Greece is currently the midst of a very major, very devastating, very public, very hard for me to understand economic meltdown. (Though this helped, kind of not really.
) But you wouldn't know that from watching tonight's episode of ANTM,
of course. This entire season has been all about taking human beings and distilling them down to a singular, flat, comically absurd essence -- so why not ALSO do that with an entire country? OoooooOOOOPA!
America's Next Top Model is available on Amazon Prime.
But I'm getting ahead of myself, and the show. First, after last week's elimination, the final six sit down for a quick lunch and bitchfest. Shannon claims that she gets "thousands of emails from young girls" saying that she's their role model. Sure, Shannon. "When I grow up, I want to be a talking cardboard cutout." That's what all the letters say. Meanwhile, everyone now hates Allison because that is the curse of success, and Allison better get used to it, because she is a special gem and even her failures are spectacular.
Around the time when Lisa's running out of brags to yell in our faces, Andre shows up in his signature Asian field worker garb with two sad out-of-work improv students he's hired to be his new
slaves personal waiters. The waiters waltz in to the girls' foyer holding dishes in both hands. Then the one in the front bumps into the one in the back, and then he gets all huffy, and both waiters smash their dishes on the floor and run away.
My face exactly.
Andre then mumbles something about how he's sorry about his servant boys' "gauche behavior ... but actually there's a country in the world where that is a tradition ... like Greece, where we're all headed." He says this with the enthusiasm of a medical diagnosis.
What a lazy, cheap, nonsensical, haphazard international destination announcement. Where's the joy? Remember when the show used to have FUN with these things? Tyra should have floated in dressed as SMIZEUS, the Greek Goddess of Fierceness, surrounded by a flock of half-naked, well-oiled men in thigh-grazing togas feeding her grapes. Then she'd make some sort of decree and throw a glittery lightning bolt, which would hit a lever that would cause a Greek flag to unravel from the ceiling as a shower of olives and confetti rained down. I mean, how hard is that? Top Model, WAKE UP! This is ALL-STARS! Show some RESPECT.
But the all-stars don't care, because they're going to GREECE! So they smash plates of their own and scream "OPA!" for a hot minute, and then it's time to pack and fly far, far away from Los Angeles. Laura's the most excited, having never been abroad. Because, as you'll recall, during her season, the show didn't want to spare the expense for the short girls and sent them to Hawaii. So I guess this actually isn't the WORST international announcement, now that I think about it.
So We're in Greece Now, Give a Speech Now
Miss J, dressed as a slutty shriner, and the host of Greece's Next Top Model, greet the girls and explain that this week's challenge is to give a one-minute speech to "some very important people" (locals recruited on Facebook) in Crete. OH GREAT, so we're getting on another plane right away! J then gives a helpful tip (required rule) that each girl should throw in some words in the audience's "native language," to make her speech more relatable (less understandable, more idiotic-able).
Here to teach you how to be taken seriously as a public speaker.
So the plane lands in Crete, and each girl gives her speech ON THE TARMAC, at the bottom of the plane's staircase, to an unknown group of giggling strangers. What, like they can't give their pointless speeches in a conference room? They have to do it at the foot of the plane, RIGHT NOW, because everything they're saying is just so IMPORTANT and URGENT?
BREAKING NEWS!!!!!! American girl loves to paint!
Good grief. I constantly feel like Andy Rooney (R.I.P.) when I watch Top Model these days. Gripe, gripe, grumble, grumble. But it MAKES NO SENSE.
The girls get green checkmarks on the screen when they correctly use the Greek terms that have been provided to them, and red X's when they flub 'em up. Each speech reads like Mad Libs for Idiots. Highlights include Laura calling Venus a Greek goddess (nooope, she's Roman) and Angelea asking to use el banyo, because it's ALL Greek to her! Even Spanish. Still Greek.
After their speeches, the girls travel to their apartment, which has a pool, photos of Tyra all over the walls, and a TV that only plays their horrendous music videos on loop. They try to focus on the pool.
At the apartment, Miss J announces who won the speech. (Can you even win a speech? What is this, America's Next Top Speech Writer? C'MON!) And the winner IS ... Allison. Well, at least the right girl won, even if I couldn't tell you whether she deserves it. I was too distracted by how stupid the concept was to actually listen to any of the speeches. She gets a golden bracelet to signify that she is the best at reading aloud. It's a proud day for
us all the Greeks Allison nobody, really.
Photo Shoot: Undressed Greek Salads
"My main inspiration comes from talking to my bones."
Each of the final six girls sits down with Michael and imagines her ideal gown. Michael then silently judges her terrible ideas and doodles out his own gown design for her -- but only the final two will get to wear their precious imaginary gowns in the finale. So that segment was pretty much pointless.
It's time for the photo shoot, and Jay announces that they're posing in underwear in a salad bowl, like human greek salads, complete with lettuce and tomatoes. They're the half-naked protein in an ogre's healthy side dish! Ssssseeexxxxyyyyy.
Shannon PROUDLY elects to sit out of the photo shoot, because as a model, she "doesn't do underwear." She promises Jay that she wants to win this competition "so freaking badly," but not enough to compromise her beliefs. Because posing in garments that EVERYBODY wears (these ones aren't even that scandalous; they look like swimwear!) while surrounded by nutritious vegetables is clearly the DEVIL'S WORK. And so Shannon sits back and wades around in her own self-satisfaction, and it feels WONDERFUL. Congratulations, Shannon! You're beautiful, blonde, conservative, and your moral superiority badge is officially UNLOCKED. It's only a matter of time until Fox and Friends comes-a-callin', asking you to be their new Moral Model Correspondent.
During her shoot, Allison is uncomfortable because stepping into the veggies and feta "feels like you're stepping into someone's organs." I actually wouldn't put it past Allison for knowing what that feels like from experience. Lisa impresses Jay by pouring olive oil on her various parts. All of her photos are going to look like a campaign aimed at produce fetishists. Tyra's gonna love it.
"Laura dove into the salad," says Jay, clearly tiptoeing around any discussion of "salad-tossing" of any sort. But Laura looks "too much like a little girl" as she pours olive oil all over her face and mashes around in tomatoes. Which is so strange, since that's totally something a mature, sexually experienced WOMAN would do.
Judging and Deliberation
Tonight's guest judge is Nicos Papadoopadaupalopaus, who was also their photographer. His English is hard to understand, but that's OK, because so is everyone else's on the judging panel, besides Nigel.
Allison: Her eyes are closed in the photo, because she had a hard time opening them in the sun. That's a shame, because her eyes are her signature body part, but the photo is still quietly lovely.
Angelea: Angelea made the photographer feel awkward, but her final shot is "gorgeous," says Nigel. However, the photo makes Andre feel neither hungry nor aroused.
Lisa: Her body looks great, says Nigel. The photographer says Lisa felt too "programmed" in her poses, which gives Tyra her opening to demonstrate how to "flow." Tyra also says Lisa looks too "swimsuity."
Shannon: She gives her little speech about how she decided several years ago that she doesn't model lingerie. Nigel fires right back, accusing her of getting caught up in semantics rather than skin, since she's OK with modeling swimsuits. Nicos says he doesn't want to work with models who have "so many limitations." Tyra thinks it's good to stand up for what you believe in, but Shannon's portfolio and judging could suffer for it.
Dominique: Now THIS is how you sex up a salad. "I don't think I've ever seen you look so incredible," says Nigel. The sunlight is hitting Dominique perfectly, "and your film was just lovely," says Tyra. "This could be a poster for Greece!" says Andre.
Laura: She looks like she's drowning in olive oil. And she's not happy about it. It's still rather sexual, but in a regrettable, ugly way. "It's not my favorite moment for you," says Andre.
In deliberation, the judges debate whether Shannon's moral stand is stupid or admirable. Tyra decides that even if her beliefs don't make sense to ANYONE else, "they make sense to her," and that's a good thing. (No, it's not.) Tyra admires how Shannon stands her ground, no matter what, because that means "there's got to be something to that." Actually, no, there HASN'T always got to be something to that.
I'm not saying that Shannon doesn't have a right to refuse posing in underwear. That's totally her right, if she wants. Though I'm not sure why she'd subject that rigid, inconvenient belief to a reality show, twice. But the fact that nobody else gets that belief doesn't automatically make that belief NOBLE. Actually, it makes the belief highly suspect -- though, again, it's Shannon's right to be fully clothed and fully prude if she wants, and she's really only affecting herself with it. (Although, what if those "thousands" of little girls who look up to Shannon all grow up to become models, and what if NONE OF THEM will model underwear? Who will model the world's underwear?! The last thing we need is an UNDERWEAR RECESSION!)
In conclusion, in Tyra's Land of Infinite Egomania, unbending stubbornness was easily mistaken for undaunted courage, and no one was surprised.
Best Photo: Dominique. Well deserved. The gods approve.
Bottom Two: Laura and Shannon
Tyra pretends for a minute that she's going to eliminate dear, sweet, short, adorable Laura, whose photos "aren't in alignment with 'Lovable'" (but at least she TRIED), over Shannon, whose adherence to her 'Pure' brand is "noble." (Ugh.) But in this class, "Introduction to Mediocre Celebrity 101," participation actually does count toward your grade.
Tyra informs Shannon that she wasn't eliminated solely because she boycotted the booty shorts, but because "You're the only girl in this bunch who has never had best photo or won a challenge." She throws in a gut-punch, just for fun: "You came here a GREAT model, but now you're just GOOD." All Shannon hears is "good," and she's happy, saying she has no regrets. By contrast, while I too am happy -- that this episode is over -- I am also full of regrets, for having watched it.
Next Week: Miss J forces the girls to assess each other's weaknesses to their faces, so obviously Angelea blows up, says everyone is attacking her and runs off in tears.
(Images courtesy of CW)