The Anna Nicole Show Fan Site

Episode Guide

Episode 8:
“Everything’s Relative”

Anna Nicole gets a surprise visit from a dentally impaired cousin, and makes surprising visits to mentally impaired interviewers, and comes out of both traumas smelling like a rose. Or a pickle.
(Aired September 29, 2002)

The Anna Nicole Show

One reason why so many people dislike Anna Nicole and her show is that they refuse to admit how normal she is. Yes, that's right, I said normal. As outlandish as she may be in countless respects, the fact remains that she is a heck of a lot closer to reality than what we're accustomed to seeing on television. You think she's enormously fat and incredibly dumb? Go out into the real world and check out how many people are fatter and dumber than she is, and she begins to look downright average. It's easier to call Anna Nicole a freak than to acknowledge that our media-indoctrinated standards of judgment are ludicrously unrealistic. Her loudest critics are probably the ones most terrified to recognize a little bit of Anna Nicole in themselves.

Some of the finest moments of The Anna Nicole Show have involved encounters that put Anna Nicole's eccentricities in proper perspective. We've seen Bobby Trendy being more excessive than she is, and Amelia the pet psychic being loopier than she is, and Howard being more of an asshole than she is. And now we get to see her country-fried cousin being a lot more redneck than she is. Yeee-HA!

The Anna Nicole Show It all begins one day when Anna Nicole's taking a nap on her Bobby Trendy sofa. (This is the first episode since the premiere that Bobby doesn't appear in, and I think we can all appreciate taking a little break from him.) There's a knock at the door, and as Howard says, "all hell broke loose." He goes outside to discover a camera crew and a semi-toothless young woman named Shelly Cloud, who says she's Anna Nicole's cousin. Howard has never seen her before, but he recognizes the filmmakers: they're doing an unauthorized documentary on Anna Nicole, and he has previously refused to have her participate in their film. And here the bozos are on her doorstep. The only reason Howard doesn't give them the bum's rush is that he feels sympathy for Shelly, seemingly the unwitting pawn in a sleazy ploy for primo candid footage.

Howard wakes Anna Nicole to tell her about Shelly's requests to see her. Anna Nicole flatly declines and rolls back over. She has obviously had some bad experiences with opportunistic interview-seekers, and she has obviously had some bad experiences with her family. She's said before that as far as she's concerned, Daniel is her only family. Howard passes along the word to the film crew and Shelly, and she breaks down in tears. She says she only wants to see her cousin and tell her she loves her. So Howard presents Shelly's case to Anna Nicole a second time, but she remains unreceptive. "How dare them do this to me?" she says.

When Howard tells Shelly it ain't going to happen, she glares into the E! camera and spits, "You know what, Vickie? Thank you a whole lot!" But still she hangs around outside, peeping through the glass at the top of Anna Nicole's front door. Our gang find themselves holed up in a bizarre siege. "A celebrity has absolutely no privacy," Howard moans, and surely he must recognize the irony of having that lament recorded by the TV cameras inside the house. The private life that he's so ardently safeguarding has been broadcast to the world for the past two months. Of course, there's a huge difference: the unauthorized documentary doesn't want to pay for the intrusion.

After Shelly finally gives up and leaves, Howard finds a note and some snapshots she has left at the door. Anna Nicole flips through the photos, reminiscing about old times. Howard says he couldn't tell whether Shelly's age was 25 or 50 because of her lack of teeth, but she's actually young enough that Anna Nicole used to change her diapers.

"I fixed her teeth before," Anna Nicole remarks as if astonished by Shelly's poor dental condition. "They were all black right here, and I fixed 'em to where they were all white and pretty. I guess she f***ed 'em up again or didn't take care of 'em." That has to be one of the weirdest things Anna Nicole has ever uttered. "Fixing" teeth? I can't imagine what kind of orthodontic work young Vickie Hogan was performing on her kinfolks back in Mexia. Amazing...

Warmed by the old memories, and mellowed by a snack of powdered doughnut holes, strawberry milk and Chicken McNuggets, Anna Nicole finds her resistance gradually melting away. She decides she wants to see Shelly, as long as the documentary parasites aren't going to be around. So Howard calls her up and invites her out to dinner with them. Cue the "Dueling Banjos" theme...

But first, we follow Anna Nicole as she makes a couple of media appearances. It's entirely doubtful that these interludes take place on the same day as the Shelly encounter, as Anna Nicole's narrative suggests, but that's irrelevant. This is the first time the show has clearly moved into the post-premiere time frame and dealt with the public reaction to the show. And what a doozy to lead off with, a notorious interview with L.A.'s KROQ radio station from August.

Clad in the same blue pajamas she wore to the dentist, Anna Nicole gets the crap beat out of her by these obnoxious D.J.'s, who demand to know what kind of drugs she is on and why she let herself get so fat. She finally gets her fill of their hostility and walks out. In a way, I felt that those KROQ assholes didn't deserve to be put on the show, but overall it's good that E! included this bit. At least no one can accuse the show of sidestepping the criticisms and pretending that the whole world loves her. The show isn't afraid to confront the "she acts stoned" issue or the "she gained weight" issue, and Anna Nicole is willing to discuss these subjects with the media as long as they're willing to be civil about it. But when they cross the line, she's going to stand up for herself and tell them to fuck off.

It's a different story at The Tonight Show. This could have been another ugly situation, because Jay Leno was slamming her pretty hard in his monologues after the show debuted, mostly fat jokes. On one night he reportedly said something like, "You know that dog of hers that looks so tiny next to her? That's actually a Saint Bernard." Basically, we're talking third-grade "your mama's so fat" jokes.

Before the show Leno greets Anna Nicole in her dressing room, schmoozing in a slimy, dash-off manner and calling her "Kiddo" with mock familiarity. He offers a half-assed contrition for his monologue cracks, saying he even gets letters from the president telling him to knock it off, but that's his job. Leno's just giving the audience what they want, and it's nothing personal. I despise watching Leno's show, but in a way I have to believe him. He is so supremely superficial and insubstantial, it's hard to imagine him really meaning anything he says, whether good or ill, whether for a laugh or not.

The Anna Nicole Show The interview turns out to be one of the best media appearances Anna Nicole has made. Wearing an elegant black and white evening gown, she is sharp, funny and charming with Leno, and represents herself far more admirably than she typically does in a TV interview. We see Daniel and Kim beaming with pride as they watch backstage.

Leno mentions the debacle at KROQ and how she stood up for herself. "They just kept beating up on me," she says. "I don't have to put up with it, so I walked out." Leno's audience cheers in support, whether spontaneously or prompted by the applause sign, we cannot say. But it's a nice moment, even if it is a fake moment.

Afterwards, Leno, Howard and Kimmie congratulate Anna Nicole what a great job she did. Even fellow guest Martin Sheen gives his props, saying, "You've got a lot of guts." It's hilarious to see Anna Nicole towering about a foot over the teeny tiny president from The West Wing. She shrugs off all the praise like it was just another TV show, no big deal. But it was an extra-good interview, and I have to ask myself why.

You might think it's because Leno throws softballs and kisses everybody's ass so much that he can make any guest look good, and Anna Nicole can't handle interviewers asking real, penetrating questions, like KROQ did. But I believe it's more than that. At first, I was thinking that Leno is so dumb and inarticulate that Anna Nicole looked more clever than usual by comparison. And yeah, that's partly true. But now I realize the real answer lies in Anna Nicole's stature as a larger-than-life mythological entity. Since The Anna Nicole Show takes us inside her real daily life, her fantasy persona has been driven out of the spotlight. Critics like KROQ are disregarding the fantasy self that made her famous and seizing upon the real person. But Leno's fabricated Hollywood-friendly environment provides the "un-real" sort of platform where Anna Nicole's mythic side can return to the forefront. When Leno plays along and makes nice with her, we get to see glimpses of that fantasy goddess with all her self-assuredness and unearthly beauty. I never thought I'd have a reason to thank Jay Leno for being such a showbiz phony.

After the interview, like Captain Marvel saying "Shazam!", Anna Nicole naturally reverts back to her non-mythological state. During the limo ride back home, she gets a serious jonesing for a pickle. I mean to tell you, the woman acts like she's going to have to tear somebody's head off if she can't get a pickle right now. She suffers a full-on, four-alarm pickle attack. Cut to Anna Nicole in the back of the limo munching on a big-ass pickle -- praise God, the crisis is over. The priceless look on her pickle-packed face is a portrait of absolute contentment and oneness with the universe. The only thing missing is a satisfied Homer Simpson-style intonation of "Mmmmm... pickle." Whether playing the goddess or the mere mortal, she is just adorable.

The final segment brings us a unique family reunion. Anna Nicole, Howard, Kim and Daniel pick Shelly up at her hotel. Obviously wishing to keep her distance from her cousin, Anna Nicole remains seated in the front passenger's seat of Howard's car, forcing the tearful Shelly to reach over the seat to hug her. The gang arrives at a trendy L.A. eatery, sitting on an outdoor patio. The remainder of the segment is almost entirely Shelly talking, spinning wild yarns and making startling remarks, while Anna Nicole nods and smiles politely.

"She just couldn't stop talking," Anna Nicole says. "She was talking and talking and talking. She had a lot to talk about." Boy, does she ever. Shelly asks her cousin if she has a "pain pill," and Anna Nicole promptly opens her purse. (The contingent who believe she's hooked on tranquilizers can chalk one up there.) Shelly recalls how much they used to love Kraft macaroni and cheese. She discards the menu and says, "I'm just gonna stick with my drink," even though Anna Nicole offers to buy her dinner. Shelly shows off her necklace with the birthstones of her five children. She downs a shot of Southern Comfort that men at another table send over to Anna Nicole, who declines to drink it herself.

Addressing her dental deficiency, Shelly explains that she's going to get some teeth made as soon as she can save up $800. She wants pictures of Anna Nicole's teeth so the dentist can model them on hers. Shelly ponders the mystery of all those different forks they set out for you at fancy restaurants. She puts her foot above the table and indicates that her second toe is longer than her big toe. According to an old chestnut of Southern folklore that I learned growing up in North Carolina, that means you're going to be "the boss" or you're going to have money. Shelly surmises that Anna Nicole, who has the same podiatric trait, is both. And Shelly whispers to her cousin, "Can I borrow like five dollars?"

Craziest of all, Shelly tells a flabbergasting anecdote so rife with Southern-fried stereotypes that even the producers of Hee-Haw would have deemed it implausible. While she saw giving birth to her son Harley, Shelly accused the attending physician of committing sexual misconduct in the course of the delivery. So right in the middle of labor, she clobbered him in the jaw. When a nurse said he would sue her, Shelly retorted, "What's he going to get, a food stamp?"

Meanwhile, Anna Nicole sits there demurely throughout Shelly's orations, exhibiting an emotion we've never seen from her on the show before: public embarrassment. Shelly makes Anna Nicole look like the epitome of sophistication. The same woman who was freaking out with insane pickle withdrawals before is now perfectly refined and respectable. People tend to accuse Anna Nicole of being the absolute worst in white trash, but in Shelly you can see that it gets a whole lot trashier. Anna Nicole has come a long, long way. Fifteen years ago, Vickie Smith essentially was Shelly, just taller and with better teeth. She deserves a lot more credit than she gets for having made something of herself.

After dinner, the gang drops Shelly off at her hotel and she breaks down in tears again. Anna Nicole gives her a sum of cash, and she gives Anna Nicole reams of photos. As tender strains of piano music begin to play, we feel sympathy for this poor young woman. As she cries alone on the steps of the hotel, she must feel so out of place in here this other world, and she must be thinking how meager her life is compared to her cousin's. She has been the laughing stock of the whole episode, but now the oddity of her situation becomes touching.

In the closer, Shelly says she's not like other family members back home, who never cared for Vickie until she got rich and famous. "I ain't never had nothin' bad to say about her," she declares. "I mean, I disagree with some things she does and her decisions, but that's her life. You got to learn from your mistakes."

And that's the kicker: even someone in Shelly's lowly station can judge and criticize Anna Nicole's antics, just like everyone else does. Maybe she wasn't feeling sorry for herself outside the hotel, after all. Contrary to everything we've gathered in our view of her, Shelly does not consider Anna Nicole to be her clear-cut superior. And that's the beauty of this episode. As Obi-Wan Kenobi once said, "many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view."

Even though there are a million different perspectives on Anna Nicole Smith, I will cling to the truth that she is a beautiful and wonderful human being.

Anna Nicole Says...
"People are always asking me what I think about Texas. Well, I love Texas. But I think it looks a whole lot better in my rear view mirror."
"Howard, I don't trust nobody."
"Would you get me some doughnut holes and some milk from the kitchen?"
"You said that she didn't have no teeth?"
"I make a lot of special appearances, but sometimes, doing publicity ain't fun."
To KROQ interviewers: "I didn't come here for this abuse, so I'm leaving."
"I want a pickle."
"I gotta have a pickle."
"I know, but I want a pickle!"
On her cousin Shelly, tactfully: "She's a hoot!"

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