When you were a kid, did you sometimes make cocktails out of random 'fridge contents, just to see what they tasted like? Milk and pineapple juice? Lemonade and strawberry jam? Milo, honey, and a Space Food Swizzle Stick?
No matter how good the individual ingredients were, put together in the one glass, they always left you a little bit nonplussed. Or a little bit vomiting-over-the-sink.
That's my problem with this week's episode. Paparazzi. Boxing. Dead fish. Photo shoot with mothers. It's a bad cocktail, and left me feeling like I was wearing my jumper inside-out. Postmodern pastiche should be left to conceptual artists, shopping-centre architects and Logie Awards stylists – not modelling competitions.
Whatever. It's the 'Look What They Done To My Scrags, Ma' episode of Australia's Next Top Model.
· Paloma, still seething with stiff peaks of rage after the 'Paloma Pavlova' incident last week, attributes Sophie's elimination to karmic retribution. "I believe in karma", she says. Paloma believes in karma. That's like Timothy Leary espousing abstinence, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like the Energizer bunny deciding to just sit on the couch with a magazine. Look both ways before you cross the street, honey. Karma, like you, can be a bitch. Anika misses Sophie, and in the first of a number of pseudo-Sapphic allusions (that's 'fake lesbian' to you), says "I did everything with Sophie. This morning we even took a shower together".
· In the car one night, Paloma directs Jordan to execute a pressed ham on the window. Jordan accompanies her window-oyster with detailed instructions for others regarding correct pressed ham technique, involving seatbelt manipulation and underpant-removal. You may refer back to this paragraph repeatedly throughout this recap to enhance your eye-rolling sense of irony and self-contradiction. As a handy guide to the best times to refer back to this paragraph, a BING! sound will be heard. That is all.
· Charlotte and a bedraggled Joydhi rock up to Scrag HQ to introduce this week's theme – Model Behaviour (BING!). They both chat to the modules about how once they're in the public eye, they'll live their lives under a microscope, and that they should learn the kinds of behaviour to avoid (BING!), such as nudity (BING!), weight gain and drunkenness. A number of candid celebrity shots are shown on a sponsor-provided plasma screen, like Megan Gale with a mouth full of food and Heath Ledger flipping the bird. "Don't do it", says Charlotte. "I've done it", says Joydhi. "Don't", says Charlotte. A photo of Paris Hilton comes up, and the girls almost unanimously voice their disapproval, which pleases Charlotte. "I like that you all think she's a joke", she says, to Paloma's dismay – she says later that she'd always wanted to be Paris's friend. I think it's important that, in every group of friends, there's at least one who can spell.
· The final candid photo shown is the infamous Britney Spears limo muff shot, causing the girls to cringe and gag. Joydhi calls it "Wrong dot com", and Jordan wonders "How can you not know you're showing your bits and pieces?" (BING!). Joydhi attributes Spears' furry faux-pas to drugs (BONG!), and tells the girls to watch how they behave, how they dress, and who they hang around with. If Brit's Bits can't convince you, nothing can. Ooh. "Brit's Bits" sounds like a breakfast cereal sold in trailer parks.
· The module motorcade deposits our girls at CherriJam for an etiquette lesson conducted by entertainment journalist Melissa Hoyer and, for some reason, Fashion Assassin guy Alex Zabotto-Bentley. The session includes a complex advanced physics lesson about shaking hands when you're already holding champagne and a spring roll, eating spaghetti without cutting it into bite-sized pieces, and not laughing when you meet John Howard. Anika doesn't listen well to this last part of the lesson, and whilst Alex pretends to be John Howard (same height, different wings), she bursts into giggles. "I would've done the same thing if I met John Howard", says Jordan. "He's a twat". I think I want a talking Jordan doll. With a string in the back. And glued-on undies. Melissa and Alex blah on about the paparazzi for a while, and although a lesson on how to behave when you're walking down a piece of carpet should be interesting, I'm momentarily distracted by the federal budget.
· In a truly incongruous scene plonked roughly between others, Alice introduces us to the fact that Fatty the Fish has died. Apparently there was a fish in the Scrag Central fishtank which was much fatter than the others, so the modules, after a protracted brainstorming session, named him Fatty. Paloma eloquently explains their decision: "he's abnormally fatter to the rest of the fish". And now he's dead. And Paloma is nailing together a makeshift crucifix in the backyard, and presiding over his funeral. A grave is excavated in the garden, and after a few words and giggles, Paloma deposits the disturbingly oversized Fatty in his soddy tomb using a mixing spoon. Alice says "We don't have a Fatty anymore". Neither do any males watching this episode, honey.
· A Joydhi-Mail arrives at the house, and instructs the girls to be ready for a relaxing day of play tomorrow. Everyone with half a brain (so Alice, basically) suspects that the play-day is a ruse, and that there may be paparazzi lurking as a special challenge. The modules pile into limos and are taken to Speedos at North Bondi for breakfast, unknowingly being captured on film the whole time by Ben McDonald the paparazzo. Alice is onto him though, forever twisting her scrawny neck this way and that, trying to catch him in the act, the wily minx. Danica (yes I'm finally spelling it properly), shovelling food into her rubbery mouth from her plate and others', doesn't seem to care about being photographed, despite the fact that she admits she's put on weight since starting the competition. Hmmm. Eating yourself fatter during a modelling competition. It's a bit like stopping for a cigarette in the middle of a kiss-a-thon.
· Suddenly a surfing instructor appears from nowhere and shouts "Which one of you chicken wings doesn't wanna come surfin'?" Jordan, not recognising the rhetorical, puts her hand up. Then she puts it down again. The modules run down to the beach in wetsuits (proving that Kelly Slater, briefly in the mid-nineties, is the only person ever to look good in a wetsuit), and throw themselves into the whitewash in awkward displays of awkward. Like a tablespoon of white rice in a washing machine, they thrash and dump, watched and snapped all the time by Ben-on-the-beach, who's hiding behind a towel. Steph, showing the brains of a tube of condensed milk and the memory of a recently-deceased goldfish, decides it's a good idea to change into a g-string on the promenade. Der. And furthermore: Der.
· In order to flog an already-cremated horse, the girls are sent to lunch at Woolloomooloo, whilst Ben-in-a-bad-wig takes surreptitious snapshots. We get it, already. When they leave to get in the car home, they're "swamped" by paparazzi, and Paloma adopts the petulant strut of someone who isn't a wanna-be nobody from Newcastle. Anika, dressed today in a revolting frilly short thing straight from the Kmart Mammary-Minimising Collection, links arms with Alice and then worries that the media will suspect they're lesbian lovers. Don't worry, sweetie - Alice makes rice-paper feel overweight, and you have the biggest boobs in the southern hemisphere. The media will just think you were taking your piece of packing-tape for a walk.
· Back at the house, Charlotte, Alex Hyphenated and Ben meet the girls to expose their sea folly, showing them the secret photos shot that day. "Oh More Gourds" abound as we see Jordan grimacing in the surf, Steph flashing her arse at the beach ("You look like you're taking a dump", says Charlotte), Alice swigging water like it's wine, and Danica's disembodied head floating in the Bondi froth. Jordan shows that she's been listening to the lesson, commenting that "I leant don't surf, don't eat, don't move, just smile". Anika, being the only person who actually smiled at the camera all day, wins the challenge, and gets front row seats at the Solomon/Mundine fight, whilst all the other modules have to sit a few rows behind. Now, aside from having the opportunity to see someone punch Anthony Mundine in the chops, that seems to me to be a crap prize, non?
· Alice is impressed that she has better seats than Eddie McGuire, but then maybe Eddie gets sprayed with enough blood and sweat during the day. Paparazzi take photos of the girls arriving at the ever-ritzy Entertainment Centre in their ever-ritzy Ford Fiestas, and I offer 'round a serving plate filled with Jatz, tasty cheese and home-brand cabanossi, just to set the right ever-ritzy tone. Jordan says "I've been to fights before, but they were shit ones", which is like saying "I've had a metal stake hammered into my temple before, but never a stainless steel one". Lucky. Paloma says to camera that when she was younger, she wanted to take up boxing, but she realised that she's too much of a nice person, and after hitting someone she'd want to ask if they were okay. Oh, Paloma. You're such a useless c*nt.
· Photo-shoot time, and today's photographer is Daniel Smith, who has apparently photographed some people before. He and JP stress the need for high energy, angles, shapes and fun in today's shoot, and then tell the girls that they'll be sharing the spotlight today – with their mothers! In a surprise comparable to finding a peanut in a bag of peanuts, the girls cry, hug their mothers, cry, tell us how their mothers are their best friends, cry, and cry. Danica, Steph and Alice all have normal, textbook mothers, Paloma's mother looks like she might have a lot of cats at home, and Jordan's mother could conceivably be her slightly older sister, good for borrowing lip-gloss, tampons, and the phone number of the local clinic. Alice's mother is quite possibly picked at random from the street – she's short and nuggetty, with an angular haircut and peculiar teeth. The modules have to think of poses to strike with their mothers which typify their relationship, and with the exception of Paloma and her mum almost going the pash, Jordan's mum being mutton-dressed-as-rock-pig and Alice and her mum getting the irrits with each other, this is more tedious than tofu.
· A Joydhi-mail sees the girls strutting into the Elimination Demountable, and three outfits stand out – Alice's tuxedo-t-shirt, Paloma's god-awful strapless buttoned dress, and Joydhi's first-time-in-living-memory decision to not show any cleavage. After introducing Melissa Hoyer as the guest judge, Joydhi rambles through the prizes, which I think include a bottle of glitter nailpolish and a Toblerone. Both the boxing paparazzi shots and the mother/daughter photos are shown and discussed, and the space-time continuum is thrown into spasm as a photo of Alice smiling appears. Anika is compared to Sarah Ferguson (I knew I recognised her wardrobe from somewhere), Danica is prodded in her wobbly bits about being "fat", and I can't understand a word Paloma says due to the sing-song baby voice she always pulls out for the judges, which usually makes me want to take to her smug face with a rasp. After boxing, candid paparazzi shots and twee, cheesy mother photos, can we bring some high-falutin' glamour back next week please? If I want to see someone acting badly with food in their teeth and their arse hanging out, I'll just go for a drink on Sussex Street.
· The judges deliberate, and things get a little bit heated between Jez and Shiny Alex Perry, whose sunglasses nearly move with indignant rage. Shiny Alex tells Jez that he "wouldn't know a good model if one slapped him in the face", which is interesting coming from someone who looks like he's been slapped in the face every half hour for the last three years. All judges argue long and hard, until Joydhi tells them they'll "have to resort to a voyte".
· Joydhi gathers up an armful of phoy-toys and starts calling out names, until only Danica and Paloma are left. Danica is told that she took a good photo, but that it's her first. Paloma is told that she has great energy, but that her look doesn't suit the world of modelling. I love fashion people. They have like, a thousand ways of telling someone they're a dog. After a dramatic pause, Danica is shafted. Bye, Danica! Don't upsize your McMeal on your way out! "I think I should've won because I wanted to win", she says. Life's not fair, babe. I want Dylan Moran to bring me breakfast every morning, but sometimes things only happen on the weekends.
Next week, for some reason Jordan says "Girlfriend, close those legs", there's more nastiness, fights, and Palomelodrama, and the girls are subjected to a bone-crunching, contorted photo-shoot. Cracks. Attacks. Er… more cracks.