What’s more fun than watching a bunch of model wannabes claw for survival in a cramped New York City suite? Watching them claw for survival in tiny Japanese cubby holes! This week’s episode of America’s Next Top Model took our plucky divas and transported them to the strange and foreign land of Japan where they did their best impersonation of a Sofia Coppola film (and for the record, I thought this show was infinitely more entertaining). Of course, any field trip to Japan would not be complete without a sendoff from UPN’s promotional department. No, the women didn’t receive complementary Smackdown T-shirts (at least, not yet). Instead they were paid a visit by Taye Diggs, who can presently be seen in Kevin Hill, which – oh by the way – airs directly after America’s Next Top Model. Mmmmm…. UPN synergy. In other news, Scott Bakula just finished a stint on “Girlfriends” (he plays Sharif).Before Taye or Japan could have their way with the ladies, important body-image conerns needed to be addressed. Specifically, Norelle noted that she wanted collagen, or as she calls it: “Colla- colla- collgin?” This declaration jumpstarted a round table discussion about which body parts each girl wanted â€” thighs, breasts, shoulders, brains. Oh wait, scratch that last one. It should be noted that Yaya only wanted a proper, respectable Kente hat that was NOT made of cheap fabric.
Apparently somewhere along the way Nicole cracked a joke or at least said something because the girls suddenly all marvelled at her personality – as in “Wow, you have a personality!” Nicole then confessed that she likes to keep her personalitly away from the judges because she doesn’t want to act like a “tard” in front of the panel. Yeah, why show your personality when you’re being judged on, you know, your personality?
Perfectly unafraid to showcase her personality was Yaya, who’s made quite the inroads in the Pontification Sciences (or “Pontifi… Pontif… Pont-whaa?” as Norelle would say). “It’s easy to sit back and get big headed,” Yaya said big headedly. Little did she know that Tyra Banks would be prescribing her an overwrought metaphor to take care of that. But more on that later…
Anyway, the best Tyra mail of all time arrived with a cryptic message that simply read “Prepare to die.” YES! The moment we’ve all been waiting for! Oh wait, it was only a coy tease, not the harbinger of a Tyra Banks slaughterfest. Sigh. The gals all gussied themselves up and headed to what appeared to be a Christian Publications Bookshop. No, seriously. It said that on the sign of the building. Alas, the Big Tent Revival I was momentarily excited for turned out to be a wrinkly acting diva slouched in a chair. Seeing this old bag scowl at the ladies made me wonder if the “prepare to die” note would preface some sort of beat down with pickled herring from Zabars. Instead of a bagel & lox inspired melee though, the woman (Sande Shurin – not related to Sandy Duncan) subjected the would-be models to a method-acting crash course. First they were ordered to close their eyes and access their emotional bodies, an excercise even Sande had to proclaim sounded “airy fairy.” Of course, that caused Norelle to open her eyes and squeal “Fairies!! Yay!”
With the Sande Shurin acting seminar underway, the instructor then asked all the models what they saw when they reached their emotional bodies. Amanda burst into tears. Oh my god! Deep memories of sexual abuse? A dead sibling? A lost love? Actually, none of the above. Amanda just saw a rose. Doesn’t sound sob-worthy, right? What if I told you it was a rose murdering another rose? Yeah, that’s right. Who feels like a jackass now? Nicole meanwhile saw something “inappropriate” and out of embarrassment simply said that she saw nothing. I guess we all know who was thinking about some steamy rose-on-rose action.
All this airy fairy junk wasn’t for naught as Sande informed everyone that they would be performing a death scene. Norelle quietly noted “I’m not a good die-er.” Was she implying that she’s tried before and it just didn’t work out for her? Or is she just an idiot. I’ll take my chances with the latter.
Anyway, as mentioned, Taye Diggs showed up to read through the death scenes. I couldn’t help but feel badly for the guy as he politely smiled through his civic UPN duty. The producers meanwhile cooked up some tricky dialogue with more multi-syllabic words than you could shake a stick at. Was it me, or did this montage play out like the climactic scene in Soapdish?
The models were all fairly terrible in their acting debut. Eva seemed to sniffle decently through her deathbed performance while Nicole sat pert and upright in bed as if she were expecting breakfast. Amanda dazzled all with her stunning French accent (Champs Elysees is not pronounced chaMPs Elises) before she “died”, moved her head (spasms?), and then died again. The winner of the contest, however, was the aspiring Angela Basset that we commonly know as Yaya. As everyone groaned their faux-happiness towards Yaya, Tyra Banks descended on the madness dressed in a nurse outfit and brought news that everyone would be going to… Tokyo! This was about as close to Dadaism as UPN gets, people.
Anyway, the gals were particularly excited about their trip to Japan. Ann commented: “From what I understand, it’s like New York.” True. Except it’s Asian and completely different. Norelle, meanwhile, was still grappling with the subtleties of the population: “I don’t know what they’re called. Japanese people? Or Tokyo-ans?” Norelle then found a dictionary to look it up but found the task too difficult, especially when she realized the dictionary was only a pillow.
On the ride to the airport, Ann, Norelle, and Eva all made a pact to rely on each other to think positively and not be bitchy. In other news, the Kansas City Monitor reports that pigs are flying. Also, the Conrad Twitty tribute has been rescheduled to next month, but that’s neither here nor there.
With a new lease on non-bitchy life, the gals all flew thirteen hours to Tokyo where they met Koko Niwa, their annoying Japanese hostess whose participation in the episode was thankfully kept to a mere two minutes. The women were brought to a Japanese shrine where a supermodel-esque monk greeted them. Oh wait, it’s Tyra Banks! Apparently this episode was costume time for Tyra. Anyway, she babbled about customs and bowing and yada yada yada. Next thing I knew, she was administering some ancient ritual that probably would have had more significance if it weren’t being handled by TYRA BANKS. What’s next? Overseeing a bar-mitzvah?
Anyway, the models’ next stop was a visit to their hotel which they soon discovered wasn’t nearly as comfy as their posh Waldorf Astoria digs. Yes, the ladies were efficiently inserted into a wall of morgue-like capsules, but before Eva could balk too repetitively at the accomodations, the group was off for their photoshoot. Jay Manuel, apparently fresh from a Matrix convention, met the girls and informed them that they would be doing a Campbell’s Soup commercial in Japanese. That’s sooo 2003 Bill Murray. Eva complained that the director didn’t speak English and had the nerve, the NERVE to direct them. Yaya meanwhile relished the challenge. She explained that since she got off the airplane, she’s been listening to the locals and has picked up some of the language. That’s great Yaya. Let me see if I got this right: you heard some people in the airport and now you can speak Japanese? You do understand that there are other words than “Kunichiwa” and “Sushi”, right?
Nevertheless, the ladies all powered through their commercial takes. Eva proved her ineptitude at reading phonetic spellings by stumbling through crazy words like “Campbell’s” and “Soup”. After her disastrous run, she pouted backstage and confessed that she hopes Norelle bites it. So that “Don’t be bitchy!” pact has really worked out well for her.
Afterwards, the group headed back to the hotel where everyone slid into their cubbyholes and prepared for a good night’s sleep. Norelle admitted that she felt like a kitten in her capsule, which was cute, but made absolutely no sense. She even meowed for emphasis – you know, just in case by “kitty” we thought she meant armadillo.
At long last, “panel” arrived. Yaya said in an interview that if she gets eliminated, she’s gonna need to have a talk with the judges. Was that a threat? Maybe she’ll beat them with her oversized bangles and rampant self-righteousness. You know, Yaya is so that girl in college who gets a B+ and then pesters the professor until her grade is eventually bumped up to A- simply out of atrition. Even worse, she’s the type that then throws it in your face. Shut up Yaya and your history papers.
Whoa, tangent. Anyway, the girls headed to the relocated panel where they had to eat a bizarre Japanese treat as part of a faux commercial. Most of the girls did an okay job at hiding their disgust, but of course Yaya (damn you Yaya!) didn’t even deign to eat the morsel. A no-nonsense Tyra insisted that Yaya eat the product, which she did… and then promptly spat out in a bowl. It was bad enough that Yaya had over-acted her way through the fake commercial to the point where everyone wanted to collectively sucker punch her in the face, but then she spat out the food too?? Dunh dunh dunh!!! Cue the slo-mo instant replay in BLACK AND WHITE!
The judges were not happy. Janice in particular looked completely shocked, but that’s because spitting is a foreign concept to her. Believe me, she swallows everything. As the shock resided, the panel went to work critiquing the models. Amazingly, they were all impressed with Ann and Norelle, the latter of which earned a very Marla Gibbs-ish “Chiiiiiild!” from Tyra. After surveying Amanda, Eva, Norelle, Yaya, and Ann, Tyra excused everyone from the room. But wait! What about Nicole? Who? Oh, I thought that was a production assistant lurking around. Turns out that Tyra full on forgot about Nicole. Better yet, this was the second time this episode that happened. Sande Shurin had nearly forgotten to evaluate Nicole’s performance at the acting studio as well. I would have mentioned it earlier, but… I forgot. Seriously. Oh the ironies of a TVgasm post!
After the deliberations, Tyra assembled all the women and read the usual instructions: “Whoever isn’t called must go to the hotel, pack your belongings and… DIE.” Okay, actually what she really said was “leave immediately” but I can interpret that however I want. Tyra slimmed the group down to Nicole and Yaya, ultimately cutting the clearly forgettable Nicole. That’s not to say that Yaya was completely off the hook. Oh no. Tyra had a real (and very rehearsed) gem of a dis for her: “I suggest you go to the nearest bakery in Japan and order the biggest slice of humble pie.” kaBOOM! That’s right Yaya. You best be getting to a bakery! And make sure it serves up ironically titled pastries because this supermodel ain’t takin’ no mo’ attitude from you, ya hear? And makes sure it’s the biggest slice possible because if it’s slightly smaller, then you have to eat a whole other humble pie to make you think about the first humble pie.
Update: Yaya informed TVgasm that she in fact sought out humble pie, but she did not approve of the ingredients and felt that it would be a compromise to her personality and her self-worth to eat the aforementioned biggest slice possible.
Anyway, the show ended with Nicole weeping her goodbyes and gathering her belongings. We then saw a sorrowful shot of her walking down a street with her small luggage rolling behind her. Nice knowing you Nicole. Good luck getting back to America!