Full disclosure: I'm pretty well versed when it comes to reality TV (tee-vee). Well, obviously, you may be thinking to yourself. Here you are telling people what all the self-respecting invalids and tweens (aka the only demographic this show is still attracting) already know: what happened on America's Next Top Model: Cycle 18. For free. You must have an advanced degree in useless cultural analysis from the school of apathetic knocks. I don't mean to brag but, but I've seen a LOT of television. You may be even more thrilled to learn that I've even held bottom-feeding posts on a few marginally-rated, basic cable reality shows, so... yeah. I'm a pretty big deal and I know my stuff. I can use words like chyron and B story in every day conversation (at work). So when I say this was the most bizarre 43 minutes of television I've seen in awhile, I mean it. It isn't the worst; that's far too facile an adjective to use. The scale on which this episode of ANTM should be judged is far too vast to be measured by in simplistic, two dimensional extremes like good or bad. It's far too complex.
First of all, this was the token makeover episode. I'm told that every "cycle" has that. And that often the models are butchered. It seems this time around, the makeovers all fell into three main camps: bangs (Kyle, Mariah), Tyra-look-alikes (Seymone, Downtown Julie Brown, Candace), and adolescent Emo punk star circa 1999 (Laura, Sophie). Sophie had the honor of donning a more mature shade of pink Manic Panic. Remember that? Laura got her hair bleached, straightened (NO!!! WE LOVED THE KRIMP!! She also was stripped of her slap bracelet. Kidding.), and then was gifted American flag-themed low light extensions, in keeping with her ability to always conduct herself with just a subtle soupcon of good, ole American white trash decorum. I'm kidding about the subtlety by the way, guys. And Eboni got badly burned with a curling iron. Louise was reluctantly transformed into Linda Evangelista - as we were reminded several times via interview and verite bytes. Personally, I would have gone with Betty Armstrong (Angela Chase's mom from My So Called Life), but that's just me. So that was that.
Then it got weirder when the producers threw an odd, stake-free challenge in between the makeovers and the photo shoot. Upon returning to their compound, the models discovered two tables of food: each with the most disgusting fare of both the US and the UK. The US team had to eat haggis and blood pudding, and the UK had to eat pigs' feet or something. I don't know. It wasn't a race. There weren't prizes. It was just a strange way to eat up space between commercial, maybe. Challenge champion goes to Seymone, though, for deep throating that haggis like... well, use your imagination. It wasn't pretty, though.
Here's where the episode derailed. The photo shoot this week teamed up Kris Jenner, a couple lower rent Kardashian sisters: Kendall and Kylie, an "Addams Family theme" and then coupled all that with serious infantastic (new word!) overtones forcing each model to embody a sexy toddler. In goth makeup. And sometimes stripper heels. Being directed by Kris Jenner. It was just so odd that I am still half-convinced that Trader Joe's may have slipped a geltab, or some other hallucinogenic of the like into my sub-mediocre Minestrone soup tonight. Honestly, it was just so disturbing. They seriously used props like lollipops, baby food, dolls, which might be okay for Halloween, but they were all slutted up and over-sexualized at the same time in teeny, tiny skirts and heels while clowns looked on in the background, and the whole thing was just mildly horrifying. Jay and Kris would constantly shout things like, "Just look like toddlers!" "Look sexy, but not too sexy!" Oh, and Kris Jenner seriously said these words, "You have to seriously find your own space in this crib." Plot-wise models were teamed up with each other and photos were taken, but as far as judging who was the sexiest baby without being actually sexy, I am not equipped to analyze.
When it came time for judging, Azmarie got slammed for not being wicked enough with her crayons. Yes, seriously. And, according to Kelly Cutrone, Downtown Julie Brown (Annaliese) resembled "Diana Ross on cracker jacks." I know I always act like a sexy baby stripper when I eat Cracker Jacks, so maybe that was praise? Or maybe do you guys act like sensible grownups after eating caramel popcorn? I don't know. Maybe it was a burn. What I'm trying to say is that this episode made no sense. Laura ended up crushing this episode which isn't surprising. It seems like this dichotomy might be right up her alley. Mariah was sent home, though to be honest, if I was going to be sent home from any competition show, it would be this episode and this challenge. Don'tcha think? Warning, if you disagree, I'll probably respect you less.