Let any other sitcom on or off the air feature beauty pageants, particularly of the mother-daughter variety, and you'd get some of the same clichés we've seen a hundred times. Only Earl could manage to give us a pageant with a name like "Prettiest Pretty Princess," have the contestants model lawn mowers and add in some freaky reigning champions who win with their knife-throwing skills. And I'm so grateful they passed up the blatant opportunity to make Joy suddenly a sympathetic character. Her inner child is just a smaller version of the grown-up who would bring an urn full of cigarette ashes to enter the contest as "Joy and Cremated Mother Darville," and then do a soft-shoe dance on a sprinkling of "Mom" for the talent portion.
But let's not get distracted from my biggest source of joy in this show, the glimpses of their totally un-PC, trailer-trash lives. There are those many variations on that old "How poor were you?" joke: getting excited about brand-name cereal, squeezing ketchup packets into an empty bottle, using ketchup as spaghetti sauce, envisioning a hot tub as the be-all, end-all of luxuries. Not to mention the fact that a porcelain princess on a lawn mower counts as a "fancy figurine." And, in case you were wondering, yankees, Shelly Stoker's reprimand to her daughter "If you don't put down that book, I don't know what!" was a spot-on mimicry of an impatient Southern mother. Meanwhile, Randy's growing crush on Catalina is making me kind of sad. Don't hurt him, Cat: The kid still recites A-Team members to lull himself to sleep!