Their pageant coach is thirteen-year-old Cerena ( . . . sigh.), who has been Saryniti’s coach for about a week, and who has leant her “emerald green” dress (which in reality is a pale mint green) for the occasion. Saryniti’s hair and make up is being done by a friend of Ca’Trina’s, who didn’t bring a brush or hot rollers. Saryniti’s costume is a bridal outfit (because she’s so excited about Ca’Trina’s wedding to her dad a few months previously) which is at least not stripperrific, but she’s stiff and awkward and at one point during her routine she squats down like she’s peeing under the skirt. Ca’Trina, in the meantime, wears a shirt that says “Pentecostal Beauty” and explains that she’s been “praying and worshiping” all day so that God will cause Saryniti to win. Sarynity, perhaps less convinced that an all-supreme deity might care who wins a cheap little tin crown, hears the names of girls in other age groups and starts sobbing and hyperventilating because they aren’t’ calling her. Ca’Trina tries to reassure her, to little effect. Finally, she wins “Princess,” which is not really a winning title, but she doesn’t know that and is very pleased with her crown and trophy. Hopefully, Ca’Trina will “worship” her up a real coach and hair person next time.

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