Last night’s premiere of Toddlers & Tiaras didn’t quite meet my expectations—but then again, who can really match the horror of Mackenzie Myers and Eden Wood? So let’s not talk too much about the female contestants. Laila and her mom Lauren kind of came and went; although she won Grand Supreme, it doesn’t seem like anyone had to sell their souls to the devil to get that far.
And sure, you had the pageant-obsessed mother Crystal and her overly-confident daughter Anna-Maria to provide some amusement. I did laugh when Anna-Maria said, ”It makes me sad when I don’t win ’cause I’m like, ‘This pageant is a lie.’” It’s clear that she gets her scary drive from her mother, who laughed at the fact that she chose pageants over Anna-Maria’s father. (Um, what?) So that was fairly amusing.
But let’s focus on the night’s craziest competitors: Mom Katie and her children Riley and Bob. Unlike Crystal, the kind of pageant mom who wants her daughter to be a skinny, beautiful pageant queen like she couldn’t be, Katie just seems like the creepy mom who has a weird hobby that she’s dragged her kids into. In fact, she even says, “When I found out I was pregnant with a boy, I was upset because we had the children to do pageants.” She follows it up with one of those I’m totally kidding, except I’m not laughs.
Lucky for her, her firstborn Bob — yes, that’s his name — loves pageants, and pageants love boys. In fact, he’s more into it than little Riley, even putting on fake eyelashes that she recoils from.
Unlike the shocker last season when a little girl waltzed on stage in a Pretty Woman hooker outfit, Katie and her doting husband take their inspiration from a reality star: RuPaul. Note the “language of drag” that they use when coaching their kids in the video below. (Though I doubt that Bob’s rattail is fierce enough.)
You have to wonder at the confusion of Bob and Riley since they’re acting like drag queens but dressing like heteronormative pageant contestants—her in a cowgirl outfit, him in a suit, both as elves. There’s a lot of push-and-pull between parents and children: At the “Merry Glitzmas” pageant, Riley went off-book in her dance performance and wound up charming the judges; Bob did the same, with less effect. You could tell that Katie was struggling not to shout at her kids for forgetting; at least she’s trying to remember that the pageant should be about them having fun, not the parents benefiting.
But ultimately Katie’s strange training paid off: Both Riley and Bob got Supreme Queen/King in their respective age groups. I wonder if aspiring pageant moms will make RuPaul’s Drag Race required watching during family dinners from now on.
But maybe they should shy away from all of Katie’s methodology, like when she confessed, “I’ve had [Riley] performing ‘Poker Face’ on the bar at Applebee’s.” We don’t need to see that.
I’ll close things out with an adorable quote from Riley: “I think I’m gonna win today ’cause I’ve never had big hair before.”