This show is so not about modeling it's not funny. Except it is. It's very, very funny.
Some of you don't have time to read a whole re-cap, so I'll introduce the Nutshell Version: Thirteen girls roll around in meat, fur, and second-hand clothes, Tyra's a pirate, Nigel's hot, and someone goes home. There.
I'm so politically enlightened right now I could burn my admittedly highly-flammable bra.
Despite the fact that the main players in this farce probably still think the Republican Party involves champagne and canapés, and can barely tell (or spell) the difference between activism and autism, they all brought out the politically-charged goods this week in a "controversial" photo-shoot, a charity-driven fashion show, and a quick spot of high-fashion hula-hooping.
These are modules with conscience. These are not always modules with consonants.
And this is the Politics of Prancing episode of America's Next Top Model.
· The modules are in Hollywood, and I'm in limbo – I'm torn between two villains, and I can't decide who to hate or ridicule the most. Only fair to do a pros and cons list, really:
Pros: Determined. Really quite pretty.
Cons: Has a son, whom she talks about relentlessly. Highly-strung and competitive, causing her to refer to situations as "battles", "wars", and other military descriptors. Sobs at the drop of a hat.
I'm Calling Her: The Crying General.
Pros: Determined. Ummmm… owns and uses her own pancreas.
Cons: Has a little bit of experience as a photographer, so thinks she knows everything. Tells people she knows everything. Not very pretty. Complete absence of functioning chin.
I'm Calling Her: The Neck.
I'm pretty sure I hate Sarah more. I only want to give Renee a stern talking to and a bit of a shake. I kind of want to pop Sarah's eyeballs with a fork.
· One thing about the US series – the screaming really gives me the pip. Agent Starling thought the lambs were bad – she never stayed in a mansion with these excitable freaks. After Mr Jay (in another hilarious attempt by producers to make him look macho) rides in on a motorcycle and removes his helmet (keeping his concrete hair intact), he just says the words "Final 13!", and is engulfed by a wave of shrieking screamingness. Jay then comes over all serious, and talks about making a statement, adding, without laughing, that Fashion Is Political. Y'see – America's Next Top Module will become a household name, so she has to stand for something. Judging by previous winners, the household in question is on a first-name basis with their local waitress.
· Based on the above rubbish, Jay outlines this week's photo shoot, in which each girl will be dressed up to represent a different political ish-you and then photographed by Spunky Nigel Barker, who I'm reinforcing my bedsprings for. The ish-you of "war" is neatly skirted around (in neat skirts), presumably because it's so irrelevant to young Americans today. Anyway, it might be Winter here in Sydney, but I'm in a summary kind of mood:
o Brittany – represents "pro-fur" – in a surprise comparable to finding a walnut in a bag of walnuts, she's dressed in fur, and doesn't look too bad for a fifty-year old Manhattan dowager. She says "it's weird to have the head of an animal on your shoulder", proving that she and I have different taste in men.
o Kathleen – represents "anti-fur" – dressed in a funky vinyl jacket, she admits that "I actually do like fur – it makes you look hot", which is exactly what most furry animals think right before they're bludgeoned and skinned. She's not forthcoming with the modelly poses, and Spunky Nigel asks her if she knows what a 'high fashion' look is, and she answers in Brooklyn sing-song "That's a serious look, right?".
o Jaslene – represents "pro-death-penalty" – dressed in a hooded medieval smock, brandishing a morning star, anyone else would look violently matronly. Jaslene, using Tyra vernacular, looks feeee-yerss.
o Sarah – represents "pro-life-in-prison" (because we're not scraping the bottom of the theme-barrel here, no sir) – dressed in a tight-but-boring prison guard's uniform, The Neck looks like The Freak from Prisoner/Cell Block H, but skinnier and a little bit gayer. She says "Nigel knows I'm a photographer, so he's expecting more from me". Nigel says "meh".
o Diana – represents "pro-gun" – Plus-Size White is dressed as Linda Hamilton and bounces around holding a pistol. It's a bit like watching Terminator II in Really Wide Screen, except distinctly uninspiring.
o Renee – represents "anti-gun" – dressed as a hippie, holding a gun (wha?) she claims that it's "hard to portray peaceful". Being Girl Most Likely To Have An Aneurism, I believe her. Cries before going into make-up. Cries whilst having make-up applied. Manages to make rifle-toting look appealing.
o Jael – represents "pro-life" – dressed as a housewife chained to a door labelled "Clinic". Jael has a touch of the grippe, and coughs and sniffs her way through her underwhelming shoot. At one point she feels like she may pass out, but at the last minute she realizes exactly what she needs, and says "maybe I need to hula-hoop a little bit to feel better", which is like putting on Rachmaninoff if you feel like relaxing, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like asking Laurie Lawrence to read you a bedtime story.
o Natasha – represents "pro-choice" – in an outfit conceived whilst the stylists were on a cigarette-break, our mail-order bride is dressed in white bra and undies with the words "pro choice" painted in red on her stomach. She's not quite getting the political theme, and announces that "I not gonna be involved in policks. I just gonna be model". Sweet Baby Jesus, I love this woman.
o Whitney Plus-Size Black and Samantha – represent "gay marriage" – dressed in stuff. Holding hands. Jay tries to help their portrayal by advising them that "lesbians aren't serious all the time". He's right, though – look at Ellen DeGeneres. And.. um… oh. Whilst seeing an overweight girl in a suit and a willowy southern peach gaze into each other's eyes with faux Sapphic lust should be interesting, I'm momentarily distracted by prime numbers.
o Felicia – represents "straight marriage" – dressed in bridal gown, marries a mannequin. Sorry. Can't get past the eyebrows.
o Dionne – represents "vegan" – nude except for artfully draped vegetables. Whatever. Is this over yet?
o Cassandra – represents "pro-meat" – surrounded by burgers, ham, and some roast chickens, she looks like Tootie from The Facts Of Life – The Abattoir Years.
· Our girls are shown to their Module Mobile – a pink Hummer limo complete with chandeliers and pictures of Tyra the Messiah. Scream. They're driven to the Module Mansion, with its obligatory palm trees, lap pool, themed rooms, practice catwalk and.. er.. a row of flame coming out of a… a thing. Scream. Kathleen gushes "we open the doors and it's like freakin' hea-ven", whilst Natasha, ever the flapping Russian cyclone, jumps on a bed and breaks a lamp. Haven't we seen this scene before? Like, every fucking series? Jael saves the repetitive monotony from becoming overwhelming by putting on boxing gloves and a blue wig, and gives Renee a quick pash. That girl's like a breath of fresh air from the lungs of a crippled emphysemic smoker. Bless her.
· A Tyra-Mail (accompanied by screaming) whisks the girls off to a mystery location with the words "one woman's trash is another woman's treasure". Kathleen is suspicious, moaning "I just know I'm gonna have to do something with like… crap". On this show? Are you sure? The location turns out to be a Goodwill second-hand clothing store, and the modules are met by Miss Jay and stylist-to-the stars Phillip Bloch. Phillip Bloch is a spooky looking, John Waters-esque kind of guy with creepy eyes, gluey hair, and a pencil moustache. I think there might be some kind of rule that requires stylists to look like day-old shit – like how women selling skin cream at department stores are required to have golfball-sized moles on their foreheads. As the "gentlemen" explain, today's challenge is to rummage through the racks for dusty frocks in three minutes and find a look that epitomizes each girl's personal style. Their 'looks' will then be chucked down the runway in front of a motley, homeless-looking audience, and auctioned to raise money for charity. Oh, realism. I miss you so.
· Have you ever let the air slowly out of something and been left with a soggy pile of useless deflated plastic? Yes? Excellent. I believe we're all on the same page. A stream of uninteresting polyester over-acts its way down the runway with very few highlights other than those in the modules' very bad hair. Renee complains that she's having trouble because "there are no thrift shops in Maui". Natasha seems to think she's a tiger in heat. Miss Jay describes Kathleen as "straight up Brooklyn hoochie". Diana looks – um – fat. Sarah craps on about how she's "walked fashion shows before". Jael rocks it in a tiny, tiny skirt. I thank God for gin, and furthermore, tonic.
· The fashion parade raises a massive $286, and the winner gets to both sign the oversized novelty cheque and be styled by Spooky Phillip for elimination. That's a prize, see. Jael wins, and I think she goes on to fret to camera about not wanting to seem to pleased just in case the other girls start hating her, but I'm not sure, as she speaks like an alcoholic with a mouth full of marbles. Renee pouts her mean, pointy pout and thinks the win is undeserved, saying "the only reason she won is because she's a thrift-shopper – it's not a model thing", speaking like a spurned cheerleader with a mouth full of sour grapes. Minor terse words are spoken, but we don't even get a proper fight out of it. Gypped. I wants me skinny dumb moles with their claws out, or what's the point, y'know?
· Another Tyra-Mail announces the impending Elimination Ceremony, and Phillip Bloch arrives to style Jael. He takes her from Scrag to Scrag With Eyeshadow in just under two hours. The upcoming ousting elicits visible cracks of pressure in most of the modules, becoming manifest in various ways. Renee bitches to whoever will listen about how much she can't stand everyone, and says "they can win all the battles, I'm gonna win this war". Oh, honey. You're going to get hypertension and a smack in the chops, is what. Sarah says "I know I'm not going home", which I suspect we'll hear from her sucky teacher's pet mouth every week. Kathleen, like, freaks out and like, says "like" like, a lot.
· The girls file into the Elimination Parlour, and are greeted by Tyra, who looks like a pirate today, although it's less "pieces of eight" than "eight piece bucket". The prizes are rattled through, which I think include a push-up bra and a box of paperclips, and Tyra introduces this series' judges. Same as last series – Miss Jay, Twiggy (in my grandmother's blouse), and Spunky Nigel. Hi, Nigel. I made you a cake. You can lick the bowl.
· Photos are whacked up on the big screen, with some notable comments:
o Jael excuses her lacklustre expression by letting the judges know she was ill. Tyra doesn't buy it, claiming that even when she's been sick, she's been able to turn up and "lead this panel". Tyra! I had no idea! The sacrifice! I know when I have the flu, the last thing I want to do is sit in a chair in a room and look fat.
o Renee tells everyone she has a son. More news, page four.
o Nigel tells Diana that even though her "pro-gun" photo isn't much chop, he "enjoyed shooting her". Ha! Get it? Oh, Nigel. You're so funny I could pour stuff on you slowly.
o Kathleen delivers, without question, the best bit of the entire show. After being asked off-hand if she's anti-fur like her photo, she says "Like, if an animal is alive, you shouldn't kill it, but if it's already dead, you can take the skin off". Got it. Only kill an animal if it's dead. Then, after the sound of crickets has subsided and she's asked to elaborate on the 'already dead' part, she says "Animals fight each other in the jungle, right?" and "People die naturally sometimes". She's got a point. Let's wear stuff made out of humans. It's not that she's stupid. She's just a fucking idiot.
· After the judges deliberate over the truly god-awful photos, the modules line up to face their fate, and Tyra, leaving around two weeks between each one, reads out the names of the successful. Eventually it comes down to Kathleen The Moron and Jael The Hoarse – Kathleen is told that she has a bright spirit, and hair to match, but absolutely no clue, and Jael is told that she's funky and quirky, but afraid to succeed because she wants to be liked. Three months pass, and Tyra gives Kathleen the arse. I light a candle for golden quotes that might have been. Bye, Kathleen! Don't trip over any animal carcasses on your way out!
Next week, the modules go back to high school for a photo shoot and runway show, Jaslene suffers from a bad case of being crap, and Sarah's boobs try to get away from her by jumping out of her top. Memories. Maladies. Mammories.