You guys. There is so much visual stimulation this week. SO MUCH. But I hesitate to tell you to close your eyes if you’re feeling overwhelmed because it is all absolute top-notch batshittery and well worth the disorientation and seizures.
Dustin made it back into the competition last week, but now someone must be knocked out in his place. Will it be Devin or Justin? Justin or Devin? Who will get to go to Las Vegas? (And again the viewing audience asks: “Las Vegas?”)
The numbers twirl and twirl and…
Oh, Justin is out! Looks like his quietly normal relationship with Mamé was less valuable than Devin’s wildcard personality. Or maybe there can only be one -ustin in the house. Justin is sad, but he hopes his parents are proud of him. He’s a stand-up guy, that Justin. Case in point: Justin tells Mamé that she’s beautiful and says he’ll be keeping in touch and moving forward. Aww. See how relationships can work, Mikey?
Mikey thinks Vegas will be “dope” because it’s a party city. Which is not to be confused with Party City, which is only dope if you like sexist costumes. Hadassah doesn’t like it that Dustin is back, and says he hasn’t earned his place. I totally get why the other models feel this way. Dustin will really have to work to win them back over. Or, you know, not.
Nyle is happy because he got best photo again. That makes twice, which means he is definitely breathing down Lacey’s neck. (Nyle also recently said on Twitter that he identifies as fluid, so if you were looking for an up-and-coming coming out role model, there you go.)
As is customary with competitors who are within striking distance of winning America’s Next Top Model, Nyle must now tell us something sad. I wonder if the producers explicitly tell the models to do that, or if they just raise their eyebrows higher and higher while saying Anything else? in increasingly significant tones of voice. Nyle says his parents were divorced when he was young and his father hasn’t really been a part of his life since then. However, Nyle also makes sure to let us know that his mom was a terrific single parent.
Hadassah has moved from the bottom of the pack to runner up this time around. She’s proud. She also wishes to know why Dustin is back when everything is such a joke to him. If you’re wondering why confetti and a duck just dropped from the ceiling, it’s because Hadassah just uttered the theme bit of dialogue for this episode. Get ready to doubt Dustin’s seriousness just as thoroughly as you felt Bello’s passion last week. Ah, Bello. You never appreciate cray like his until it’s gone.
Devin says Dustin is like a fly that keeps coming back and you can’t get rid of him. Devin illustrates the point by swatting at an imaginary fly, and some genius brings our joy to full bloom by adding in a tiny flying Dustin head. Someone gif that immediately.1
Awww. Mamé reads a sweet note that Justin left her. Golly, it’s almost like Justin is secure enough in himself as a human being he is not threatened by the idea of being openly affectionate to the person he’s been making out with. I hope these two non-crazy kids make it after the show is over. Mamé briefly has a hard time with Justin leaving. She says she felt like her parents were ripped away from her when they sent her to live in the United States, and now another person who cares for her is being ripped away.
But she says she’s focused and she will get this. And now it’s time to go to Las Vegas! Good Stratosphere, in all the elimination excitement, I had nearly forgotten that the models are going to Las Vegas! Please, please let someone try on a VerSAYCE.
You may be wondering why the models are going to Las Vegas, what with it having fuck-all to do with fashion and not exactly being an exotic glamour trip from Los Angeles. One might suspect that this might be something of a budget season were it not for the obvious fact that Tyra wishes us and the models to face Rex Mundi, the evil force that the Cathars believed waits to lure us all from our spiritual path with temptations of material delights. I appreciate the food for thought, but I do wish Tyra would be more subtle about these things.
Devin is flipping out about Las Vegas, but then again Devin would also flip out about being allowed unlimited toppings at Yogurtland. Devin says he wants Best Photo and needs to step it up. Dustin is missing his graduation and prom to be on this show, but is glad to be going to Vegas. Oh, dear. Hadassah says that Tyra made it clear that this was a business modeling venture (or maybe adventure) and takes another opportunity to side-eye Dustin’s seriousness.
YES! The models are indeed taking the Model Bus to Las Vegas.
What a fun and cost-effective method of transport. I am severely bummed that we don’t see any of the footage of the models driving each other straight up the walls for five hours, but don’t worry: It’s because there is plenty to stuff into our eyeballs this episode already. Or maybe the models quietly read Proust novels for the whole trip. We mustn’t make assumptions.
Dustin is excited to see the clubs and casinos. Which is too bad, because he’s only 18.
Aaaaaauuugh. There is a tiny bit of Model Bus footage, but it’s all of the models illustrating how fun it is to take stupid selfies on their stupid stupid product placement phones.
Remember: The key selling point of these phones is that they are designed for taking selfies. It’s worth paying for the upgraded plan when you buy one. That way when the store technicians split your chest open to remove all your basic human values, they put them in an attractive plastic box instead of just tossing them into the dumpster out back.
The models arrive at their product placement hotel in Las Vegas! It’s brand-new and the models love the fact that the floor in the front lobby lights up in different colors.
Rex Mundi, y’all. Which of the models will pass this test? Hadassah says that this is the most beautiful hotel she’s ever stayed in and reminds us that that is quite a high bar for her because she has stayed in a lot of beautiful hotels. Devin calls it “model chic,” which, OK.
Instead of giving them single or double rooms where the models might be at risk of having a moment’s peace, the producers have wisely housed the models in the penthouse where they cannot escape each other. It’s extra devilish because the models are all naïve enough to view this as a particular. It’s full of sushi and pictures of Tyra.
Mikey calls the penthouse “money money money money money.” Mundi mundi mundi mundi mundi.
The models all get custom gift boxes of clothes and accessories which we are meant to believe Tyra has personally selected for them. Both Lacey and Devin exclaim over how well Tyra knows them. The models immediately learn that they have a private VIP pool party to go to! “Private VIP” means that no one else is there but Miss J., Yu Tsai, dancing by the pool, and Don Benjamin from Cycle 20, who is spinning tunes. Or at least a tune. Hey, that’s odd. Don seems to have let go of his blond Ty-over look.
Must have been for a character shoot. I’m sure he’ll bleach it right back when he’s done.
Don has a song out called “Jealous,” so, yes, your time on Top Model can make your dreams come true. But not make you deliver scripted lines well.
The challenge – for it is a challenge – is that the models have to get a good picture while jumping fully clothed into the pool! YES! The best picture wins a spa day at the product placement spa of the product placement hotel. No one is standing by with industrial dryers, so the models are reminded to get a good face and body in their one try. OK, yes, that looks like a genuinely difficult challenge.
Don tells Mikey that he’s going to be a gambler. Mikey knows he has to step it up and does well, even throwing his prop dice in the air at the perfect moment.
Mamé, a “chic shopper,” gets money and a huge handbag and looks pretty cool in her shot. Dustin gets a silly little top hat and is Vegas party host. OK, fine. Devin is awarded a mirror and told that he is the guy who likes to make people look good. What? He has Kelly Cutrone’s Zorrosmith hat on.
Lacey gets a magazine, a towel, and sunglasses. Her body looks great, but she blocks her face with the glasses.
The other models rejoice. Nyle feels legit after his win last week. His character is a bartender, with a cocktail shaker and a full glass of cosmopolitan. His strategy is to jump as high as possible so the photographer has as much time to shoot as possible. I think his shot looks fun and terrific, but Don says he went all-out party mode instead of trying to sell a product. Harrumph. Tell me which thing he’s meant to be selling and we can discuss.
Hadassah’s character is the “shopaholic.” Aw, her collar floats up and covers her face as she jumps, which even her rivals think blows.
However, the photo that was taken just as she was stepping off looks really good, so there’s hope.
…More than hope, actually. She’s at the top of the pack with Mamé and Dustin. Hadassah thinks people underestimate her. But Mamé wins it! She’s very happy and notes that this is her fourth challenge win. Respect where respect is due. As they learn about their challenge scores, the models are all drinking in the pool with their clothes on, which is delightful.
They come back to the penthouse to see their scores already posted. Nyle is on the bottom with Devin. That is some bullshit. Mamé has a ten and then the score drops to 9 for Dustin. He says he’s the comeback kid and Hadassah is salty about it and claims she’s “bitchy all the time” to him. Yeah, Dustin is losing ground with all of us.
Devin is bummed about his 7. He can’t figure out what he’s doing wrong. Devin asks Mikey if he knows what to work on, and Mikey curtly says yes, he’s working on it. Devin interviews that Mikey has been getting quiet and distant. Mikey says he’s focusing on winning now. Oh, no! DM is no more. As Mikey leaves the room, Devin says he’s “keeping one eye open on” him. Why have we not had a supercut of Devin’s near-misses with the world of clichés?
Oh, good heavens. Brace yourselves. Like seriously find a sturdy chair and something with which to mop your brow and maybe a nice bowl of comforting soup. Do you have any Nutella in the house? Go make yourself some nice toast and Nutella. Maybe some hot tea.
So turns out this whole episode – Dare I say the whole rest of the season? – is actually a product placement for Tyra’s new line of makeup, Tyra Beauty. No, wait, I’m sorry: It’s for her Cosmetics Experience. That is for real what she calls it, so just push through until you stop convulsing, because it’s not going to get any easier.
Oh, for chrissakes, we really are in trouble. there’s a product called “Ménage à Brow.” TYRA, THAT NAME MAKES NO SENSE ON ANY LEVEL. “Brow” does not sound like “trois,” and there are not three things. It is specifically called a “brow pen duo” right under the name. Is your eyebrow making up the third? OK, then what about the other eyebrow? Why not call it “browrgy” and be done with it?” I want to know who the fuck named this product and I want a WRITTEN explanation of his or her thinking process immediately.
Oh, and the “Cosmetics Experience” thing is because Tyra is essentially making a run at Avon and Mary Kay. (And, really, why not?) So Tyra says it’s not just about people buying her cosmetics, it’s about her empowering people by letting them also sell her cosmetics. …But I checked the website and she’s empowering these people, as it turns out, the same way Amway does – once you’re selling for her, you have to lure in more people selling under you to suck a commission percentage off their sales. Empowering!
Oh, and while you are drinking in all this power, you will not be a salesperson, you will be a “Beautytainer.” STAY WITH IT. I KNOW IT BURNS. And you will not be making money, you will be making “Bank$igns.” Sweet galloping Freya, that one really knocked the wind out of me. Everybody OK? That was rough. Maybe make some more toast. No, fuck it. Just eat the Nutella straight out of the jar.
Now that we are all comfortably certain that Tyra is passionate about branding, we learn that instead of filming their own music videos, damn it all to hell, the models will be filming a music video for Tyra Beauty, which means they will be dancing and lip-syncing to the Tyra Beauty theme song, which is called “Bootyful” for no frigging reason whatsoever. The models are forced to do like 35 takes until they laugh like “Bootyful” is the wittiest thing they have ever heard.
“Bootyful” is sung by Stori, and includes the repeated chant “Work the hallway like the runway,” which finally explains the insane doll theme they gave Mamé a few weeks ago. Also explained is the weird TYRA logo on Lacey’s doll box, the one where the loop of the R is a heavily made-up eye: Turns out you’ll be seeing it all over your cosmetics experience.
Because Tyra is watching you every minute and why are you at that memorial service instead of out there selling?!
Nyle has trouble with this challenge, because it’s about lip syncing. However, he’s a champ about practicing. After Mikey douchily asks Nyle why he has headphones on, he explains that he can feel and hear the beats with the headphones and read along with the words. It’s pretty cool. Nyle knows he’s at a disadvantage, so he practices up a storm to bring his A game.
Less on board with practicing is Dustin, who is flirting with the extra models. (That is sad and hilarious: Tyra and the producers had juuuust a couple of real models on the shoot in case the ones she’s building into superstars don’t give her any good footage.) Ew, Dustin tries to flirt by asking a model of color what her ethnic background is and works in an unwelcome leg touch. He is hella creepy. We see footage of him repeatedly trying to go in for another leg touch with the model who has already brushed him off. Guys, the “just a joke” touching thing when someone has already indicated that she does not wish to be touched and is in a situation where she is forced to be polite to you is not boyish or delightfully naughty or indicative of you being a player. It just makes the woman in question fantasize about punching you in the face until your skull is concave.
Devin can’t stand Dustin and call him an annoying little kid. It’s tough to argue with him on that point.
Verbatim line from my on-the-fly show notes:
“Jesus this is horrible.”
Tyra shows up for the hair and makeup session and the models chant “Work the hallway like the runway” in a completely spontaneous fashion. Then Tyra does that thing where she runs from model to model pretending she’s a trained makeup artist, but this time only with Tyra products.
Devin remarks on how the stick Tyra is smearing on everyone’s face goes with everyone’s skin!
The shoot gets brutal, but at least their jumping-into-the-pool characters from earlier are better explained. Their on-set living room is a Ty-over show. Be strong, dammit!
Mamé is playing a beautytainer. Dustin is the host of the party, which makes no sense because weve just been told that it’s Mamé’s party. Maybe he’s a jolly-people-along paid host, like on a cruise ship? That seems like a pricey cosmetics investment. Nyle is the bartender. Hadassah is the customer. Mikey is The Hot Guy. Barf. Devin is the makeup artist, which is just this side of offensive, but whatever.
Lacey is the shy and insecure girl who blossoms with the help of Tyra’s cosmetics, because nothing says being secure with yourself like only feeling confident when you have twelve pounds of makeup on.
Lacey says she’ll have no trouble playing her role because she used to be insecure and is an introvert at heart.
Dustin is terrible at rapping and acting and feeling the rhythm and moving his body and making a good face. It might have something to do with the fact that he does not wish to be saying “Booty Drama” over and over as he is being forced to do. The other models say Dustin thinks everything is a joke and Yu Tsai says he has no energy. Tyra says it’s not working.
Nyle goes in for his solo part. He’s been practicing and looks good and seems to hit everything on the beat and he has good energy.
The question is Why can’t Dustin do this?, and it’s effectively posed.
Devin decides to bring it with some truly crazy dancing I would say it was a calculated gamble if it weren’t Devin. That’s pretty much the gamble he goes with every time.
Mikey sees Dustin dancing and decides to kill it and goes full-on barrettes-out hair band, with all the flipping you can imagine.
He has definitely been studying Willow Smith’s technique.
Yu Tsai calls it a ‘90s music video, but not in a way that suggests he is displeased. Nor should he be, because this is so very clearly why the show has been hanging onto Mikey all this time. Hope he was worth it.
Hadassah stumbles and loses her light, which surprised me – I would expect a pageant girl to know how to find her light at all times. But maybe that’s more of an acting thing. I guess pageants are sort of flooded with light at all times. Mamé calls Hadassah too soft. Mamé does a crotch grab (!) and goes high energy.
Day One of the shoot ends and then we’re whipped into Day Two before we can even catch our breaths. Dustin says he knows he struggled yesterday and flirted too much. Or, after a break from the competition, he may have noticed how crazeball it is and checked out, because he is still flirting. Hadassah tells him to give it a rest. Dustin says what he learned from leaving and coming back was to relax and not stress too much about the competition, which is probably a bad ANTM strategy, but arguably a pretty good one for the rest of his life.
I am still trying to figure out how to explain what the models are being forced to wear. If you raised someone in a cave completely away from human society but instilled in him a deep and abiding love of gold and spangles and then you verbally described to him both American football and Roman gladiator tournaments but didn’t give him any pictures and then you let him see The Road Warrior six times in a row and then you gave him the fanciest plastic molding machine in all creation and asked him to make some custom pieces for a group of models to have an extremely fancy battle royal, these are what he would produce.
They are hilariously, marvelously, transcendently unwieldy and clearly uncomfortable for the models to wear. Thank you, costume designer. Thank you.
So the final scene of the music video/eternal commercial is the beautytainers convention. Ahh, it all makes sense. Las Vegas is more than a budget destination; it’s a total write-off if we can use this footage to promote the Tyra Beauty rewards conference. This is pretty amazing.
At the party, Mikey is the hot guy who kisses Hadassah. He tells her how excited she is to kiss him. Yes, those pronouns are correct. Dirtball flirtation techniques are everywhere this cycle. Devin is the party guy, so he has to bring the energy. Check. There’s an awesome scene in which Hadassah is sat between Devin and Mikey and they keep whacking her with their giant gilded shoulder pad things.
Mikey, ever the gallant, says Hadassah was a kid in a candy store when she kissed him. Mikey also tells Don that he has no girlfriend back home. Young women, if you just had the thought that you could be the one to change him, get yourself some sort of shock collar until that goes away. You can thank me later.
Dustin is crouched in a plastic spinning glowball. HAHAHAHAHA.
He says he’s trying harder and I think we can all agree that Dustin owns the camera while he’s spinning in a glowing plastic cage ball. Comeback?
Nyle is fierce sexy bartender. He’s remarkably cheerful in spite of the fact that he’s trying to mix drinks while wearing one of Brian Blessed’s cast off Flash Gordon outfits.
The big scene is a runway walk with none other than Tyra Banks! She whips through 300 outfits, including a giant tube from the bottom of the sea. The other models have to do their best.
Devin reads the Skull Mail and says he isn’t afraid anymore. Mikey meanly pretends to get interviewed about how it feels to see Hadassah going home. Because he likes her a little bit, and now he must neg her. Mikey says that as long as he, Mikey, is not going home, he’s fine with anyone else leaving. Hadassah does really well at staying sweet but not being intimidated.
Tyra lets us know that we will be seeing the world premiere of “Bootyful.” I’m sure you’ll always remember where you were when it happened.
The judging panel is in a nightclub. I think Miss J. has day-glo hair accessories? It’s hard to tell if they’re actually neon or if we’re just in intense lighting.
Tyra tells us that before we see the important premiere of the promo video for her Cosmetics Experience, we’ll see the best takes from the video.
Mamé looks good, but Miss J. says her runway walk wasn’t fierce enough – too soft, unlike the rest of the video. Mamé argues that she felt like she really let go. Mamé! We do not argue with the judges! Kelly quickly swats her down.
Mikey has a weird side-to-side dance, but it’s no stranger than what Axl Rose used to do and the ladies love it. Kelly says she’d buy anything Mikey was selling and she and Tyra say he looks like a rocker AND a model. Feh.
Miss J. says Devin’s face is “beat,” and Tyra explains that it means he’s wearing too much make-up. Devin wisely claims he’s just staying in character because he was the makeup artist. Devin moves a lot and dances like no one or everyone is watching. While normally they would ding him for being too wild, in this case Miss J. loves it. Kelly loves it too. She says he’s free, in the moment, and has a free and fashion look. Tyra says she was in awe while he was.
Lacey, if we recall, was the insecure girl who comes out of her shell after she gets a bunch of makeup and a golden Roman centurion helmet.
Tyra says her acting is great, but her runway walk is weak. Well, yes, we’ve had a lot of weak runway walks this cycle, maybe possibly because Miss J. is one of the most sought-after runway trainers in the world and the models got like 30 seconds to work with her this time around.
Tyra says Lacey was overwhelmed by her clothes. Which, again, in Lacey’s defense, were a sparkly golden gladiator helmet and football pads. She-Hulk would have been overwhelmed in those clothes.
Hadassah was the makeup customer and, man, Hadassah does sort of look like she’s falling down in the hallway. Miss J. says she’s too ladylike.
Dustin says it feels good to be back. But his lip syncing is bad and he’s not great at stuff in the video in general. Sometimes he’s good at being in that spinning glowball, though. Tyra says he’s not harnessing his potential even though he does a flip in the hallway.
Nyle looks a little inhibited until he gets to the hallway. Then he looks terrific. Kelly says his signing as he goes down the hallway is extra great. Tyra says it’s the way that he signed – full of energy and he never missed a beat.
Seven Models! Six photos! Dustin knows he’s out and so do we all and so do people in countries where this show does not run, but let’s do this anyway!
Best performance: Mikey! Augh. Devin hates this too.
Runner up: Devin. And now we know next week’s dramatic plotline.
Then we have Lacey and Mamé. Three left! There is zero suspense over Nyle being in, but Tyra scolds him on his challenge anyway.
Dustin and Hadassah are left! Dustin gets lost when he gets direction! His talent is hiding! I’m surprised nobody ratted him out on the flirting. Hadassah takes nice pictures! But is she too pent up? Is she a model or a pageant girl?
So who goes?
Dustin, as we knew he would from about the second minute after he came back on.
Hadassah gets the loosen-up talk and is still in the running to become America’s Next Top Model. Tyra says Dustin conquered and then floundered. He is so over this. He may have decided that he wasn’t coming back quite some time ago. Dustin says he won’t miss the drama, but that it was an opportunity lost.
And then it’s the world premiere extended commercial video!
Tyra starts off the video by throwing shade on natural beauty. And then it lasts for what feels like 17 minutes and is Rexmundelicious. It certainly made me lose faith in all that is good.
Hope you enjoyed that hour-long commercial! To cap that, let’s take a look at some actual wording from the disclaimers on the Tyra Beauty site:
Upon enrollment, Beautytainers must also agree to a $14.95/month technology fee. *Any potential success is entirely dependent on many factors, such as personal efforts and work habits, location and individual sales techniques. There is no guarantee that a Beautytainer will generate income.
Next week, Mikey wants a threesome and there is some sort of furry party and Devin is done with Mikey. So say we all.
I will not be proud of myself, but I will see you there.
Editor’s note: DONE!! ↩