Back in my commentary on Episode 2, when I said the producers of The Anna Nicole Show should make Bobby Trendy a recurring character, I never guessed things would end up like this. Bobby has been in every episode since, racking up more screen time than Kim and Daniel put together. And now the Trendy appearances have gone from a running subplot to a full-blown soap opera... and the fun and campy tone is starting to sour.
But there are other things of note in this installment besides the disgruntled decorator. This is the first episode where we've seen Anna Nicole taking an active role on her own throughout, doing stuff mostly without Howard or Kim there to support her. It's probably no coincidence that her behavior is not nearly so silly or goofy as usual, and her quirky quotations uttered this episode are few. When she deals with the outside world directly instead of through her retinue, Anna Nicole acts much more like the average reasonable person.
As this episode opens, we learn that Bobby Trendy has been crapping out on Anna Nicole. Finally losing her patience with Bobby's unreliability, she brings in another decorator, her friend Frankie Rodriguez, to pick up the slack. We see Frankie stapling up the long-anticipated wall of pink and white fur, not in stripes but in a big checkerboard.
Anna Nicole and crew are waiting around "as usual" for the tardy Trendy to show up with some unspecified furniture. They discover a spiteful message Bobby has left on the answering machine for Howard, announcing that he will not be "appearing" at Anna Nicole's house today. Bobby has his panties in a wad over Howard's demands and criticism, so he's decided to place an embargo on Anna Nicole's stuff. "I'm there to decorate, I'm not there to be judged," he says.
Furious, Anna Nicole tells Howard to call Bobby and tell him he better get her shit over there. But she makes the wiser decision to get him on the phone herself. When Bobby starts whining to her about Howard's attitude, she says, "This isn't between you and me, that's between you and Howard." Bobby promises he'll come right over do whatever she wants. But will the situation be that easy to sort out? To be continued...
Anna Nicole tells us she was on a tight schedule that day because she was hosting a party. This party is obviously taking place on a different day than the Bobby Trendy imbroglio, judging by Anna Nicole's outfits and the time of day, but that's entirely unimportant. This is perhaps the most surprising segment of The Anna Nicole Show to date: the humanitarian side of Anna Nicole Smith!
She is holding a special event for America Works for Kids, a non-profit organization that helps foster-care teenagers prepare for careers and develop self-esteem and independence. Anna Nicole invites a group of girls from the program to her home for a lunch/workshop that she calls "Follow Your Dreams." You might think this would be a disaster, and Anna Nicole would have no business being a mentor for special-needs kids. Well, maybe she's no Oprah, but I thought she did a damn fine job.
Some viewers might question what this event had to do with teaching kids about careers, since we mostly just see Anna Nicole handing out junk food and horsing around with the girls at the pool. But remember that E! wants to keep things entertaining, so there was probably a bunch of serious workshop-type stuff left on the cutting-room floor. We see Anna Nicole and Angie giving makeovers, and they probably talked to the girls about working in modeling and the beauty business. Anna Nicole also invites the girls to partake in another field of self-expression that she has taken an interest in, which is painting and drawing.
So maybe it's not the most practical seminar America Works for Kids would ever offer, but Anna Nicole's warmth and heart more than makes up for any shortage of real-world vocational advice. You might suspect that she's only doing this community-service stuff for the cameras, but she is so totally into it that I can't question her sincerity. Some of the girls seem a little weirded out by her at first, but I think by the end of the day they come to feel that this outrageous celebrity really does care about them. There's something nice about these underprivileged girls getting to see that they can aspire to be something more than waitresses or supermarket cashiers, since someone of Anna Nicole's stature started out just like them, and is still much the same as them on the inside.
People can go ahead and criticize Anna Nicole for her other antics on this show, but I have a real hard time understand how anybody could find anything wrong with her generosity and compassion for these kids. I just wanted to give her a big hug.
Now it's time to get back into the silliness and frivolity that we're more accustomed to. Faced with Sugar Pie's ongoing anxiety disorders that not even Prozac can cure, Anna Nicole has decided to consult a pet psychic. Amelia Kinkade is the "animal communicator" who comes calling at Smith Manor. Incidentally, an L.A. contact of mine informs me that Amelia (a.k.a. Mimi) was formerly an aspiring actress/model, appearing in the classic Stray Cats video "(She's) Sexy + 17."
According to Amelia, when Sugar Pie greets Amelia with a flurry of excited barks, she's saying, "I'm so happy you're here, because there's so much that I need to say, and the people around me are not listening." How desperate Sugar Pie must be, then, since she's been saying the exact same thing to Bobby Trendy, moving men, Chippendales dancers, and any other stranger that comes along. Amelia carries Sugar Pie upstairs for some one-on-one bonding time, attempting to use her powers of clairvoyance and "clairsentience" and stuff. Meanwhile, Sugar Pie is freaking out. This is really the first time we've gotten to see how bonkers she gets when separated from her mama.
Amelia returns Sugar Pie to Anna Nicole, confident that she has the solution for the poodle's neurosis: Sugar Pie needs a boyfriend. Anna Nicole explains that Sugar Pie already has two boyfriends, in the form of the teddy bears she habitually humps. Upon seeing a demonstration of Sugar Pie's affections, Amelia is only more convinced of her diagnosis. Anna Nicole just doesn't see how another dog is going to tear Sugar Pie away from her longtime stuffed companions.
Then Amelia seizes on the notion that Sugar Pie is mirroring her owner's psychological state, and trying to tell Anna Nicole that she needs a man, too. Anna Nicole doesn't appear too simpatico about this suggestion, which Mimi just will not shut up about. Anna Nicole remains polite, but it looks like she's thinking, "Look, bitch, I brought you here to be Sugar Pie's therapist, not mine." Perhaps further reflecting her mama's innermost thoughts, Sugar Pie lets loose a big stinky fart right in Amelia's face.
"Well, all in all," Anna Nicole says dismissively afterwards, "the psychic lady didn't tell me anything I didn't already know." Once again this episode, Anna Nicole proves she's not quite as dumb and superficial as people might think. Then again, she did hire a pet psychic in the first place, so the Nobel committee doesn't need to be considering her just yet.
And finally, it's time for the big showdown we've all been waiting for: Bobby vs. Frankie, Round 1. Bobby arrives and finds Anna Nicole in her bedroom with Frankie, and the two decorators exchange terse introductions. The mutual contempt is instantly palpable. Frankie later characterizes Bobby as a "big, flamboyant queen" who serves his own needs instead of his clients', and Bobby surely regards Frankie as a hack and an interloper.
Taking a passive-agressive tack, Anna Nicole pretends to focus on filing her nails while she asks Bobby where her stuff is. He still hasn't brought it with him, and only launches into his complaints about Howard's attitude. Howard wisely stays absent for this confrontation. The root of the problem is money. Howard has forced Bobby to cut corners to meet a restricted budget, and now Anna Nicole is dissatisfied with the compromised results. Sure, she only wanted foo-foo pillows, but she didn't realize she was buying foo-foo pillows that would fall apart in a week or two.
Having many years of experience in the professional services industry myself, I completely sympathize with the no-win situation Bobby finds himself in, but he's handling it entirely the wrong way. You do not punish a client because you're upset with the client's underlings, and you do not deliberately withhold goods from a client while lying that you'll do whatever you can to make the client happy. And if you sold the client crappy stuff, you've got to stand up and admit that it was crappy. Bobby's just being a dickhead here.
Frankie steps in and starts demanding answers from Bobby, and his intrusion doesn't go over too well. Searching for a way to discredit Frankie, Bobby asks him if he has a store. After all, in his terms, a designer without his own store would not be qualified to challenge one who does. But Frankie does have a store in Long Beach, and Bobby condescendingly insists on coming there "so I can see what you do." Bobby compliments Frankie's checkerboard of fur on the wall, until he touches it and remarks that he would have used padding behind the fur. "Every designer is different," he tells Frankie repeatedly, his thinly veiled way of saying "You suck."
Frankie keeps attacking the shoddiness of Bobby's pillows and bedding, and Bobby points the finger at penny-pinching Howard. A top-of-the-line set like that would normally be $12,000, but Bobby had to get the cost down to $1,500 for Howard, and Bobby insists that he delivered a lot for that low price. The gloves come off when Frankie says, "Actually, it's nothing, Bobby, for $1,500." Bobby sees red at this unmitigated insult and becomes semi-incoherent in defense of his work. He blusters that Frankie should fix it then, and pays more lip service to "making Anna happy." Then he's out of there. Anna Nicole is left to express her emotions openly at last, holding her breath with fists clenched in frustration.
"I'm mad," she tells us in the closer. "And when I get mad, I get even."
Oh man. Who knew bedroom decorating could become a thunderdome of blood-and-guts warfare? Somebody's not getting out of this alive, folks. Stay tuned...