Well it is that time of the year again. The holiday season is approaching and many of you have probably made plans to gather with your families and friends for festivities and general merriment. Some of the people you’ll spend time with may be people you have known your whole life. You know what to expect of them for the most part, right? Now imagine that your brother/son/father shows up to your family gathering – dressed as a woman. He is wearing a woman’s wig, dress, heels, makeup – the works. His eyebrows are tweezed, his lips are lined, he is clean-shaven, and he has a nice rack for goodness’ sake! He holds his pinky in the air, swings his hips back and forth, flips his hair and smiles demurely. Are you still with me? If you’re feeling faint, splash some cold water on your face and get with the program! You never know when a loved one will disappear for a few weeks to go on a program called "All American Male" and come back looking so hot you feel a need to grope them. This could happen to you! For some of you this may be the norm, but for the friends and families of the remaining four contestants, it is a bit of a shock. Let’s rejoice and delight in this week’s embarrassment and humiliation, shall we?
There’s No Place Like Home
The morning alarm rings and the men are greeted with the foreboding box-mail of the day. In their confessionals, the men are clearly disturbed by the arrival of the decorative box, knowing that it contains the keys to the embarrassment du jour. It’s like when you’re a kid and you’re at a carnival, and a clown springs out from behind a red door and scares you so badly that you wet your pants. Maybe you spend the rest of your life afraid of clowns, maybe you fear doors – maybe you “have an accident” whenever you see the color red. I’m not sure what my point is, other than that I think these guys will probably need professional help to get over the boxophobia they have developed from participating in this show.
Albert reads the mail and informs the guys that the ladies of their respective houses will be away and they will be going home to fill their shoes. They are both excited and apprehensive at the notion of going home and seeing familiar faces at this point of the competition. When they see their suitcases – girlie bags covered in pink and purple flowers, they realize that it will be their feminine alter egos who will be making the visit home. Donnell opens a suitcase to reveal its contents and reality hits home– yep, girlie attire complete with falsies and all. In their confessionals, the fellows are visibly uncomfortable as they anticipate the reactions of their family and friends.
Albert (Alberta) goes home to Birmingham, Alabama (the birthplace of metrosexuality) and is greeted by his girlfriend’s mother. She oohs and ahs over him, they tell each other they are gorgeous, she twirls his hair and gazes at him in awe. She leads him to a letter left for him by Diana, his girlfriend. The other guys find their homes empty and find letters of a similar nature left for them by their loved ones. They each read their list of chores to do – dishes, vacuuming, cleaning toilets – basically everything a homemaker does on a regular basis. Less than thrilled, they embark upon their tasks like real troopers. Dave tells us he doesn’t do bathrooms, and Albert jokes that he thought dishes got clean by magic.
Cree (Carmen), at home in las Vegas, Nevada, looks really nervous when he reads that he will have to pick up his stepson from school. He then reads that he will be preparing the house for a poker game with all of his buddies, and I actually think he is about to hurl. As he drives to the school, he touches up his lipstick and anxiously adds that he hopes his son’s teacher or friends aren’t around. A teacher walks Jared out to the car and he gets right to the point. “Why are you wearing those clothes?” From the mouth of babes, I tell you. Jared, who appears to be about four or five years old, takes this madness in stride, buckles up, and immediately starts asking Cree questions and gives him suggestions in an authoritative tone. I’m totally cracking up over this and then a little touched when Cree thanks Jared for not laughing at him as they walk hand and hand into the house. It just goes to show that little boys still love their dads no matter how they are dressed.
Donnell (Raven) arrives home in Mableton, Georgia, and is informed that he will be preparing lunch for his mother and brothers. He zips around like a pro, showing us he is no stranger to a kitchen as he quickly puts together a nice-looking meal for his family. His mother and brothers arrive and start laughing when he greets them at the door and ushers them in. His mother is impressed over how nice her son looks, and compliments him on his eyeshadow. His brothers chuckle and try to get a grasp on the fact that Donnell has chosen the name “Raven Nightshade” for himself, asking if he is a stripper. They all seem amused by this little experiment and his mother even calls him Raven as he shows off the way his breasts jiggle. What better way is there for a son to make his mother proud?
Humiliation, thy name is woman
Albert’s next stop is the driving range where he works. His brother and two friends just happen to be out hitting golf balls when Albert drives up. Coincidence? I think not. Albert’s friend tell us that Albert is definitely a metrosexual, and then proceeds to ogle Albert and hit on him when he walks up dressed as Alberta. Its no holds barred as the guys stare at Albert and make lewd comments to him, peering closely at his chest and poking his falsies with a golf club. I’m utterly humiliated on Albert’s behalf and would like to extend an offer to help him dig a hole so that we can both crawl in it and die. I know he must have wanted to, especially when the guys tell him he looks much better and then proceed to grope his chest. Instead, he drives away in a utility vehicle as the guys try to peg him with golf balls and he squeals repeatedly like a little girl. Albert’s adventure later continues as he goes to his friend’s house to babysit her baby and toddler. He juggles the baby on his hip as he cooks on the stove and begs the toddler to help him – to no avail, of course.
I said poker, not poke-her
Back at Cree’s house, he is getting ready for poker with the guys. He assures us that his buddies are really open-minded and supportive, but that doesn’t keep them from freaking out when they see him. And, like Albert, Cree finds his guy friends are attracted to him as they joke over who gets first dibs with him and take turns poking at his breasts. I guess these boys momentarily forgot that there were cameras on them, recording all this for posterity’s sake – or for use in a court of law.
It’s just Daddy in makeup, son
We next see David (Wynona) at his home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He takes care of his chores and is outside cleaning the grill, when his son arrives. Dave’s plan is to introduce himself to the boy as “Miss Wynona” and see if he can fool the child. Johnny comes out to meet “her” and looks like he suspects something is up. Hmm, would the presence of a camera crew be the slightest tip-off, perhaps? The dog clearly knows who Dave is and is happy to see him. Nope, Lassie can’t be fooled by a wig and pantyhose - no sir. If the kid is onto the secret, he humors Dave (or the producers) by going along with it, but when Samantha, Dave’s stepdaughter comes out of the house, she falls out laughing and has to turn her back to keep Johnny from noticing. The three of them take the dog for the walk as Dave pushes the limit of the joke by asking Johnny about his dad. Johnny spills that he knew it was Dad because he and Miss Wynona had the same ring, and tells Dave that he missed him very much. They hug and Dave gets all choked-up and teary-eyed as he finally gets to hug his boy as a father. I leap from the sofa and give my television a big bear hug, as this is clearly my favorite moment of this show so far. Dave and Johnny pull out of the hug and take a long look at each other. They erupt in giggles as Johnny examines his dad’s new look and tugs at his wig.
Dave is joined by his friends, and when they finally quit laughing, they have a cookout and Dave plays the hostess, walking around with a bowl of chips and demonstrating how well he has learned to manage his high heels. If Dave’s friends follow suit and choose to grope him, the producers don’t show it, but instead they offer another touching glimpse into Dave’s life as he explains to his friends that he did this in an attempt to repair the family’s financial situation.
I can bring home the bacon, but dessert may be a problem
Once again, the men find the evil boxes from the dark side lurking on their doorsteps. They manage to stop shaking in terror long enough to open the boxes and discover that it is time for this episode’s challenge. To keep with the homemaking theme, the gentlemen will be baking apple pies from recipes provided by their wives/girlfriends. The pies will be judged back in LA, and the winner will receive the much-desired dude pass as well as a guaranteed immunity from the next elimination.
The men struggle through their pie-making experience with varying degrees of success. Donnell marks the top of his pie with a big pastry “R”. Albert assembles a fancy latticework piecrust, and Cree, in a bizarre move decides to modify his recipe by using candybars for the topping, since they contain many of the same ingredients that his recipe calls for. Uh, yeah. Please note that this recipe is not endorsed by the author of this recap.
Home Sweet Dollhouse
The ladies return to the dollhouse and immediately begin judging each other by who has the best-looking pie. Heh. Albert, as always, looks as pretty in pastry as he does in pink, and the other guys are nervous. The four pies are laid on a table in front of the judges No, it is not Morgan, Debbie, and John who will be voting on the best pie, but a team of experts flown in from the most prestigious pie-judging establishments in the world. A pie panel, if you will. Actually, they are three pastry chefs from LA, who had to have been a little weirded out when they were sought out for this strange little task. But, pie is pie, and who, in their right mind, would pass up free dessert baked by crossdressers? Not me!
And the winner is…
The pastry chefs judge the pies on appearance as well as taste, and Cree obviously regrets not thinking through his candybar shortcut. His face has "D'oh!" written all over it. Dave wins his first challenge and will be the lucky recipient of the best dude pass to date – a romantic evening away from the Dollhouse with his wife. He is elated and the other guys are visibly crushed. They soon learn that they will be spending the evening giving themselves home spa treatments such as facials and footbaths. They may be losers, but at least they’ll be soft and silky smooth.
Dave goes out to the Hummer and finds his wife inside. They are overcome with emotion as they cry and hold each other. They have an elegant dinner with champagne and roses and Dave tries to explain how much this experience has changed him for the better, now that he has a better understanding of what she goes through. Can I just jump in here and say that Dave seems like a really great guy? I’m sure that his detractors would scream “Editing! Editing! He is actually a royal bee-otch!”, but from what I’ve seen so far, he seems like a great father and a true gentleman, and I think Mrs. Dave is a very lucky woman. They retire to a romantic suite in a swanky hotel, and enjoy their evening together.
When Dave returns to the Dollhouse, the tension is evident as the men prepare for elimination and plot against each other. Albert explains that he would not be surprised if he is eliminated, since he would eliminate himself if he were in the others’ position.
Quoth the Raven, Nevermore
Tonight’s choice of wardrobe for the judges is lingerie. Whoa, whoa – relax, sit down, breathe deeply. They spare us the thongs and demi-bras and the men saunter out in silky gowns and robes that are remarkably non-revealing. As they take their positions on the pedestals, Tony informs them that tonight there is a surprise to reveal. Apparently, Donnell had hidden a tape recorder in the confessional room and had been secretly recording the confessions of the other contestants. We hear a clip of the tape that has Cree’s voice referring to Albert as “Vanity Smurf” and claiming that Donnell is “full of it”. Donnell defends himself by saying that he did not actually break any of the rules. Tony agrees that while Donnell’s actions may not seem very ethical, he did not technically break any rules.
A fool and his wig are soon parted
Tony explains that tonight’s elimination will be slightly different. Instead of casting a vote, the men are asked to tell the judges and the other men whom they believe should be eliminated from the competition. Dave goes first, since, as the winner of the pie contest, he is safe from elimination this week. He explains that he had already decided who would get his vote, but because of Donnell’s recent actions, he would have to vote to eliminate him. Albert is up next, and says he is voting against Cree, because “his pie had the most room for improvement”. Donnell votes against Cree, explaining that his actions during last weeks wedding fiasco were inappropriate and disrespectful to Cecelia, the other guys, and to the game itself.
What happens next is on of those moments in reality tv where you find yourself yelling at the television, “You fool! Just keep your mouth shut and you’ll be safe!” When it comes time for Cree to name the man he would like to eliminate he goes all drama queen on us, whips off his wig and says he’d like to speak as a man. He proclaims that the name of this game is “All-American Male”, and that it is more important than a game, it is a test. Their character is being tested by placing them under extreme stess and unnatural circumstances. Addressing Albert, he says that a real man puts others before himself and looks past physical appearances. To Donnell he says that a real man is always a good sport, and that Donnell is a poor sport. Ouch. I have a feeling that some more things were said because the editing is kind of odd in this section, but maybe they just wanted to spare us from having to listen to any more sanctimonious drivel.
It is now up to the judges and they ask their questions of the contestants. Albert is asked if all of this attention is going to his head. He gives what I think is a very good answer – that he is trying to do his best in the game by really getting into his alter ego, that he is somewhat of a perfectionist, and that it is important to him to get all of the nuances correct. Donnell is questioned about his tape-recording and replies that he felt that Cree was targeting him, and that the information he gained was helpful to him with his strategy. Morgan asks Cree what makes him the “All-American Man”. Apparently Cree didn’t get to this part when rehearsing his wigless monologue from a few moments ago. He replies that what it's all about is being there for the other guys and maintaining a sense of humor.
And the loser is…
It is no big shock to me when the judges reveal they have selected Cree to go home, but Cree is stunned. However, not to be a poor sport, he shakes hands with all the guys, Donnell included, and hugs them goodbye before hanging up his wig and leaving Carmen behind.
Next week: It is the grand finale as the eliminated men return for a stage show and the wives finally see their men as the lovely ladies compete for the crown in a final pageant.
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