Pretty Wild—the reality show starring Alexis Neiers, an alleged member of the teen "Bling Ring"—premiered last night. It'll chronicle Neiers' trial for first-degree felony burglary of Orando Bloom's home, but the ethics—of rewarding her the spotlight—are questionable.
The show purports to be about the three Neiers sisters—Tess, 19, Alexis, 18, and Gabby, 16—and their mother Andrea (who says she posed for Playboy "a lot" in the '80s), as the girls party in L.A. and work on their modeling careers. Andrea manages their careers and also home-schools them. She has based her curriculum on The Secret (not even on the book but the movie), and makes collages from women's magazine clippings as part of her lesson plan.
However, as Nancy Jo Sales reported in a Vanity Fair piece about the "Bling Ring"—the catchy name given to the group of teenagers who are accused of robbing over $3 million worth of clothing, cash, jewelry and art from a number of homes, targeting celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and Audrina Patridge—Tess is not not related to Alexis. She and Alexis became friends in a ballet class, and Alexis' family took Tess in a few years ago after Tess' mother "kinda fell off the planet." She has lived with the family off and on over time. On the show, Andrea refers to Tess as her oldest daughter, and the reality of the family's connection to Tess is completely ignored. In fact, Alexis and Tess can be seen making out with each other in the straight-to-DVD film Frat Party.
The fact that Tess is not genetically related to Alexis and Gabby raises questions about why Andrea distributes Adderall to all three of the girls each morning. She claims that she had them all "evaluated," and that they all have ADHD. But there are a lot of things that are questionable about Andrea.
Aside from managing what she feels is the girls' inevitable stardom ("These girls are on their way to being famous, and I've got to be watching them every step of the way") Andrea is also a masseuse and holistic health-care practitioner. She has a lot of New Age-y beauty regimens and actual machines that can be seen on the show, and she is shown wearing a terrifying mask that's reminiscent of your typical slasher film murderer. She's really into God, and several times during the pilot episode, she gathers people for prayer circles. In the Vanity Fair piece, Sales says that Andrea's house "is decorated with religious talismans and floor-standing statues of Buddha which [she] said she got at the closing of a Thai restaurant."
Along with her religious decorations, Andrea has installed a stripper pole in the living room, of which the teenagers seem to work adroitly. On last night's episode, Andrea accompanied the girls to a casting for a job modeling lingerie. As they were taking their test shots, Andrea gave pointers on how the girls should pose and position their bodies in the thongs and bras. They booked the job. Andrea mentions at one point, "As a parent I didn't really set boundaries with the girls…I feel very concerned about that."
As she should be. E! was initially interested in the creating a reality show with the girls because of their notorious ubiquity in the L.A. club scene. They began filming just as the "Bling Ring" case was being cracked. In this clip, Andrea discovers, via the internet, that Alexis and Tess were photographed by paparazzi with one of the main suspects—Nick Prugo—the previous evening. Andrea's main issue was that this could jeopardize their lingerie campaign.
The execs at E! who green-lit the show must've been giddy over Alexis' arrest in October 2009, as their cameras were there to film all of it. (Tess was brought in for questioning but later released.) After a search warrant was issued for the house, and the two girls were carted off by police, Alexis' biological father appeared to help the family deal with the crisis. Sales was also in the home at this time, interviewing them for her Vanity Fair piece, and recounts how a supervising producer for E! was feeding the family their lines. They ended the scene with a prayer circle.
Later, at the police station, the E! cameras were accompanied by those of Dateline and various other news outlets and paparazzi. Tess and Gabby seemed to court them all, as they awaited for Alexis to be released on a $50,000 bail bond. Andrea kept repeating to the girls that the trouble they found themselves in was a consequence of "hanging out with stupid people."
However, "hanging out with stupid people" was a consequence of Andrea kicking Alexis out of the home last summer for, according to LAPD reports, smoking OxyContin. Without a place to live, Alexis moved in with Nick Prugo. But she maintains her innocence (although she did admit to vomiting and urinating in Orlando Bloom's bushes). In a statement to Vanity Fair she said:
I'm a firm believer in Karma and I think this situation was attracted into my life because it was supposed to be a huge learning lesson for me to grow and expand as a spiritual human being. I see myself being like an Angelina Jolie but even stronger, pushing even harder for the universe and for peace and for the health of our planet. God didn't give me these talents and looks to just sit around being a model or being famous. I want to lead a huge charity organization. I want to lead a country, for all I know.