"There's no reality-show figure quite so odious, these days, as the mother who tries to upstage her kids," writes Joanna Weiss in the Boston Globe today. Indeed! (Kathy Hilton, are you listening?) Unfortunately, the CW network, home to such beloved television programs such as Veronica Mars, Gilmore Girls, and America's Next Top Model will be premiering a new show tonight, Crowned, in which mothers and daughters compete in teams against other mother/daughter duos in a beauty pageant. (Naturally, they also live in one house together. ) So how is it? The critics speak, after the jump.
If any of the negotiating members of the Writers Guild and studio alliance are reading this, I'm begging: Please return to the bargaining table and end this strike. Because the CW's "Crowned: The Mother of All Beauty Pageants" debuts tonight and I'm telling you, as a television consumer and a human being, the center will not hold. Reality TV is no longer an option. The genre has officially hit the seventh level of hell.
— Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times
There's something a little creepy about these family units. These mothers, in their 40s and 50s, admire their offspring to the point of worship yet also seem envious of them, doing everything medically possible to look like their daughters. The producers also throw in a couple of sob stories in an attempt to lend poignancy to this tawdry affair: Melinda...received a kidney transplant last year, and more tragic, Moya...lost her husband in a helicopter crash...Their stories are presented in such an exploitative manner, though, that you're more likely to feel anger than sympathy.
— John Maynard, Washington Post
In this unintentionally sad little contest, which premieres at 9 tonight, 11 mother-daughter pairs converge on a mansion to compete in a beauty pageant with a $100,000 prize. There's the expected cattiness, the waving of French manicures, and a weekly ritual elimination....Witness the team that calls themselves the "Reigning A's." Andrea, 43, tells her daughter Amanda, 24, that they're here, not to make friends, but to do laps around the patio in order to one-up the competition.
— Joanna Weiss, Boston Globe
As anyone who has ever eaten an inferior doughnut could tell you, there is an art to making tasty junk. So how tasty is the CW's junky new reality series? Let's put it this way: If "Crowned" were a doughnut, it would be stale, greasy and not worth the calories....[The] critiques from [judges Shannon] Moakler and [Cynthia] Garrett that are so vague and nonsensical ("Your name is your brand. Tell us what we don't know."), they make Paula Abdul sound like a doctoral candidate.
— Karla Peterson, San Diego Union-Tribune
A mother-daughter team on Crowned, The CW's new beauty-pageant reality show, is strutting their stuff in a garish and glittery get-up that would've made Liberace cringe. "Your outfit," hisses judge Carson Kressley, "makes my eyes bleed." And so will Crowned: The Mother of All Beauty Pageants. Your peepers have been warned. But if you still insist on watching, keep some Visine handy. Crowned is so train-wreck bad, it doesn't even quality as a guilty-pleasure treat like, say, VH1's deliciously loopy I Love New York 2.
— Kevin D. Thompson, Palm Beach Post
If diehard fans of reality TV have any sense of decorum, even they may think this is a waste of time. But since those people will watch paint dry - as long as someone is demeaned in the meantime - I suspect they will welcome this, too. "Crowned" represents what's wrong with the CW's non-scripted fare. It lacks intelligence, heart, a sense of urgency and fun....These are middle-age women who pride themselves on physical beauty and pass along the value of a good face and rocking body to their shallow daughters. Yes, the CW has keyed on one very important factor in reality-show popularity - fill the screen with people you can loathe.
— Terry Morrow, Knoxville News Sentinel
The project might have looked to any number of reality-show competitions and cribbed notes on how to create enthralling drama, but unfortunately this show would rather make an earnest attempt to convince you to care about the real-life drama and heartaches of mother-daughter teams competing for a pageant crown—because it's their last chance for happiness. For real.
— Ira Madison, Radar