March 31, 2014 in Reflections on Pop Culture
Photo from Lifetime’s Kim of Queens
I am not a TV snob. For every True Detective, Homeland, and Downton Abbey episode I watch, there are a number of sitcoms (Mindy!), reality TV shows (Project Runway!), and cooking shows (anything on Food Network!) that I watch as well.
If it’s a great show that I am passionate about, I will tell everyone about it, and I don’t care where it falls on the critically lauded list or in the ratings. But sometimes I watch shows that I know aren’t very good and I love them anyway. I quietly record them on my DVR, watch them in the privacy of my own home, and don’t say a word about them to anyone. They are my guilty pleasures, just like a box of Pop Tarts or an US Weekly magazine.
Today, that is going to change. I am going to let you in on my secret little world of bad TV and share two shows that deserve to see the light of day. Yes, they have their flaws, but so do I, and I am still worthy of a little love. These shows are too.
Lifetime’s Kim of Queens is an hour-long reality show about (gasp!) beauty pageants. As a college educated woman, I am at complete odds with the world of beauty pageants. I have made fun of some of the Miss USA’s contestants’ inability to properly frame a coherent response to an interview question. I have been aghast at what some of the mothers do and say to get their six-year-olds pageant-ready. And what good could possibly come from parading around a stage in a swimsuit? So why am I watching a reality show about beauty pageants?
I’ll tell you why: Kim Gravel.
Photo from Lifetime’s Kim of Queens
Kim Gravel is a pageant coach. She’s well qualified: she was one of the youngest contestants ever to win Miss Georgia. But she gives much more to these young pageant hopefuls than big hair and a lot of makeup; she is teaching these girls to be themselves.
How is she teaching young girls to be themselves when she’s making them use tan-in-a-can, false eyelashes, and packaging tape as a push-up device? As Kim says herself, her job is not only to make the girls beautiful on the outside, but to make them beautiful on the inside, although her version is more colloquial: “You can wear a burlap sack, girl; but if you got it on the inside, it shines on the outside.”
Kim has a southern accent to die for, striking blue eyes, a beautiful singing voice, a heart the size of Texas, and she knows exactly who she is. She does more than coach these girls; she folds them under her wing and inspires self-confidence, self-esteem, and a drive to improve. Kim tells it like it is, and sometimes that honesty can be tough to hear, but it always comes from a place of love and a desire for the best for these young ladies.
Kim is larger than life, funny, real, and confidant, and she commands every second of screen time she is in. She is flanked by her younger sister, Allisyn (comic relief), and her mother Jo, who is the very definition of a southern lady. Some of the pageant “moms” are over-the-top to the point where I wonder if some of their antics have been staged, which is too bad because there is plenty of depth to be mined there already. But the heart of the show is the interactions between Kim and her girls. She is a mentor, a friend, an advocate, a counselor, and a believer in her pageant contestants and their potential. “I see things in young girls they don’t see in themselves,” she says, and she is committed to helping her girls discover and believe in their own strengths.
Every hour I spend watching Kim of Queens is an hour filled with laughter, tears, sweet “aaahhhh” moments, and a fervent wish that I had had a Kim Gravel in my life when I was going through those awkward teen years. Honestly, I could use a Kim Gravel in my life right now (she is a life coach), but I’ll settle for the next best thing: watching Kim of Queens on Tuesdays at 10:00pm on Lifetime.
Stay tuned for my other Guilty Pleasure!