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ANTM Recap: Let’s Talk About the Thumb-Sucking

This week’s challenge came courtesy of Nigel, clad in a horrid Neapolitan ice cream–colored shirt and thus looking like the worst kind of British tourist vacationing on the Mediterranean but still determined only to eat baked beans and drink tea from a mug he brought from home. The final four get the chance to “audition” as a blogger for Italian Vogue’s website, this being part of the winner’s prize package. Nigel tells the models that not everyone gets the chance to write for Franca Sozzani — except, well, they do. After a day’s work of writing, Angelea’s scintillating exposé of Crete’s “ghetto” is judged best by Nigel and Franca (who, despite making cameos on previous cycles, literally phones in her appearance this time around), and she wins a trip back to the island. Even though, of course, Italian Vogue’s bloggers technically aren’t compensated for their work.

Next up, it’s time for some brilliantly shameless self-promotion. In lieu of a traditional photo shoot, the models film a “motion editorial” for Tyra’s new best-selling novel Modelland. In Tyra’s words, Modelland is “fun, campy, and fantastical”; in other words, it’s nonsensical from start to jumbled finish. (Here’s an excerpt.) The video shoot is such a big, big deal, it warrants two day’s worth of filming, which, needless to say, is all madness.  Wearing yet more draglicious gowns (some that come with silver stegosaurus horn-style headdresses) designed by Top Model’s resident “couturier” Michael Cinco, the models re-create scenes from almost every chapter from the book.

Blogger’s note: Having read Modelland twice, once for “research” and once for dubious guilty pleasure, I can promise the motion editorial made even less sense.

The models shoot some group scenes as well as individual ones portraying various characters from the book. Tyra gets screen time, too, of course; in one of her scenes, she wears the same pink catsuit she wore on the NYC subway a while back. Did we mention Tyra also shoots and directs everything herself?

Allison frolics creepily with a blood orange, and later, dressed as a cat (because you see, in Modelland, catty behavior from a model-in-training is punished by her literal transformation into a cat). Meanwhile, Lisa frolics equally creepily with a doll. Angelea’s scene involves crying under a ladder, because Modelland’s main character Tookie de la Creme is a crazy mess like that. Incidentally, Tyra acknowledges that Tookie is based on her teenage self, which is funny, because Tookie’s also-crazy model mentor, Ci-L, is a clear (if maybe unintentional) parody of present-day Tyra. While filming, Angelea has another breakdown and tragically confides in Tyra that if she were’t on the show, she doesn’t know where she’d be — though the answer, clearly, is back in the ‘716. Finally, poor Laura’s stuck spraying whipped cream all up in and around her mouth while Tyra shouts for her to spit, not swallow. That’d be because of the calories, and of course, the innuendo.

Try to keep up, because that’s just day one.

Resplendent with rippling, glistening abdominal muscles, Tyson Beckford shows up the next morning. He’s in the video too! Woo! All the girls squeal, and Angelea near immediately cops a feel while hugging him — which is smart, because she can hopefully sell her Tyson-sweat-imbued clothing on eBay. For some nonsensical reason, Tyra decides not to make use of the serious acting chops he showcased back in 2005’s sexy surfing movie Into the Blue, and instead just pairs up with him for a “love scene” that’s more unsettling than you could ever imagine intimate time between two very attractive people, because: Tyra sucks his thumb. You read that right. More unsettling still: That’s pretty much the video’s climax.

Though in recent cycles there’s been a double elimination at the final four, this week sees just one model cut — presumably because it’s All-Stars, so three finalists is okay. (That and the fact that it’s clear Tyra is making it all up as she goes along.) “Neon Pants Lisa” is safe, and finale-bound after wowing the judges with her commitment to all the editorial’s ludicrous scenes, and so is Angelea, who André Leon Talley described as a “phoenix from the ashes.” Forced to decide between Allison and Laura, the judges deliberate for nearly two hours — apparently even making the backstage crew grumpy — before deciding to cut poor, sweeter-than-discount-grocery-store-apple-pie Laura. Which, considering she’d clearly been set up to fail with the whole “sexy” whipped cream deal, wasn’t a particularly big surprise.