SO, I HAVE a confession. The Ultimate Debutante has sucked me in.
By the end of this episode I was rooting for one of the girls, rolling my eyes to heaven at another and – heaven forbid – starting to connect with Rozanna/Tyra, Courtney and Brendan.
But before we got there…I had all the necessary faculties in tact to capture Tyra’s face of the night.
Courtney there is having a full-blown conversation with her but Tyra is not quite aware of it. In fairness, she is probably thinking about her next posh-pub-grub meal from M&S.
Dara Quilty – who I think actually guffawed at something during this episode and they didn’t bother to re-do the voiceover – provided us with a handy one-minute recap of what’s supposed to happen during the Ultimate Debutante series so I think it’s only fair to do the same here. You know, in case some readers didn’t spend 47 minutes (plus ads) watching it last night.
The Ultimate Debutante isn’t about Barbie dresses, limos and fancy hotels (although they do feature tonight. Yay!) but more about finding an 18-year-old girl with style, confidence, personality, demeanour, initiative, ambition – and as we learn later on, having “a head on your shoulders”. Yes, it’s the Rose of Tralee Lite.
Right, with that out of the way, we meet up with our judges again. They are dressed in exactly the same outfits as last week. TV3, you know I love you, it is well documented. But this is one of my ultimate hates. If you’re going to make us sit through five separate weeks of something, at least pretend that you did the same. And you’re not alone in it (here’s looking at you RTÉ, The Voice and Kathryn Thomas).
Although, it does give me the opportunity to repost this:
For all you newbies out there, this is fashionista and stylist Courtney Smith. And that is her mini-Statue of Liberty crown.
Episode two introduces us to Kate, Aideen and Jacinta. Hi, ordinary girls.
Do you remember that girl in school who could do EVERYTHING? Sport, art, music, schoolwork and drama, yet still managed to be pretty, cool and popular? Remember you wanted to dislike her but there was never a good reason to? Got her? Well, that’s Kate.
Contestant number two, Aideen from Cork, also got the memo that she needed to have a quirky or unusual hobby to proceed in this competition. Last week’s winner Laura was into falconry. For real.
But I wasn’t completely convinced by Aideen and her horses. Were you? Her friend Kevin didn’t help:
She’s a very skilled girl. Like, I know for a fact she does horseriding and she’s very good at it. Which I’ve heard anyway, but I’ve actually never seen her do it.
Last up is Jacinta. All I can say is, if Jacinta doesn’t win this whole thing out, I will eat a wrist corsage – pearls and all.
Her mother also seems like a doll. They discuss the teenager’s past experiences of bullying and her current battles with weight in a mature, balanced and impressive manner. If there are other teens watching this show, Jacinta’s segment has just made it a whole lot more worthwhile.
And just when we thought it was getting all serious, we cut to a Zumba class. Although I have never been quite sure what Zumba is, I just knew the teacher would have to look something like this.
As the dress shopping begins, Aideen claims the money people spend on their debs is RIDICULOUS. The capital letters are hers – in a Cork accent.
“On the day of the debs there is big competition between the girls. Everyone is trying to outdo each other. I think it’s unnecessary.”
At first we weren’t sure if she said “so necessary” or “unnecessary”. We’ll keep you posted.
Courtney thinks she’ll go with something vibrant because of the bright nails. “She’s a fun girl,” Brendan agrees. Last week, Courtney noted Fiona’s leopard-print nails, entangling them with her bubbly personality. Nail art pop psychology is becoming ‘a thing’ in Ballymount.
Kate, in a direct comparison, is more ‘boho’, according to Courtney who notes she had a feather in her ear earlier. Courtney likes things in ears, apparently. However, she does not like this dress. “Oh no,” Brendan adds. And Tyra’s face agrees.
Tyra completely reacts – face and all – to Jacinta and her mum’s emotional exchange during their shopping expedition. After sharing a few tears, Jacinta is asked how she feels and she replies, “Skinny.”
Look at that full-blown reaction. This is just after Aideen reveals she spent €460 on her dress. Yes, that is the same Aideen who said that “you can look just as good in a budgeted dress”.
And a hat-trick for Tyra’s face. “I love this. I would wear that hair,” she says, giving Kate and her hairdresser that all-important Irish model stamp of approval.
Let’s sidebar for a brief moment while the other girls are getting their up-styles. Why does the programme insist on the ‘natural’ scenes at the salons? The cameras are already inside. They know who’s coming. There is no need for the, “I have an appointment at one o’clock/What’s your name” exchange. We are not going to discover new actors in ‘A Cut Above’ on the Main Street.
Kate’s father describes her boyfriend Feidhlim as 16-feet tall. And either he is…
…or that is Michael D Higgins.
Kate’s Dad also makes embarrassing comments hinting at the impending nuptials of these two teenagers. Morto for Kate.
And then Feidhlim is made give his good boyfriend speech, which he does gracefully. Where were these lads when I was 18?
Jacinta is bringing her best friend Amy because a) she missed her own debs last year and b) she thinks she will have a better time with her than if she was “chasing a fella around”. You go, girlfriend!
And I can’t argue with Courtney when she says, “I love that.” It also gives me a chance to post this adorably cute picture of Amy’s toddler.
Just to reiterate if Jacinta doesn’t win this whole thing out I will eat a corsage – and hire a giant pink HUMMER to bring me to work for the next week.
Aideen and her budget-shattering dress are going to the debs with Cian, her boyfriend of eight months who she met through mutual friends. Is that young people speak for ‘in school’? Cian brings Aideen’s mum the biggest bunch of flowers of the season. He knows it’s all about quantity here.
“I think Aideen will stand out. Her dress will stand out. People will be noticing what she’s wearing and what she looks like,” he says.
Aideen was the first to arrive at the hotel, so they ask the professional photographer to take some extra snaps. I reckon this was Cian’s idea:
BUT THEN DISASTER STRIKES. Aideen forgot to ask her classmates whether they would, you know, mind a camera crew filming their every move at their debs.
“We got some really bad news,” she explained. “That some people were camera shy and didn’t want the cameras in the room with them. Obviously, that was a really bad shock.” Obviously. Like, who wouldn’t be totally fine with that?
Lucky her friend has booked a suite upstairs, which is just dead handy for the girls to use as a makeup parlour.
Aideen says: “The suite was amazing. It was good to top up your makeup. [It was] relaxing to be able to pop up there.”
Kate was named Prom Queen. I think. Maybe I inadvertently turned over to Saved by the Bell at some point last night and didn’t realise.
Meanwhile, Amy and Jacinta are having the craic.
Did I mention Jacinta single-handedly organised her school’s debs?
Also: Rock the boat.
CORSAGES. WRIST CORSAGES.
AND GIANT PINK BARBIE DRESSES.
There’s always one.
Dara tells us it’s time to get serious. And it must be as the judges are in new clothes.
I covet those boots, Courtney. Forgive me? I think we could be friends.
Kate says the Ultimate Debutante is all about being the best person she can be. Aideen says you need to “not get too caught up with everything”. I think even Tyra will be able to poke some holes in that one.
Jacinta has a moment, overwhelmed by the nice things that Courtney, Tyra and Brendan say to her about her beauty. It’s actually pretty sweet when Tyra comes to the rescue. Eh, I warned you that I got sucked in.
Everything returns to normal though for the prize announcement (I’m still not over the fact that the girls didn’t know there were prizes. Why were they doing this?).
Tyra is missing her Celtic Tiger helicopter spins and asks the contestants to bring her if they win. The other prizes include a feature in Ireland’s Kiss magazine, a stay in Dunboyne Castle and €1,000. We presume the tiara is included but they keep neglecting to say it. TV3, the tiara is important.
After the chit-chat, the girls are sent out of the room to allow the judges to deliberate.
Brendan is annoyed that one girl didn’t jump out at him, while Courtney says there has been a game changer. Tyra says it’s all up in the air for her. Ah lads, come on, this one is easy. Jacinta FTW.
AND JACINTA WINS. Phew.
She joins Laura in the final. Who else will be there? Join us next week to find out. I, for one, cannot wait. Who’s with me?
Did you watch the show? What did you think? Do you remember your own debs? Share your stories in the comments section.