Toddlers & Tiaras Season Premiere Recap: Exploitation or Entertainment?

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The nauseating and addicting gawk-fest that is Toddlers & Tiaras is back!

TLC's hit series has received a tidal wave of publicity, much of it negative, thanks to Paisley Dickey, or more likely the mom of Paisley Dickey, who dresses her as Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, or as a sexy cop, depending on her mood.

But, as we learned in the season opener, it's not meant to be sexy.

A Toddlers & Tiaras Pic

It is, however, meant to exploit the kids for the parents' gain. Let's be honest. Mom Katie even admits, "I had the children so we could do the pageants."

That sums it up right there. Girls are shown in glitz and glamour beyond their comprehension, so that the mothers can live vicariously through them.

Even if that means hair extensions, heavy makeup and racy costumes.

Katie and her husband Robert look no further than RuPaul for inspiration with some of their drag routines. Seriously, it has to be seen to be believed.

"We take a lot of our inspiration from RuPaul. He's our favorite queen," she says.

Bob, 6, and Riley, 5, thus learn to be fierce, whether they'd like to or not. Bob (yes, a boy named Bob) even lets his mom glue fake eyelashes on him.

Scarred for life, that's all we can say.

Some big drama popped up when Katie's husband nixed RuPaul's music for Riley's talent routine, only to see another contestant strut to Ru's "Cover Girl."

In case you're wondering if Lady Gaga made an appearance, not last night. But, "I've had her perform 'Poker Face' on the bar at Applebee's," she says.

"It's not like people threw dollars at her or anything. She's not a stripper."

Great. Meanwhile, nine-year-old and diva-in-the-making Anna-Maria wants to be the next Miss America. She thinks her competition doesn’t stand a chance.

With her hula-hooping skills and “booty bounce,” who are we to argue?

Yep. Pageant mom Crystal taught her daughter the booty bounce for her routine and decided to embarrass her by mirroring the routine behind the judges.

“They think screaming kids having their hair pulled, you know, not wanting to get their makeup on," says Crystal, defending her actions as pageant mom.

"You know, crying and kicking and screaming. I like to sit them down and show them the video of my daughter on the stage because you can’t fake that smile.”

Isn't trying to manufacture beauty the entire point of this charade?

This, of course, begs the question: Who really wants to win this? And how will Anna-Maria's little girl look at her one day when she realizes what went on?

We may never know. But 3-year-old Laila, who's perfected a Rockette routine, and Riley and Bob, did their thing to win over the judges. And we cheered.

Finally, little Casey Watkins, 6, is a bit new to the pageant scene, but her mother, Melissa Wigfall makes sure the little girl doesn’t focus on that too much.

“It’s not just about pageants. Casey does other things,” Wigfall said. “We have a lot of family time. It’s just something she’s doing that makes her happy.”

On a reality show that exploits as much as it entertains.

Should TLC cancel Toddlers & Tiaras?

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