Unstapled, Episode 5: Under Pressure.

By | February 16, 2010

Last time: Carnie got shit on by Dallas. Then she got shit on by her husband. Then she and her husband went to see a sex therapist, who, luckily, did not shit on anyone.

We start, predictably, with Rob and Carnie goofing around in the kitchen, making plans to go get tattoos from Kat Von D at LA Ink. Oh, wait, that’s not predictable at all. What the hell? Carnie confessions that Rob has a tattoo that “goes all the way from his shoulder down his arm,” making it sound really big and impressive. I assume Carnie has fewer tattooed friends than I do. Carnie asks Rob where he’s going to get his new ink installed, and he says, stroking his t-shirted chest, “Riiiight here, babydoll,” and when Carnie asks him to pull up his shirt to look, she asks, “Did you shave your chest?” Rob answers, “I did a little bit of manscaping.” I hate the word “manscaping,” kids. Always have, always will.

Carnie wants to draw on Rob’s chest. They’re acting all cutesy and playful with each other and I want to be feeling all “AWWW” about it, but it’s sort of icky. Like I need to hit my brain with some Comet cleanser and a scouring pad. Turns out Rob and Carnie are planning to get their kids’ names tattooed on them. Carnie asks Rob where she should get hers — isn’t this something you should sort out ahead of making the appointment to do the deed? — and Rob suggests her neck. Damn you, Rob, I laughed. But this is but a skirmish in the war — this isn’t over. Carnie’s already pre-freaking out about the tattoo. Well, at least things are normal.

Next, the “girls” are going lingerie shopping. The “girls” include Carnie, Carnie’s mom, Aunt Dee Dee, and Owen OMG IT’S CASS ELLIOTT’S DAUGHTER WOW. Sadly, DanielBrian are nowhere in sight. Carnie confessions that she doesn’t know if other people go lingerie shopping with their family, but for her this is pretty typical. Calling this just a lingerie shop is kind of misleading, though — there are corsets and feathery floggers and masks. Also, there are couches aplenty, and the “girls” are the only people present. At one point, putting on a black bejewled mask, Carnie’s mom says, “My husband won’t recognize me, that’s perfect.” We know where Carnie gets her sense of humor, at least.

Elsewhere, Rob is at a jewelry store. He confessions: “When I heard Carnie mention to the sex therapist that she didn’t feel like she was desireable to me, I wanted to give her something special, just to say, hey, you know, you are a beautiful woman and you are my wife.” I guess nothing says “I still find you attractive” like some expensive jewelry. Actually this seems confusing to me; if you want to demonstrate that you find your wife beautiful, why not just tell her so? Isn’t the jewelry really just a pricey prop for the real sentiment? “I think you’re so beautiful that I am willing to spend this money?” But then, I am not a woman who is overly fond of expensive jewelry, so it’s possible this is something I’ll just never understand.

Rob has brought “Big Daddy” along for advice, whom I know we’ve met before but I don’t recall the context and I’ll be damned if I’m going to go look. BD is Carnie’s mom’s husband. The lady working the counter at the jewelry shop is very excited to be on camera. Rob points out a ginormous ruby cocktail ring and asks the price; it’s $21,000. Rob gawks and the saleslady asks if that’s in the ballpark of what he’s looking to spend. Rob closes his eyes as if he’s actually weighing his options and says, “Ruby ring… addition to the house… ruby ring…” No, it’s nowhere near his ballpark. It may actually be a different sport. They move over to something more reasonable, and eventually decide on a charm bracelet with two charms of the letter “L”, representing their daughters’ names.

Okay: I am going to make a prediction here, and since I’m not liveblogging this I can rest easy in the knowledge that I can always delete this bit later if I’m wrong. BUT I AM GOING TO PREDICT that Carnie will be disappointed. Why? Because for women who are not me (that is, women who like gifts of jewelry) tend to want that jewelry to be all about them, and them alone. I don’t think it’s a matter of selfishness so much as it is a matter of being treated to something that reminds us of the time before we were running our asses off twenty hours a day and all our priorities got taken over by the kids we had; it’s not a regret, it’s an opportunity to be reminded that your husband (or partner) sees you as not just the woman he’s lived with so long, but as the woman with whom he fell in love. A piece of jewelry that references the kids instead underscores the idea that Rob sees Carnie primarily as the mother of his children. Maybe I’m reading too far into this? Who knows. But that is my prediction.

Rob really likes the result — it is a very pretty bracelet — and leaves happy.

Back at the “lingerie” shop, the girls have changed into some corsets and some (not Carnie) are drinking what looks like champagne. Carnie confessions that she and Owen (that’s Cass Elliott’s daughter in case you missed it in my capslock freakout above) have a lot of things in common and have had a lot of similar struggles. Carnie asks Owen how often she has sex with… whoever she has sex with, it’s not clear. Owen says “a couple of times a week” and Carnie is astonished. Carnie confessions: “I can’t comprehend that Owen is having sex twice a week. It’s not fair! I’m jealous!” Owen tells Carnie, “The key of it is how you feel. If you’re feeling good about yourself, then you can show that to somebody and they want to be a part of it.” Good advice. Carnie is like WHOA, YOU’RE RIGHT, MAYBE IT’S ME. Carnie confessions that “sex has taken on a different meaning since I had kids,” and that putting on the lingerie was like “lighting a fire.” In truth, Carnie looks hot in her corset.

Oh hi Dallas. We’re back at the house, Carnie’s back in non-corset clothes, and she greets him at the door all chipper. They head out to the back deck with their yoga mats again so Dallas can hear Carnie’s confession. For one, she ate gluten last weekend. Dallas asks how she felt afterward, and Carnie says, “If I have any more gas, I’m gonna erupt.” OKAY, so we have confirmation that the farting IS related to the alleged gluten allergy. Because that was totally weighing on my mind.

As an aside, in light of the gluten allergy, I requested a friend draw me a picture of Carnie being pursued by angry gluten. I specifically suggested the gluten should be wielding medieval weapons. This is the most excellent result.

Carnie Wilson being pursued by angry gluten.

Moving on, Carnie admits she did not do her workout. Carnie tells Dallas: “It’s just that sometimes when I feel the pressure of the losing weight, the media, the public, this, that, I get crazy in my head, and I get overwhelmed.” Dallas tells Carnie she can’t control any of that, she can only control her own actions, and what she puts in her mouth. The first part of this is good advice. Carnie says, “I don’t want anyone to tell me what to do right now. I just got angry, like [bleep] everyone for telling me what to do, I don’t want to do that.” You can hear the rage and desperation in her voice, and it both defangs my snark and makes me very sad. Carnie, you are probably experiencing this feeling because you’re a grown-ass woman and you’ve earned the right to make your own decisions, and yes, your own mistakes. You resist the imposition of rules and restrictions because they’re coming from a source external to you, and not from your own feelings about what is best for you. So long as you are relying on people like Dallas to whip you into shape, you will fail, and fail, and fail. You need to figure out what you want, and how you want to feel. You need to know yourself.


Dallas, ever the sensitive gentleman, confessions, “Carnie was like at a different level of bitchdom today. I mean, Carnie is always full of a million excuses why she can’t, as opposed to why she can.” Oh, I shake my head. Maybe if exercise wasn’t made into such a punishment, Carnie would have more success in keeping up a workout routine. But I guess we’ll never know.

Carnie says she’s feeling overwhelmingly “resistant”, so she gets up and goes inside. She says to Dallas, “Kill me later.” Dallas says, “I’m used to your bitching and whining. Crazy bitch.” Between the two of them, I imagine, this is sort of a charming and affectionate exchange, or someone’s idea of “tough love”, but it creeps me out. More than that, I continue to be creeped out by Dallas’ strategy of tearing Carnie down in the name of building her up again, as it seems like such a candid effort of keeping her entangled. A person can only hear, “You suck, and I am the only person who can save you,” so many times before they start to believe it. I won’t go so far as to call it abusive, but it doesn’t sit right with me. Not at all. That’s not being supportive.

Commercial. Thank Maude. I need to go look at the Shiba Inu puppycam for a minute. Ahhhh.

And we’re back. Carnie’s alone and getting on the scale. Afterward, as she documents her magical numbers, she alerts Rob to the fact that she’s only lost two pounds. Oh, but how do you FEEL, Carnie? Are you cheerful and chipper and full of energy and joie de vivre? Do you look forward to every sunrise and love the hum of the amazing and miraculous machine of your body as it moves you through life? Is your every muscle ripe with energetic tension, your cells thrumming like the wings of a thousand hummingbirds as the world around you slides past with an unexpected and kaledoscopic beauty, every moment of every day pregnant with possibility, and do you wonder at your tremendous luck simply to be alive, right here, right now, in this time?


Responding to the two-pound news, Rob snarkily suggests that Carnie consider diet and exercise, and Carnie and Rob proceed to have a little mini-argument about Carnie’s workout schedule. Carnie wants Rob to “set it up” and Rob says no, she has to do it. He says she has to want to do it. Carnie says she doesn’t want to do it. Rob says, “You want to lose weight, don’t you?” and Carnie says yes, and Rob finishes, “well, then you do want to do it.” Carnie tries to express her frustration to her husband, saying, “It’s just hard when I have the baby and then I’m up in weight.” Well, yeah. Having a baby will do that to you. Rob says, “You had the baby six months ago.” Carnie’s all, “…Yeah?” And Rob completes, “It’s time to start losing it.” Yeah, what the fuck Carnie, why aren’t you Victoria Beckham or Heidi Klum? Clearly you are a horrific failure as a woman. Get out, and turn in your vagina when you go. Carnie counters: “You know how long it sometimes takes people [to lose post-baby weight]?” Rob says, “Yeah, when you’re snacking all day, or whatever you’re doing, when you’re sneaking around.”

You know, my dear readers, there have been a great many times in my brief recapping career where I wished for the ability to punch someone through the television. But never, ever, have I felt that desire so strongly as I do right now, toward Rob. I get that maybe he’s sick of listening to Carnie complain about being fat while appearing to do nothing to change it. But these are not things you say to a woman with a long history of weight struggles, not to mention abandonment issues and general insecurity and low self-esteem. You just don’t do it. It’s like bullying the kid on the playground who will never fight back; it’s harmful and it reinforces all the mental garbage that’s keeping Carnie shackled to this bullshit self-loathing. Rob’s all, dude, just get rid of Satan’s Pantry and the pounds will magically melt off, and Carnie says, “Oh, it’s so easy. That’s why I weigh 120.”

The fight moves to the living room, and at one point Rob accuses Carnie of trying to “sabotage” her exercise routine, and then says, “Why don’t you go to, whatever, Overeaters Anonymous.” Carnie shoots back, “Why don’t you go to Assholes Anonymous?” Which is actually pretty funny, though Rob states he is already a member. Rob confessions that he’s frustrated and he wants Carnie to be self-motivated.

Angela the nutritionist is here with Carnie’s food plan. It’s in a binder and everything! Very official. Carnie says it’s “so strict” that without Angela around day in and day out, she’s not optimistic about being able to follow it. Yeah man, there’s nothing like having your eating habits dictated to you by a binder to help you understand solid nutrition. Angela says, “No sugar, no white bread, no pasta… Nothing white.” What about rice? Turnips, onions? Quinoa? Cauliflower? Cannelini beans? Garlic, mushrooms, parsnips? None of these either? Gee, I’ve already learned so much about nutrition! White food makes you fart! Carnie’s very concerned about verifying that she will be able to eat parmesan cheese again at some point in her life; the nutritionist informs us via confession that Carnie really loves cheese. Again, I don’t get it: if Carnie has to forego cheese in order to lose weight, wouldn’t going back to her cheese-eating ways mean getting fat again? I admit, it’s been a very long time since I dieted, but even back in the day this never made sense to me. This is why they like to call diets “lifestyle changes”, so that when you’re sadly eating a rice cake and missing cheese, you can think of cheese as just having been a part of an old and regrettable former lifestyle, and not a delicious form of sustenance.

Carnie confessions, “What can be more depressing than looking at a list of foods you cannot have? I literally want to cry.” Nothing. Nothing is more depressing. I don’t mean sad — many things are volumes sadder than this. But there is little in life that is as depressing as a list of absolute restrictions, especially if you’re not being given other options that seem like a worthwhile exchange. I mean, I don’t even want to imagine my life without cannelini beans.

While Carnie’s discussing her options with the nutritionist, Rob is loudly installing a lock on the pantry door. He confessions, “Carnie’s asked for my help, so now she’s going to get it.” Rob comes into the kitchen and asks Carnie to come help him find something in the pantry, as a device to get her to discover the lock on the door. Carnie’s all, “yeah, it’s locked, very funny.” Rob and the nutritionist high-five. Meanwhile, I hate myself for watching this show. WHY AM I WATCHING THIS SHOW? Carnie wants to know where Rob’s going to keep the key. The nutritionist wants to know why Carnie wants to know. Carnie says, “My life is in there,” and the nutritionist, getting all deep for minute, says, “Your OLD life is in there.”

Carnie confessions: “Having the pantry locked makes me feel like an animal. And I am not an animal.” I would love to know the strategy behind locking the pantry. By removing Carnie’s ability to make her own decisions, we’re supposed to expect she somehow figures out how to make “good” food choices by osmosis? Carnie goes on: “I am a person who’s addicted to food.” If you want to get technical, everyone’s addicted to food, insofar as we require it in sufficient amounts to be functional (i.e. not dead) human beings. So this is hardly going to engender any sympathy from me.

Carnie’s on her way out for a meeting with her manager just as Dallas drives up. She realizes she’s double-booked, and apologies to Dallas, but she really can’t skip this meeting. Dallas has a random front-yard confession in which he delivers the following wisdom: “You can’t want one thing, and not do, what you need to do, to get what you want.” And that’s one to grow on!

Commercial. More puppycam for me. Ahhh.

When we come back, Carnie and Rob are at LA Ink for their “tattoo date.” I know that LA Ink is another reality show that exists, but that’s about it. I’ve never seen it and only know who Kat Von D is because they sell her makeup brand at Sephora. Carnie looks at the art books and she and Rob settle on their designs. Rob goes first while Carnie watches, cringing. Then Carnie’s up, and she’s still tripping about the potential pain. One of the other women at the shop asks, “Have you had children?” ostensibly with the idea of telling her it hurts less than that. Carnie says, “Yes, well… not through the vajayjay.” Points to Carnie for using “vajayjay”, though I can’t say I was terrifically curious about whether she’d had c-sections or not. During the tattoo, Carnie grimaces a lot, and confessions that it hurt terribly.

Later, we’re back at the house, and Carnie and Rob are preparing for Dallas to come by for a workout. When Dallas appears, he’s brought a whole class with him. He refers to two class members as “afters” and two others as “durings”. As in, two people there to represent AFTER Dallas’ magical assholery made them smaller, and two to represent the imposition of Dallas’ assholery to their lumpy bodies as being in progress. Delightful. Because these people aren’t anything more than their goal weights, not really.

Dallas wants to have a sharing circle! Everyone has to talk about overcoming adversity! Dallas will begin. He has both ADD and dyslexia, and taught himself to read when he was 32. Okay, that’s pretty heavy. Rob says something noncommittal about being lazy. Wow, Rob, that’s rough. Dee Dee tears up talking about how much she admires Carnie and Rob. One of the “afters” talks about being an actress and how she was told at thirteen that she was too fat for the business, so she should just quit. In response she developed an eating disorder! Never let it be said that cultural pressures to be thin don’t encourage people meet their goals in creative and healthy ways!

When Carnie’s turn comes, she talks about her habit of beating herself up, and somehow gets into the fact that her dad was not really present or “hands on” with her, at which point she starts tearing up, and eventually is crying outright. Carnie doesn’t need a personal trainer or a nutritionist or a lock on her pantry door as much as she needs a good old fashioned goddamned THERAPIST. Commercial.

As the sharing circle continues, Carnie says the following, which I present without further comment: “It’s important for me to share what I’ve overcome, because to say that I was over three hundred pounds, is a really big deal. And there’s lectures I used to do for people, and women, and some of the doctors that used to hire me, they don’t want to hire me right now, because I weigh 215 pounds, and when I weighed 150, they were like, knocking down my door, like come be an inspiration, so when I’m up in my weight, I feel like a failure, but it’s hard because there’s a real legitimate fear about food, and me, and keeping that up, and I don’t just wanna weigh 150, I just wanna be in that lifestyle where it’s a part of my daily routine to like check in with my daily routine and have I worked out. So that’s my goal.” Then Dallas says some vague crap about being her counselor. I think this is supposed to be a “breakthrough” or something. Commercial.

Randomly, we see Rob showing up to practice with his old band, and apparently they haven’t played together for awhile. Rob sings and plays guitar; the few bars we hear aren’t terrible. When Rob gets home, Carnie’s prepping for dinner with the kids. They show their new tattoos to Lola, who is adorably gleeful about them. It’s a genuine “Aww” moment for me. And that’s a wrap!

Next week: Carnie goes on Dr. Oz’s show and may be horrifically embarrassed and/or humiliated in the process. It looks kind of heavy. No pun intended.

Last week’s poll results:
The question was…
In trying to keep up regular exercise, which of these best motivates you?
A workout that is fun and engaging, 33.8%
A generalized sense of well-being and health, 28.4%
Two whole cakes, 21.3%
Setting and achieving measurable outcomes and goals, 10.7%
Heaps of guilt, shame, and/or verbal abuse, 3.6%
A carrot, 1.3%
A stick, 0.9%

Comments are closed.