I think my priorities may be a smidge out of whack. I left a harbourside restaurant, some lemongrass and ginger mussels and an excellent Sauvignon Blanc to rush home and watch this festering garbage. So now I not only sound like I'm a complete wanker (if it looks like a duck and walks like a duck…), I'm also about three IQ points worse off than I was at dinner-time.
To be fair, though, there's not many other places where, in the space of an hour (or twenty minutes if you subtract the time spent viewing retrospective Tyra photos), you can see cross-dressing scary nurses, purple pom-poms and couture rock-climbing all in the one spot. Colour yourself barely entertained – it's the Nitwit At Hanging Rock episode of America's Next Top Model.
· I think we're supposed to hate Bianca. If I can bring the jury's attention to exhibits A through F:
EXHIBIT A: The purple fringe.
EXHIBIT B: The phrase "Don't let the hair fool you, bitches – I can be very high fashion". Emphasis on the word "high", I'd venture.
EXHIBIT C: The practice of intentionally giving bad advice to the other modules as a competitive strategy.
EXHIBIT D: The phrase "My mouth can get me anywhere". Monica Lewinsky gives a wink and a knowing smile at this point.
EXHIBIT E: The phrase "I will kick 'em where it hurts. I'm a start cuttin' up clothes". Who needs witty repartee and articulate comebacks when you've got a chip on your shoulder and a pair of pinking shears? Huh? Arsehole.
EXHIBIT F: The purple fringe.
The only thing that saved it for me was her habit of using the phrase "Aaand I'm done!" to close her arguments. I may use that in meetings today.
· The usual Tyra Mail/Bus/walking into building scenario brings us to a dilapidated hospital signposted 'Fashion Madhouse'. Now, on the original planning outline for this episode, a producer probably just scrawled 'Miss Jay – walking lesson' on a napkin. Somehow, in the following weeks, this simple concept evolved into 'Spooky hospital, skulls, strobe lights, straightjackets and ugliest nurse on planet'. This is why television is both my secondary electronic lover and potentially the catalyst for the downfall of the human race as we know it. After some Halloween-esque theatrics, screams and tears, Miss Jay emerges in a nurse's outfit complete with skewiff deflated beehive 'do, making Nurse Ratchett look like Tinky-Winky. Sarah (who?) comments that she'd love to have Miss Jay as a nurse, which makes me suspect that she has a little pencilcase in her luggage filled with razor-blades and bottles of iodine. Miss Jay announces (subtitles my own):
"I'm here to cure you of your fashion ailments" (I'm here to teach you how to walk, because if anyone tells you that it's just a matter of putting one foot in the other whilst looking constipated, I'm totally out of a job).
"There's method to this madness" (It's in the script, y'all).
"Sometimes couture is restrictive, and you have to bring it alive" (We're about to put you in straightjackets, and this is the producer-sanctioned rationale).
So… the girls put on straightjackets and walk up and down and stuff. Now, I know a scene involving walking and implied insanity in a strobe-lit hallway should be interesting, but I'm momentarily distracted by the Microsoft Excel help page.
· Hey, guess what? No, guess, go on! Saleisha's done some modelling before! I'm serious! She's done a bit of catwalk, and a bit of being photographed, and, most likely, a bit of sipping wee bottles of champagne through a straw whilst being discreetly felt-up by a bisexual designer! Yes, way! I just wish she'd mention it every now and again. Like, every five minutes, maybe. Kimberly, on the other hand, summarises her modelling experience by telling us that her dad's been taking pictures of her all her life. I don't know about you, but I'd feel a lot more comfortable if it had been her mother taking those pictures. Still, as long as there's no homeless art student who's willing to pose in exchange for a bowl of soup involved, I suppose it's okay.
· Ladies and Gentlemen, it's time to play All Up In Them Bitches' Faces! Today's two contestants are Saleisha, who says she loves modelling, has modeled before, would like to be a model, and can rent out her forehead as a landing strip, and Bianca, who likes unnatural hair colours, saying the word 'bitch', and cutting up your clothes. Welcome, ladies. I'm sure you both know the rules, but I'll just run through them for the poor exasperated bastards playing at home. Each contestant must rag on the other until one of you either storms out of the room or clicks your fingers dramatically in the air. You might be distracted by the tears of laughter coming from your co-modules or an errant item of bedding, but stay focused! Extra points can be scored by:
o using the word 'stank';
o insinuating that the other contestant is 'borderline plus-size'
o using the phrase 'Mama look atchoo!'
o getting so close to your opponent that you can smell her fear.
Points will be deducted for mentioning that you've modeled before, or stating that you're not interested in making friends because this is a competition. These statements may, however, be edited for use in our Predictable Shit We've All Heard A Million Fucking Times Before Christmas Special.
· Challenge time, and the girls are met.. oh, I don't know – somewhere – by Roy Campbell, a 'runway show producer' famous in my mind for having big gums and little teeth. He explains that this week's challenge will involve dressing in restrictive (read: mildly bizarre products of a mushroom-induced design workshop) couture gowns by Colleen Quen (read: Isn't she that mean skinny chick from Grey's Anatomy?) and walking up and down a catwalk. A third of the frocks are boring. A third of the frocks are gorgeous. A third of the frocks are hideous construction experiments including elements of Art Nouveau and Mies Van Der Rohe architecture, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like putting an IKEA Henrik chair in a cement mixer after a few Bundy and Cokes. Ambreal sports purple pom-poms. Jenah is a strange, bumpy, warped silver gastropod. Heather is an insanely beautiful bird of paradise, Sarah (who?) is a purple puffy mini, and Lisa is an awesome gold mermaid in my favourite frock of the bunch. Kimberly is a stack of flowerpots, which is unfortunate and awkward for her, yet highly entertaining for me. Saleisha wins the challenge prize, which is a trip to Paris to take part in a real Colleen Quen show (if Colleen can get time off from the hospital, of course). Bianca's pissed off. I think. It's hard to tell when your face is sponsored by PermaScowl.
· Traditionally, ANTM photo-shoots do not - how do I put it - skip joyfully through realism daisies in the meadow of the sane. In the past, we've had motorised hair-pieces, ice-caves, angry racing cars, Thai elephants, cross-dressing celebrity couples and prosthetically-enhanced circus freaks. It's good to see, then, that this week the modules are just posing in expensive designer gowns with mildly artistic make-up. Hanging in the air. In harnesses. At an indoor rock-climbing gym. For fuck's sake. Suspend your disbelief and your emaciated bimbos – I feel a summary coming on…
o Lisa explains that she's afraid of heights, but this doesn't really show once she's up in the air. Her undies, however, do.
o Janet offsets her awful short hair with an awful leopard-print dress, and underwhelms. Next.
o Saleisha, after quickly mentioning that she's modelled before, is told to 'think art' by Mr Jay. Apparently 'thinking art' means 'turning up-side down'. Huh. When I was at art school, it meant 'finding enough change in your bag for another beer and getting high on turps'.
o Bianca wins second prize in an Ears Like A Wingnut competition, and apparently epitomises 'punk glamour'. She's like, an oxymoron, you know?
o Victoria tells us she's going to 'bring on her super nerdy skills' and does pretty well in a colourful flappy smock dress. She then nabs Quote Of The Day by describing herself as 'a sea nymph on acid scaling a wall in the sunshine'. Anyway, she piddy. She piddy lady.
o Ambreal is boring. Seems to be a habit. What?
o Chantal is a pink parrot who would fly south for the winter if she didn't have bad fluffy hair and wonky eyes. Fly, parrot, fly!
o Ebony, in a pink mini, claims that people expect a lot from her. I expect her to make up words, and she doesn't disappoint. Ladies and gentlemen: 'exterialise'. As in 'I'm going to exterialise my anger and maybe throw up my lunch a little bit'.
o Sarah (who?) is… um… wearing stuff in the air.
o Kimberly, taking out the undisputed Wingnut Trophy, is in an okay black frock, and strikes okay poses. She tells us she 'wants to be a role model for the girls that just have a normal life'. Way to hitch your wagon to a star, Girl Next Door.
o Jenah, who has been rock-climbing since she was twelve, manages to hoik her massive teeth up the wall without too much trouble, and poses surprisingly well. Damn, though. Those teeth. Damn.
o Heather is perfect and looks perfect and is perfect. Y'know – except for the autism n'all. Shut up.
· A Tyra Mail sends the girls to the Elimination of Wake-Me-Up-When-It's-Over, where the bag of fried chicken herself greets them in a dress that looks like Pucci threw up on a stiff sheet after a particularly aggressive bowl of oysters. She robots through the prizes, which I think this year include a tape measure and a single dead gerbera, and then introduces the judges, including Miss Jay (slightly bigger afro than last week), Twiggy (slightly more of an Egyptian matron than last week), Roy Campbell (teeth still the same inadequate size), and Spunky Nigel Barker, who I'm making sure the carpet matches the curtains for. For some reason, Tyra starts speaking with a French accent, until she pauses and says "Why am I speaking in a French accent?". Then she keeps doing it. And doesn't stop. Trou du cul.
· Photos are whisked through, with a smattering of worthwhile moments:
o Tyra is troubled by the fact that, to her knowledge, people with Asperger's Syndrome characteristically have trouble making eye contact, yet in Heather's photo, she seems to be making 'amazing' eye contact with an imaginary person in the distance. So, like, I'm colourblind, but I'm awesome at picking colours on an imaginary colour-wheel. It's sort of like a miracle and stuff.
o Nigel sees Ebony's photo and just says "Legs-a-million". I'm sure he meant to say "Just a little to the left, Jo. Thaaaat's it".
o Tyra's critique of Ebony consists entirely of telling stories about her own start in modelling, including booking twenty-five shows in Paris on the basis of three photographs. Ebony looks like Confused And Sad Dionne Warwick Doll – Now With Disturbingly Jutting Collarbones!
o Tyra tells Kimberly that her favourite part of her is her ears. I wish Kimberly had immediately said "Sorry, what?". It's just a theory, but I think if someone tells you your best feature is your ears, consider a career in accounting.
o Nigel tells Chantal that her photo might have been better "had she owned her legs". What, is she renting them?
o Miss Jay says that he sees 'no nutritional fashion value' in Kimberly. I… I don't know what that means.
· The judges deliberate, and finally Tyra commences calling names and doling out photographs, until only Bianca Pinking Shears and Kimberly Wingnut are left. Kimberly is told that she's a gorgeous girl with perfect ears (shut uuuup), but a little pedestrian (not like the guy on the 'don't walk' sign), and Bianca is told that none of the judges liked her photo. I wipe some catatonic dribble from my chin, and Kimberly is given her marching orders, but not before Tyra lovingly caresses her ears. Bye, Kimberly! Don't dislodge any mantelpiece ornaments on your way out!
Next week, a grasshopper invades the Module Mansion, the modules suspect they're about to get a makeover, and then.. they.. kind of… get a makeover. Wild environs. Warning sirens. Curling irons.