Crowned: Riches of Embarrassment

I don't know if there's a clearer sign that the writer's strike is killing good television than the insanity broadcast last night on the CW. Crowned offered up 11 mother-daughter pairings competing for a prize of $100,000 in what's being called "The Mother of All Beauty Pageants," but what a Boston Globe column more accurately called an "unintentionally sad little contest." It's a mother-daughter affair, which naturally provides all the usual nods to female jealously,competition, desperate grabs for youth, and boob tape. It's also a sob-stravaganza in which gentle Violins of Loss play whenever one of the teams invokes personal tragedy (a kidney transplant, a helicopter accident) as a way to justify their decision to participate in this embarrassment. But perhaps most important, and most depressing, it is hilarious. At least, the first episode - in which the pairs had to select a team name and compete in a "first impressions" round - was. I still haven't stopped laughing about the pair who thought to call their team "Silent but Deadly," and then looked thoroughly confused when the judges had to bite their lips and look down. (The SBD daughter had previously bragged that her mother holds a doctorate, which only goes to show that book learning really leaves out some crucial info.) And the pairing who promptly decided to carve themselves a big "I'm not here to make friends"-shaped hole introduced themselves with a bout of opera singing so upsetting it made the judges physically recoil. I guess what I'm saying is that I'll probably have to watch next week. But in the days between, please pray along with me for some closure at the WGA bargaining table - unintentionally funny can't stand in for real funny for much longer.

by Andi Zeisler
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Andi Zeisler is the cofounder of Bitch Media and the author of We Were Feminists Once: From Riot Grrrl to CoverGirl®, the Buying and Selling of a Political Movement. You can find her on Twitter.

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