The episode of the year finds the girls doing red-carpet interviews, channeling star couples, and providing the ultimate reality-TV shocker: A moment of clarity

By Whitney Pastorek
Updated October 19, 2006 at 04:00 AM EDT
Michelle: De Yonker/The CW

America's Next Top Model

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”Top Model”: The best episode of the season!

Tonight was a special occasion, niblets: I actually stayed home and watched this episode of Top Model in real time, thanks to the baseball playoff happening next door on Fox. (I decided I didn’t want to roll in drunk at midnight and write this recap, because that is just unprofessional. Unlike drinking a six-pack here at home.) And while it’s entirely possible I may have missed something by allowing the Mets/Cardinals to take up the lower right-hand quadrant of my screen (thanks, picture-in-picture!), I am prepared to call this the best episode of the season.

Would you not agree? Let’s just take a second to run down the list of awesomenesses: We opened with a musical number. Then someone revealed her bisexuality. Janice Dickinson showed up. The term ”Smell-Rose” was used. At least four people cried. Matt Czuchry and Jared Padalecki made appearances. There was an assortment of dancing. And Tyra said something that I can guarantee you has never been said before in the history of modern language: ”Bobby Brown saved your butt.”

I mean, the Czuchry appearance alone would be enough to do it for me.

But let’s back up, take a second to sing a sad song in celebration of Megg (CariDee sure did) and then mock ourselves for being such saps. Melrose! Your fake crying this evening was priceless, and this episode will forever go down in history (or infamy, I guess, depending on your POV — that’s ”point of view,” Anchal) as The Day Your Niceness Died, because you are now completely owning the fact that every girl in the house hates you. You have decided that looking good (and winning challenges, like tonight’s reward interviewing the cute boys of the Kwuh) is the best revenge, and I say props to you, Gramps, for remembering that this is a competition, not a self-esteem farm, and we are not here to make nicey-nice… and also for doing it in a way that, to me, seems completely reasonable. You’re not a toxic underminer like Jade, or a freak of nature like Lisa; you’re just mature enough to know what you want and how to get it. Melrose, my hat is off to you. You are now my pick to win.

Of course, in order for MR to be my pick, that means A.J. has to not be, and golly did she make that decision easy for me tonight, by 1) becoming a giant toad of resentment and 2) allowing that resentment to keep her from trying to achieve what was, ostensibly, her dream, because 3) she got sent home.

The reward challenge tonight, as I’ve alluded to, was being a red carpet reporter. Learning ”the nuances of interviewing,” as guest star Mark Steines from Entertainment Tonight put it. Here’s all the nuance you need for starters: Say something. But A.J. couldn’t. Miss Punk Rock Cannibal Lady was completely tongue-tied, and in fact broke out in hives so red that even her interview subject (the lovely and talented circus bear that is Janice Dickenson) noticed. These are not Top Model material, these hives.

But did A.J. seem like she knew she needed to do better? Did A.J. even care, outside of using Melrose’s win to fuel her bitterness fire? No! A.J. acted like she was being put upon by the very idea of the challenge itself, and that attitude carried her all the way through the rest of the episode, straight through the photo challenge — in which each girl had to play both halves of a celebrity couple — and right out the door. I can’t believe how mad her behavior made me, actually. Thank god the judges had enough sense to get rid of her instead of Jaeda who, despite being in the bottom two for like the last six years, still manages to appear concerned about that, instead of stoic and bratty. You think your BFF Megg wouldn’t kill to come back, A.J.? Did you think about that?

Deep breath!

There were so many other things in this episode worth talking about, I can’t believe I just wasted two paragraphs on that spiky-haired loser. Let’s see: Well, Tyra dropped by the house to make everyone cry again, this time with some one-on-one sessions in which we learned… well, we’ll skip the best thing we learned. But the second-best thing is that CariDee used to have psoriasis over 78% of her body. (!!!)

The photo challenge was exceedingly entertaining, the aforementioned celebrity couples allowing the girls to once again wear facial hair (an enduring theme this season, for some reason; perhaps it is in honor of Atoosa’s arms?) and demonstrate their remarkable acting range. Seriously, considering how inept they are at interviewing people, their collective ability to play a character is pretty amazing. CariDee nailed Brangelina; Brooke turned in a scary-good Britney Spears and a K-Fed that would have been better had she grabbed her crotch; Michelle nailed Ellen DeGeneres (I AM GETTING TO THAT), and Melrose’s Donald Trump was spot-on while her Melania was drop dead gorgeous.

Then, in judging, we got Miss J., Tyra, and Nigel doing side-by-side impersonations of Beyoncé and Eugena-as-Beyoncé; Twiggy admitting she’s got no idea who Jay-Z is (”Listen, it’s not my age group, dear”); a donut pig-out; one ”Hell to the no!” reference; and the following freestyle from Brooke, which is, dare I say, as good as or better than anything you’re going to find on K-Fed’s upcoming album: ”My picture’s lookin’ good / My picture’s lookin’ fly / I took it to the next level / I got high / Boys check it out / I’m revvin’ it full throttle / I’m standin’ here / I’m gonna be / America’s Next Top Model.”

But you’re all waiting to hear about tonight’s real story, that story being the lesbianization of Michelle, of our merry Siamese twins. Well, niblets, let me assure you it was everything it was built up to be and more. It was in fact so good that I am going to blow right past my 1,000 words here, and I defy my editor to stop me. WHY was it so good, I hear you asking? Not because of the initial admission, ”I might be gay” — which, to be honest, blew by like an Indigo Girls tour bus on the highway — and not because Michelle acted on these nascent feelings in any way. No, what made this whole thing so damn special was the reaction her sister had to the news: complete and total shutdown. Like, brain freeze. The desire to smoosh her face into a pillow and never come out again. This was initially alarming, I’ll be honest — I mean, god, what if you’re gay, and your identical twin sister turns out to be a homophobe? Can you imagine anything worse than being shut out by someone with whom you once shared an egg? But see, that wasn’t the problem at all. In her one-on-one with Tyra, Amanda finally opened up and gave the reason why she was upset: ”I don’t want everyone to know everything about me,” she said, tearing up for what she claimed was the first time in years. And w/r/t her sister’s admission? ”I don’t know if it’s America’s right to know.”

Holy cow. For whatever reason, those words hit me in the heart. Yeah, I know — Amanda is on a reality show, Amanda knew what she was signing up for… but doesn’t she have a bit of a point? And maybe, in this society that tells everyone they have to grab that 15 minutes of fame in the most degrading way possible, is not this realization and accompanying redemption of one tiny reality show cast member something to celebrate?

Okay, even if you’re not on board with my turning-point-in-American-pop-culture theory, how about the phone conversation Michelle and Amanda had with their mom? Here, I’ll paraphrase:

MICHELLE: ”I announced that I don’t know if I’m straight or not.”
MOM: ”Okay.”
MICHELLE: [silent shock, hands phone to Amanda]
MOM: ”Is Michelle okay?”
AMANDA: [hands phone back to Michelle]
MOM: ”We love you no matter what.”
MICHELLE: ”Happy Mother’s Day.”

Is it wrong that I cried just a little right then? I sure hope not. Because to quote Amanda — in whatever context you want to take this: The twins are here to stay.

How much did this episode rock? What did you think of Amanda’s reaction to Michelle’s revelation? Did A.J.’s attitude infuriate you as well? Do you agree Melrose is now the leader of the pack?

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