recycle (ree-sahy-kuhl) verb
1. to treat or process (used or waste materials) so as to make suitable for re-use
2. to alter or adapt for new use without changing the essential form or nature
3. to try to extend one's fame well past its use-by date by producing a televised modelling competition and a truly shit talk-show
4. to repeat the same fucking concepts and scenarios every single fucking episode of every single fucking series.
Seriously, if something doesn't happen at the end of this episode that's never happened before, I'll eat my hat. As if. That would never happen.
Separate your plastics – it's the Quitting On The Dock Of The Haaa-aaay! episode of America's Next Top Model.
· Ebony wails about being tired of going to panel and getting bad criticism. She seems jaded, like perhaps she doesn't want to be here anymore. Even unborn foetuses in the frozen tundra of Siberia guess that this means her days are numbered. Recycled factor: three PET bottles and a compost heap.
· Okay, so I hate to get all Webster's on your arses twice in one recap, but 'autism' is defined as 'a condition characterised by emotional detachment and impaired communication'. Heather, our perfect-except-for-the-autism-thing module, expresses just about every available emotion in this episode, from Anguish to Zsa-Zsa. Autistic my arse.
· The doorbell rings at the Module Mansion, and Jenah nearly faints with all-consuming lust when she opens the door to discover their visitor – Tyson Beckford, apparently a really, really famous male model, or as I'm calling him, Beefy McLumps from QuadTown. He's alright, I suppose, if you like men with pecs the size of watermelons who have to pay other people to scratch their own armpits. Granted, being a girl who finds Dylan Moran attractive, perhaps the whole even-my-tattoos-have-muscles thing is a little lost on me, and perhaps I prefer my men to have more hair on their entire body than I have on my left knee, but the modules seem to like him. In fact, there are not enough underpants in the world to absorb their excitement, and when Tyson invites them all to sit on the couch, all I can think of is the necessity for Scotchguard. Even Heather calls him 'eye candy'. How's that emotional detachment working for you, Heather?
· Tyson explains that modelling isn't always about standing around looking pretty – it's also about being a spokesperson. He explains that today's exercise will involve each module grabbing something from the kitchen and then 'selling' it to him. Kitchen items. Raging lustful hormones. Male model. Nine And A Half Freaks, anyone? A brief catalogue of the carnal is offered below. See if you can pick out the subtle sexual innuendo – it's obscure, but it's there.
o Chantal sucks on a lime popsicle, starting by putting the whole thing in her mouth.
o Bianca, with a watering can, asks if 'you ever want to just get things real wet'.
o Ebony plays a sexy robot selling a kettle (or, as she calls it, a 'water-heater-upper') as she blankly, with heavy prompting, tells Tyson it's hot and moist and what he really wants.
o Heather fondles a wineglass and, whilst Tyson grabs her, tells him it's fingerprint-proof and lipstick-proof in a guttural purr. How's that impaired communication working out for you, Heather? Tyson looks like he's about to have a an autistic episode. Like, in his pants.
o Ambreal sells a mango, and Tyson tells her he'd like to take a bite of it. See the subtlety? He takes a huge mouthful, skin and all, and Ambreal saves the remaining mango for diary-room metaphors and possibly her next bath.
I feel a bit… soiled. You know what helps me feel pure and whole again at times like this? Public Service Announcements about people dying from AIDS!
· The Big Green Bus charitably plonks the girls at a studio (Recycled Factor: six glass jars and a BETA video tape), where they're again met by Beefy McLumps. Beefy in turn introduces them to Elizabeth from a charity called 'Keep A Child Alive', which I'm joyfully abbreviating as 'KACA'. KACA is an AIDS charity that operates in Africa, and the girls have thirty minutes to get into teams of three, put together a Public Service Announcement for KACA, and perform it in front of a camera. They're allowed to paint signs and/or themselves, and I'm allowed to choke on my own comatose fluids. Lisa, Chantal and Bianca base their PSA on the concept of 'see no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil', but Bianca stuffs up her lines in a big way, including erroneously calling the charity 'Keep A Child'. You're not Madonna, honey. Jenah, Ambreal and Heather make their point with Bob-Dylan-esque painted signs which crash noisily to the floor as punctuation. Saleisha, Sarah and Ebony put the 'sop' into 'soporific', and even all join hands at the end. Now, I know a bunch of girls in identical outfits talking about charity to a camera in front of a blank background should be interesting, but I'm momentarily distracted by lint.
· Elizabeth gives the girls a critique, scolding Ebony for mentioning that KACA are involved with AIDS prevention (which they aren't – KA-CA-Catholic?), and announces Heather, Ambreal and Jenah as the competition winners. In an unnecessarily and irritatingly complicated scenario, Lisa Price, founder of Carol's Daughter natural cosmetics, presents gift baskets to the winners, then puts the winners' names in a bowl, and draws one out (Heather), for the main prize of a photo-shoot with Mary J Blige for Carol's Daughter cosmetics. Got all that? I'll leave a space now so you can go and get a coffee, or beer, or shoot yourself in the pancreas.
· Perfect-except-for-autism Heather arrives at the Mary J Blige photo-shoot and nearly wees her emotionally-challenged daks with excitement. Daubed with fake tan and draped in a god-awful sarong and lilies, she looks absolutely get-out gorgeous during the shoot, and almost squeezes the J out of Mary with a thank-you hug in yet another demonstration of her difficulty relating to others. Mary J tells her she has an 'automatic personality'. Ha! Mary J can't pronounce 'autistic'!
· Back at the house, and in a metaphor just waiting to happen, the girls spend the night in the closet. It's apparently the warmest room in the house, and the girls eat pizza, do their nails, call it a slumber party and then tackle some really, really big issues. Ebony admits that she really wants to go home, and the other girls stare at her in wide-eyed disbelief. It's a bit like seeing Van Gogh sharpen his razor, or, for the lowbrow amongst you, like hearing Elvis say "I'm just popping off to the loo – back in a sec". If there was a noise which implied certain doom, I'd be totally making it right now. Bianca, sensing that the new, heavy, serious tone of the closet slumber party needs to be upheld, turns to the girls and asks "Do I have a fat face?".
· A Tyra-Mail announces a photo shoot (Recycled Factor: Two old mobile phones and a Foxtel magazine), and the modules meet Mr Jay at a studio, where it's announced that they'll be 'giving back' by each representing a different recyclable material in photographs. Let's have a summary, shall we?
o Heather-as-aluminium-cans looks perfect. Except for the autism. And the aluminium cans just staple-gunned to the backdrop. And the way the shadows make her nose look big. Perfect-ish.
o Chantal-as-shredded-paper wears an awesome fringed frock and throws paper and hair around. It's just so… so blonde.
o Sarah (who?)-as-garbage-bags has really, really big boobs.
o Saleisha-as-car-parts can't even make a hideous PVC frock or a pile of teetering hub-caps draw the attention away from her truly, truly fucked-up Tootie hair.
o Ebony-as-bubble-wrap looks glamorous, sophisticated and gorgeous. To me. To Mr Jay and the producers, who I suspect may have already seen some 'I wanna go home' footage, think she looks uninspiring and trampish. Doom noise.
o Jenah-as-cardboard annoys me by looking awesome. She's dressed in the Cutest Brown Dress In The World, and somehow manages to close her mouth over her gargantuan teeth.
o Bianca-as-oil is greased up, and pulls off a miraculous stunt – in real life, her head looks like a misshapen novelty condom, but in photographs she's all beautiful and regal and shit. Mr Jay raves about the fact that she's learnt to 'smile with her eyes'. I snarl with my lower intestine.
o Lisa-as-plastic-bottles is wearing what looks like Glad Wrap flared trousers. I'd love to describe more of her shoot, but… Glad Wrap. Flared. Trousers.
o Ambreal-as-newspaper suggests the headline Fugly Girl In Flammable Frock Shock! Turf her out already. Sheesh.
· Back at the house again, and a Tyra-Mail warns the girls of an impending elimination. Ambreal is worried, but Ebony repeats that she doesn't want to be here, and that she's sick of the criticism, and I get sick of the Doom Noise I don't even know how to make yet.
· The modules file into the Elimination of Low Self Esteem, greeted by Tyra, dressed today as a secretary at Fried Chicken Incorporated. She introduces the judges, including Miss Jay (with a bigger afro suggesting a first name of 'Foxy'), Twiggy (with a top suggesting a first name of 'I Got It At Kmart'), guest judge Beefy McLumps (with a face suggesting that the modules should drop their pants), and Spunky Nigel, who I'm not even flashing a nipple at while he's wearing an afro wig. If I'm going to see something that looks like your pubic hair, Nigel, I want it to be.. like, your… your pubic hair. Forget it. Prizes are droned through, which I think this year include a pumice stone and a bottle of Fanta, then the photos are recycled, as are comments like "you have dead eyes", "the camera loves you", "I don't see a model", and "there's only eleven pieces in my twelve piece bucket".
· The judges deliberate, and Tyra starts doling out photos and calling names, starting with Saleisha Tootie Facts of Life and continuing until only Ambreal The Ugly and Ebony The Uninspiring are left. For some reason, Tyra dispenses with her individual character assassinations and chooses instead to speak generally, telling the girls that they both know how to model, but that "You all were the worst. Pictures. In. The. Bunch". After another pause, Ambreal is given the boot.
· Nuh-uh. Not so fast. Tyra holds Ebony's victory photo out to her, but Ebony keeps her bony arms by her bony sides and just stares back. She then mumbles almost imperceptibly "I don't want to be here" and quits. She quits. This is never happened before. Tyra reels briefly in shock, and then focuses her swirling emotions into morphing into a right bitch. Ebony cries and explains that modelling is not for her, I can only quote Tyra directly, lest I stab my television screen with a skewer: "You know what I think is not for you? I don't think it's modelling. I think it's people telling you what to do. I think it's people telling you that you're not perfect. I think that's what you can't handle. And the most unattractive thing in the world to me is a quitter. And for that – you can go". I… I… you ARSEHOLE. Okay:
a) the girl has just made a really tough decision, and she's crying, and you're giving her shit about it.
b) you just called a gorgeous girl unattractive, for no other reason than that she just totally killed your power-buzz by doing something outside the script
c) "You can go"? She QUIT, you pompous motherfucker.
d) When Tyra hugs Ambreal, who has just dodged a bullet, Tyra whispers "It was meant to be". Except for the fact that, you know, five minutes ago wasn't. Foo.
· Bye, Ebony. Mind you're not all my new hero and stuff on your way out.
Next week, the girls don skin-coloured bodysuits to learn some sexy moves from Tyra, everyone dresses in slutty vinyl for a music video shoot, and one of the girls collapses from hunger. Nude. Rude. Eat some food.