“Babies, cabbages and beautiful women… it’s almost like we’re in some sort of weird pervert’s sexual fantasy,” says host Dan Ringling (a deliciously slick Jack Black) as the outset of Newport’s Most Beautiful Pageant, a competition that, bizarrely and perfectly, includes all three categories of contestant.
It seems that Lillian’s plan for cultural domination could come to fruition here, and she’s eager to enter and win. But both Hortense and Beatrice have other plans — Hortense to sabotage the thing, Beatrice to win it herself.
Naturally, not even the most cherubic infant will stand in Lillian’s way.
Unfortunately, Lillian’s attitude is costing her points. “No one likes a confident woman,” Lillian’s husband/coach Victor, returned from the dead, tells her, explaining why the more demure-seeming Beatrice has vaulted ahead in the early rounds.
Tens for you, Beatrice!
Back in the mansion, Peepers tries to get Chair up to snuff on the fine and delicate art of servitude. “You are an abomination,” he tells her, forcing her to pour champagne over and over again until she nearly breaks.
A really gross poop-carrying side plot and a mildly edgy “Mickface” performance from Lillian (archaic white-on-white racism, it provides commentary on so much!) round out the half-hour and earn Lillian a very stained crown.
But not surprisingly, my favorite moment of the episode (after Lillian yelling at her baby rival) was the introduction of Hortense’s feminist friends, particularly “Abortion Deb.”
Funny historical note: early on, Dodo Bellacourt expresses her concern about “bicycle face” and the effect of exertion on women’s beauty. That is, in fact, a fairly accurate portrayal of some antiquarian views.