Toward the end of every cycle of America’s Next Top Model there comes a time when things move from zany modeling free-for-all into territory where everything must be taken very seriously. No more horsing around with fire and hula-hoops; now we have to make sure these ladies have Covergirl potential. Sometimes, this shift into even higher marks of self-importance is offset by being invested in one of the models, either as a potential winner or as a hated household scourge. ANTM All-Stars has, but for a few sparkling episodes of buckwild fusion madness, so far failed to spark the required level of investment in any of the remaining five models. I am vaguely for Allison and Lisa and definitely against Angelea and Dominique, but my loyalties weren’t enough to save this week’s utterly lackluster episode. Even the title is flat—“Exploring Greece” is a Travel Channel show to surf past, and not even a particularly accurate description of the show.
The challenges even lacked the absurdity of the whole giant-salad-underwear shoot from last week. At this point, after the hot dogs and the viral videos and the perfume inventing, you would expect a challenge that was at least interesting. Instead, we got a opening competition that was clearly designed to stoke a household rivalry that has heretofore failed to exist (at least, now that Bianca’s gone home.) Miss Jay, bizarre side ponytail weave a-dangling, informed the ladies that they would have to judge each other. This is, of course, exactly what they’ve been doing the whole time.
Even with the provocation, most of the girls failed to rise to the bait. Sure, Angelea told the confession cam that she couldn’t see Lisa “walk on any runway ever in life,” but for the most part, the girls were civil, if sharp. When Miss Jay asked each girl who has the least potential, Laura diplomatically refused to single anyone out. The other girls all followed suit until Dominique aired her underlying beef with Angelea: “You just can’t talk it, you’ve got to own it,” she chided. Angelea flipped out while Miss Jay held the hands of the girls at either end of the table, looking bemused. After all the hysterics, the informal poll between the girls didn’t name Angelea at the bottom at all: Allison got that honor, I suspect because she’s a much bigger threat. Laura, improbably, was voted the best, I’m guessing because she’s the most in the middle of the pack.
There followed a bizarre interlude where Greek socialite Twylem Piper, who came off even more terrifyingly thin than the already terrifyingly thin girls on the show, took the girls out for heavy drinking. Not even infinite shots of potent Greek liquor produced anything worthwhile. The best they could do was show Allison surreptitiously throwing Raki over her shoulder as Angelea sulked in the background. Having contestants that are a little older and more seasoned hasn’t always been a liability for All-Stars, but it’s clear that they had seen themselves on TV before and, unlike the amnesiac crew of Jersey Shore, weren’t willing to repeat drunken flailing on camera. It’s to their credit, surely, but also to the clear detriment of this episode.
Even the photo shoot—which featured, for a lot of the girls, actual weapons—couldn’t pull this episode out of the dumps. The idea of having the girls pose as Olympic athletes isn’t inherently a bad one, but it was conducted so confusingly. Instead of looking like high fashion ancient Greeks, the simultaneously tight and flowing dresses coupled with awkwardly braided hair made the girls seem like they were all going to junior high prom, circa 1997. Plus, it seemed like they distributed accessories by the likelihood that a certain model would or wouldn’t be able to hurt herself with it. Dominique got an actual javelin, while Allison had to pretend a purse was a discus. Laura got an actual, lethal-looking crossbow while Angelea had to make do with a shell instead of a shotput. Just to leave nothing to chance, Lisa got hurdles, though even she was wary of being “that girl who always jumps.” Nigel, the long-suffering photographer on the shoot, had to encourage her to “imagine you’re an antelope” before she even displayed the least bit of Lisa flare. Sigh.
And, in the show’s apex of annoyingness, Tyra kept referring to each contestant by singing her personal terrible viral video song. (Please, oh please, don’t let that be a thing.) Miss Jay’s side ponytail is, I suppose, a thing that will continue to grow as the episodes pass—or until his entire head is swathed in terrible. Whichever comes first. In the end, Angelea got improbably saved at the last minute and Dominique went home, in a move that seemed pretty much a random choice from the judges. Let’s hope that Tyra and the Jays can turn up the heat next week, otherwise we’re in for a total shoulder-shrug of a finale.