America's Next Top Model: "Planes, Trains & Slow Automobiles"
C+

America's Next Top Model: "Planes, Trains & Slow Automobiles"

Bad news, ANTM blog fans: Your regular host, Amelie Gillette, could not be with you this evening, so I’ve been tapped as a last-minute replacement. If that’s not disappointing enough, it gets worse: I haven’t watched the show all season, save for a couple of glimpses of tranny Isis trying to pose in a bikini. (Awkward, no?) In fact, I haven’t seen an episode since before Paulina Porizkova took over for that meek, earnest pushover Twiggy. So at this critical point in the season, when the girls leave the country to further diminish America’s reputation overseas, you’re missing a capable tour guide. And for that, I’m deeply sorry.

But let’s carry on. I was promised a “go-see” episode, but alas, the dashing-around-the-city-frantically-and-aimlessly portion of the show was only limited to the first third, when the models were faced with the imposing challenge of finding their house in Amsterdam. (Oh, Amsterdam: “Fashion capital of Holland!” Also it’s largest city! And, uh, also it’s actual capital.) Divided into three two-person teams—because no would-be supermodel could accomplish it on her own—they’re told to (1) Buy a train ticket to Amsterdam Central. (But don’t use American dollars! Or miss the platform! Idiots!) (2) Find any public phone for instructions. (3) Find Dam Centrum (by accosting strangers). (4) Find another goddamn pay phone to get the address to the house. (5) Take a cab to the house. Move over, Amazing Race: Your Emmy run may be coming to an end.

Once at the house, where the girls are greeted by Holland’s Pretend Top Model host Daphne Deckers, they settle into some obligatory sniping and a hot lesbian bath. (McKey calls it a “va-jay-jay shaving party,” a phrase that I believe is one of the few things not permitted under Dutch law.) And here’s where I’m going to fall short, since I haven’t followed the characters all season. I gather that everyone has issues with stone-faced Ukrainian Elina, since all the talk was about how much the others hate her and she got the majority of sinister reaction shots. Truth be told, on first meeting, I found myself taking her side, at least on the legalized prostitution in Amsterdam, which seemed to appall the prudish Samantha. Seemed like a classic set-up to me: Snooty, brainy, morally deficient European pitted against uptight, morally righteous all-American girl. I tend to sympathize with the Europeans in this TV set-up, but I also confess to having no context whatsoever, so I trust you regulars know better.

So onto the photo shoot, right? No! There’s yet another mini-challenge, this one in the Red Light District, where the girls are asked to turn themselves out for a chance to compete in the second season of the CW’s Farmer Needs A Wife reality series. Okay, that didn’t really happen. They’re actually asked to participate in what would appear to be the Disneyfication of the Red Light District called Red Light Fashion Amsterdam, which seems to turn brothels in fashion showrooms. Their task is simple: Model garish, hideously “edgy” garments from Holland’s least accomplished designers in the very windows where prostitutes hawk their wares. (Analeigh: “This is extremely controversial.” Me: “How can something be controversial if no one’s around to see it?”) Again, they have to work in teams, and the least uncoordinated team (Samantha and McKey) takes it down, winning a chance to come back to the city for a runway show.

Finally, the Bataan Death March to the photo shoot is over, and the models are whisked onto a sailboat in some sea or lake or whatever they have there in Amsterdam. There’s nothing much worth saying about the results: Nobody gets seasick (making it a mistake to put the posing-on-a-boat challenge too late in the competition) and everyone seems to do pretty well except for sexy, sexy Sheena, whose attempts to hide her natural porn poses are derailed by her decision to straddle a very large wooden beam. As gaffes go, it’s right up there with a Vice Presidential candidate on a losing ticket talking about looking ahead to 2012 six day before the election. (That happened tonight, too!)  

So no suspense at the judge’s table: Sheena goes home. And it seemed like I was just getting to know her, too.

Grade: C+

Stray observations:

• I haven’t had any Paulina exposure, but she seems pretty good with the cattiness. She said Elina’s pictures made her looks like a pirate with “scurvy and rickets,” and in my favorite line of the night, she described Samantha’s look as “a suburban mom who got hit by a truck.”

• Amsterdam: There’s so much water here!

• In Holland, Tyra Mail is called “Tyra Post.” And you’ll never believe what they call a Quarter Pounder.

More TV Club