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'Famous in 12' recap: #SteppingUpTheirGame

Season 1 | Episode 2 | “Fast Cars and Fancy Fur” | Aired June 10, 2014

As Harvey Levin reminds us at the beginning of each episode of Famous in 12, this show is a 24/7 experiment, a word that literally means “a test.” So this week I’ve decided to play not only the role of recapper, but also that of teacher, and give the Artiagas and their crazy plots to become popular letter grades. And to answer the question I’m sure all you haters out there are asking: No, suspension or expulsion are not options.

Before I get to the schemes and fights, however, I have to make an audacious statement: I was kind of entertained by the Artiagas this week. Do I still think the premise of this show is ludicrous and that each hour watched is an hour of my life that has trickled down the drain of regret? Sure. But listen, if I’m watching for the next 10 weeks, I might as well join in. And I have to say, this week I found myself feeling like the family was starting to get in the game. They were suiting up and taking the field, so to speak, and I started to feel like I might want to cheer for them after all.

Scheme #1: The Photobomb. Grade: B+

photobombMomager Angie tells the girls they’ll need to step up their game this week, so Taliah decides to cause a “media frenzy” and photobomb real celebrities. I mean, everyone’s doing it, right?  The girls go to Craig’s in West Hollywood, a restaurant favored by celebrities, and sit outside amidst all the paparazzi waiting for someone — anyone — famous to exit. Sure enough, the paps’ bulbs begin to flash and out walks Shelly Sterling (Donald Sterling’s ex-wife). Snore. But she’s famous for pretty much the same thing these girls want to be famous for, so they’re ecstatic. Jameelah immediately grabs Shelly — whom she does not know — and shields her from the paparazzi and tries to lead the former Mrs. Sterling to the car, making sure to point her own face directly into the cameras the entire way. As you might expect, Shelly is a bit freaked out by Jameelah’s aggressive behavior and ends up escaping her clutches. After she leaves, the girls hold an impromptu press conference with the paparazzi, who ask them a bunch of questions about Mrs. Sterling that they cannot answer because they only like to watch themselves on TV. I mean, I’m assuming.

Scheme #2: Wearing Fur for PETA. Grade: C-
Jameelah decides she needs to work on her brand, and since she’s always liked PETA, she devises a way to not only get noticed, but do something positive at the same time: She gets naked. Holding puppies.

PETA1.jpgWith sister Maariyah there to not just remove her bra but capture all the tastefulness with high-quality cell phone pictures, Jameelah poses with two adorable, stunned-looking yet extremely well-behaved pups in hopes of landing a billboard deal. Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t PETA stand for “People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?” Just sayin’.

Later, Jameelah continues to keep it classy by walking into PETA’s offices in her lacy panties and with only a giant poster of herself and the puppies covering her topless chest. She tells the mustached receptionist (straight out of central casting from Anchorman, I think) that she wants to be in a PETA campaign. As he understandably hesitates but makes a call (surely the cameras and giant boom mic following the girls are an indication that this is something real), Maariyah leans over to Jameelah and in a stage whisper says, “If he says ‘no,’ then what you’re gonna do is go on a topless rampage.” Close it up, ya’ll. Maariyah just won this whole thing, and it’s not even a contest.

After a pretty comical discussion with the two PETA campaigners about how the organization inspired her during a ninth grade dissection incident — and showing them other photos of herself naked in a furry bear hood and giant paws — Jameelah is crushed to learn that they won’t feature her on a billboard, but will instead work with her in a demonstration. No word on the lasting effects on the puppies.

Scheme #3: Drop Beats, Not N-Bombs. Grade: B-
Harvey calls Angie and tells her that the family needs to capitalize on the Justin Bieber racial slur video that’s been making the news, because that’s how you become famous and keep it classy, I guess. The family hustles up some posters and parks themselves on the corner of Ventura Blvd., picketing against racism. When motorists start to yell at them, DJ Mike fantastically fires back with, “Drop beats not N-bombs!” That’s how you keep it classy, and if you’re a DJ, it’s how you keep it real. If it wasn’t for that, I’d have given this scheme a D. You go, DJ Dad.

Scheme #4: Gay Icons. Grade: A

PETA.jpgSince TMZ has gotten the girls into the Gay Pride Parade with the important job of marching behind the TMZ bus, they decide to head down to Santa Monica Blvd. the night before to meet people and convince them to cheer for them the next day. They figure that “whipping people into a frenzy” will certainly help boost their popularity, and besides, they have a lot in common with gay people, being that they’re outsiders and not always accepted (hey, I didn’t say it, they did). The proud gay folk love them! They promise to cheer for them! They compare nail polish and exchange fashion advice! The next day the girls prance behind the TMZ bus and, as expected, get lots of attention from not only the spectators, but from the media as well. Making friends already. Well played, girls. 

Scheme #5: Doggie Park. Grade F, or “Bye, Felicia.”
With the PETA branding idea a flop, Jameelah obviously still has puppies on the brain. She decides that a good way to get celebrities to be her friend is to rent a dog and loiter at a local dog park. And yes, apparently you can rent a dog in Los Angeles.

Armed with an adorable Pomeranian named Bitsy, Jameelah begins walking up to strangers and immediately asking them what they do. If they’re not famous (or on the path to becoming famous), Jameelah tells them, “Bye, Felicia!” which is what she says to people who are akin to “a gnat at a BBQ.” (Again, totes not me saying these things. I couldn’t even make this stuff up.) As you might imagine, this scheme isn’t a success. But hey, she totally treated Bitsy ethically, so that’s something, right?

Not a scheme, but something I must include:
Angie is reading her girls a sweet bedtime story that she herself penned, called “Platonic Fingers.” (Don’t forget, momager Angie is a wannabe erotic fiction writer.) The girls are disgusted, as is my 18-year-old daughter, who is sitting next to me rocking and singing loudly with her fingers in her ears. Jameelah tells her mom the story is “too dirty,” but Maariyah, the “World’s Sexiest Virgin,” feels it’s “just sexy enough.” A big argument ensues about who is qualified to edit erotica (certainly not the virgin!), and Maariyah once again wins me over with this comment: “So no one should edit a sci-fi novel, because they haven’t been in that situation?”

At the end of the week, Harvey Levin meets with the family to give them his “reality check,” and let’s just say it could’ve been better. The formulas from the social media week have been tabulated and analyzed (don’t ask), and the results are in:

DJ Mike: Nobody cares. (I do! Hey, Mikey! I like you!)

Maariyah: Disappointed with her hashtagging. Apparently the “World’s Sexiest Virgin” tweeted over 500 times and only used that as a hashtag twice. #shameful

Angie: Needs to focus on promoting her family more than the show, and needs a hashtag. #platonicfingers

Taliah: Ditto with the hashtag. When she stopped using #iamtaliah she lost her traction. #hashtagsforever

Jameelah: Voted most interesting … because “people don’t like you.” #backhandedvictory

The episode ends with another epic fight in which everyone gangs up on Jameelah because she’s the most hated, but most popular, but fake, but not fake, I guess. I’m not really sure why they’re all mad at her. I’m just still trying to forget I heard the words “platonic fingers.”

Catch new episodes of Famous in 12 (rated TV-MA) on Tuesdays at 8/7 C  on The CW, and more of Michelle’s posts at You’re My Favorite Today.