A wiley commenter last week (shout-out to vanfanusa) had a theory that Tyra was keeping the lackluster Shannon on for so long in order to have the inevitable conflict: Will she sacrifice her somewhat illogical no-underwear-only-swimsuits rule in order to stay on the show? Or will she maintain her principles and head home? Turns out, that's exactly what happened. Sitting out a shoot so far in the game is never a recipe for success, and Shannon’s bizarre “I’ll wear a bikini that looks like underwear, but not underwear that looks like a bikini” finally came to a head in the insanely, only-in-top-model-land challenge where the ladies had to—I kid you not—pose in lingerie while sitting in an enormous Greek salad.
Yes, it was time once again for our most dubious export to hit the beaten trail, this time to Greece—where in the middle of a land of breathtaking beauty, the most Greek thing the producers imagined was a bunch of girls in a three dollar diner salad. How did the ladies learn of their forthcoming adventure? When Andre Leon Talley (still in that crazy rice paddy hat!) introduced the house to bickering waiters, who love to smash plates. The Top Model guide to touring various countries would read something like a second grade geography textbook.
But off to Athens the ladies flew, in time to meet the tassel-fezed Miss J and the host of ANTM: Greece, who presented them with a challenge that was straight out of speech class. They had a short plane ride to write a one-minute speech to a “press conference” and cram in as many Greek words as they could possibly learn. This ended, for most of the ladies, disastrously. It was also the only time anyone in Top Model history could have benefited from paying attention in Latin class—as poor incomprehensible Laura learned when she declared she would be Venus, a Roman and not Greek goddess, and signed off in some gibberish-Greek hybrid. Lisa came off shockingly well, though perhaps too scantily clad for an audience of faux-dignitaries. “Politicians really like minimal clothing, if you watch the news,” Lisa quipped to Ms. J’s admonishments. Angelea thought that the word “bano” was Greek, so Allison won on virtue of not messing up that badly.
But all this was a warm-up to the true challenge, wearing underwear in bright colors while rolling around in tomatoes. On a beach! I was particularly impressed by the enormous croutons that they had in the bowl, but the whole challenge was, per usual, greatly confusing. You are supposed to be a sexy salad? An unsexy salad? A greasy lettuce pile? Laura took a beating for looking more porn star than loveable girl next door, but the girl was feeling sick, and sitting in a salad in the sun is not a recipe for that to get better. Allison’s eyes were shut, I suspect due to the blinding sun/dressing in face combination, but she still snagged one of the top photos. It’s becoming increasingly likely that she’s going to end up in the finale, if not as the Top Model All-Star to be, but I still wonder whether someone so effusively weird could win this. The only real comparison is awkward and ethereally beautiful Ann. But on a cycle about being a big brand, is “weird” really enough of a hook?
Shannon, on the other hand, sat out the whole shoot despite Mr. J’s attempts to coax her into an underwear set that—let’s be honest—looked about as much like a swimsuit as underwear can. “I don’t do underwear, and I don’t do cigarettes,” Shannon asserted defensively. But as one of the assistants to the shoot candidly reminded her, “It’s easier to replace the model than the prototype.” Translation: It’s nice to have values and all, but not when it interferes with the schedule. As boring as I think Shannon was this cycle, the no-underwear rule does smack of something noble, if completely confusing, in the world of cutthroat reality television. At the same time—are you really going to become a model and swear off a whole clothing group? Tyra applauded Shannon for her moral core, but ultimately, the judges sent her home. Having moral stances is just one of those quirky attributes that’ll get you on the show, but it won’t keep you there.