Clearly, the problem for the easily riled women in VH1’s Flavor of Love shows is that there is no boxing ring squirreled away in those mansions with Flavor Flav. They have to do their hair pulling, trash talking, spitting and slap fights wherever they can: in bedrooms or bathrooms or — whoa — balconies. So the Oxygen network, in the name of keeping all-girl combat safe and regulated, has Fight Girls, a new reality series in which 10 female fighters — living under the same Las Vegas roof and training with the same Muay Thai kickboxing guru — are broken up into pairs for three-round bouts that determine which five will go to Thailand and compete for the World Muay Thai Championship.
Okay, granted, these women probably aren’t the type to let a personality conflict turn into a sneak-attack sucker punch by the fridge before fight night. But something in my diva-addled brain thought it was a little off-putting that blond Italian Felice’s beef with the multiracial Miriam over her disruptive sleeping habits led Felice to want to “negotiate” something with Miriam. Negotiate? What is this, a summit meeting? I expect two lovelies trained for pain and in close proximity to a video crew to know when things have to be settled sans gloves and sans ref. Oh well. I guess this is what happens when you cast from the pool of the levelheaded.
Fight Girls is the series offshoot of a reality movie Oxygen ran last year that featured a trio of women selected by world-renowned Muay Thai instructor Master Toddy — a mustachioed, bulldog-looking Thai with fat Elvis’ design sense and a P.G. Wodehouse name — to compete in the grueling kick/jab/knee sport against Thailand’s best female practitioners. (That would be winning to fight, which seems backward to me.) Two of those gals are back to help mentor the new batch, which include a 21-year-old “server at Hooters,” the ex-realtor wife of an Ultimate Fighting Championship fighter, and a UNLV pre-med grad. They’re a sturdy bunch, and based on the personalities, training details that go into the kick/jab/kneeemphasis of Muay Thai, and the expected ferocity of the first bout — between Felice and a martial-arts teacher named Gina — it could be a strangely classy guilty pleasure about the empowerment of a power punch. But if these women aren’t going to fly off the handle, someone should have given them a lecture before cameras rolled on holding back the waterworks. The one thing I didn’t expect was a teary pre-bout jag from Felice, who was stressed that she didn’t get her usual relaxing day before a fight (um, what did you expect signing up for a reality show?). She chokes out, “I just want to fight and get it over with.”
Excuse me, but to paraphrase Tom Hanks in A League of Their Own, “There’s no crying in Muay Thai!”
ARMY WIVES | Lifetime | Sundays, 10 p.m.
FIGHT GIRLS | Oxygen | Tuesdays, 10:30 p.m.