Well, we knew it couldn’t last.
I’m referring, of course, to both the recent spectacular run of completely bonkerrific shows and to Top Model itself, which, alas, will be ending its run this cycle. It seems stunning that Tyra would make the decision to end it. I can only assume that with this drastic measure of snuffing out such blazing brightness, she’s trying to turn our minds and hearts toward 1321, when the last known Cathar perfectus was burned at the stake.
Oh, that thing about the run of wildly entertaining America’s Last Top Model episodes breaking down? Hold on to your booches, because this is clip show week. Instead of letting us linger on delicious batshittery, we’ll be sprinting through a recap of the entire season – because nobody can be expected to catch up to a difficult plot like “There’s a bunch of models competing and several of them have been eliminated” – with occasional very brief never-before-seen footage.
We’re told that this will be a special collection of shocking moments, but I’m not going to lie to you: This is somewhere between dreary and frenetically off-meds. Let’s soldier on.
Harking back to the first episode – which was itself a flashback, which means we are now trapped in some diabolical Möbius strip of a timeline – Tyra tells us that this season, because of social media or something, Top Model was radically open to everybody, even – My stars! – the short. God, remember when that was going to be a thing this cycle? Like there was a ruler on the side of the bus and stuff? I wonder where dropped plotlines go to die. Probably to that green van from when we cared about the environment for that one season.
So. Previously on America’s Last Top Model, we had the best finalists ever! Yu Tsai was here! He shot models in bathing suits on the bus as it drove through Hollywood!
Because that’s what we do out here. All the gym ads say “Get ready for public transportation season!” We are again treated to the footage in which Yu Tsai tells Alexa she’s “Las Vegas” again, by which he presumably means strippery, but she won’t accept the insult and it drives him crazy, so he repeats it like 15 times.
Never before seen! Lacey, on the lower deck of the bus, tells the other female models that she’s never had a boyfriend, even though she has reached the withered age of 18. The other models freak, since Lacey is objectively stunning. Lacey herself is not freaking one bit, and says she doesn’t follow the crowd, and then she tells the bus that doesn’t need a man to tell her she’s pretty. The ladies on the bus applaud. The rest of us, were we not such fine, upstanding people, might pruriently wonder if it is in fact a boyfriend that Lacey wants. It’s a good thing we are fine, upstanding people.
Never before seen! The judges critique Ashley’s runway walk. They love her cheekbones. Miss J. does feelin’ it runway face, and it’s fine.
We’ve had some weirdness with Miss J.’s comedy bits this season, in that she keeps getting set up to do them, and then we don’t have enough context to know quite what’s up, and it’s weird. On the other hand, I have long said that Miss J. is best used in funny bursts, so I will shut my mouth.
Never before seen! Nyle teaches the judges naughty ASL, which is fun, though no fair blurring Tyra’s lips and everyone’s hands.
We see Nyle teach his fellow models to sign “America’s Next Top Model,” but then we learn that he’s actually been getting them to say “Nyle’s America’s next top model.” Heh. Hadassah confesses to a little crush on Nyle. So say we all.
We go back to that weird foam party thing where the models had to find balls to find out if they were in the house or not. I know: You had blocked that out of your mind. Much the same way the editors blocked out a couple of the more disposable models. It’s been a weird cycle, y’all. We revisit the Property brothers and the models are so very happy with what they did to the house.
Never before seen! This is a confusing scene. Dallas accuses Devin of having a grudge, but Devin says he has no grudge because he got to sleep next to Ashley in her bed. So presumably something about full-house jockeying for beds. Devin thinks he can win whatever this fight is by mentioning that – you may not have heard this before – he is signed to six modeling agencies. I still can’t figure out this fight, but Bello does not want to hear it.
The models do lots of swimming, screaming, and running. We go back to that thing where Alexa couldn’t sleep because of all the grabassing around her, and then straight to the Universal Citywalk in Panties shoot. Alexa cries and leaves and we all move forward.
Forward to the clear plastic runways balanced on shipping containers! And models being harness-floated across the gap or dropped very gently to the ground. It has not gotten less bizarre with time.
Just in case we have all forgotten what to do with our necks, we revisit Tyra’s “teach.” You guys, I am sad that Top Model is ending, but I’m looking forward to calling things by their unbranded names again. Telling someone on whom I intend to avenge myself that I will be teaching him a teach just never comes off right.
Tyra teaches us to have necks like giraffes and not like turtles. Fun fact: When an old-school model does the giraffe, it’s called a camelopard.
Ah, then the glorious shoot when the models got all tied to each other!
Delanie gets called not edgy and she is sent home.
Turns out that right after the Of Inhuman Bondage session, they shot the main title sequence. The models get to see Tyra modeling in that tiny yellow hallway (which matches the branding of the commercial we saw last time…) and then they shoot the part where they’re all at the funky boardroom table with her.
So apparently Delanie shot her part in the opening credits and then almost immediately got cut. Ouch.
Lacey says “No one can top this cycle,” which turns out to be a bit too prescient.
We are reminded that Mamé and Justin were tied together and we see the other models (and Justin and Mamé) noticing that they like each other. It’s adorable.
Never before seen! Nyle teaches Dustin how to sign. Well, that’s what the show tells us, in order to hype their bromance and make the point that Dustin was the only one in the house who tried to learn to sign. But at least in this sequence, we can see that Justin is also there, and seems to be just as engaged in learning. Justin and Dustin, in turn, try to help Nyle with speaking aloud, which may explain why everyone went berserk when he said “happy birthday” to Devin.
We go back to the models worrying about their “Ty-overs.”
(“Jesus, Dave, it’s like 2:30 in the morning and I want to go home and I can’t think of what to call the makeovers to make her happy.”
“For chrissakes, just take off the first syllable of any word and insert ‘Ty’ either once or twice. She’ll love it.”
“So the models get Ty-overs? And drink Ty-tinis? And do their taxes with TyTytered Tyccountants?”
“Yes. She’ll love it.”
The models do worry about their makeovers, except that they totally got off easy this cycle. No beard weaves, no half-white hair, and the only tennis ball haircut goes to a guy. Child’s play. Well, except for poor Ava and her mullet, but she accepted it with grace.
Never before seen: Dear Freya in Asgard, we were mercifully spared the Turnt Up Ty-Over game show.
It was clearly meant to be part of the big show at one point, and the “game” is about one (Only one?) of the models finding out what his Ty-over will be and there are three real ones and one fake one and none of this makes any damned sense.
They pick Devin, who is an excellent bet for a freakout, but it’s Mikey they should have tormented about his hair. (Which, it turns out, they wanted to keep so he could flip it around in Tyra’s commercial, and thus they didn’t shear him down like a sheep, which is bullshit and robbed us of an amazing television moment.)
Devin does, in fact, worry a bit about his hair. There’s some weird Let’s Make a Deal aspect that involves Devin picking an envelope and being offered a chance to take what’s behind the curtain, which makes no sense, because it’s not like they would change his thoughtfully crafted Ty-over.
I’m guessing the same thing was in all the envelopes and this is just an excuse to let Miss J. goof around in various wigs.
One, deemed just too cruel and ridiculous, is a mullet. Ouch, Ava. You did not get enough respect in this thing. The fake ‘do is called “Drekitude,” and is a rainbow fright wig. Devin sees that he’s getting the “Damn Near Bald,” but freaks way less than everyone hoped, which is why this thing got cut? Well, one of like 30 reasons. Devin calls his hair a lion’s mane and says it makes his personality, but he’ll keep moving.
So they blew at least one of the Ty-overs beforehand, which is why there was not adequate flipping out in the salon this cycle. That is a damned shame. At least they’ll know not to do that next tim—Oh. Oh, god. Those were our last makeovers and no one even got the classic ANTM dead possum weave. This is devastating.
Stefano likes his extensions. Devin is happy with his short hair. Oh! It turns out Lacey cried.
Which makes me feel better, because it means at least one other person thought her new haircut was goonball. But we didn’t see that on the air, even though cryingover haircuts is the most delicious candy of Makeover Week. It almost makes one think that we see cryers only when the producers want to kick them off. Hmm.
Stefano gets the boot, but Tyra, who coolly sums up every single other ousting as being due to the eliminated model’s flaws, says that Stefano was a solid model and the competition was just too tight. What the hell? Stefano’s presence on the show was, let’s recall, that of an industrial XXL Apatosaurus-sized douchebag. And the judges inexplicably talked about how superhot Stefano’s completely mediocre picture was during Dog Week too. Is he sleeping with someone or suing someone?
Tyra announces that we’ll be seeing bits from the confessionals, and that these segments will be called “Tell Us How You Really Feel.” I’m so glad that Tyra and friends took the time to be just as hilarious and witty as that guy in your office who responds to any question with “I could tell you, but I’d have to kill you.”
In the first such segment, Devin announces that he’s funny as fuck and then Lacey says she’s heard Devin talk shit about her. Then we cut back to Devin saying he spreads love. Well played, editors. Lacey elaborates, imitating Devin’s habit of being nasty to people and then saying he’s just joking and he loves them. Funny and loving! Bello does a little rap about how he ain’t going home, which will turn out to be incorrect.
Never before seen! Ava and her mullet take a bubble bath with Bello and she gets a little bit freaked about the copious suds because Bello (of course Bello) put too much bubble fluid in. They look like they’re in an I Love Lucy episode.
Ava wonders if they’ll suffocate and says she can’t find her hands. Bello finds it a little weird, but cute. As do we all.
We revisit DMA and then the Mikey-Ashley humping incident that jolted Bello’s bed and caused much midnight screaming. Then we’re reminded that Mikey picked Devin instead of Ashley for a romantic evening out. Tyra suggests that what we didn’t know is that Mikey later experienced regret at not choosing her, which is an extremely generous interpretation.
Mikey and Devin agree that they wish Ashley was there, which is not the same thing as Mikey regretting not taking Ashley on a proper date after all of their out-making. To show Ashley how much they care about her, they send her selfies of them having tons of fun without her. Good call, guys.
Courtney runs to tattle about Devin and Mikey’s comments about Ava’s winning picture, or rather about her spun and hyped-up version of them. Also in this sequence: You can see everyone sitting in a row and completely failing to face Nyle, who is behind them, so that he might have any idea what is happening. We see footage of Devin denying that he even made any comments about being done with Ava’s picture, and then cut to footage of him totally doing that. Well played, editing team of justice.
Never before seen! Bello, in the middle of shaving, is tired of it being normal for everyone in the house to shout and scolds Courtney and Ava. He says he doesn’t want to hear any more bullshit reasons to scream at each other. Ah, with a little more self-control (and passion!), Bello could have been a voice for us all.
Then there was the unretouched photo shoot! With hashtags! Snore. Dustin livens the mood on shoots, but he gets sent home. He’s bummed about missing graduation and prom, but glad that he’ll get to smile whenever he damn well feels like it.
Courtney is feeling isolated, but Lacey and Nyle are getting closer. Lacey is trying to learn sign language. Aww. I can’t tell if the implied crushiness is real or manufactured. Nyle, maybe it’s time to have a sit-down with Lacey about fluidity.
Ah, the possession shoot! Ava gamely pretends to shocked at the shoot “as a Christian,” though she clearly is not. Back at the house, Justin tries to get Mamé and Hadassah to quit hating each other, even though we don’t see the original shower fight that brought it all to a head.
We do see Hadassah theorize that it’s worse to walk into the bathroom while she’s in the shower because she has more curves than the other women in the house, which is exactly as much stupidity as Ashley’s brain can take, and suddenly she jumps into the middle of that fight hard. Her point is essentially Jesus Christ, Hadassah, your particular hips and boobs have nothing to do with when someone should or should not enter the bathroom. Ashley is correct. How did this segment not get shown before? I guess the show folks liked the cleaner two-way Pageant Girl fight, but this element is pretty entertaining. And it made me like Ashley as someone with reachable limits to what she can tolerate.
Later that week, Tyra lies that Ava’s performance has been declining. Ava goes home. Stefano gets “solid model,” and recent winner Ava gets “declining performance?” Shaaaaaaady.
You don’t have to be crazy to work here, but it helps! Tell us how you really feel.
Hadassah, in cuts from at least four different confessionals, says everyone in the house hates her and calls her fake, and then says she is beautiful and has a sexier body than most of the women in in the house; Ashley and Mamé, in their own confessional, mock her to the end of time. We end on Hadassah saying that everyone is wrong when they call her unlikable and uninteresting, and says that everyone who meets her loves her. For real, editing team: Tell me who I’m taking out for a drink for that.
Night time! DMA, or at least DA, dance around on the house practice runway instead of going to bed.
I have no idea why we see this footage.
Never before seen! Mamé listens to Ashley and tries to cheer her up after Devin tanks the acting challenge for them. Aww. She talks in a truly caring way about how Ashley’s passion and experience are going to take her far. That is how you buck someone up. Mikey.
I do not wish to flatter myself that anyone from the show reads these recaps (or that the lead time would have been sufficient), but this next sequence is clearly designed to give the impression that Yu Tsai occasionally helps people. This is illustrated by Bello and Courtney being terrible at their running-on-the-beach shoot and then being allegedly less terrible after Yu Tsai yells at them.
…And Ashley gets sent home. Tyra calls her lackluster. Harsh. Ashley says that after this competition, she says that she can look in the mirror and say that she loves herself. I hope Ashley does well. And stays away from Mikey.
OMG THE SCIENCE LAB. Now this is worth revisiting. So good. So crazy. Mikey, Hadassah and Mamé win the challenge for not doing what they were specifically asked to do and – Never before seen! – they win a shopping spree. Hadassah calls everything she can see or imagine or touch “cute,” and we get an excellent supercut of that and of Mamé joining in. But this is what brings Mamé and Hadassah together, so we will respect their process.
Chips, dips, chains, whips Tell us how you really feel.
Mamé and Justin hate that people don’t know to clean their oatmeal out of bowls before putting them in the dishwasher and are terrible at cleaning up in general. Justin says he feels like a father in the house, and Mamé says she feels like a mom. They are hilariously in sync, grousing together like a long-married elderly couple. Even the part where they both leap in to say that they don’t want kids yet. It is freaking adorable.
Time for the living doll shoot! We see Business Tyra in her tie and hot pants. Yu Tsai and the judges say Mikey’s shoot is great when it totally isn’t – HE ISN’T EVEN SMIZING; STOP LYING – and they say Bello isn’t punk enough when it is they who have cruelly dressed him entirely in clearance items from Hot Topic.
Courtney doesn’t know what “fashionista” means, almost like there is more to her life than fashion, and she WILL be tormented for it.
Also on this shoot: Let’s note that Mamé got the “Work the Hallway [extraneous comma] Like the Runway” doll and Lacey was dressed up with a Tyra haircut in a box featuring Tyra’s cosmetics logo and branding. I believe I have one or two guesses about who will make it into the top three.
Never before seen! We learn the signs for each of the judges’ names. Tyra’s sign incorporates eyes, Miss J.’s incorporates legs, and Kelly’s name incorporates the sign for “blunt,” which is pretty great.
The judges go back to tormenting Courtney. She can’t name any designers at all, not even one, perhaps in part because she is on camera, standing in front of a group of people whose goal is to make her cry.
This was the double elimination week and – Never before seen! – we go backstage, where Devin speculates on everybody’s chances, totally digging into Courtney. Courtney and Bello both get kicked.
Bello, you may have heard, disputes the notion that he does not possess adequate passion. At one point, while listing ways to illustrate the fact that he has passion, Bello starts to say “burn down the st—” and then thinks the better of it.
You know what? Chicken Butt Tell us how you really feel.
Hadassah talks about Justin and Mamé kissing and giggling at night. There’s a confession with them and Bello and a wine glass and someone else and they’re all trying to get a singing jam together and Mamé says she thinks her relationship with Justin will continue after the show. Then when Mamé leaves, Justin jokingly calls after her to warm up the bed. Mamé talks about it like they’re still just friends. Wait, what? I want a timeline on this.
Go-see week! All the cut models return just to stress out the ones still in the game. Mamé and Justin do a posh British accent confessional where they admit that they don’t want one of them to be sent away, and it’s super weird and sweet.
On their go-sees, Justin and Dustin are laid-back yet also a little aggro, stepping on Mikey’s walking time to get seen real quick and then they mellow out of there. Mamé is late getting back from go-see week and thus Hadassah gets what would have been Mamé’s prize. But what about their deep clothes-shopping friendship?
THE DOG SHOOT! So wonderful. Nyle and his dog are simpatico. Dustin looks cute. Justin has trouble with his dog and Yu Tsai lies down on the floor and is zero help. Justin goes home.
Dustin rejoins the competition for like 30 seconds. Time to go to Vegas!
Never before seen! Mamé talks to Devin about how sad it is to lose Justin. He’s genuinely sweet to her. (If there’s one thing this clip show has done, it has shown us how much the friendships in the house are edited to look like the cliques are very siloed from each other, when in fact there seems to have been a fair amount of fraternization.) Mamé says she’ll be strong and keep competing.
Tyra, as an advocate for strong women and the shattering of stereotypes, tells us that of course the ladies overpack for Vegas. It’s punctuated with a shot of Mikey saying “Women!” like it’s 1957.
Jesus Poledancing Christ.
Mikey, ever the gallant, carries Mamé’s bag for her and says he’s always happy to help beautiful women in distress. Apparently uggos can just bleed out if Mikey’s on call. Somehow Lacey manages to resist Mikey’s slime-coated offer and hauls her own damn suitcase. Lacey’s going to be all right.
Penthouse! Pool table! Sushi! Yikes, that sushi is apparently already there when the models arrive. How long has it been sitting under hot TV lights?
Hadassah and Dustin already hate each other. Each wonders why the other is there.
Never before seen! Mikey directly tells Devin that their friendship is out the window once the competition heats up. Devin adjusts his level of suspicion accordingly. Later, Mikey attempts to “help Mamé hold a pool cue correctly” in the weird bad-touch creeper way that you’ve seen in old movies.
Nyle texts that Mikey and Mamé should hook up. No. No, they should not.
You guys. Did you know that Tyra wrote the “Bootyful” theme song? Well, now you do. Work that ASCAP! Do it ASAP! Work that ASCAP! Do it ASAP!
Lacey, doing her hallway walk, falls straight into the camera guy, which is hilarious. Dustin chats up the extras and is terrible on screen. Hadassah says he didn’t practice. Devin scolds Dustin too while Nyle goes to his happy place and is so glad he can’t hear this shit. Dustin is eliminated, which bothers him about as much as it surprises us.
Four episodes left until the jaw-dropping finale!
They’re still in Vegas! There’s something bizarre happening with a wild fake party and the models dressing up as furries. Also Mikey wants a threesome and Devin tears into him. Good.