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Review: The Mother/Daughter Experiment: Celebrity Edition

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The Mother/Daughter Experiment: Celebrity Edition cast of moms and daughters

I expected the new Lifetime show The Mother/Daughter Experiment: Celebrity Edition”to be lame.

Honestly, who doesn’t have some issues with their mother? All mothers and daughters argue and fight, and sometimes there are deeper issues involved. But I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was going to be so interesting about watching girls fight with their moms. Usually, that makes me uncomfortable.

I was sooo wrong. What a total freak show! I have been sucked in.

Now to be fair, I have to make fun of the title “Celebrity Edition.” In my quest to not make myself look like a moron, I went and researched to find the non-celebrity edition of this show. Like how WEtv’s “Marriage Boot Camp” did two seasons with the “Bridezillas” before they gave up on real people and moved on to “Reality Stars” only.

Yeah, no… this is the first season of The Mother/Daughter Experiment. They just want us to know it’s FAMOUS PEOPLE participating so we actually tune in. Nice marketing by Lifetime and 495 Productions. It worked.

The show’s psychologist, Dr. Debbie Magids, is funny as hell. Yes, she’s professional. But even she can’t keep a straight face as things begin to unfold. And this is the lady who did mental health evaluations on the cast of “The Howard Stern Show,” so she’s definitely no stranger to the bizarre.

Anything involving reality celeb Heidi Montag (oh pardon me, Speidi Pratt now) is guaranteed to have drama, but she outdoes herself in the first episode. She arrives totally shitfaced at the mansion where they’re staying for this therapy program and immediately picks a fight with Natalie Nunn.

And then she proceeds to barf her way down the hallway after a night of too much partying. Super classy. Her mother Darlene just looks mortified. I think she’s had that same look on her face for 10-plus years now, poor lady.

darleneheidiHeidi’s issues with her mother Darlene (pictured right) basically stem from the way her mother reacted to her prior behavior – like a zillion plastic surgeries all in one day (okay fine, it was only 10 in a day). Her mom seems pretty normal.

I’ve gotta say that I do think they had a breakthrough when they did the cemetery visit in the last episode. Heidi said all the right things, and I believe she meant them. She does regret all the pain she caused her mom, and how much she’s cut her out of her life.

Meanwhile, Natalie Nunn’s mom Karen is not at all what I’d expect. She’s totally normal, suburban-looking, and embarrassed. She just wants her loud, foul-mouthed daughter to shut up and stop bullying people. She didn’t raise that girl in the ghetto. She’s totally mortified by her daughter’s behavior and says so, repeatedly.

Natalie clearly makes great decisions for herself, including dropping out of college where she was a kick-ass athlete to become a reality TV star on the “Bad Girls Club.” And I thought my mom had it rough when I made “Wedding Island” for TLC. Not even comparable!

nataliekarenShe starts out this therapeutic experience picking fights and raising a ruckus, and taking entirely too much pleasure out of the gossip she’s picking up on her co-stars as they share their stories. When she THINKS she hears her name in another room, she pitches a fit and tells her housemates that they’re forbidden to use her name when she’s not present. Get over yourself!

But she goes from hot to cold pretty fast, and will bond with anybody over booze and bullying.

“At this place, we need a lot of MOMosas,” Heidi jokes with Natalie (pictured right) , when their moms are surprised to see their daughters start drinking alcohol at breakfast. They shouldn’t be surprised – both girls have been drinking all day on TV for years.

Natalie feels like her mom is ashamed of her, and her mother regrets her decision not to be involved in her life. But the truth is that her daughter does embarrass her and she has been ashamed.

jessJessica and Josie Canseco (pictured right) are just plain bizarre to watch.

The daughter is the adult, and the mom is like an obnoxious college girl, slamming down shots with the other daughters and having totally inappropriate conversations that mortify her daughter.

Poor Josie repeatedly asks her mom to cut it out, but Jessica can’t resist whooping it up and actually mocking her daughter for being the little old lady. Josie takes off in tears, and mom doesn’t even follow. She stays behind and plays #MeanGirl about her own daughter. WTF? It was painful to watch.

“Can’t you just take a Xanax and…” Jessica says when she finds Josie sobbing in the bedroom, upset about the way her mother had been behaving. By the way, three episodes in and you can already watch for the med pushing by this mom, instead of trying to fix the problem causing the anxiety.

After telling Josie to take a Xanax, she goes out into the hallway and starts making fun of her daughter. Josie could hear her, and it was heartbreaking. Kim Richards tried to intervene but Jessica wasn’t having any of it.

She doesn’t see anything inappropriate about her behavior. It was totally fucked up. What a royally mean bitch!

“I made other things a priority before Josie, and that was wrong,” Jessica admits in therapy. Sounds like she was never there for Josie’s school events or activities. But that doesn’t excuse or explain the way she acts.

kimKim Richards and her daughter Kimberly (pictured right) are far better mannered than the other mother/daughter pairs, but Kim’s not talking about all her addiction problems. It’s not like they’re a secret – we’ve all watched it unfold on the “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” and in the newspapers, after Kim got busted for shoplifting and arrested for behaving like an idiot at a hotel. Her daughter has spent most of her life worrying about her mother.

My observation: Kim’s still a big hot mess and Kimberly is justified in feeling anxiety. That’s not going to change till Kim’s clean AND not acting like a freak show in public on the regular.

“It’s almost impossible to never ever ever let somebody down,” Dr. Debbie encourages them to admit they haven’t been perfect to each other, always, like they’re claiming in therapy.

“I feel like I’m carrying two weights,” Kimberly talks about getting upset calls from her mom, who cries all the time. Gotta be pretty hard to be a normal college student when you’re watching your mom meltdown publicly. And repeatedly.

Kim starts threatening to leave from Day One. But the cemetery exercise in the third episode put her farther over the edge. Kimberly has to beg her to come to dinner instead of packing to leave. Kim claims the cemetery exercise was too much for her. It probably was. She’s not balanced. I’m actually starting to feel sorry for her.

“I cannot even go near a spiritual ground,” Kim says. “It’s just I can’t.” She believes spirits go into you when you walk in their space, or something. And she believes her daughter is an old soul. And this is when she’s sober. Okey dokey. Maybe she’s afraid she’ll be struck by lightning.

sharcassieShar Jackson and her daughter Cassie (pictured right) are the most boring pair, but in this group, that’s a compliment. I had no idea who Shar was – but then I recognized the younger her after a Google.

She was an actress and tried her hand in a pop group. Her biggest claim to fame (if you can call it that) is being dumped by Kevin Federline – for Britney Spears – while she was pregnant with K-Fed’s baby. No lie.

Shar has a freaky attachment to her daughter (not the one she had with K-Fed), who seems like a perfectly normal young woman.

Her ‘tween hero Britney Spears stole her mother’s boyfriend and her sister’s daddy, so she has every right to be a mess. But her biggest problem is getting out of the nest because mom is not letting go.

“My mom is a professional guilt tripper,” Cassie says her mom interferes in her growing up and having a real life. She had the gall to spend Thanksgiving with her boyfriend’s family, instead of her mom.

“Missing holidays is normal, especially when your daughter is growing up and she has a boyfriend,” Dr. Debbie says. Shar disagrees.

She also totally flipped out about going to the cemetery. Like in an unhealthy way.

“I think about this every day. After today, you’re going to have to carry me out of here,” Shar says.

“I think that has something to do with why you hold on so tight,” Dr. Debbie explains.

Shar starts melting down in the therapy room before they even leave for the cemetery, and she’s like a bad movie at the fake grave.

courtI saved the best for last. Courtney Stodden and her momager Krista (pictured right). Courtney is famous for marrying a 51-year old actor WHEN SHE WAS 16! Her mom released it all to the press, and she gained international attention as she was trying to launch her acting/modeling/singing career. That hasn’t gone very far, but she’s done quite a bit of reality TV.

While it’s obvious Krista has been exploiting Courtney for years, it’s revealed that she also tried to steal her own daughter’s husband. And she’s utterly unapologetic about it. She blames her son-in-law and says he asked her out first.

All of the other mother/daughter pairs are totally fascinated, listening to every exchange between Courtney and Krista. I can’t look away either – it’s like the “Anna Nicole Smith Show” – a total train wreck!

“It’s extra creepy to me,” Natalie says. “No one has asked her why she and her husband allowed her to marry this man.”

Yeah, that’s a whole other Pandora’s Box that hasn’t been opened yet in the series. No matter what the exercise is, her mom always brings it back to business. She regrets that her daughter isn’t a part of her talent management firm, she wants her to glad-hand her clients… in short, Krista wants to ride her daughter’s coattails for the rest of her life.

Maybe that would be fine if she wasn’t trying to get into her daughter’s husband’s pants!!! OMG!

“I think they have the most issues,” Jessica Conseco says. I’d say she’s right about that one.

Krista uses group therapy sessions to advertise her business, and even Dr. Debbie is trying not to crack up. Courtney is mortified, and irritated.

“Once again, we’re back to business. Everything has to be about business,” Courtney complains.

Courtney gets sick and they call an ambulance. Her mother claims she’s having sympathy sickness. I just think the crazy bitch wants screen time. She keeps asking Courtney if she might be pregnant – offering a pregnancy test – and generally being a pain in the ass. Dr. Debbie looks like she wants to toss her out of the room.

I didn’t expect to get sucked into this show, or catch myself checking Lifetime’s app to see if I’d missed one. And I didn’t plan to blog about. But now I’m fascinated.

Most of these celebrity mother/daughter pairs have the same problems as the rest of us normal people. Except Courtney and Krista – that mom is a whack job.

Jessica’s obnoxious – but we all have a friend whose mom doesn’t get that she’s not one of the girls. Josie’s mom is just like that, on crack. She would have done well on “Bad Girls Club” the way she likes to bully.

Kim Richards is battling addiction, and her daughter Kimberly is going through the same thing every child of an addict does – worrying all the time that something bad will happen. It’s just stress times 10 when everything that goes wrong is reported by TMZ.

Overprotective parents are the norm these days, Shar’s just a little too extreme. What’s going to happen is that she’ll drive Cassie away if she holds on too tightly – but they will get through this.

Heidi’s problems are far deeper than her mommy issues, but I’m hoping this show will bring them to a place where they can work together going forward. It really sounds like she needs her mother’s presence, advice, and good judgment. And maybe now she’ll let Darlene be a part of things. The problem is her husband Spencer Pratt, and if you’ve ever seen him in action, that condemnation requires zero explanation. He’s a piece of work.

Natalie Nunn and her mom are going to have to come to some sort of resolution about how Karen handles Natalie’s behavior. Honestly, that seems like the biggest problem. Because she doesn’t approve of the fighting and partying, she’s been AWOL for all of Natalie’s Hollywood events.

I think that’s going to change. Natalie has created this particular professional public image and if she loves her daughter, she’d going to have to tolerate it even if she doesn’t want to embrace it.

Courtney’s mom Krista needs to get a life. Her own life. And butt out of her daughter’s business. Literally. She’s done more damage than good. She sells (or gives, depending on whether you believe her) stories to the tabloids about her child.

She’s betrayed her in so many ways that I would never, ever trust that woman again. She’d make me not want to have kids because I wouldn’t want to let her play grandmother to anybody.

“Hey kids, let me tell you the story about the time your grandma tried to steal your daddy away from mommy,” I can imagine the conversation around the holiday table. It’s not like they’re never going to find out. It’s ALL out there in the media. Like absolutely everything.

I don’t know if I could handle two seasons of this show – it’s intense – but I’m committed to seeing this one through. Is it wrong to wish they could vote people off like in “Survivor?”

Sandy Malone is a reality TV star, expert wedding planner, and internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast's BRIDES and The Huffington Post, in addition to Monsters... read more
Sandy Malone

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