For those who have yet to see the new Lifetime reality show “Pretty Wicked Moms” Tuesday nights at 9 p.m., you’re missing the mean girl antics of Mississippi native Emily Dees Boulden – the Queen Bee of the show, who college students and professors studying modern feminism in pop culture may find a bit confusing.
On one hand, she’s portrayed as a skinny, blonde, high fashion Barbie doll. Pull her string, and she makes superficial remarks about her “Pretty Wicked Moms” peers. She’s also married to a wealthy cosmetic dentist, and they live in an Atlanta mansion.
But before you jump to the conclusion that Boulden is an accessory or trophy wife for her rich husband, she’s also a self-described “tough as nails” business owner who operates a clothing store called Swank that she started before marrying her husband.
It’s “her baby,” but she also has another one – a little girl named Amzie.
In an earlier interview, Boulden told me the reason she agreed to be on “Pretty Wicked Moms” after turning down numerous reality show offers, was because she wanted to grow her business – something she has called her top priority on the show. It’s a remark that made some of the other moms question where daughter, Amzie, and husband, Pete, fit into her world.
Boulden, an unapologetic woman, who believes her career is as important as her husband’s, is an interesting figure. It’s almost unthinkable to hear a woman – and Southern one at that – admit that work takes top priority in her life, and that has generated a number of negative comments from people who don’t know what to make of that statement.
For men, the traditional breadwinners, their dedication to work is rarely questioned. But when a woman admits work is her passion, that can lead to critical words from Tweeters and and other cast members who believe Boulden is failing as a parent and being immoral when she chooses to conduct business rather than stay home and care for her child. (She has a nanny.)
Some have said she should be a more devoted mother because she’s rich and has the means to stay home. But these same questions haven’t arisen when it comes to her husband and his career.
I doubt he’s received the same criticisms, which is something to ponder when watching this television show. And interestingly enough, despite the superficiality of reality television, Boudlen breaks some kind of female mold on this show. I’m not sure what exactly yet, but something.
Tonight, episode six of “Pretty Wicked Moms” will air, and Mississippi viewers may want to watch because Queen Bee Emily will be traveling back to her four-wheeler ridin’ roots while visiting her family in Mississippi. According to the show synopsis, she hopes to avoid a showdown between her husband and father.
Boulden grew up in Philadelphia, where her family owns several businesses, including Williams Brothers general store. At Leake Academy, she was a star basketball player and voted most beautiful. Her team completed her senior year with a 46-0 victory.
“I feel like sports keeps your kids out of trouble, and I was involved in tons of sports,” she said in an earlier interview. “I was really athletic.”
Doyle Wolverton, who has spent the past 38 years coaching at Leake Academy,” remembers Boulden fondly. He coached Emily in high school and her mother a generation before. He said he received a call in December from the producers of “Pretty Wicked Moms” asking if they could shoot an episode of the show in the Leake Academy gym.
“My wife and I met them over there,” he said. “They probably had 50 people they brought with them. They did a little part of the reality show there where she played basketball against her husband. There was some type of bet where if he won, she had to wash his truck, and if she won, she got a diamond necklace.”
He said he’s not surprised that Boulden is in the limelight.
“She was always into the shock value of everything — the way she played,” he said. “That’s just how Emily was. During ballgames, she would try to do something that brought attention to herself, whether it was a shot or a pass, and in school she was like that. So to be honest, it does not surprise me at all. I didn’t know it would go as far as a realty show.”
When she wasn’t playing basketball, Boulden worked at the family store with her cousin, Eli Manning.
“His grandmother and my grandmother owned the store half and half,” Boulden said. “Eli would sack groceries some summers, and I sold shoes. Our families taught us the meaning of hard work, and to work for everything we have, and I try to instill that in my daughter, Amzie. She’s going to have to work at Swank one day.”
Boulden was set to play basketball at Ole Miss, but decided instead to devote more time to socialization and her sorority. After completing an internship with Donna Karan in New York City, she graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in fashion merchandising and landed a job as an assistant buyer for Saks Incorporated’s Parisian Division in Birmingham.
She worked there two years, launching Swank, a designer clothing boutique, in 2006. She married Peter Boulden, a cosmetic dentist, in 2009, and opened another Swank store in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighborhood in 2010.
“In my opinion, a ‘Pretty Wicked Mom’ is like a bad @$$ mom who can juggle anything while maintaining her family and doing it all,” she said. “I’m a working mom. I’m not your normal cookie cutter, sit-at-home mom. I juggle a lot of things while trying to be the best mom and wife I can be, so ‘Pretty Wicked’ is a good thing.”
Boulden’s Mississippi parents, William Henry “Bud” and Mandy Dees, have been featured on the show once before when they made a trip to Atlanta. Tonight, you’ll see their home turf.
Mom Mandy Dees said her daughter is unpredictable.
“You never know what’s going to come out of her mouth,” she said, “and that’s what scares me about this show. . . You either like Emily or you don’t, but you always know where you stand with her. She’s a mess.”