Last night's edition of "America's Next Top Model" was completely over the top, in more ways than one. Whether or not that's a good thing is the question before us, the omniscient self-appointed Gods of the Rehash.
First of all, we see that manly Michelle is not only having hourly crying jags, but is also suffering from some kind of terrible skin condition all over her face. There is a smattering of faux sympathy from the other girls, but also a few "Eww, gross, thank god that ain't me" looks amongst themselves, and who can blame them? Not many people want to have leprosy.
So they whisk the gang off to a beauty school for makeup lessons. The girls are all in a classroom when in walks an old bearded man who talks like Tevye the Milkman from "Fiddler on the Roof," and is clearly, obviously Jay Manuel in stage makuep. The gals are perplexed! Who is this cranky old man? What a mystery! They are shocked, shocked when they find out that it's really you-know-who. I think these girls may be even more retarded than the average model wannabe. It's just a feeling I'm getting.
They are supposed to give each other "natural"-look makeovers, using Cover Girl products, of course. Tiffany and Lluvy graciously allow their clean, pure, non-diseased fingers to touch Michelle's increasingly-deformed "The Fly"-like face and actually do a pretty good job of covering up her hideous lesions, but when it's Michelle's turn to do their makuep, she has a complete breakdown about her lack of talent in the makeup department and starts crying. Again. The girl is a basket case. And her face should be in a basket at all times.
Who could it be?
Next the gang gets a little one-on-one cryfest with Tyra. Sob, sob, moan, moan, whimper, whimper. Michelle shows Tyra the gigantic, ever-more disgusting, constantly-multiplying scabs on her face and Tyra empathizes by saying that she once had a "black patch burned off her thigh," but then notes that she's "never seen anything like" what's consuming Michelle's epidermis. The UPN site says that at this point Tyra offers Michelle a chance to go to the dermatologist, but a) I don't remember that, although I was reeling from the whole black-patch-burned-off-the-thigh thing, and b) she doesn't go.
The contestants are then taken to a salon where Jay asks if they know what "haute couture" means. The sound of crickets chirping is heard as not a single one of the wannabe-models knows. Jay explains that it means "high fashion," and tells them that their challenge is to give themselves haute couture make-up using--shock of shocks!--Cover Girl products, and they only have 45 seconds at each makeup station. Lots of frantic globbing on of product ensues, and the results are pretty funny. They all look like that Cheri Oteri character Collette Reardon on "Saturday Night Live" who took too many meds. But cute-n-clever Naima pulled it out of the bag by putting some feathers in her hair and going for a "Swan Lake"-inspired something-or-other that wows Jay and wins her the prize--she chooses Lluvy and Christina to go with her to the Lauren Scherr showrooom and pick out their own custom-made, god-awful befeathered handbags.
OK. This is where things get really, really silly. Idiot Noelle, of the terrible mall curls, talks on the phone with her mother about Michelle's diseased face. Noelle's idiot mother tells her that it can only be one thing: Flesh-eating bacteria! AAAAAAAAH! Noelle runs around the house making everyone think that Michelle's face is going to eat them all. Lluvy starts jumping to and fro, scratching her arms and flicking off imaginary flesh-eating bacteria like some old-timey movie drunk with the dt's.
Lluvy's got the heebie-jeebies!
Various girls call their moms and freak out. Tiffany actually goes to check on Michelle while she is sleeping to see if her "face is falling off." Here's the official UPN version of the craziness that ensues:
As Michelle sleeps, the other girls work themselves into a frenzy, convinced that they are infected and are going to die from Michelle's condition. Tiffany's grandmother is the voice of reason. "Y'all need to get a life…Read a book or something," she suggests.
Tiffany's grandmother: You, madame, are a genius. You speak for the world! Now, if only any of them could read...
The next day they take the girls to a photo shoot for the "Got Milk" campaign, because Lord knows, we need more of those ads. The theme for the shoot is that each girl is going to be made up to look like a different ethnicity, which is a recipe for rather dicey racial politics in my book, but the show says que sera sera and blithely carries on with the blackface makeup. I am not kidding: They actually had some of the contestants in blackface, not to mention African headscarves. I kept waiting for Jay Manuel to sugggest that they wanted Christina to go for a fierce, edgy "Aunt Jemima" vibe. Also, the girls have to pose with actual multi-ethnic three-year-olds in their arms. Someone refers to them as "child props."
In the midst of all this, the hair and makeup people say "uh, gross" about Michelle's mystery condition and have a secret meeting with Jay to voice their concerns. Finally someone sends Michelle to the goddamn doctor!
Michelle's diagnosis: Dorian Gray-itis.
The contestants have various problems modeling with the kids--some because the child props are heavy and cumbersome, some because they love kids so much and are reminded of their own, abandoned babies. (More than one contestant has left a child back home this season.) When Michelle comes back from the dermatologist with the news that she has impetigo, a mild skin condition that will sadly not kill or maim Lluvy but is still contagious, it is decided that she should model with a doll instead of a child prop. The other girls bitch and moan that Michelle has an unfair advantage because she doesn't have to pose with a heavy, squirming child; they conveniently ignore the distinct disadvantage of having giant scabs all over her face.
For the judging at the end, the girls have to put on a "night face" using--what else?--Cover Girl makeup, but the twist is that they can't use mirrors or brushes or applicators, thereby guaranteeing that they will all look like crazy people. The judges are harsh critics--everyone either looks insane or they didn't put on enough makeup. Michelle, of course, begins sobbing uncontrollably about her impetigo when she is called before the panel. Janice tells her to suck it up, as she once did a photo shoot "with a sty," and just flung one of her giant-clawed hands over the infected eye in a devil-may-care manner. Oh, Janice. How you rule so!
In the end, it gets down to Lluvy, who the judges think is u-g-l-y in her photos, and Noelle, Our Lady of Perpetual Mall Hair, who "doesn't read model" to the panel. She doesn't "read" anything, I'm pretty sure. They decide that Lluvy has more potential and send Noelle home to the baby she left behind. This is the second time Lluvy has been in the final two, so it doesn't look good for her. Maybe she can have a face transplant by next week? We shall see!