My usual watching gang of Some Gays, Some Ladies, and Some Cupcakes didn't happen for this week's recap. Neither did my husband/partner/whatever's family because they stayed behind in Atlanta while we returned home to Los Angeles. So I watched at home late on a Wednesday night, way past my usual 9 p.m. bedtime, with the husband/partner/whatever and friend/housemate Aaron. This is fine with me. It lets me rewind the TiVo when I need to. I like to drive the car, you know?
Anyway, before the recap of the episode begins, I have to share my personal fashion interests of the week. Why does no one speak of "Fundies" anymore -- you know, the two-person underwear with room for four legs and two butts? You'd think with the '80s still sort of full-on happening out there that the kids would be all over new ways to employ Fundies into their style vocabulary. But I never hear about them. Come back, Fundies. You were cooler than your decade of origin.
And because this week's challenge is going to be about menswear, I'll talk about 3.1 Philip Lim. I know, it'd be kind of awesome if 3.1 were his actual first name, but that's just the name of the label. It's the kind of simple-with-very-cool-details stuff that I'd wear if I were a tiny little rich person instead of a lumbering goon with none of that mythical extra-piles-of-homosexual-cash lying around my apartment. You may think I'm being hard on myself with the words "lumbering goon," but I'm not. I know and accept myself as I am. Also, I have confirmation. A friend of mine is shooting his own indie film and approached me yesterday about possibly-maybe being in it as either "a mover" or "a psychotic murderer." Yes, I said yes. Anyway, I like 3.1 Philip Lim, someone whose clothes on a gang of models at a runway show resemble, in the words of a Style.com review I read once, "a crowd of chic strangers at an airport."
And now to Elyse, the real-life model I introduced to you in the last recap -- first season America's Next Top Model second runner-up and all-around smart, funny and good person -- and her pronouncement of the week:
"Jeans are not cool right now. I know it's hard, but you're just going to have to find something else. I'm wearing head-to-toe pink right now: trousers, sweater, and shoes."
And even though I refuse to abandon my usual uniform of Levi's shrink-to-fit, button-fly 501's and T-shirt, I agree. Because she's not talking about me. She's talking about the rest of you people. Go do what she says. Change your clothes.
OK, on to the episode:
Opening shoots past again. There's Chris in the still-barfy leopard print shirt. Next up is Christian, who announces, "Hell yes, I'm the best!" This may well be true, but it's always a little better for you, for your long-term sense of self-esteem, if you keep it innocuous with sound bites like, "I can sew!" rather than face the humiliation of being voted off, say, first, then having your holographic self shouting, "I shall destroy all the others and emerge victorious, their bleeding decapitated heads hoisted on sticks above Anna Wintour's howling, wolf-like, and super-hungry jaws!" Just a tip, there, Christian.
And we're already pausing the TiVo to discuss two PR things:
1. Who is the most successful PR alumnus. Besides Malan, of course, who wins at life in general and probably will be the person who, in the end times, when it's going to matter most, will get to say that thing about bleeding, decapitated heads and Anna Wintour. The three of us watching decide that it's probably Kara Saun. Even though she's kind of dull. Not that that quality ever hurt Michael Kors's career.
2. Yes, we all saw Jack naked online this week. I forget who, maybe Defamer--beautiful, beautiful Defamer--posted a link with arty-but-still-full-of-soft-demure-dong shots of Jack. We all decided that Jack, naked, is actually more dull than Kara Saun. Muscles are over, gays. Seriously, this is true. The new thing is bellies. I'm way ahead of the curve on that one.
Back to the show, which begins with the sun rising over Manhattan and a gratuitous shot of Jack in a towel and Kevin in his boxer briefs, both of them primping in front of the mirror. Kevin's got plumber butt crack happening because his drawers are not pulled up enough. And see, this is where some Fundies could come in handy, in a spontaneous bit of male bonding between homo Jack and hetero-but-still-somewhat-faggy Kevin.
Next we see Jack sitting on his bed with -- I tried to count with the TiVo paused -- about 13 bottles of medicine next to him. He says he's been HIV+ for 17 years. Then we see him use an inhaler. We pause the TiVo again. Does he have asthma too? Is there a thing that blows anti-AIDS air into your body now? If this were my show I'd stop and get him to explain what's in each plastic bottle. That would slow things down maybe, lose viewers and result in ultimate cancellation, but those facts don't lessen my curiosity. I see the HIV meds ads in all the gay mags, and every single one of them is some young, adorably scruffy guy striding down an urban street, everywhere to go, every guy to date, openmouthed-smile, saying, "I take one pill and then I bounce!" So yeah, I want to know what's what.
Some of the guys are talking about Marion's elimination. Chris, clearly baiting, says, "Why didn't they just get rid of Christian? Nobody would have cried." Christian appears in the doorway with a mock-outraged face, declaring universal boredom if he gets eliminated. This, much like, "Hell yes, I'm the best," is probably true. Aaron on the couch says, "I've just decided that Christian is all three members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs distilled into one person." Finally, Christian's visual presentation explained in a correct manner.
The designers are shown sitting beside the runway. Out walks Heidi in a wacky red Lieutenant Uhura dress and black leggings. She tells them they won't be needing their models for the next challenge. The music track pops off a lightly punctuated BOOM as Jack bugs out his eyes. Sorry, Jack, but Andrae from season 2 is still the King of the Goggle-Eyed Reaction Shot. Heidi tells them they're all going to 10 Rockefeller Plaza to meet up with Tim Gunn, who has a surprise waiting for them. "Chop chop!" Heidi says. Always making sure the trains run on time, that lady.
The next shot was clearly set up by someone, allowing lone ungay male Kevin to be first in the room where the surprise is waiting so an appropriate reaction shot can happen. That surprise is Tiki Barber (actual name: Atiim Kiambu Hakeem-ah Barber, born in Roanoke, Va., to some folks who wanted to teach him to spell at a very young age), former running back for the New York Giants. And though he's famous in the world of sports, he's no Sarah Jessy P, and the show knows it. So while they have to stir in corporate product placement anywhere they can, and he's part of the Bravo/NBC/Universal family, I get it. Yet, if you're going to do that, PR, can I vote and say that I'd really dig it if you got the designers to make something for each member of the 30 Rock cast to wear? I want to see what they'd do for Grizz and Dot Com. Anyway, Kevin explains that Tiki Barber was the greatest running back ever. So thanks, straight sports fan guy. Now explain what a running back is. I mean, not for me, mind you, because I'm ALL MAN. But, you know, for those other gays. Seriously, not me. Sports are my life. Grrr and stuff.
Tim introduces Tiki to the designers. Another Kevin reaction shot. Poor Tiki. I think that maybe only Kevin knows who he is. Kevin is beaming with man-crush energy, clapping up high, all big and loud. Crying Ricky, wearing shitty hat #17, says, "None of us really know who he is, but wow he's gorgeous!" Tiki explains that the challenge is to design an outfit for him to wear on the Today show.
Ha-HA! Man clothes! Suck it, women's wear-only designers! You're doomed! According to my husband/partner/whatever's sister-in-law's e-mail that I just got, "Men's tailors are the souffle makers of the fashion world. Every friggin' detail counts to get fit and shape. And some of these contestants can't crack an egg without breaking the yolk. No mastery of basics."
And if you knew my husband/parter/whatever's sister-in-law, you'd be less impressed with her knowledge of clothing construction -- although, like I explained last week, it's pretty impressive -- than with the fact that she just used the word "friggin'." Because in real life she's super-preppy and correct and I don't know that I've ever heard her say that sort of thing out loud.
The designers look upset. They know they're fucked. Sweet P may cry. Tiki explains his particulars. Big neck. Skinny waist. Big butt. Also known as "I'm hot." He likes dark colors, patterns, texture and depth. Any questions, designers?
Kevin asks about details. Do you like them, Tiki? Oh, say yes, Tiki, say yes.
He says yes, he loves them.
Chris asks about color. What is Tiki's favorite? Tiki responds by saying, "I'm not afraid of color." (Translation: "I hear you, Gay. And what I hear you asking is can you make me pink. Yes, you can.")
Is this a good challenge? I'm torn. Part of me wants them to be able to show off what they can do, to make this show really about fashion and how it's constructed and what it all means. But I have to confess that, even after I griped about it last season, that I miss the whole thing of, "Now you will make a dress for Fergie. But you will make it with boogers." When will that happen? So far we've just been given straightforward challenges. I'm not saying I'm bored. I'm just saying that a Booger Week would be total entertainment.
The next shot pretty much sums up the overall tone of this season's cast so far, one where everyone more or less seems to be getting along. You see the designers enter the workroom, Jack carrying Christian in a tote bag. This is excellent for several reasons:
1. It's jolly in a way I've not seen before on this show.
2. It proves that Jack's muscles are not just for show; they function too. Secondary subtexty thing: the hivvies are not slowing him down one bit.
3. CHRISTIAN FITS IN A TOTE BAG.
Tim comes in and tells them their assignment parameters. They have until midnight and then all the next day to finish. They have 30 minutes to sketch. Thirty minutes at Mood. A budget of $150. Then he says, "Make it work! This is a classic 'make it work' moment!" So Tim has become fully aware of himself. He has to footnote his catchphrase now. Time to hire that consultant. Is Santino busy? He'd be good at that.
Sketch time: No one's happy. Sweet P is freaking out. Jillian tells the camera that everyone's struggling. Steven is tapping his pencil, brooding. Kevin's enthusiasm, however, is matched only by his own version of Ricky's barfy hat. This one is leather and seems to have a wooly shearling interior. And it's tight, like a gently padded condom rolled down over his skull. People used to bemoan the fact that men never wore hats anymore. And then they started wearing them again. And when a new hat shows up that doesn't make me want to kill everyone within a 50-foot radius, I'll stop my own bemoaning.
Tim walks in, giving off major limp wrist. I dig that. He tells them it's time to shop. He takes them to Mood. Chris asks Tim if Tiki likes hot pants. Then Chris cracks up at his own joke. Sort of like he cracked up at his own "they should have sent Christian home" joke. Isn't that against the rules? I mean, I do it too. Everyone does. It's a universal annoying trait that, I think, most people share. But I don't do it on TV. And speaking of TV, Kit knows how it's supposed to go. She's already a stylist for TV, so she knows "what works on set." She's so confident in a quiet, unbitchy way. She's growing on me. "Wouldn't it be great," asks Aaron on the couch, "if someone made a purple, Cedric the Entertainer-ish, Original Kings of Comedy suit?"
Cut to Carmen asking Jack for help. And again, not only can Jack carry another man around in a tote bag, he also carries the lost people to safety by sacrificing his own shorts to the cause of helping everyone else make pants patterns. Everyone traces his shorts. This makes Rami unhappy. He finds it "unfair" and says so in his solo interview shot. But even he doesn't start shit in the workroom. See? No one's being awful yet. What if that goes on all season? Will the producers see that they're logging only boring footage of calm sewing and panic? Will they unleash some wild dogs into the workroom to see who lives and who dies? Next shot: Tim walking into workroom, half-frown on his face. But that's kind of Tim's normal face. I wish he'd say, "Hi, everybody. Why aren't you fighting yet?" But he just tells them that time's up for the day.
It's the next day. Everyone's freaking out except Christian, who can sew like the Tasmanian Devil. He gives the interview cam a sleepy face and says, "I'm not worried." Cut to Rami gloating that he's draping his own pants with a muslin sample that wasn't traced off Jack's shorts. Ooh, Daddy, your work method is so much bigger than everyone else's.
Tim comes in with a surprise: male models for the designers to work with for one hour. Cue guys in their underpants and gay male designers giving themselves whiplash. Rami, to the interview cam, says, "The guys are good-looking so the girls are excited...so are some of the guys, of course. Heh heh." This is quickly followed by a cut to Ricky saying, "Take your clothes off," and Chris losing his breath over -- wheeze, gasp, heave, sharp-inhale -- all the "disrobing men." Meanwhile, the camera is practically up one model's butt here, lingering over impossibly cut abs there. They never do that to the female models, of course. They know their audience. Steven sums it up, saying he never understood why straight men got so envious that he got to dress beautiful women all the time. "You win, guys. I get it," he says.
Next we see Elisa telling her model that she's uncomfortable watching a man undress unless it's her boyfriend. She just gets more and more fascinating. She will put her tongue on fabric draped over Sweet P's lady-business, but she won't look at a man in his underwear. Still, though, she'll probably make something weirdly good out of it all. I'm on her crazy train all the way to the final stop. Cut to Ricky, who's so stressed out that he can't even "think clearly." He's probably one of those guys who doesn't say "think straight" because he thinks it's homophobic. You know, like those dorks who say "gaily forward" every time you drive them through an intersection. I've pushed people out of my car for that. Anyway, he must be really stressed because he can't even muster up some tears like the synchronized crying fountain he's promised us he'd be. Don't go back on your word, Hat Guy. Sweet P's shirt is...
...is "not working" sufficient description? I mean, she could be trying for the David Byrne Stop Making Sense suit here, I suppose. That may be her plan. And if so then I'm down for that. Tiki might like it too. But I think she wanted something else. In her words: "I am totally freaking out. There is no time to sew all these garments and make a jacket. I'm gonna be lucky if I get a shirt made."
Now it's seven hours until the end of the day...
Ginny Barber, wife of Tiki, is here to critique the garments instead of Tim. Oh, good, send her in to waste our time is what I'm reading in the collective thought bubble. Except for Christian, who believes that "[all] Asians are fierce." Is that reverse racism? Is that a thing? It sounds very much like "natural sense of rhythm" and "fast-twitch muscle fiber" to me. Mrs. Barber seems not-horrible. But she hates Carmen's jacket, calling it "reminiscent of a Members Only jacket." This means Carmen is fucked. She doesn't have enough fabric to start over.
One hour until the end of the day...
Everyone's losing their shit. No one's close to finishing. Panic has set in. Now will there be fighting? Please?
Oh, good. Carmen and Ricky are getting into it. She sings out loud, to whoever wants to join in, "Don't go home too sooooon! Don't go home too sooooon!" Ricky responds with "Shut the f___ uhhhhhp! Shut the f___ uhhhhhp!" and then they start sniping and calling each other "bitch." But no one really raises their voice. There's no storming out. No crying. Not even from Ricky. And he invented crying. Sweet P admonishes them not to fight. Shut up, Sweet P!
The Brother Sewing Clock of Doom says there are zero fashion minutes left to make Tiki Barber's big ass look good while he's sitting down on the Today show.
Commercial time: Kara Saun is in her Saturn. She's going to Malibu. It's on fire. Still. Flea just lost one of the billion-dollar homes he had on the "flip" market. Oops.
Back to the show, the screen says "Day of Elimination" as we watch Elisa from behind as she does yoga, moving from upward dog to downward dog. Is it someone's idea of funny-ha-ha to simultaneously show someone's butt and the word "elimination?" If so, then thank you, Bravo. You make me smile in so many ways.
Next we see the designers enter the workroom again. Today Jack is giving Christian a piggyback ride. This is my new favorite thing on the show. Next week I want to see Jack go to the trouble of sewing a skin pouch onto his torso so that Christian can ride around in it like a baby marsupial. The week after that, I want Christian in Jack's shirt pocket like the flute on H.R. Pufnstuf. This can go on forever, really, as the show invents new ways for the wee one to use the strapping one as his own personal rickshaw.
Carmen has no shirt made. She and Sweet P are in the same boat headed up shit creek. Sweet P's shirt is all wrong, like Denise Huxtable's Gordon Gartrell knockoff. Everything else on camera appears to have come straight from Thom Browne's high-wateriest nightmares. All Tim Gunn can say is "I'm worried" and "I'm concerned."
Runway time: Heidi comes out in a really great wildly patterned dress. The judges are here: Kors, Nina, and Tiki B. Tiki says, "Good to see you all again." The camera cuts to Kevin, who's swooning, eyes glazed over. He wants to give Tiki a bro-hug so badly he can feel it in his pants.
Jillian - Three-piece dark suit with open collar.
Carmen - Broke-down, ill-fitting pants, the Members Only jacket and a big piece of blue fabric standing in for a shirt. It's like the hugest ascot ever and it's making Kors scowl.
Christian - Asymmetrical collarless shirt under jacket with odd pants. He likes it.
Kit - Speaking of Thom Browne, her fleece sport coat has intentionally short sleeves. Everything else makes the model look sort of arty prep school. It's good.
Rami - Gets the Members Only thing right with pants that appear not to be about to disintegrate, unlike Carmen's. And there's a shirt, also unlike Carmen.
Sweet P - Oh, man. She put a tie on the jacked-up shirt. It's resting on TOP of the shapeless noncollar-whatever-it-is. Aaron on the couch says, "It's like then Tom Hanks shrinks again in Big." Her model is visibly unhappy. She makes gun with her hand and holds it up to her head.
Steven - Pants. Shirt. Fabric draped around neck. Sure, whatever. He pronounces it "OHtfit" instead of "outfit." I just realized that.
Victorya - Black-and-white contrasting-collar jacket, pants, and shirt. Not nearly as cool or sophisticated as her first two pieces, but at least her model is wearing actual clothes. She probably wants to kill herself from the shame.
Kevin - For all his confidence, he still sends his model out wearing a vest that looks pinned together. Maybe it is pinned together. Everything else is lavender, totally biting Chris's "make the jock look gay" rhyme.
Chris - Watched Gattaca a lot before making his black-on-black items.
Jack - Pinstriped pants and contrasting striped shirt from Stripeywear Factory in Stripeytown.
Rickey - Jacket and pants ALL pinned together. Total fuckness.
Elisa - Has created the perfect outfit for a hip goatherder.
Safe: Jillian, Christian, Rami, Steve, Victorya, Chris, and Elisa, all of whom are just happy to have lived through it.
The judges ask questions of the remaining six. Everyone loves Kit, Jack, and sometimes Kevin.
Sweet P is, appropriately, sheepish about her failure. This doesn't stop Heidi from asking her how she could allow her model to walk down the runway "with this mess around the neck." Then she turns on Ricky and his pins. "Don't think that because we're sitting over here that we can't see that!" she snaps. To Kevin she says, "I would not like my husband walking around like that." Kevin says, "Seal would look amazing in this."
OH, SHIT! HE SASSED HEIDI!
Her response, dripping with disdain: "It's more David Beckham." Just substitute "Walking Poopmonster" for "David Beckham" and that will give you an idea of the tone she just delivered.
Everyone can't hate Carmen enough. Sweet P's like, "Who's more awful right now than me? Oh, Carmen is? OK, good."
Judges chat: They agree that Jack and Kit succeeded. They agree that everyone else screwed the pooch.
Designers back on the runway. And the winner is Jack, which, if you paid attention to who got the most story time this week, you might have predicted. He's helpful, strong, and competent. He can lift whole people up in a bag. He takes off his pants for the common good. He poses nude on the Internet.
And to answer the question of how do you choose between suck, suckier, and suckiest, we have Carmen. She's out. Ricky cries. Finally!