Before we go any further into tonight's episode recap, I feel I must give you a warning: THIS IS POSSIBLY THE BEST EPISODE OF AUSTRALIA'S NEXT TOP MODEL EVER, mainly due to the extremely weird photo shoot. Merely reading about it may cause your head to explode with delight at its supreme greatness.
And furthermore: This episode contains footage that could possibly overtake the time that kangaroo attacked Marty Monster, the time that dog did a crap on Graham Kennedy's studio floor and the time Bert Newton almost got punched out by Mohammed Ali at the Logies as the most exciting thing ever broadcast on Australian television.
Just a reminder: It's better than THIS.
But more on that later. For now, we must content ourselves with the exciting opening to the show, which is... guess! Nah, go on, guess! THAT'S RIGHT, A FLASHBACK TO LAST WEEK'S ELIMINATION. Gosh, you're smart.
"It was strange being in the bottom two, I didn't really feel upset," says Caris.
Caris ISN'T upset for once. I'll just let that sink in for a moment.
"Now Alyse is gone I've lost a really great friend," says Demelza, clearly feeling the pain of Alyse's sudden departure.
Parting is such sweet... Well, it's just sweet, actually.
Anyway, let's away to the model mansion where Alex is answering the question "Whatever happened to 90s fashion?" in the form of a floral mini dress and a stonking great pair of black boots.
"EEZ A LEETLE BEET TOO LEZBIAN!" slurs Fernando over the back fence.
All the girls are huddled around Samantha's mobile phone - they've received a video message! Sadly, there's clearly congestion on the network, as it all sounds very slow and disjointed and... Oh.
"I've... got... some... very... important... news... for you..."
The very important news is, apparently, that three of the girls will be heading to "one of the world's top fashion destinations" by the end of the week. Given that last year's season promised the same thing and delivered L.A. I don't know if we can put much faith in this plan.
"Hey y'all, we're off to Mudville, USA - fashion capital of the redneck world!"
Suddenly in bursts Dawson in an outfit that makes her look like she's just come from the set of HOT MILK, an adult film in which she plays a Swiss cheesemaking peasant girl with a fondness for S&M. Oh, and Ian Thorpe, the fashion designer slash Olympian. Again.
They're there to teach four girls who have had every second of their lives videotaped and broadcast to the nation for the past nine weeks how to deal with the media. A phrase using the words "gate", "horse" and "bolted" springs to mind, but let's plough on anyway.
Thorpey tells the girls he's going to give them some tips on how to make sure their image "is always pristine". Because he's very good at that, isn't he? He and Dawson get the modelettes to walk down a fake red carpet (which runs along the mansion's private jetty but sadly doesn't end at the water) while they pretend to be journalists asking them questions. Journalists on crack, clearly, as the questions they ask all seem to be about carbon emissions, Tibet and child slavery - which as we ALL know are very common questions asked of models at red carpet events.
"LINDSAY, LINDSAY! What's the chemical symbol for lead?"
Journalists on crack on the red carpet challenge in a nutshell:
- Thorpey asks Demelza how she plans to reduce her carbon footprint, which prompts the gold-coated, diamond encrusted response "If I can care about my emissions, then I'm sure I can make other people care."
This would be a good place to start, I think.
- According to Dawson, Demelza is "on fire". Thankfully not literally - with all those emissions it could have gotten nasty.
- Dawson asks Demelza her thoughts on Tibet, provoking a delightfully ambiguous monologue that secures Demelza's spot in next year's Miss Teen USA contest.
- Thorpey takes an exceptionally long hit on his crack pipe and asks Caris something about prices on Wall St affecting the Australian fashion market. Tumbleweeds roll past as she stares blankly into the black hole of absurdity standing before her. In my world, this is what's known as AN ENTIRELY NORMAL RESPONSE, but Thorpey and Dawson still tut-tut her for her ignorance.
- Dawson puts on her Celebrity Pimp hat and asks Caris if she'd sleep with Ian Thorpe, before demanding to know which famous person she has a crush on. "GEOFFREY RUSH, cos he's FAN-TASTIC!" slurs Caris. I dust off my I LOVE CARIS badge and superglue it back on to my shirt.
- Samantha is disqualified for lying by starting her answers with "I think" - clearly an activity she hasn't indulged in for quite some time.
- Despite doing a remarkable impression of John Lennon, Alex still can't come up with a solution for the Tibet crisis.
Imagine there are no models, it's easy if you try...
Next up, Dawson puts on a false moustache and glasses and fools everybody by announcing she's "Penny Penworth" from Models Monthly, a magazine that, going by the title, probably gets a lot of advertising dollars from U Tampons.
She and Thorpey interview the modelettes, asking some really subtle, tricky questions designed to catch the models out like "Who's the biggest bitch in the house?" and "Who's the fattest cow in the house?" and "Who's the biggest, fattest bitch-cow in the house?" Alex misses the iron-clad subtlety altogether and treats the interview like a therapy session, blahing on and on about how Demelza is immature/fat/bitchy/mean/whatever-at-least-she's-smart-enough-to-work-this-challenge-out-you-dipshit.
Penworth and Co throw a few glib lines about the media at the girls, before throwing some ACTUAL media at them (a rolled up copy of The Australian that sadly misses Demelza's head), and rush off to meet deadline at their place of employment, Crackpipe Weekly.
Back at the model mansion and DING! DING! It's fight night - Demelza has gotten an advance copy of Crackpipe Weekly and isn't happy about Alex's quotes.
"I didn't say you were the fattest," spouts Alex, with half her finger jammed up her nose. (SERIOUSLY girl, you're on television! Keep your nose mining sessions for after dark, would you?)
"I said you had the most work to do, because of your thighs, and I'm pretty sure everyone has the same opinion."
"Well I don't have a bad thing to say about YOU," says Demelza, quickly covering her face with her hands so no one can see her nose growing.
This argument goes on for about six hours longer than it should, given that Demelza is 16 and caring about who likes you and why takes up 90% of your time when you're 16, and Alex is 20 and reads KAFKAAAA and drinks dollar beers at uni in between philosophy lectures and so doesn't give a shit.
Demelza runs off crying, Alex writes her an apology note and I set my alarm to wake me up when the show gets interesting again.
Suddenly the modelettes are all rocking up at a ritzy hotel ("Oh my gosh it was like, so exciting because this is like, where I stay with my parents when we come to Sydney!" says Demelza, while the rest of the world pulls up their ugg boots and yells "SHAAARD-AAAARP!") where Pease Porridge grabs them and throws them, one by one, into a room full of REAL JOURNALISTS who are going to ask them REAL QUESTIONS. LUCKY THEY HAD THAT MEDIA TRAINING, EH.
In a nutshell:
- "I was excited, I wanted to see what could be written about me and how they would twist my words around," says Caris. As it turns out, the journos want to know too, as interviewing Caris is rather like talking to a stale piece of bread about the stock market.
- The fickle nature of the media is revealed when Shane Sutton is introduced as the editor in chief of FAMOUS magazine. He's not famous anymore, loves.
- With Penny Penworth's harsh "How not to be quoted" lesson still in the forefront of her mind, Alex decides not to risk displaying a sense of humour and dodges every question with tight-lipped answers dipped in dull and coated in boring that would make any politician proud.
- Strangely enough, Samantha's low IQ proves an advantage when being interviewed by gossip columnists. Go figure.
- Bobby Brady also turns up - clearly he has a cadetship at Crackpipe Weekly.
MARCIA, MARCIA, MARCIA!
- Demelza changes her media image from "bully" to "victim" by revealing how she was bullied once at school and made to "leave a group". She neglects to tell the reporters it was the "Nice, decent teenagers who don't pour water over other people's heads" group.
Anyone else think this?
Due to her ability to smile and talk at the same time, Samantha wins the challenge, and gets to go with Demelza to the launch party for a new sneaker. Or the opening of an envelope, I can't remember which. When they get there Alex and Caris are already there, dressed up as Laverne and Shirley and handing out sushi. This Hunter S Thompson style freak out continues when the girls all troop along to a radio station to be interviewed by two "comedians" and a former soapie star. We can't stop here, this is bat country, so let's move on to our next location, Sydney Prop Specialists, where Caris is OH MY FLOCKING GAD:
Could this be any worse?
The modelettes are all there for a special photo shoot with their photographer, famous American comedian Steve Martin.
OKLA-HOMA OKLAHOMA OKLAHOMA!*
Pease Porridge looms into shoot to inform the girls they'll be wearing "HORT KA-CHOOR" this week - the snob in me thinks he probably means haute couture. But then he says the outfits have been designed by Ultimo TAFE students, so actually, he probably DID mean hort ka-choor.
Seems old Stevey Martin has learned a lot about photography from his Hollywood days, as he conducts his shoots like an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway. This results in what is quite possibly THE BEST ANTM PHOTO SHOOT EVER.
Best ANTM photo shoot ever in a nutshell:
- In a cross between a Ukranian folk dancing outfit and viking war armour, Demelza looks like she should be called Broomhilda and be strapped to the front of a ship somewhere. Instead, Steve gets her to pretend she's catching fairies. "What, with my hands?" she asks. Gold.
- Steve decides Demelza looks too beautiful looking just a BIT stupid (damn that saucy sea wench) and so makes her look RATHER stupid by getting her to "conduct a mini orchestra", complete with sound effects. Then he gets her to look COMPLETELY stupid by getting her to stamp her feet and scream pathetically. In hindsight, he should have waited until after the shoot, when she stamps her feet and cries pathetically. Practically the same thing.
Did I ask if it could get any worse? The answer is yes. Yes, it could.
- Sam dresses up as a half-skinned ostrich and shows everyone her chicken fillets. Foul. "I want you to feel like you're escaping!" sleazes Steve - clearly Sam's boobs already got that memo.
- Not content to have Sam pretend to be a half skinned bird on a breakout, Steve has Sam to pretend to be a half skinned bird with artistic ambition - "painting a picture" and "playing air guitar". She expresses concern that the faces she has to pull make her look stupid.
Unlike the ones she pulls normally, which make her look intelligent and distinguished.
- Then suddenly in wanders Helena Bonham Carter, who has obviously been attached by a band of glitter carrying ruffians on the way to a toga party... Oh no wait, it's Caris. Looking good, Caris.
- Caris does a great impression of an after school special by imitating an ice addict trying to remove imaginary insects from her hair, followed by a Mardi Gras raver with a severe hangover. Backstage, 16 year old Demelza gasps "I am NEVER doing drugs."
Alex comes out looking something like MY NIGHTMARES. Apparently these costumes are somehow related to different countries - fuck knows what demented corner of the earth this thing comes from. Possibly an Austrian basement.
SEND IT BACK FROM WHENCE IT CAME!
- Steve gets Alex to pretend to be a lion tamer but actually it's her boobs that need the taming - they've taken lessons from Sam's chicken fillets and are threatening to fly out at any minute. Looking at the outfit they're encased in I don't necessarily blame them.
- And then, the best bit of the best ANTM photo shoot ever: Steve gets Alex to pretend to shoo away flies. While hopping on one leg. And blowing. (Seany B bounds onto set going "I'M FREE!") It is truly a masterpiece of theatre, and it looks a bit like this:
"Keep that going, that's hot!" enthuses Steve Martin, while the rest of the crew excuse themselves to go die of laughter somewhere else.
After all this hilarity there's only one thing left to do - make mincemeat of some models in the elimination warehouse. Looks like it's another fancy dress event, as Alex has come in her 1984 Toowoomba primary school teacher outfit again (she OBVIOUSLY thinks these pants are incredibly hip - can SOMEONE please tell her they're THE WORST PANTS EVER CREATED? PLEASE?!!), Samantha has come as 1970s car wash Barbie, Caris has borrowed someone else's body that she found at the morgue and Demelza has come as a schoolgirl from a Japanese porn film.
Like Charlie's Angels, but crappier.
Faced with this group fashion abortion, the judges thoughtfully make everyone strip off into bikinis and parade around a bit until they're cold. Samantha looks wild, Demelza looks wobbly, Caris looks white and Alex looks weird.
And onto the picture bitch:
- Dawson applauds Samantha for not looking like her head is coming out of a chicken's arse. I'm pretty sure I could achieve that too - maybe I should become a top model.
- Dawson describes Demelza as looking like Joan of Arc, which probably explains why she was "on fire" in that earlier challenge.
- Caris looks like a ventriloquist's dummy that's been hung up in the wardrobe for too long, and still looks beautiful. AND she has braces.
- The judges describe Alex as having a "blank canvas face", looking like "a gargoyle" and "not being exceptionally beautiful", and still end up liking her more than Demelza. Interesting, that.
Jodhello blah blah blahs with the clipboard a bit, calls out a few names, starts a sentence, I go and get myself a cup of tea, make some toast, spit roast a pig, paint the spare room, knit myself a trendy winter scarfe and come back, Jodhello finishes her sentence, and then we're down to TWO MODELETTES: Alex and Caris.
"Unfortunately there's only one seat left on the plane," says Jodhello.
Er, so what? Alyce isn't here anymore and Demelza's already in - one seat between two models isn't exactly advanced mathematics, is it? Nevertheless a decision has to be made, and this time it's Caris, which totally makes sense as all the judges were saying how she never takes a bad photo and she's completely gorgeous.
And as she stumbles off into the sunset, we can hear the strains of the Caris anthem gradually fading out: "I feel like I put so much effort in this week, and I don't think I could have put in any more, and I'm disappointed that my best effort isn't enough..."
SING ALONG EVERYBODY! And then head over to Jo Blogs. Why? BECAUSE I SAID SO.
*Anyone who gets this reference is allowed to be my best friend.