Well, this was an interesting week. I hope everyone reading this from the East Coast of the States is safe after Hurricane Sandy. Our family got very lucky as we live on relatively high ground, and our thoughts are with those who weren’t so fortunate as they begin to pick up the pieces.
One thing that’s been very frustrating to me as this season airs is not knowing what is coming, since we don’t get advance screeners of each episode. It’s yet another thing I can’t control, which by now probably doesn’t surprise anyone that it would make me crazy. Simon’s take on this week is on VH1′s site here.
Every single participant (well, except one,) shared incredible, immensely personal stories of baggage they carry from childhood. I was sorry that not every story was shown, but otherwise it would be a three-hour special. Suffice to say, by the time Dr. Jenn came to Courtney, we were all taken aback when she refused to participate. Perhaps we shouldn’t have been – we should have expected it given her behavior leading up to that moment, but it was a room full of emotionally raw, spent humanity, and we hoped for the best. We didn’t get it, and the collective feeling was…get this kid out of here.
Just as we never let our two boys watch reality TV or any other grownup programming, just as we shoo them out of the room for discussions that are over their heads or too much to carry for their current emotional development, it was clear that Courtney could not hold her own. I was disappointed the viewers didn’t see Doug’s story – his brave willingness to open his soul was a striking contrast to his wife’s, and gave a major clue as to why they are together. That when this episode was edited his wife’s behavior overshadowed his therapy process, is an interesting metaphor. While everyone else was diving deep into their psyches, Courtney hung on by using the only tool she had – her sexuality. It was very telling to me that she couldn’t separate her manner of dress and grooming from her personality – take away all the surface phoniness, and what’s underneath? She proved she was too afraid to find out.
Tiny’s bravery blew me away this week, and the gentle strength and support that JoJo gave her was evidence of his ability to cope and overcome. I hope that he can turn that inward as well.
On Dr. Jenn’s blog she describes a Lord of the Flies atmosphere, and she was correct. However, I believe that it was too much to expect for things to have turned out differently. From the very first day, all of us complained loudly about what we called stunt casting, and were stonewalled. Some half-hearted measures were taken, such as a lot of lip service and finally the dress code, none of which worked. In any case, I felt that Dr. Jenn was hesitant to throw Courtney out because of the TV aspect – as far as I am aware it was not her decision to cast them. Also, I am really, really sick of people misusing the term “bully” as an excuse for their own inappropriate behavior – can’t get away from that on reality TV, it seems. Did we all sink to a 17 year old level? Absolutely. If we had to do it all again, would it play out the same way? Probably.
One thing I would like to clarify about my own childhood story is this – my reluctance to invite my mother to join us in therapy was mostly about the TV cameras. While I was certainly afraid of dredging up old news, the biggest stumbling block was doing family therapy on TV. My beautiful, strong mom is a very private person, and asking her to join me on a 24/7 film set was an overwhelmingly scary prospect. My mother had been horrified by the satirical spin placed on my life on Housewives, and had less than zero trust (as I did initially) about what could be created in an editing suite with televised therapy sessions. To find out what happens with all this….keep watching.