Catching Up on TV, Part 1: The Summer of the Stage Parents

Yes, it’s October, I know. But between reading, writing, and childcare I’m still working my way through my DVR from August (DVR may be this mom’s favorite technological innovation, behind the iPad which helps me AND Carston).

In previous summers I have done a wrap-up of stage moms and dance shows, but this year there were so many shows (either a good thing, or a scary thing, I can’t decide), I’m breaking up the post into two parts. So, look for my thoughts on dance next week.

In the meantime, I’m talking about three shows I’ve previously written about:

1) Bet on Your Baby– I was actually surprised when ABC brought this show back for a second season. Not only did I find it pretty abhorrent, but I didn’t think it got great ratings. Then again no Saturday night show is expected to draw a lot of eyes and this was probably pretty cheap for them to produce (you can tell from the hostess’ wardrobe that they tape many in a single day). Actually this season had even more sponsors (“Walmart With Every Little Step Babydome” and “Luvs Baby Bio”), but there was also more diversity in the contestants this season. For instance, there was a grandma and a mom and not just male/female couples. It also seemed like there was fewer psychology games/experiments and more “fun” games. Still, when a parent bet AGAINST their child it was pretty painful, especially when the child pulled through. In one case it ended ok because the family won fun college tuition at the end, but I still worry the little girl will think her dad doesn’t believe in her. One of the lines on the show seems especially true: “Where the stakes are huge and the competitors are miniature.” I still find the show in bad taste, though less so than before, and hope it isn’t back for season 3.

2) (Jon and) Kate Plus 8- This show came back for many more than three seasons and over the summer a one-off special ran updating people on the family’s progress. What was most talked about though occurred on the media tour for the special when Kate had a very awkward live appearance with her eldest twins on The Today Show. In this case the show may have helped protect the kids somewhat by having other adults around, and at least they are getting some more income. But the Kate popularity train has basically left the station completely and it’s all train wreck from here on out. Some day, one of them will write some tell-all. Nonetheless, I expect some sort of holiday special…

3) Kim of Queens– This show is still on, airing episodes from its second season, so I’m not completely tardy. And I actually like the show even more this season. The main reason why is that Kim Gravel remains the anti-Abby Lee Miller. In fact, she’s so anti-Abby she asks one of her paying clients to leave because she can’t deal with her mom, Angie. Angie and Marah still have appearances on the show (likely contractual), but even after Kim’s sister tries coaching Marah it’s clear Angie’s style just doesn’t gel with The Pageant Place. Good for them for standing their ground, and still being compassionate to Marah, while not worrying about the dollar and drama. I also love that Kim is aware it’s not about winning any one specific pageant, but about the process to eventually win a big pageant, like Miss Georgia or Miss America. I especially loved when one mom realized she likes her tomboy daughter better, and Kim agrees that for two girls pageants aren’t helping them. She knows they aren’t a panacea, however you look, and she comes across as caring– and funny. Someday I want to watch Miss America or Miss USA with HER!

Not all extreme parents shown on TV are stage parents, but believe me, quite a few are… Stay tuned for dance moms and dads next week for proof.

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