The Wife:

Proving that she is totally on top of the cultural pulse, Tyra decided to do an ANTMAmerica’s Best Dance Crew crossover episode . . . four seasons too late. Granted, ANTM and ABDC churn out seasons at breakneck pace (giving us two a year), so they’re in good company on that front, but it somehow felt incredibly stale for her to teach the models how to use dance by sending them to learn moves from first season winners Jabbawockeez with the guidance of Lil Mama and Benny Ninja. Her point in using the Jabbawockeez, who wear masks during their performances and yet still create completely effective dance works, is valid, which is to say that sometimes a model can’t just rely on her face to convey an emotion. But the execution of the challenge reminded me of, well, this Sesame Street segment:

She asked the Jabbawockeez to perform happiness, sadness and anger, and then asked the models to follow suit. Exactly like Muppet Don Draper makes lackeys Muppet Pete Campbell and Muppet Paul Kinsey do in the Sesame Street Mad Men parody. The Jabawockeez and muppets did this adequately. The models failed. Even Dancer Ashley couldn’t choreograph a cohesive dance piece for her competitors that demonstrated anything worthwhile. I’m presently trying to banish said dance pieces from my mind, because they were all fucking terrible.

Marginally less terrible than the others was the team of Jennifer, Kara and Rae, who won 17K in jewelry. Then the girls were taken to Vegas for a photoshoot involving Cirque du Soleil, which I am pretty sure Mr. Jay could just join anytime he wants to. He makes a good host for a carnival of horrors, and I’m pretty sure that end is achieved through years of practice on ANTM. (Alternately, I think he’d make a great flight attendant. I mean, we all heard how nicely he promoted TSA regulations on that “You’re Going to Vegas” video, right?)

Alternate career for Brittany: playing Magenta in Rocky Horror.

Alternate career for Brittany: playing Magenta in Rocky Horror.

But as excited as I usually am by all things cirque and carnival related, this shoot with members of Mystère was sort of blah, even though photographer Mike Rosenthal had the distinction of shooting the actual Sideshow shoot back in Cycle 7. I think part of the problem here is that the girls had to work in groups, which I agree is an important skill to learn, but was also limiting here, not only to the girls, but also creatively. Making the girls pose in groups disallowed anyone to tell a story with the final image. All of the shots ended up being cloudlike women posing listlessly with masked circus acrobats. I mean, what is that even about?

  • Brittany: “I think it’s the Bride of Frankenstein’s second cousin, who is a model.” — Tyra. Because the Bride of Frankenstein herself would never book a modeling job. With that hair.
  • Rae: She did a really admirable job of pushing herself out from the background of this picture and looking mildly alive.
  • Jennifer: Her photo is lifeless and her outtakes from the shoot are even worse. Possibly the worst I’ve ever seen on ANTM.
  • Laura: She worked the pole on the fringes of this shot. It was great, but incredibly strippery. Props to her for looking alive, though.
  • Ashley: Bleh! Bleh! Bleh!
  • Kara: She looks absolutely hideous in this picture, but the judges seem to like her face for some reason I will never understand. Kara is one of those girls who looks pretty in person, but photographs like a Drag Queen from Outer Space.
  • Erin: I think she’s totally lost in this photograph, but guest judge Josie Marin really likes it.
  • Nicole: It’s a fine photograph, but she really suffered from unfortunate positioning here, wedged underneath the crotch of that acrobat, with the light shining right out of her own crotch. Dreadful, dreadful composition.

    Shes being violated by that light.

    She's being violated by that light.

  • Sundai: I have grown weary of Sundai’s single face in every photograph. She looks like she’s waterskiing in this shot.

Callouts: Tyra awarded the first three spots to the girls who had the best group shot as a whole, so that honor went to Jennifer, Rae and Brittany. She then called girls individually: Laura, Nicole, Sundai and Erin, leaving Ashley and Kara in the bottom two. To my delight, Ashley was kicked out of the competition and Kara stayed. Now it’s only a matter of time before Kara gets the axe, as well . . .

Looking less than ethereal.

Looking less than ethereal.

Some thoughts:

  • “He asked for angry, but I think my dance ended up being way more bipolar.” — Nicole
  • Are all the best dancers really that short, Benny Ninja? I think Cyd Charisse would beg to differ.
  • “It’s not just what mama and daddy did, it’s what I did with it.” — Tyra
  • During their discussion of the photos, the judges said Jennifer was being too sexually forward in her photos. Why is this the standard critique given to every Asian model to ever appear on Top Model? These girls can’t all fall into the stereotype of the sexually exotic Asian woman, can they? Sheena, certainly, but Lazy-Eye Jennifer? Really?

The Wife:

This episode was all about Tahlia’s self-doubts and her ultimate rise to power after a pep talk from her sister, Marquis. (Do Tahlia and Marquis’ parents really like theatre and not know how to spell? And, barring that, do they know that Marquis is masculine? Shouldn’t she be Marquise or Marchioness?) The editors did a fine job this week of tricking us all into thinking that Tahlia would be going home because she hates herself and can’t model, only to win accolades in a photoshoot that I do not think was very good at all and remain in the competition.

The girls were first tasked via Tyra Mail to a runway lesson with Miss J (“Mind your Ps and Qs  . . . and J.” Is it bad that I immediately thought of all the points I could get in Scrabble with those letters?) The runway lesson was set up like an episode of VH1’s Charm School, with Miss J playing a combination of hosts Mo’nique and Sharon Osbourne. It was truly, truly bizarre. Also truly bizarre: instead of putting the girls in Catholic School Girl/Prep School uniforms for the walking challenge, they were outfitted in bright cardigans and khaki capris, like a Gap commercial from 1999 only with pearls. That struck me as a very bizarre decision as it made them look like country club mommies instead of charm school attendees, which was supposed to be the conceit. J hated Tahlia’s lack of confidence, and really hated Teyona and Allison’s walks. Then Cycle 9’s Bianca and Chantal were unveiled to teach the girls how to pass other models on the runway properly. I’m just glad Nikki Blonsky wasn’t around for Bianca to beat the shit out of, because that would be a battle worthy of Rock of Love Charm School.

Back at home, the Tahlia confidence-beating continues when the girls play Truth or Dare and Natalie says that she thinks Tahlia had the worst picture last week, other than the two girls in the bottom two. Own your mistakes and try to improve, Tahlia. That’s all you can do. Don’t let squishy face Natalie with her prior modeling contract get you down. That’s Tyra’s job. The girls get their next Tyra Mail (“Take it from me – the runway is the worst place for excess baggage.” Nice. Way to stoop to fat jokes, Ty Ty.) and prepare themselves for their upcoming runway challenge with Jill Stuart, in which they would have to put their skills to the test by walking with shopping bags. Anne Shoket showed up to help judge this challenge for some completely indiscernible reason. The prize for the winner of the show was a rack of Jill Stuart clothes, personally chosen for the lucky modelette by Stuart herself . . . so why was Anne Shoket there? This challenge had nothing to do with Seventeen.

I dont care if she has a great walk; her face is squishy.

I don't care if she has a great walk; her face is squishy.

No major pratfalls occurred during the show, although Natalie strangely decided to twirl and swirl in the middle of the runway. Christ, Natalie! Don’t you know to save that shit for when the Aswirl Twins show up? I’m pretty sure they’d tell her she wasn’t doing it right and then call in fierce bitch Jade from Cycle 6 to give her a lesson or two in fierce twirling. Lemur Allison also announced that she is terrified of narrow spaces, which makes me question her ability to be a runway model, while Tahlia, because this is still the part of the episode where she sucked at life, walked that runway like she wanted to die. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a girl have a worse time on the catwalk than she did out there. I almost wished she would have plunged off the edge, just so Lemur Allison could see some pretty blood somewhere on this damned show.

Jill Stuart loved Celia and Fo, called Allison “cute and quirky” and complimented Natalie on her excellent runway walk, despite the twirl. Tahlia, she noted, was the weakest of the bunch. Natalie won the prize. Maybe she was doing the twirl right, after all, because she somehow blew past Celia, who did a much better job opening the show. Robbed, I tell you. Robbed.

Why does no one else understand how fierce this girl is?

Why does no one else understand how fierce this girl is?

At home, Tahlia had the aforementioned pep talk with her sister and the girls received their next Tyra Mail: “Give it your all tomorrow, or you might get thrown under the bus.” Their photoshoot, with Mike Rosenthal, involved the girls posing for yet another group shot on top of a double-decker sightseeing bus in front of New York’s famous landmarks. You know, landmarks like a random building in SoHo or the Louis Viutton store on 5th Avenue. Each group of girls was charged with representing the kind of New Yorker you might find at said landmarks, or, in the case of the girls assigned to play Times Square tourists . . . the lack of New Yorkers? I had some major conceptual problems with this shoot, which ultimately didn’t make much sense because it was so inconsistent in its vision. The photos did end up being pretty cool, though.

Bitch, if you steal my sale, I will throw this laptop, three apples and a cat at you or my name isnt Kenley Collins!

Bitch, if you steal my sale, I will throw this laptop, three apples and a cat at you or my name isn't Kenley Collins!

  • Fo and Aminat were paired together to pose in front of the NYSE as Wall Street Brokers. Both of them rocked this shot as power bitches, and I appreciated how well they stayed in character between takes. This shot worked, both in concept and in execution.
  • Kourtnie and Ninja headed to some random spot on SoHo to pose as “Artists.” Both girls kind of failed in this shoot, largely because neither of them really understood how to pose as an artist. Especially not Ninja, who had no idea what to do with her prop violin. Playing it, apparently, didn’t even cross her mind. For me, this one failed in both concept and execution. Historically, art and SoHo do go together, but the costuming of these girls as artists didn’t work for me, nor was there anything about the particular building in front of which they posed that served to highlight the artistic trope. This one probably would have worked a lot better without the tour bus, like if the girls could have posed in a cafe or in a loft space or something.
  • Celia and Sandra posed in front of the Met as Nannies. Both girls were excellent in the shot, but why put them in front of the Met? Why not park that bus a little bit further down the street in front of oh, I don’t know, Central Park . . . where nannies actually take their charges? And why even choose the nanny as a representative New Yorker? Why not replace this one with a shot of Broadway actresses or dancers? Or seamstresses in the Garment District? Or stevedores or sailors in New York Harbor? ANYTHING ELSE that would have actually showed a reflection of the city and its people would have been better than “nannies.”
  • London and Alison posed in front of the LV store on 5th as Upper East Side Socialites. London was excellent in this shot, giving spectacular bitchface, but Lemur Allison kind of floundered, even though she looked just like Gossip Girl actress Taylor Momsen during her shoot. By the way, I was unaware that the LV store was considered a NY Landmark. Did they not want to visit Bergdorf’s twice?
  • Natalie, Teyona and Tahlia got stuck with the easiest task of all playing Times Square Tourists. They all kind of sucked, especially Natalie, who didn’t even realize that she had a prop camera and resorted to lame pantomime.

Ugh. This is not a good shot of Tahlias armpit.

Ugh. This is not a good shot of Tahlia's armpit.

Before panel, Tyra once again ran one of her little self-indulgent commercials for “the guide to finding your inner fierceness,” which, as far as I am aware is not actually a product, book or television show. I don’t really understand what these commercials-within-the-show are supposed to be about or what they’re supposed to be for, but I’m concerned that Tyra is going to add a different cute little girl to each photograph in the manner that Miss J keeps adding bows to his bowtie for each fallen model. By the end of the show, Tyra is going to be covered in 13 adorable little girls. Can she just adopt a kid so she can get over her intense mommy complex? I am really concerned for her. And for those poor little girls in these photoshoot/commercials.

At panel, the judges evaluated the girls by group and announced that this week’s winner would have her partner digitally erased from the photo displayed in the house. Wow, that’s, uh, harsh. It’s not like they erased the other girls in last week’s shot; I don’t really see the point in spending the money to digitally erase the winner’s photoshoot partner, as the lack of praising quotes for said partner would probably be shame enough.

  • Kortnie and Ninja: The judges hated this photo as much as I did. Paulina calls it lame and no one likes Ninja in the shot at all.
  • Fo and Aminat: This is a great shot, and the judges recognize how good the girls were at getting into character. Tyra thinks its Aminat’s best shot to date. Nigel makes a little joke about how the stocks have definitely gone up in her favor.
  • Celia and Sandra: This is an extremely editorial shot and both girls look great in it, but Sandra looks stunning. Nigel says she steals the picture from Celia.
  • Tahlia, Teyona and Natalie: For once in her life, Tahlia looks alive in the shot. The judges thinks Natalie isn’t believable in the shot, and no one can see anything of Teyona but her giant mouth full of teeth. I don’t think anyone looks good in this shot, but I suppose if anyone does, it’s Tahlia, despite the really terrible placement of her arm above her head.
  • London and Lemur Allison: Everyone agrees that London is good in the shot but, overall, its “wha wha wha wha,” quoth Tyra, doing her best imitation of a teacher from Charlie Brown. Miss J thinks Allison looks like “a hungover Olsen twin” in the shot. I am not sure that’s an insult, because looking like she’s a hungover Olsen twin means she actually nailed the character.

Whats your damage, Lemur?

What's your damage, Lemur?

Callouts: Sandra, Aminat, Tahlia, Fo, Celia (who is being erased from Sandra’s photo as we speak), Kortnie, London, Teyona and her teeth and Natalie, leaving Ninja and the Lemur in the bottom two. Wisely, Tyra sends Ninja home because she’s boring, which is helpful to me because I will now no longer confuse her with Animat. And the little Lemur that could gets to stay another day.

I don’t know how Tahlia pulled herself out of the bottom with that shot, because it wasn’t good. I guess it was a Gordon Ramsay-style “best of the worst” kind of scenario, because she definitely wasn’t good enough in that shot to be called before Fo and Celia. I think Tyra and the producers are just keeping her around because she’s dramatic and because she’s got that awesome burn scar story that has to cause her to have a really dramatic meltdown later in the game.

The Husband:

Is it just me, or does Natalie look more like a porn star than a model. )Actually, she looks exactly like two real porn stars put together, but I don’t want all of you Googling their names and getting all offended, so I’ll refrain from mentioning their names.) Yeah, she’s pretty, but I’m not entirely sure what she’s doing in this competition.

I’m also very proud of Fo for not bitching about her hair this week (other than a bit of mumbling in the “Previously On” segment) and actually taking a photo that not only looked great, but actually looked like she was finally aware of what her hair could do to her entire look. Maybe she got lucky with just a few frames, but she didn’t pose as if she had long hair, like last week. Good on you, Fo. (Yes, I know I’m not explaining myself very well. I’m a doctor, Jim, not a modeling expert!)

I’m also curious as to what compelled last season’s McKey (or Mylar, or Mudblood, or MacDougal, or Dirty Dingus Magee) to take on the Make-A-Wish Foundation as her focus for her “My Life As A Cover Girl” segments. I don’t recall mention of any of her friends or family members having terminal disease during her run last season. I’m not complaining. I just want to know why this of all things?