Was it me, or did last night’s America’s Next Top Model appear to be strikingly similar to The Amazing Race? After all, we had four models (not dating though) meandering around the streets of a foreign city, eventually getting lost and missing obvious locations. If Phil Koegan had popped up, I wouldn’t have been surprised – although I would have been pleasantly amused.
For those of you just tuning in, the Asian odyssey of Ann, Eva, Yaya, and Amanda continued in full force as the gals dove into the wonderful world of Japanese street fashion, which is sort of like American punk except with pastels and a dash of pedophilia. Unfortunately, we never got to see Tyra slip into one of these ensembles, but I assume that’s because her beluga-ish forehead has no place in Japanimation.Before we could explore Japanese culture, however, we had to deal with some standard, show-opening bickering. Ann and Eva welcomed us to the hour with a heated discussion about makeup. Eva claimed that she doesn’t often wear cosmetics – a statement that Ann felt was highly suspect. “You DO wear makeup!” she balked with such intensity you would think they were discussing Roe v. Wade. There’s been a lot of anti-Eva sentiment from Ann recently, and I think we can chalk that up to Eva being the only girl left with two different vowels in her name (“and sometimes Y” is unacceptable to Yaya).
Anyway, the girls learned that they would be partaking in Japanese street fashion, thus prompting Yaya to do a little hip-hop dance. Uh, Yaya, I don’t think they meant that sort of “street.” Last time I checked, Japan wasn’t known for its contributions to the Vibe Music Awards (and Planet Asia doesn’t count). Nevertheless, the Fabulous Foursome headed on over to a spunky expert on street fashion who schooled them in the Lolita aspirations of every Japanese hipster. When the models weren’t pretending to understand what the lady was saying, they were appreciating this whole new fashion world. Ann was impressed with the woman’s “Mr. Potato Head Hat” while Yaya remained impressed with Yaya. The expert then had the models piece together an ensemble, and frankly, I was shocked that Yaya didn’t try to work a dashiki into the mix.
After this crash course in crazy non-Western (and therefore bad and scary) fashion, the women were then handed down their first mission. They were given 20,000 yen to buy an ensemble from four different stores and model it at the Milk Showroom at 6 pm promptly. Oh, and because the producers need to pay the bills, they were given T-Mobile Sidekicks to help them navigate the mean streets of Tokyo. Amazingly enough, they were not contacted by Snoop Dogg or Big Boi or Paris Hilton or Molly Shannon (who according to the commercials, all call each other whenever they want to know what a pat of butter is or when to add fabric softener).
Around this time, the show jumped into Amazing Race mode as a the screen split into quarters and a digital clock showed us how much time was left in the mission. Eva had immense difficulty with the street signs, registering disbelief that “a lot of the characters were written in Japanese!” Well, that’s a shocker! I fully expected Hebrew! Eventually Eva began pestering the local population for assitance, and when she was shunned, she simply yelled out: “Speak English, people!” And yet, even though she demanded it, no one became suddenly fluent in English. I guess maybe she thought they were speaking Japanese as a joke?
With ten minutes until the deadline, world traveler Yaya tempted fate and went on a Kimono shopping spree. Yes, this might seem careless, but you see, Yaya once saw a map of Tokyo, so she now has an intimate knowledge of the streets. Well, unfortunately for her, she showed up to the Milk showroom two minutes too late, and like a Japanese student watching the school gate close, Yaya was uniformly denied. My favorite part of all this (other than watching Yaya fail) was how the designers deemed her actions “unacceptable” while carrying big, polite smiles on their faces. That’s some solid repressed rage.
Ultimately Eva won the competition with her nicely accessorized, Hello Kitty-friendly look. Her strategy? “Find things that don’t go together and look really stupid.” Mmmm… culture clash. Back at the homestead, Yaya bathed her disqualified ass and rationalized why her lack of punctuality was okay after all. “My non-presence [aka 'absence'] gave someone else a chance to win,” she explained. Well, that was kind of her! Not everyone is big enough to accidentally be kicked out of the competition so that someone else might benefit. Hooray for Yaya!
Meanwhile, Eva chose her rocky life partner Ann to join her for the reward. The two met Mikimoto, who’s this guy who’s Japanese and… uh… is important and… wears a suit. While I scratched my head like Norelle at a Panda Express menu, the models had a lovely meal with Mr. Mikimoto before they went down to his jewelry showroom. So he’s a jeweler. I mean… oh THAT Mikimoto, of course I knew who he was! I mean, Mikimoto! Come on! Anyhoo, I’ll just be over here in the corner.
Well, Mikimoto was kind enough to give Eva and Ann pearl necklaces. You know, right there on their chests. It was pretty impressive that he could give two pearl necklaces one right after the other. I’m sure they’ll always remember the time they got pearl necklaces on national television.
When the girls returned to the dojo, Yaya insisted that she was not jealous. No, she just felt like glowering from the corner and being silent and withdrawn. Luckily, she had a chance to shine the next day when everyone met up with our favorite passive aggressive photo coach, Jay Manuel for a JapanimÃ© style shoot. In a puzzling moment, the girls rode an elevator up to meet Jay, and when the doors opened, they all jumped back in surprise. Now, I know this is super picky/nerdy blogger of me, but how could they be startled by elevator doors? Do they not have floor indicators in Japan? Models really are dumb.
Anyway, right off the bat Jay was ready with an unnecessary put down of Ann when he snickered “You better be lucky you still in this competition.” Aw, what a guy! Most jerks would have said something like “Ann, I know you’ve been struggling; we’ll get it right this time,” but being supportive and friendly is sooo lame.
Maybe Jay should have taken a cue from the metaphor-mincing Jay Alexander, aka the potbellied cross dresser who popped up again last night for no apparent reason beyond a free trip to Japan. Jay Alexander’s pep talk to Ann was trÃ¨s insightful: “I have a habit of throwing you the kitchen sink, and you never throw me back a bathtub. You throw me back bath water. Splash! Oooh!” Hmmm… the plumbing analogy is all wrong. I would have gone with “I always throw you a toilet, and you just throw me back a turd.” In other news, Jay Alexander is currently in the hospital recovering from injuries sustained when Janice Dickinson hurled a bidet at him (she thought he was Un-Cocaine).
Amanda was first on the shoot, which involved posing on a motorcycle. She seemed to have it down pat, making Jay Manuel quite happy. Yaya was next, and while she had a misstep with the competition the day before, she knew she would triumph this time “being an intelligent black woman.” Until we have seen evidence to the contrary, Yaya is now prohibited from bragging about her intelligence.
The emotionally drained Ann took to the motorcycle, but she soon had a mini-breakdown as the Jay Manuel-induced insecurities got the better of her. “I don’t belong here,” she cried. “Doesn’t this remind you of something?” asked Jay. “It’s the Matrix!” Uh, what? A) How is that supposed to make her feel better; B) How is that supposed to help the shoot?; and C) How is this the Matrix? It was filmed in Sydney. And last time I checked, Carrie Ann Moss wasn’t dressed in bright pink and blue. Later Jay scoffed that every time he gave her a visualization, she just never picked up on it. That tends to happen if the image has nothing to do with anything.
The next day, Tyra waltzed into the girl’s living quarters with her usual “What’s up girlfriends! It’s me, Tyra Banks!” attitude. Was she delivering Tyra mail in person? Or maybe going to just talk about herself a little more? Neither. Instead she wanted to talk about how being on the road can really make you homesick. Awww. It’s gonna be like Survivor where the loved ones come to visit. “Well, here’s…” Tyra started as the girls’ faces all lit up. “…my mom!” Oh. That’s nice. You do realize Tyra that your mom is not the mother to these girls, right?
Anyway, Tyra’s Biggest Loser of a mother greeted all the girls and then joined her daughter with one on one sessions with everyone. There was nothing particularly interesting about these except the stultifying number of tears shed. Yaya’s cheeks wear shiny with her saline emissions as she bellowed that she’s not just a pretty face, she can write well too! She’s an intelligent black woman!!! Later, after everyone had consulted a Kleenex or two, the group headed out to dinner with Tyra’s Japanese family. I don’t really understand either.
Finally it was time for the dreaded panel – aka Ann Smackdown 2004. Prior to appearing before the judges, Ann noted how stressful it was because no one ever knew who would be going home each week. Yeah, um, it’s pretty obvious that you’re going home, Ann. There wasn’t too much that was notable about the panel this week. Nigel Barker – aka Chicken Run – was up to his usual comments like “Your leg looks chunky” and Janice continued to babble in her drug-induced hyperstate. Basically everyone bashed Ann for being completely incompetent and stupid and ugly and boring and passionless and afraid to admit her favorite band was Motley CrÃ¼e. By the time the judges sent everyone out to deliberate, Ann’s self-esteem was about as large as Yaya’s valuation of modesty.
Eventually, it was time for Tyra to round up the troops and eliminate someone. “Amanda, I’m not going to critique you tonight,” Tyra said solemnly. “I want you to critique yourself.” Oooh. Way to throw down the gauntlet. If I were Amanda, I would just say “Uh, you do realize I’m blind, don’t you? I have no idea what I look like.”
Tyra gave Amanda and Yaya passes and then let Eva and Ann squirm under the magnifying glass. Tyra put on her Super Special Grave voice and to illustrate the importance of her comments, she made sure to stretch out all words, as in “It’s always oth-er people” or “You have to look in-side.” Tha-ank you, Ty-ra. She LOVES sylla-bles.
Ultimately, Ann inevitably got the ax. It was a mildly sad moment, especially when Ann hugged Yaya and Amanda, but not Eva. That was cold, Ann. Jay Manuel would have been proud.