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Rubbernecking: Charm School with Ricki Lake, Season Premiere

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The third season of Charm School is ready to introduce the Class of '09. Loyal viewers of this series (I hate to imagine, but there must be some out there) will recall that the first season of CS was hosted by the bodacious Mo'Nique, who was replaced the following season by Sharon Osbourne. This time the school bell rings with Ricki Lake as the headmistress, and the school deans are now Alani "La La" Vazquez (host of TRL and the reunion shows for Real Chance at Love and Flavor of Love) and Stryker (host of radio show Loveline).

As in previous seasons, the show's contestants are made up of the loser skanks from other VH1 dating series (for the first time, Bret Michaels' cast-offs are joined by those who didn't win in Real Chance at Love). The fourteen charm school students are supposed to undergo a transformation, and the one who makes herself over the best into a proper young lady wins $100K after ten weeks.

The bus pulls up to Charm School loaded with a plethora of hot messes. We've got Marcia, the lush from Brazil; Natasha, the girlboy; Brittaney Star, the ex-porn star; Beverly, the angry drunk single mother; Brittanya, the girl gang cheek stud babe (who's out on bail for the show); and Ashley, the chesty slutty stripper with the potty mouth. And that's only a few of them.

As soon as they possibly can, the girls all head for the open bar set up on the outside lawn and a few of them get sloppy drunk even before the pin ceremony when they formally meet Ricki and the Charm School deans. The thrust of this season is charity work -- giving back to society. The first challenge is to donate their clothing to a charitable organization that does work with AIDS patients.

The big drama for the first episode is Brittaney Star and Beverly who are oil and water; attacking each other verbally and, in Beverly's case, physically. After yanking Brittaney's hair, Beverly is expelled -- even before the first elimination. She drunkenly staggers down the hall, out the door, and back to her sorry life. Meanwhile, the girls have a mixer out by the pool -- only no one is mixing. The Rock of Love Bus Girls are guzzling down hard liquor and getting loud and crazy. The Real Chance at Love Girls are sitting primly in a corner of the yard, watching the other girls askance. Says Bay Bay Bay, "The Rock of Love girls make us look like angels."

The girls each meet with Ricki and the two deans, who then decide who will make Dean's List and who will be in the Hall of Detention. The Dean's List girls are exempt from elimination and the other girls are herded to another room to vote on which of them gets called on the carpet. Long story short, Gia is sent home since she's been slurping the silly sauce for hours and literally cannot stand up. She stumbles outside crying and has pretty much a breakdown outside the building, screaming with mascara streaking all over her face.

According to the VH1 blog, this season was far more intense than any previous 51 Minds production for the channel (other shows by 51 Minds are Rock of Love, Flavor of Love, I Love New York, The Surreal Life, For the Love of Ray J, I Love Money). One girl even said that, rather than go through this show again, "I'd rather eat my own face." Should be a wild ride. So far, besides the above mentioned histrionics, Brittaney Star tells Ricki she wants to empower women by directing porn; Bubbles confides that her deepest wish is to do cartoon voices; and Ashley sagely advises another girl to adjust her boobs so that they literally pop out of the top of her uniform. Charm School is back in session.

See Charm School with Ricki Lake on VH1 Monday nights at 9pm.

Read more of Holly Cara Price's ruminations on the slings and arrows of outrageous pop culture at Snoop* Du Jour.