It’s almost not worth talking about the rest of this episode, because the important thing is the terrible, horrible, no good very bad thing that occurred at the end of this episode.
Bravo made Branden a supermodel.
Not Sandhurst. Not Jonathan.
Branden whose naked shoot would have been a reshoot. Branden who was told he was too cocky. Branden who didn’t listen to the photographer’s instructions and wasted an entire day’s worth of pyrotechnic set-up, not to mention the cost of said pyrotechnics. Branden who can’t pronounce Ferragamo.
Does that make any sense to anyone?
Even when Jonathan and Sandhurst faltered, they couldn’t take a truly bad photo, but Branden could. Even if Jonathan and Sandhurst didn’t do their best runway, it was still better than Branden’s. And neither of them had a propensity to sneer. Smirk, yes, but sneer, no. What the fuck, Bravo? What. The. Fuck.
It is truly hard for me to believe that the strength of Branden’s 24×20 Polaroid portrait was enough to cement his win. It was a great picture of his face, but I’ll tell you one reason why I didn’t like it. While Matthew Rolston is correct in the assertion that the freakish S-curve of Branden’s over-developed back in this side-on shot made it memorable, I don’t think the point of this shoot was to show one’s freakishness. The point was for photographer Timothy Greenfield-Smith to coax out the inner resources of the model, producing a photo of Sandhurst that was warm, coy and invitingly sexy, and a photo of Jonathan that was impishly wise. Branden’s photo proved to me that he basically has no Inner Resources, as poet John Berryman would say, and over-developed back muscles that cause him to constantly lurch forward. It was interesting visually, but I did not see who Branden is, and that’s why I don’t think that photo worked.
I also don’t understand why Catherine Malandrino didn’t like Jonathan’s clothed, catalog pose, as the point of that was, in fact, to model clothes. They put him in a Marc Jacobs-y outfit and he posed in a Marc Jacobs-y way. Mission accomplished. But then again, Catherine Malandrino spent this entire episode confusing the hell out of me, asking inane, irrelevant questions that supposedly inform the judges’ decisions, inquiring whether or not Jonathan would be able to travel and leave his family as a model (his response: isn’t that what I’m currently doing?), if it was hard for Branden to be away from his mom (so much so that he wept on the runway, the act of which would have immediately gotten a female contestant kicked off . . . like when Amanda did it) or if Sandhurst really wanted to be a model or if he felt more like a dancer. (I don’t even know what that has to do with anything, especially because her co-panelist Jenny Shumizu didn’t always want to be a model and used to be a motorcycle enthusiast until Calvin Klein discovered her . . . hence her tattoo of a pin-up girl clutching a very phallic wrench.)
But my intense confusion about Catherine Malandrino’s very existence and Branden’s inexplicable win aside, there were some excellent moments in this episode, by which I mean the entire segment in which the boys were invited to a gallery showing of their work accompanied by their family members. (The part where they had their Cosmopolitan cover try? Not so exciting, as the current EIC of Cosmo is kind of frightening, but I love that the current fashion director is a miniscule Asian woman named Anna Kwon, who may as well be played by Linda Hunt in The Year of Living Dangerously. Ohmigod . . . tangent! I just realized that character I’m alluding to in The Year of Living Dangerously is named Billy Kwan! WHOA! WHOA! My mind was just totally blown . . . even though Kwon and its variants are very common in Korea and other parts of Southeast Asia, those names are too similar for my brain to consider sheer coincidence.) Branden was reunited with his mother, who looks just like him and has such a down-home sensibility about her that she is at first completely stunned to silence by her son’s $1500 suit, only to come past the sticker shock and realize, breathlessly, that it means he actually has money for once in his life. I was, however, not pleased with their complete lack of sophistication during the gallery event, which Branden entered hooting and hollering with excitement. Later, his mother shouted out “My son’s a supermodel!” in a mixture of pride and disbelief that made for good television but would have totally and completely annoyed the hell out of me if I were at that gallery. That’s another reason Branden shouldn’t be a supermodel: he has no sense of decorum in regards to the spaces models currently occupy. Yes, a gallery of your work is exciting, but you shriek that under your breath as you enter, not jump in the air on the red carpet doing bell kicks and yelling out as though you are Yosemite Sam. (Seriously, that’s what I think of when people hoot, holler and do bell kicks in the air.)
Sandhurst’s sister Devonne, who has a really sweet-ass design shaved into her skull, was his plus one. I really liked seeing the joy between these two siblings – they’re super cute together and you can tell they have a whole lot of fun back home. Devonne also seems like a pretty stylin’ lady, and I appreciate the fact that she spoke candidly about her opinions of each contestant’s strengths, endorsing her brother as the best without saying that his opponents didn’t deserve to win or weren’t good.
But there was no better moment than seeing Jonathan with his wife and son. First of all, I pretty much melted into a puddle when I heard that his name was Jude because I spend a lot of my time saying this or that shot of Jonathan looks like Jude Law (in fact, Matthew Rolston’s shot of Jude Law, I thought, looked like Jonathan). Little Jude is super-duper adorable and I could really just watch an entire hour of television about Jonathan interacting with his son. My favorite Jude moment would probably be when he helped his dad turn the pages in his book to show wife Amanda just how fucking sexy her husband is. Honestly, there are few things sexier than a man devoted to his children, and if I wasn’t already a devotee at the Church of Jonathan, seeing him with Jude would have totally turned me.
The Catwalk Challenge, in which the gentlemen had to don Viktor & Rolf-ish weirdo crazy suits and sleek hipster Ben Sherman suits was mostly just there because they needed a catwalk challenge in this episode, as it seemed the judges had already made their minds up and not even Jonathan’s superb walk in both outfits (the Viktor & Rolf outfit was a polka dot suit of which the pants were satin short shorts – he wore that ess and owned it), but especially his cheeky, Mod sensibility with which he showed the grey Ben Sherman with satin double-point lapel, clearly the best suit of the bunch. Branden had the easiest outfits in both catwalks, which might have been Bravo’s way of giving him a free pass to winning, because I doubt he could have worn Sandhurst’s matador-inspired Viktor & Rolf bowtie suit shorts without looking like a total ass-clown.
Whatever, Bravo. Let’s not forget which person on this show actually walked away with a national campaign for 2xist.*
Yeah, that’s right. Not fucking Branden.
*It’s Jonathan, in case you forgot.
Why bother picking somebody who doesn’t know anything about the industry? Why bother picking anybody who has failed at so many photoshoots as Branden, having to constantly be coaxed by sheer fashion force into a passable photo? Why bother ignoring the glorious and entirely commercial work of Jonathan or the sheer elegance of Sandhurst?
As per comments on my Facebook status update, my mother believes the following: “I blame Osama Bin Laden for creating a xenophobic atmosphere. They wanted an authentic American to win.” While I can’t entirely agree, as Bravo does a pretty damn good job in being as international as they can, there is a little bit of truth, as it may have just been what New York Model Management wanted from the get-go. And that kind of sucks. It was clear they always wanted a male winner after last season’s [rightful] female win. I just didn’t think they’d go so bland, so immature and, yes, pretty boring.
Branden isn’t a tenth of the model that Jonathan is. As with acting, dancing, singing, etc., it’s far more preferable to have somebody energetic you can tone down instead of a stiff performer you have to goose.
Branden isn’t a tenth of the model Sandhurst is. He has almost no control over his body, and his inability to work both his face and his body at the same time basically makes me think he’s one of those people who have trouble patting their head and rubbing their belly at the same time.
Oy. What gives, Bravo? I was 100% behind your decision to eliminate the America voting part of the competition, because I don’t usually trust America in such contests. (Perry, while a dick last season, was absolutely right that Ben stuck around because of the Bronnie bromance.) But now I feel I can’t trust any of these people either. I don’t need another Abercrombie & Fitch model. I don’t care if Trunfio wants his cock.