7/12 Recap: Strictly for My Ninjas
Vanessa and Brenden: Hate Is Enough
We join the argument already in progress. Brenden and Vanessa are having a heated exchange in one of the bedrooms as Rashad sits nearby, uncomfortably looking on.
Vanessa tries to defend herself against Brenden's assertions that she's domineering and doesn't take well to criticism.
“I'm not being hypersensitive!” Vanessa snaps, which, really, puts a point more in Brenden's column than hers.
Brenden camera-talks and bemoans the fact that Vanessa is “fake,” because, after all, reality television is the last entertainment genre—aside from professional wrestling—where authenticity and sincerity are so abundant, they come spilling right out of the noses and ears of most contestants.
Team Madison has lost three competitions in a row, and darn it, Jackaay and Latricia aren't going to take it anymore! To emphasize the point, Jackaay abuses a couch cushion, thereby fulfilling her contractual obligation to speak at the top of her lungs and swing her arms wildly at least once every time she is on-camera.
Mama Hilton (finger quotes) “invites” all remaining players to lunch at hoity-toity top New York restaurant Chanterelle.
According to the restaurant's Web site, dinner is served “Monday through Saturday” and lunch is served “Tuesday through Saturday.” This says to me, “Well, gee, sorry if you were looking to pay $18 for a cup of lobster bisque on Sunday, skippy, but why don't you and Mrs. Howell just dig through the refrigerator for leftovers, like the rest of us poor schmoes?”
Luckily, it's not Sunday, because Kathy Hilton (and her money-deficient little brood) lunch and are charmed by the likes of fashion designer Cynthia Rowley, Marie Claire editor Tracy Taylor and supermodel Frederique van der Wal, whose name must give Google a meltdown.
Mrs. Hilton's shiny new friends help the hoi-poi contestants consider their own clothes and introduce them to new, fashionable looks.
Niki gushes, “I'd rather buy a pair of shoes than eat!”, recounting her love of fashion.
But like a coworker's baby or wedding shower, the food and drink are only honey in the trap for the horrible, horrible games that lie ahead.
Let the Games Begin
Kathy tells Team Park to elect one person to surrender to Team Madison. Team Madison will also get to choose one contestant from Park to join their side.
By the time Kathy reaches Vanessa, Brenden and Vanessa have both earned two votes. Kathy asks for Vanessa's vote. Stunned silence around the table as Vanessa shows that her own vote has removed her from Park and placed her among Madison. It's the reality television equivalent of voluntarily getting up from the Jocks and Cheerleaders cafeteria table and moving to sit with the Chess, Math and Band Clubs. The horror, the horror...
Vanessa thinks that Brenden steals her ideas out of low self-esteem. I'm sure “low self-esteem” goes toward explaining why my brother stole from me the idea to swing “like Tarzan” from the curtain drawstrings at my parents' home, that time he tore the curtain rods right off the wall, like a drumstick from the Thanksgiving turkey.
When it's Madison's turn to select a Park player to join their team, they select Rashad, who has a look on his face like the school's star pitcher being selected last to join the softball team at PE that is obviously going to lose (and badly).
“Everything happens for a reason,” Rashad emotionlessly intones...the moment before breaking into huge, wracking sobs.
Here's the challenge: Both teams must assemble outfits for themselves based on a shopping spree to retro clothing store Alice Underground (product placement #53) and their own outfits. Based on those two outfits, Madison and Park must put on a fashon show where each contestant will present both evening attire and then contribute to a theme created by their team.
Following the shopping trip to Alice Underground (where the Madison players quickly learned to dislike Vanessa), the teams retire to their suites to discuss their “themes.”
Vanessa muses that she ought to tear the curtains off the walls in the hotel room and sew them together for Latricia.
Over at Park, the team members are sitting listlessly on their couches and wonder aloud what to do about their theme.
Someone suggests taking plants and other decorations around the room and fastening them to their heads. Another suggests “going as each other.” My god, I think, I've just had a flashback to the planning committee meetings I had the misfortune to experience prior to my high school junior prom.
Kathy tells Madison and Park to choose an announcer from among their own players and to report to (something-something) salon for their makeovers.
And, then, the episode becomes like that makeover scene in Pretty Woman! (Cue the music!) They're ducks out of water! The men feel uncomfortable! The women get glammed up! Hilarity ensues! Rashad wants to know if it's normal for men to receive pedicures! Jabe wants to know if he's getting a “Brazilian”! (Shudder.) With all the curlers in his hair, JW quips he can “pick up television in Spain”! (What's on, JW? “I Want to be a Franco!”?)
As if this wasn't enough entertainment value for your television-watching dollar, suddenly, in saunters the extras from that rave scene in Matrix: Reloaded.
The lead Matrix-y guy is none other than—get ready for this—Willie Ninja, runway coach extraordinaire. Mr. Ninja is here to teach the contestants how to work their junk down the runway.
While I watch this scene, my mind wanders, and I think to myself, “If people of Anglo descent, who have names like 'Porter,' 'Taylor,' and 'Smith,' can trace their origins to ancestors who were, respectively, porters, tailors and metalsmiths, did Willie come from a line of ninjas? And if so, why would they name a child with such a fearsome destiny 'Willie'? Did they intend to break the family curse with this last in the line of Ninjas?”
Just like Our Gang, Teams Madison and Park put on a show.
It's almost like a real show—with a judging panel, an audience and everything.
Team Park present the evening attire portion of the show. The most notable entries are Julies in a Chinese gown, Jaret who is constantly amazed that he's come from a “trailer to the city of New York,” and JW, in a “pimp” look—white shirt buttoned down to the chest. (The word “pimp,” after all, is one you find around only the very finest European runways.)
For Team Madison, Rashad introduces notables Latricia, in a Ralph Lauren cocktail dress; Jabe, the “confident” (?) look; Jackaay, who confesses to shopping at Salvation Army back home in Chicago; Vanessa, in a “classic” cocktail dress. Vanessa is also sporting her new brunette 'do, and I'm willing to bet the bottle blonde hasn't seen her natural color since the last time she looked at her baby pictures.
Team Park continue on to their “theme”--in this case, they are presenting the “Streets of New York,” the cornerstone of which appears to be JW, who appears on-stage in nothing more than a cowboy hat, boots, guitar and boxer briefs. JW represents the “Naked Cowboy” (guess you had to be there). Next, we have the “Paranoid New Yorker,” complete with gas mask and camouflage. The Supermodel...because all supermodels wear lampshades on their heads. Finally, no New York experience would be complete, according to Team Park, without encountering a “Gentleman's Friend, working the corner.”
Team Madison decides on the incredibly bizarre theme of “Lampshades.” In this case, each player places a lampshade atop his or her head and, based on what he or she is wearing, represents a lamp found in the room of a woman throughout the stages of her life. They include: the lamp of a “little girl,” of a “prom queen,” of the “college student,” “of a young professional,” and of a “retired man” relaxing on his ranch. Because, somehow, as if this weren't bizarre enough, between the time the lyrical female subject was a young professional and the time she retired, “she” had a sex change operation by retirement age. (I need a drink. A big one.)
Kathy takes the stage and tells Madison that their lampshade theme was “confusing,” and that while Park pushed the envelope, the crowd ate it up and enjoyed themselves.
And with that, she declares Team Park the winners of the challenge.
Team Park is off to “world renowned” photographer Carlos Miele for their reward—more makeovers and more wardrobe changes.
”You're Not on the List”
Kathy Hilton gathers the members of perpetual underdogs Team Madison to discuss the loss and decide on the two players leaving the program.
Jackaay feels that Vanessa's lame-as-a-three-legged-dog lampshade idea lost the competition.
Kathy asks Latricia if she feels bringing Vanessa and Rashad over to Team Madison was such a good idea, in hindsight.
Latricia responds with open admiration for Brenden's abilities during the challenge. “There's something about Brenden,” Latricia muses, like a high school student with a crush.
“He's definitely developed,” Hilton replies.
“What!” Latricia snaps.
They stare at one another, chuckle and then Hilton tells Latricia, “You're very naughty.” (Let me ask the question that I always seem to be asking: “Did I miss something?”)
Jackaay tells Hilton that she felt out of her element during the challenge but doesn't find much sympathy from Hilton, who asks her why she didn't simply ask for help.
Hilton asks Rashad, the announcer during the challenge, whether he feels responsible for the loss.
“I do,” Rashad replies. “If we weren't up to par, then it's my responsibility.”
“That's a very long 'yes'?” Hilton quips, her Botoxed face revealing and betraying nothing.
All the contestants, except for Jabe, Latricia and Rashad, are asked to join Team Park in the dining room.
Hilton tells Jabe that he's a hard worker, but that seems a little hypocritical to me. The only thing Kathy seems to know about hard work these days she knows from observing her staff and barking orders while she holds a martini in one hand and a paperback in the other.
She tells Latricia that she has “strength” and Rashad that he has “style.”
Latricia is asked to join Kathy in the dining room while Rashad and Rabe are dismissed.
Rashad camera talks and feels that during the course of the game, he “kept his integrity,” which makes a really nice inscription on a pauper's headstone, I think.
As I watch Kathy Hilton gracefully join the other players in the dining room, I wonder, not for the first time this episode, how a woman with her graciousness ended up with a daughter whose most private moments are on videotape in millions of American homes.
phat32 (email@example.com) is too sexy for this show—too sexy by far