What a bloody shambles.
We're in Australia this week, and I can barely throw a shrimp on the barbie, so swamped am I with late twentieth-century provincial clichés. I was going to install a Predictable-Stereotype-O-Meter into this recap, but it took a sickie and pissed off down the pub to watch the cricket. In its thongs.
Grab a cork hat and swat away a couple of koalas – it's the Tyra Me Kangaroo Down, Sport episode of America's Next Top Model.
· I've said it before, and I'll say it again – I can't understand a single fucking word Jael says. I've spoken to a lot of drunk, drug-addled people in my time, but this oft-subtitled girl is something special. This isn't just ordinary stimulant/depressant-based incomprehensibility. This is like, piece-of-the-brain-missing shit.
· A Tyra-Mail arrives at the Module Mansion, and ironically it alludes to the Art of Conversation. A knock on the door heralds a visit from April, a contestant from ANTM Series 2 and current correspondent for the journalistic juggernaut Miami Vibe. She explains to the girls that, to be a module, you have to be a 'jack of all trades' (read: able to walk and talk), and she introduces Gary Riotto to help teach good interview technique. Jaslene furrows her brow with typical Cha-Cha Diva Drag Queen concern, saying "I have a lot of problems with my talking… I wanna talk good". April and Gary then give examples of different kinds of interviewees, including the "chatterbox" and the "non-talker", basically covering all the categories from A to B. Our modules are paired off and asked to interview each other, including the inspired coupling of Dionne "What the HEYLL?!" and Jael " Merner Makah Mer Mana". Natasha confidently asserts that "I would be baist, because I haves the look, and I can talk". Oh, Natasha. What's Russian for 'self-referential delusional irony'? Now, although I know pairs of skinny girls trying to talk over each other and sit up straight sounds interesting, but I'm momentarily distracted by a WorkChoices advertisement.
· The girls let off steam by splashing around in the pool, and Jael gets her tits out. It's not that she's intentionally trying to be confrontational or bawdy, it's just that no-one understood her when she said "Gaaaaas, whizzzma berkini?"
· Another day, another visit from a has-been, and April re-enters the house, seemingly to have another talk about… y'know… talking. She tells the girls that they're to take their new interview skills to the streets in a challenge, and as always happens in these situations, she's rudely and abruptly interrupted by the sudden bouncy entrance of somebody in a giant mangy kangaroo suit. Could this be another wacky ANTM plot-twist? OMG! WTF? It's Tyra! She removes her head (sadly, no), and almost dislodges her ubiquitous head-scarf in the process, coming close to revealing either her weave-line or the scar left over from a recent mad-scientist, human/monkey brain transplant experiment. Tyra widens her eyes, adjusts her wig, catches her breath and screams "You're going to SYDNEY AUSTRALIA!". The news is greeted by all except Natasha with jumping-up-and-down excitement, and punctuated by the appearance of a real kangaroo and handler. Jaslene says to camera that she's "never been anywhere except the 'hood and 'round the corner", and after about half an hour (during which Natasha consults her phrasebook and realises that they're not going to 'Sit On Knees in Austria), our favourite Russian finally twigs, and lets out the frenzied squeal of a thousand kettles all boiling at once, almost giving the kangaroo a conniption. Tyra sends the modules off to pack and says "Next time I see you guys, it'll be 'Good-eye'!". Indeed.
· The seen-every-series animated aeroplane graphically whisks the girls across the globe, and they arrive at Sydney Airport accompanied by hackneyed imagery of the Opera House and Bondi Beach, all to a didgeridoo soundtrack. They're greeted by Erika Heynatz, host of the first two series of Australia's Next Top Model before she was replaced by Joydhi Meares and went off to be a failed singer. "G'day," she says, as the Predictable-Stereotype-O-Meter pricks up its ears from the pub, "You guys must be knackered. No mucking around – it's straight into the hard yakka!". I'm assuming the show's producers are trying to give the impression that this is how we all speak here. I'm as indignant as a wrongly-accused dingo, mate. The modules have no idea what she's talking about, and Jael is thankful for the respite.
· Erika introduces this week's challenge, in which our girls are to go out into the streets of Sydney and conduct some vox populi-style interviews utilising as much "Aussie Slang" as possible. During the interviews, a super-imposed "slang-o-meter" counts their hit rates, and also gives on-screen definitions to assist non-Antipodean viewers. For example, did you know that "dag" means "funny person"? I can only guess that putting the phrases "individual of questionable and dated styling" or "crusty bit of dried faeces on a sheep's arse" on screen would have obscured too much of the predictable scenery. Renee offers "good avro" instead of "good arvo", Jael wears a tutu and says "yanks" a lot (quite eloquently, surprisingly), Jaslene asks a Mediterranean gent to show her his "daks", Brittany manages to interview an American tourist, and Dionne abandons all attempts at Australian slang by responding to every answer with "thas' cool, thas' cool". Natasha, however, is brilliant. At first she just asks tentative questions about her interviewees' opinions on "lippy", but then probes deeper with inferences about their chances of "cracking on". After bemused and hesitant responses, she says "Don't be cactus! You guys are all cactuses", and bingo – she's as Australian as Russell Crowe and Jorn Utzon. She wins the challenge. I love a world in which this can happen, and I'm happy to live in it.
· It's time for a photo-shoot, and also time for the Predictable-Stereotype-O-Meter to blow a gasket. Jay outlines the commercial shoot's premise, and I can only gawp in stunned, insulted silence. See, they’re out in the bush, right? In like, the outback. And there's a photographer, right, who's out there to try and take a photograph of a kangaroo. Only he sees this grouse-looking 'bird' – just wandering through the outback in regulation khaki – and he's so distracted, especially by her clump-free Cover Girl mascara, that he forgets all about the kangaroo. For fuck's sake. The modules have to memorise their script, and then deliver all their lines (including, and I'm serious: "He thinks I'm the most beautiful sheila he's ever seen in the bush") in an "Ossie" accent. Honestly, if I didn't want to lose the goanna stew and Fosters I just had for lunch, I'd vomit. Or chunder, as the case may be. In summary:
o Renee, dressed in god-awful I-don't-know-what, sounds like a mix between Steve Irwin and a British woman sucking on a Mintie.
o Dionne brings out her Jamaican housewife accent again, and forgets her lines except for "plump 'em, not clump 'em, girrrrrl".
o Jael, usually composed of more alternative stuff, struggles with both being dressed in an awful floral blouse and with being required to appear chirpy and cheerful. She complains that it's "too over the top in fake happiness for me", and expresses her distaste by squinting, frowning, smiling cheesily and swaying like Stevie Wonder on a surfboard. She says she'd rather "touch the grass and the animals, and climb trees". Please, if you will, pass the dutchie on de left han' side.
o Jaslene is hilarious. Frowning in concentration and struggling to cover her Spanish accent, she comes across as a deaf, constipated Japanese tourist with mild brain damage. Remembers all her lines, though.
o Brittany, as usual, looks stunning, but has terrible trouble remembering her lines. She explains her problem – when she was seventeen, she was hit by a car and ended up needing staples in her head, which has affected her short-term memory. This is obviously true, as only last week she had a bright red ferret-pelt sewn onto her scalp, which possibly aggravated her condition. Now, this might sound mean (and I really do try to avoid that wherever possible), but when she tearfully and repeatedly told her tragic car-crash story, I nearly burst my own staples laughing. There's just something about an I Can't Remember My Lines About Cover Girl Mascara Because Of The Staples In My Brain story that really tickles my funny bone. Great accent, though.
o Natasha looks a bit drab, but nobody cares – we're all waiting to hear a Russian who can barely speak English attempt an Australian accent. No disappointment there. It's bad. It's like Giocametti trying to sculpt a fat chick or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like McDonalds bringing out salad. Still, she remembers her lines and models up a storm, and as she walks back to the trailer, delivers the killer "I think I'm did bloody good, mate". Oh, Natasha. There are no words in any language to describe how much I love you.
· Brittany. Honey. Enough about your short-term memory already. We still have ours.
· It's go-time, and the modules are summoned to the Australiana-adorned Elimination Shearing Shed to look at pictures and hear their fate. Tyra greets the girls, but something's wrong – wait… she's not wearing a scarf! She's not a pirate. She's not a gypsy. She's just a crazy, ageing fat girl with a big forehead and a heart of gold. She craps through the prizes, which I think include a tube of sunscreen and a boomerang, and introduces the judges, indluding 8-ruffled Miss Jay, back-to-frumpy Twiggy, guest Erika Heynatz, and Spunky Nigel Barker, who's always welcome Down Under.
· The Cover Girl commercial is screened, followed by each girl's best take. Jael is clearly advertising a particularly aggressive batch of barbiturates, and Tyra criticises harshly, saying that she looks like "an anarchist making fun of being a Cover Girl". Brittany hauls out the brain-staple tears yet again, but Miss Jay cuts her off mid-weep with "Fashion has no sympathy".
· The judges deliberate, and 'screen-captures' are handed out one by one until only Mumbling Jael and… oh… I've forgotten her name… Brittany! Until only Mumbling Jael and Brittany are left. Brittany is told she has strong pictures, but that she was unable to deliver the commercial, and Jael is also told she has great pictures, but that she has "ghastly presentation on film". Cracked skull wins out over just crack, and Jael is sent home. Bye, Jael! Merner munna ma merker ferner on your way out, dude.
Next week, the modules rush around Sydney for go-sees with barely enough time to eat, Brittany loses her cool, and Wayne Cooper takes the piss. Rumbling tummies. Spitting dummies. Expatriate Brummies.