A case of crabs

Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School , Divine Canine , Ultimate Fighter 5 , and Deadliest Catch
By JAMES PARKER  |  May 16, 2007

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There’s nothing sweeter than family. VH1’s big-hipped Flavor of Love franchise, in which gaggles of dependably lewd and pugilistic lower-class women are encouraged to express themselves to the Springeresque max, continues to produce offspring: first the excellent I Love New York, and now Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School (Sundays at 10 pm). The ladies have been enrolled at a fictional academy of manners, and under the husky remonstrations of headmistress Mo’Nique (“When life gets a hold of you it uses no Vaseline. It simply bends you over . . . ”), they are blossoming into graciousness.

Last week, coached discerningly by Dr. John Bruschke of California State University–Fullerton, they turned their hands to the art of public debate. “All the women on Courtney’s team should be expelled from Charm School,” was the motion, and some very telling points were made on both sides. “Putting my team on a bus?” orated Brooke. “And sending us home?! That’s just running away from the problem!” But Brooke herself — or her recent behavior — was coming under scrutiny: “Did she or DID SHE NOT take her bra and top off?”, Saaphryi demanded of Schatar (Star Trek names are the rule here), “and shake her breasts into your face, with her nipples by your lips?” The outrageous internal rhyme of that last phrase really seemed to get everybody’s attention: young men in the audience looked up with lascivious curiosity, girls tittered, and the soundtrack editor contributed a ripple of porny bongos. Then it was away to the Off Campus Pub, where the women unwound with a brief fistfight and some table dancing.

On a holier tip, the dog-savvy monks of the New Skete community, in upstate New York, continue to school renegade pooches in Animal Planet’s Divine Canine (Mondays at 8 pm). Last week it was the turn of Holly, a frisky and car-besotted standard poodle, to be drilled in “the formal exercises of basic obedience” by Brother Christopher. Holly’s owners are an elderly local minister and his wife — big, cozy people with knee replacements, and they can’t be chasing after her as she scoots to the limit of her retractable leash, or winds it mischievously about their aged legs. So Brother Christopher puts a high collar on her, takes her out into the yellowing foliage, and begins to administer the corrective “leash pops” and 180-degree turns that will jerk her into humility.

“The first thing she sees after she has been corrected,” he explains later, his bearded, doggy face in a grotto of icons and candlelight, “is me marching in the opposite direction, sending her the signal of leadership.” Then he exposes her to Temptation: a long walk on a rural road, with SUVs rumbling by like mobile slabs of cake. Tires . . . oh, yummy. Radiators . . . mmmmm. But if Holly so much as twitches, she gets the leash pop and the growl of pastoral reproof from Brother Christopher. These monks know how to walk the line.

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