As we get started here, I’d like to take you back to a masterpiece of a film that defined the nineties—and not just the nineties; really, this movie defined who we are as human beings. Of course I’m talking about that timeless classic, the epic coming-of-age story, Can’t Hardly Wait (staring Jennifer Love Hewitt—as if any of us had forgotten!). There is a scene in this film where Jenna Elfman (the stripper in the angel costume) consoles our young protagonist Preston with these profound words: “If Barry Manilow is who you want to be with, then you should go to him!” (<--lazy, unresearched approximation of actual quote). My point is, we all have our dreams. For the contestants of The Cut, that lifelong dream is to break into the fashion industry with Tommy Hilfiger as their mentor. If that means doing totally-unrelated-to-clothing-design crap-tasks, then so be it. What ever it takes to reach that dream. For the rest of you, that means you need to go to Barry. Find him.
Who are you people and what have you done with Heidi Klum?!?
As is the tradition with so many reality TV shows, we begin with the remaining contestants dealing with the last episode’s elimination. All feel the weight of their mortality. Princess and one of the blondes wipe crocodile tears from the corners of their eyes, careful not to smudge the liner. There is the usual blather about how “intense” the elimination was, and how no one is there to make friends, blah blah blah.
Shauna, self-proclaimed “socialite,” is experiencing the natural disorientation of someone who signed up for Project Runway and found themselves mistakenly added to the cast of the Apprentice. She says she has had it with the ridiculous challenges, and she’s out. “I wanted to make pretty, pretty dresses that make me feel like a fairytale princess!” she does not say (but I think Austin Scarlet did once). She never does leave, though. I’m familiar with the saying “no one likes a quitter,” but I think I would actually have liked her better if she’d bailed out instead of just whining about it. The other contestants seem to agree with my assessment. Nobody’s lovin’ Shauna now.
A rip-off within a rip-off within a rip-off
It’s morning, and it’s time for the Pimp My Ride portion of The Apprentice—I’m sorry, I mean it’s time for the next challenge on The Cut. The contestants file in to “Tekni Car,” a well-decorated car…refurbishment establishment. (Disclaimer: I know nothing about cars and/or pimping them. If I get something wrong, I’m sorry. No, I’m not.) Tommy makes a casual entrance from the back room. Maybe it’s just me, but for a fashion designer, I’m not in love with the way Tommy dresses himself. Even in a casual outfit like this, he looks stiff and uncomfortable in the clothes. And he’s going to train others? Motes and beams, baby, motes and beams.
Tommy launches into a story about his good friend, Mick Jagger. Once upon a time, he designed a super-shiny chrome suit for Mick to wear for a photo shoot, which Mick didn’t like. He convinced Mick to wear it anyway, and the fabric “went nuclear” under the photographer’s flash. Mick was so unhappy about it that he attacked Tommy with a broken beer bottle (story may be embellished to make it less boring). The moral? Listen to your client…or get cut.
Tommy reveals two Lincoln Navigators, and the contestants squeal in delight. Dumb as rocks, this bunch; this isn’t Survivor—none of you get a car. These Navigators are for “young, hip” rap “star,” Fabulous. Possibly pronounced “Fab-a-liss.” All the contestants cheer and pretend that they know who that is, their wide eyes shifting around the room to see if somebody else has a clue.
Their job is to pimp these rides into Fabulous’s dream car. They will be given $7,500 and 36 hours, the tools and the technicians, and even “sleeping accommodations” upstairs. I spit my diet Pepsi when they show a clip of the “accommodations,” which consist of sleeping bags on a concrete floor, with a forest of hanging metal “widow makers” swinging from the ceiling above. Sleep tight, kids.
It’s time to shuffle teams, something that will happen every week, Tommy promises. This is the way it will go down: whoever was picked first last week, will be the team captain next week. That makes this week’s captains Elizabeth and Chris. First chosen Elizabeth gets first choice. She chooses Felix, who will therefore be the team captain for the next challenge, right? Are you following me here? Okay, Chris chooses James for the other future leader. The teams end up like this: Elizabeth’s team (a.k.a. the orange team): Felix, Princess, Tommy, Wes, Chris, Jessica, and Vlata (by default—she went unchosen). Chris’s team (a.k.a. the blue man group): James, Rob, Crazy Jeff, Crazy Deanna, Julie, and Quitter Shauna. Vlata looks pissed to be picked last, but she says she expected it.
Tommy relists the prizes, and then tells the contestants the three qualities he is looking for in this competition: business acumen, creativity, and social skills. This is important to mention now, because he goes on to reveal that every week there will be a separate “social skills” challenge. This week it’s all about the People’s Choice Awards, where two of the contestants will work the red carpet and hobnob with celebrities. They will also be given the celebrity treatment with jets and suites, as opposed to the dirty garage floor. This is a competition, though, so each team should send their very best “people person.”
The teams confer, deciding who among them has the best social skills/would be the most useless in the real challenge. Elizabeth’s team goes with flamboyant little Tommy (no, not Hilfiger, the contestant Tommy), due to the fact that he brought a tuxedo, according to him. Chris’s team gives in to Quitter Shauna’s claims that this is her specialty. Team captain Chris feels like he’s missing out because he’s never had the chance to do anything like the People’s Choice Awards red carpet interviewing schtick (a traditional American right of passage that the rest of us sadly take for granted), but he knows his team needs him.
Tommy and Shauna’s joy at escaping the car challenge is tempered by the feeling that they may be putting targets on their backs come elimination day.
Nothing says haute couture like Coveralls
Chris’s blue team puts on their namesake blue coveralls and starts brainstorming in the middle of their work area. It is chaotic and senseless. What was the point of the “Mick and the Slashing Broken Glass Bottle” story if they’re going to design the décor without talking to Fabulous first? This bothers no one as they spastically throw out themes.
Upstairs, the orange team (orange is the new pink, you know) sits calmly in a friendship circle and discusses the project with mature and organized communication. Which leaves us to wonder…which type of foreshadowing is this? Is it the “see the diligent ant work and the lazy grasshopper spaz out, then watch the clever ant be rewarded in the end” kind of foreshadowing or is it the “show only negative scenes of the winning team so that there is some suspense at the end” kind of foreshadowing? We shall see…
I’m not even going to mention the brief, pointless flash of Shauna and Tommy on their jet.
Clubbin’ …but not in the cool sense where someone gets their head bashed in with a club.
Finally, the Tale of Mick comes to fruition. The contestants get a call (and Vlata overreacts ridiculously to the news) telling them that two members of each team get to go schmooze with Fabulous at Club Marquee. This is their chance to find out if Fabulous likes to wear flashy chrome suits, and what kinds of things he likes inside of a Navigator. Elizabeth’s orange team sends Princess because she’s a “pretty black girl” (pretty?) and Vlata, to “get her out of our hair.” Blue team leader Chris decides to take on the task personally, and takes Crazy Megalomaniac Jeff along (to keep an eye on him?).
We get several gratuitous shots of the club to assure us that it is very cool indeed, and then Fabulous appears. He looks pretty normal, no twelve-inch diamond-studded name plate or anything, and that should probably be something that the orange and blue teams notice, too. Vlata commences “Operation Ho-Bag” at once, and Princess joins right in, quickly surpassing Vlata’s admirable efforts. Chris says that he noticed the girls “sweating” Fabulous, but he doesn’t blame them for using any advantage they have. Chris takes Fabulous aside after a bit, to a quieter corner, and questions him about—imagine this—the car. The girls drink and boogie.
Back at the garage, the girls are debriefed. “It was great,” Princess gushes. “I gave him my phone number!” “But what did he say about the car?” Elizabeth asks. It seems to dawn on her in that moment that maybe Princess and Vlata weren’t the right soldiers for this campaign. Princess isn’t worried though. She thinks her own presence on Team Orange is all they need. “See these cocos?” she demands, pointing to her psycho eyes. It seems the “cocos” will be the winner. What car, fool!!
Though I am quite suspicious of Chris’s listening abilities when he tells the blue team that what Fabulous wants is pretty much what he already had designed, at least he asked the right questions.
The key to my heart
With 30 hours left, everyone is hard at work. Everyone but Vlata, that is, who flips idly through a magazine, ignoring the death beams shooting toward her head from out of Jessica’s eyes.
The blue team is rolling along until it’s time to tint the windows, which would require the windows to be rolled up, which would require the keys to be in the ignition. Turns out no one knows quite where the keys are. While the orange team hits the concrete floor for some much needed shuteye, the blue team is forced to search for the lost keys. The garage is turned upside down, all to no avail. Myself, I would have looked in the producer’s pocket. I’m just sayin’…these kind of dramatic snafus seem to happen an awful lot on shows like this, you know?
First thing in the morning, the locksmith arrives and Team Blue is back in business. Will the lost time be their doom? *dum dum dum*!!
Next it’s off to the fabric store, where the orange team loses its collective mind. They purchase furs, “python and crocodile” skins, and a dead fox. Princess tells us she is decorating for her future place as Fabulous’s shotgun passenger. Okaaaaaaay. Deluded much?
The blue team is concerned about getting champagne in the car, because nothing goes with driving like drinking! Jeff makes a sloppy box (for the liquor?) that everyone hates. They ask him not to put it in, and Jeff is miffed. He gives up on helping with the car in order to devote his attentions to moping.
Red Carpet fool
Yes, it’s time to check in with our social skills challenge competitors. Tommy’s aforementioned tuxedo includes the frilliest cravat I’ve ever seen, and it’s hard to look away. I don’t notice exactly what Shauna is wearing, but she has to look pretty dignified next to that shirt.
At first, the producers are more concerned with showing us how many celebrities they can capture on screen than with showing us how Tommy and Shauna are coping with the task. We see Jessica Simpson, Jason Alexander, Kevin James and that chick in the show with him, the woman in CSI New York, and Phil from TAR (thump thump goes my heart).
Finally we get to some relevant footage: Tommy has to ask the ET guy who Sheryl Crow is. The ET guy tells him she’s a singer, and then rolls his eyes in horror of such ignorance, as do I. I mean, I’m not a big fan or anything, but who doesn’t know who she is? Tommy proceeds to turn around and gush all over Sheryl about her golden pipes. He’s so close to humping her leg that Sheryl Crow isn’t the only one who’s uncomfortable—even the viewing audience is nervous. We also see him loving on Jeff Foxworthy to an improper degree. The ET guy (I swear I wrote his name down somewhere…oh well) comments that Shauna is more serious and professional. We don’t see much of her interacting with the stars, but, really, how could she be worse?
One of these things is not like the others
There are only six hours left in the real competition. The pace is frantic. Everyone on the orange team is working with manic energy…everyone but Vlata, again, who is watching TV in the Navigator with a technician. Elizabeth and Wes try to get a wall panel into the car, but can’t maneuver it around Vlata’s useless bulk. They ask her to get out, and she is offended. Wes’s eyes bug out to a dangerous degree.
Elizabeth, in the spirit of good leadership, takes Vlata aside and apologizes for the incident. In fact she “SO apologizes,” she “SO apologizes” many times. Vlata is not appeased.
Jeff continues to mope in the blue garage. Chris throws a hizzy fit over what may be wax or possibly some other substance on the running boards, blaming Jeff for the mess. Because if someone is capable of making a sloppy box, then they’re probably going to be sloppy in every circumstance. Jeff denies it, and stares broodingly at the box-less car.
James is tired. But apparently James is also the only seamstress in this collection of wannabe designers. So, though he is angry and whiney in his sleep deprivation, he is the one who has to remake the head rest covers to fit Chris’s vision. What I want to know is how paisley fits into any vision conceived after 1989? James gets the job done, pinning the hideous creations into place just seconds before the buzzer rings. And…step away from the vehicles!
Can I get just one explosion, please?
Everyone is glad to be done, mostly just ’cause they’re exhausted. We get some shots of the final products: the blue team has subdued blue lights everywhere and a marquee running rap slogans in the floorboard; the orange team has thrown the carcasses of dead animals all over the inside of the Navigator, installed a microphone for the stick shift, and put an “explicit lounge” warning on the hood (or was it the door? The shot was unclear. The shot, not my notes. I swear). I am suddenly reminded of the Simpson’s episode where Homer designs the “everyman” car that puts his brother’s company out of business. Thank goodness these people were only allowed to trash the interiors.
The contestants are now assembled in some random parking lot to give Tommy Hilfiger a chance to show up in a sweet Mercedes Benz with his pal Fabulous and someone else, and to allow the newly pimped Navigators to race in and squeal to a stop just inches from collision with each other. Am I wrong to think that the show would have been so much better if they had collided? And burst into one giant fireball?
I break away from my happy fireball dreams to hear Tommy introduce the other guy as “Funk Master Flex,” a veteran of car pimpage who has pimped cars for the likes of Missy Elliot and others whose names I can’t read or remember. Watch it again? Ho ho ho ho! Good one. The Funk Master will evaluate the cars for Fabulous, just in case the man is so stupid that he might choose the hideous fur car and promote the stereotypes that so plague the rap industry.
Chris leads the tour through the blue team’s car, and I think he oversells it just a bit. Fabulous thinks it’s “sexy,” though. Flex questions the paisley headrests.
Rob guides Fab and Flex (not to be confused with The Ab Flex ™ ) through the orange team’s work, though Princess quickly shoves her “cocos” onto the scene, letting Fabulous know that she made the dead animal pillows by hand. That ought to turn the tide! Rob showcases “all the luxuries of home” a.k.a. a clothes rack behind the back bench.
Flex gives his assessment: blue lights good, paisley bad. Clothes rack good, roadkill bad. Wow, the expert analysis has overwhelmed me with its brilliance.
Most of the contestants stress out about the coming elimination. Crazy-Mopey Jeff tells us that if he doesn’t win, the whole world suffers. He seems to mean this in the sense that we will all feel the lack of his genius, not in the sense that he is going to hijack a nuclear warhead and make humanity pay the price for his failure. Miss Aluring Cocos is notably not worried (please let the foreshadowing pay off here!), as she has no need to fear—she is “giving fever.”
In “Style Forum,” Tommy begins with the social skills challenge. He questions Non-Hilfiger Tommy first, asking which stars he spoke to. NH Tommy is unable to name a single name, and his attempts to gloss this over are embarrassing. Hilfiger turns to Shauna; she quickly mentions Sheryl Crow and passes along a personal message for Hilfiger, who is pleased and flattered. Hilfiger announces that ET guy was impressed with Shauna, but called NH Tommy “fawning.” NH Tommy failed, Shauna did a great job. The end. I’m so not getting the social skills challenge. What did Shauna win? A pass out of the pit? A gift certificate to IKEA? A feeling of satisfaction at a job well done? The pointless social skills challenge seems even more non-pointy now.
Tommy H. turns to the real challenge now, and immediately starts in about the keys. How could the blue team have misplaced something so vital to their success? Gah! He rolls his eyes in horror. And we’re left to believe that never in his life has Tommy Hilfiger misplaced his car keys. Suuuuuure. Then he singles out Crazy Jeff to ask what his contribution was, and seems to find his answers weak. “You guys were a mess,” he tells the now terrified blue team.
Tommy moves on to the orange team and attacks Princess. What did she get from her meeting with Fabulous? Princess rambles on—making it all so much deliciously worse—about Vienna finger cookies, of all things. Moving forward, Tommy wants to know whose idea the fur was. And…we’re right back to Princess Tacky.
Fabulous arrives to make his fateful decision. He tells the orange team that, while he liked the closet-in-the-back concept, he pretty much hated everything else. He thought the blue team’s lights and floorboards were cool—they get the win. Shocker. Fab goes on to say that the orange team was too “rapper flash” and that Princess was too aggressive at the club (heh heh, take that, Cocos!). Chris, on the other hand, used his time with Fabulous well.
Catwalk of Shame
It’s no surprise that Princess and Vlata are asked to step into the pit…of despair! Tommy asks Princess if she got anything more than snack preferences from Fabulous. Somehow, she still thinks she did a good job. This girl was well-named. Tommy asks Jessica who contributed the least, and Jess names Vlata—who quickly and angrily interrupts Jessica’s reasons.
Either the editing is heavy, or Tommy’s out of patience. Without further ado, he tells the pit girls that they are equally responsible for the orange team’s failure. However, Princess has shown some signs of leadership and creativity, so, “Vlata, you’re out of style.” Ugh. I’m cringing just having to type that stupid catchphrase.
Vlata works the runway on her way out, and then tells us with teary eyes that she will be a great designer someday. Just not today. Awwww.
Tommy tells the remaining hopefuls that it’s only going to get harder, and not to waste his time. *slap slap* Take that, losers!
Next Time…on The Cut
Still no sign of clothing design. Instead, the contestants will have to recreate famous clubs of the past. Catfights will ensue between Not-Hilfiger Tommy and Julie. Alliances will form, even though they will be completely useless since this still isn’t Survivor. Fights will erupt in Forum. Will broken bottles be involved? I wish!
If you think this recap is a shoddy piece of work thrown together in a two-hour window of opportunity…*ding* You get a prize! Email me for details on said prize at firstname.lastname@example.org