Hot tub! Beautiful models kissing! Girl-on-girl-on-girl-on-girl action! Cross-dressing! Kangaroos! Shoe shopping! Yup, that was my weekend--how was yours? Ah, but we're here to discuss America's Next Top Model. This episode is chock-full of goodness, but let me tell you...you had me at hot tub. If there's anything I've learned from "Blind Date," it's that trashy lingerie stores are a perfectly viable location for a first date, and HOT TUBS = GOOD TELEVISION.
Does Not Anyone Wear Pants Around Here?
There must be something about that Pink Positive room. The show opens with Eva, Norelle, and Ann in a refreshingly playful mood, cavorting in their panties, jumping on beds (you do realize, this is exactly how straight men imagine women alone together live). Well there's one little glumdrop who hasn't gotten her daily recommended allowance of pink positivity, and that's Cassie, who's off alone, doing leg lifts--in her panties--and moping over how she misses her boyfriend, her family, her home. "My heart is hurting," Cassie moans, "There is a sadness inside of me." Well, there's got to be something inside of you, Cass, because it's certainly not food.
Cassie goes to call her boyfriend in the phone room--in her panties. I've seen people cry and I've seen people's crotches, but usually not at the same time. She gives him la meme litanie we've heard for weeks, about how sucky life would be as a model, and he says, "Ya gotta do, what you gotta do." When she asks him if he'd come with her to New York, oh-so-supportive C.J. says, "I'm not just gonna pick up and leave." She whines in protest like a little wounded animal.
Cut to Toccara lying down in her room--in her panties--chomping from a big bowl of food that she proceeds to lay down, half-eaten, on the floor by her bed, next to a pile of all this other food she has collected down there, which includes (but is not excluded to) a package of Ritz crackers, muffins, peanut butter, jelly, juice, and a whole roasted chicken. Yaya points out that Toccara could get sick from leaving food out like that, and Toccara defends herself by saying, "I do like that all the time. I might roll over in the middle of the night and eat something." Now, don't get me wrong, I love Miss Plus-Size, but that's freakin' disgusting. That's like Jabba-the-Hut disgusting.
Still, you have to admire Toccara's firm belief in herself and her ability to break through barriers to become the first plus-size supermodel. Norelle certainly does, remarking "I wish I was more like Toccara...she has confidence in herself." Whisper-thin Norelle then goes on to lift her shirt and obsess over her (non-existent, I might add) "pudge." She says, "I would like it to be more 'ab-by', but I still have a little bit of 'flabby'. Oh, Norelle, when you gonna love you as much as I do?
Shoes or Lose
Is the TyraMail poet on vacation? Because this particular morning, Tyra calls on the phone to tell them to meet her for today's challenge. She tells them they should wear comfortable shoes, but also make sure to bring a pair of high heels. After groggily preparing for the day, the girls meet up with Tyra, who tells them, "Now it's time to send you out to the sharks." Literally? Alas, no--though there's a future photo shoot idea!
Today they will be experiencing "a day in the life of a model going on go-sees [basically, a job interview for models] during fashion week." Tyra presents the girls with their portfolios, comprised of all the work they've done so far. Most of the girls are jazzed to get them, like Eva, who says it makes her feel more like a real model. Her girl Ann is not quite so "stoked"; remembering all the criticism she's received ("pretty girl, not photogenic"), she worries that hers is the "worst portfolio." On the bright side, she feels good about go-sees because "People like me in person and I'm pretty in person."
Tyra explains that they will earn points for their physical appearance, walk, and personality. The prize for the girl who does the best: a rack of clothes from each designer that they meet today, including Diane von Furstenberg, Nanette Lepore, Marc Bouwer, Cynthia Rowley and Nicole Miller. Not bad! I'll be seeing you on eBay.
First designer on today's schedule is wacky print-monger, Nicole Miller, who explains that she wants a "young, peppy look." Nicole and her assistant like Ann's "great looks [and] great personality." When Nicole M. asks Yaya how she came about her "unusual name," Yaya informs her, "It's actually really common in West Africa." A fair answer, but perhaps it's her more-regal-than-thou tone that makes Nicole pause and give her a weird smile. Toccara loves Nicole Miller's clothes, because they fit her and she feels wonderful in them (great advertisement to women in the real world--clothes that actually fit!). Norelle, endearingly self-described "funny, retarded, dorky girl" (awww), is worried that she's not the most beautiful girl in the competition, but hopes the fashionistas see some potential. Nicole M. halts her during her walk, and tells her to give a "more assertive walk." A slightly embarassing moment, but at least Nicole cares enough to give advice.
Speaking of embarassing moments, Amanda discovers she's forgotten to bring a pair of high heels. Eva, again crystallizing my thoughts exactly, remarks, "You of all people forgot your shoes." Amanda laments, "I just wasn't thinking." Norelle lends her a pair, a sweet gesture but still "one and a half sizes too small." When her wobbly walk fails to impress Nicole M., Amanda knows that she has to do something--and fast. She heads over to the shoe store with a scant fifteen minutes before their next go-see, but not alone. Oh no, shoe-shopping is like catnip to women, and so Ann, Eva, Cassie, and Toccara tag along, unable to resist the call of the heel.
"This is a competition, so not all of us were running around buying shoes," Yaya sniffs. She says she understands Amanda needed to buy shoes, but "the fact that it turned into a field trip" has peeved her beyond belief. The model van takes off and brings Yaya, Nicole, and Norelle to Nanette Lepore's, while the rest of the girls are still madly trying on footwear over at Hippo Shoes. "We had fifteen minutes, and I think we were there a little longer," Ann says guiltily. The girls finally leave the store only to find the vans have left without them, causing a hysterical freak-out of mass proportions. They don't know where to go, how to get there, or even which appointment is next. They head back into the building of their last go-see, and terrorize the staff of Nicole Miller, particularly Eva, who shrieks so rudely at one woman behind a desk that she says, "Do you want us to help you?" They manage to get the itinerary, which is scrawled on a little piece of notepaper, that Toccara and Ann fight over and nearly rip. Once they get directions, they run frantically down the street to their next location.
Meanwhile, Yaya, Nicole, and Norelle are left waiting in the lobby for the rest of the girls to arrive (I don't understand why they didn't just start off the go-sees without them, but hey I'm not a producer). Yaya is pissed. And she's not the only one. When the rest of the girls finally arrive and they are ushered in to meet Nanette, the designer chides them, "I have to tell everyone that you're twenty minutes late. I'm very upset." Amanda decides to take full responsibility for the lack of punctuality, in hopes that doing so would earn her "some points." It only makes Nanette appear to hate her more, deeming her a "biker meets hippy" in way that doesn't seem entirely complimentary.
Nanette and her assistant weigh in on the other girls: Nicole looks like she's "got it...almost"; the assistant finds Eva's nose "piggy," however, Nanette defends Eva by describing her as "the most striking" of the group; regarding Cassie, Nanette murmurs a comment that's bound to send her back to the toilet bowl ("She's not exactly a size 2"); they think Norelle looks better in her pictures than in real life; they tell Ann to put more life in her face when she walks. When Yaya comes in, she points out to Nanette that she and two other girls were not among the late group; Nanette reassures her that she knows who was on-time. Looks like respecting appointments times is what earns you brownie points, as they just love Yaya, deeming her "cute" and "adorable". Toccara gets "two stars" from Nanette for trying to break new ground in modeling for plus-size girls, although "that's not easy ground to break" the assistant gibes. Speaking of, I'm scared Toccara's going to break something in the dressing room--they show her struggling into clothes in the dressing room with extreme difficulty. They squeeze her into a jacket that barely fits her, and Nanette sighs, "That would be the biggest size we cut."
Next stop: Diane von Furstenberg. The girls look lovely walking in her flowy, feminine dresses. Diane is looking for a girl with her own personality and "who can walk." Norelle is proud that she "didn't fall and didn't slip" today, although Diane says later to her assistant, "She doesn't walk that great." To be fair, Diane adds, "Even the real models can't walk." Toccara runs into problems finding clothes again--Diane puts her in black. "Toccara would be a good model," Diane says, "For people who would want that kind of a thing." Oh, um, thanks. I think?
Cynthia Rowley is next. Amanda is on full ass-kiss mode, literally bowing down to "worship" the designer. Cynthia compliments her shoes, and when Amanda says she just got them, Cynthia says, "You had time to go shopping today?" with the creepiest fake smile I've ever seen. Cynthia and her assistants watch Norelle walk down the runway with barely concealed looks of horror. "She can't walk," Cynthia whispers out the side of her mouth. Yaya is told she's "perfect" by the designer herself, as well as Ann. Toccara is greeted with dubious looks, and later complains that the only dresses in her size were unattractive so she felt at a disadvantage.
By the time they get to Marc Bouwer's the girls are knackered and falling asleep in the halls. Nearly everyone has problems walking in his long, elaborate evening gowns, like Nicole, Amanda, and Eva, who trip on their trains. Toccara, however, is declared a "movie star" by Marc, looking red-carpet ready in a gorgeous golden gown. Marc observes that Norelle is still "wobbly" in her heels. He declares that Ann is "ready for the runway" and Yaya's "confidence is great." When it's Cassie's turn, he says "the biggest concern for me were the size of her hips." He has to unzip the dress she is walking in to accomodate her thighs. He decides to take a measuring tape to her, remarking that at the largest he likes hips to be at 35 inches. "I think I'm right at that," Cassie says, a nanosecond before Marc declares, "You're at 39." He adds that he prefers girls (funny, I would think he prefers boys--badum ching!) with a smaller hips--devastating news to the girl who already has major body-image issues.
At the end of the day, Marc Bouwer presents the girls with their sum totals for the day. In order from lowest to highest, it's: Norelle (170), Nicole (178.5), Toccara (181), Cassie (184), Eva (188.5), and Amanda (188.5). Neck and neck for the win are Yaya and Ann. With 207.5, Ann comes in second place, and Yaya wins with 211
electoral votespoints. As usual, she is allowed to pick a friend to share in her victory, and she selects a delighted Nicole.
Back at the suite, the rack of clothing has already arrived for Yaya and Nicole. All the girls come out for the obligatory ooh-ing and aah-ing, all except Toccara, who goes back to bed seeming upset and perhaps a tinge jealous. She says she's starting to feel the pressure of competing with a bunch of thin girls, observing "there are no big girls in high fashion." Poor Tocc...and yet...this is just occurring to you now?!! Norelle, still stinging from coming in last in today's competition, calls her mom. "I feel like I'm giving my all but it's still not coming out the way I want it." Her adorable mom comforts her with an array of super-positive aphorisms (Cassie's boyfriend could learn a thing or two) that "really do help." For example, when Norelle says, "I may not be good enough now but I'll be good enough some day," Super Mom says, "You're good enough now. Yay for moms, they always know what to say to make you feel better!
Brought to You by the Council for Kangaroo as an Aphrodisiac
The girls go to dinner at The Sunburnt Cow, a charming Australian restaurant whose specialties include kangaroo and..well, kangaroo. At dinner, Cassie obsesses over Marc Bouwers' hip comments. Nicole says that Cassie's "got a lot going on behind closed doors"; I think we're all reminded of that every time we hear a toilet flushing. Cassie sits conspicuously eating nothing while the other girls get their steaming hot plates of marsupial. The girls are surprised at how tasty kangaroo meat is. Norelle says that even if the panel doesn't see how much progress she's made, she knows how far she's come and she's proud of herself; in fact, she's in such good spirits, she does a butt jiggle for everyone in the restaurant. Mom's pep talk must have really worked. Or perhaps it was the kangaroo...
"I think there was something in that kangaroo meat because when we left that restaurant, we were, like, loopy," Ann says. Oh, that L-word. I might have chosen a different one, because on the car ride home, Ann suggests to Amanda, Eva, and Norelle that they have a "four-way kiss" (Who else thinks Ann actually suggested this to try to get a piece o' Eva?). Well, Norelle, the "innocent" one, is the only one to take Ann up on the offer and they share a sweet, PG-rated kiss. Ann says, "We just start laughing because Norelle's, like, coming out of her shell." And, in a moment, her skirt too!
The frisky femme foursome come home and decide to--say it with me folks--GET IN THE HOT TUB! Ann invites the others to join, which I think is quite polite, however Yaya (who is too busy trying on her fabulous new clothes with Nicole) very snootily says, "How about you have your party and we'll have ours." Nicole and Yaya (accompanied by Toccara), dressed in their fancy duds and looking like snobby socialites, cluck, "They're out of control." See? To the folks who assumed that the openly bisexual girl and the stripper were automatically going to be the lezbo smoochers--you just can't stereotype people like that!
A hot tub, Amanda believes, "just brings out your bad side." Or, some might argue, your best side. So Amanda, Eva, Norelle, and Ann climb into the warm, bubbly tub in leeetle bikinis, giggling, jiggling, and tickling each other in what has to be one of the greatest moments in television ever. Surely, an Emmy-winning moment. And please, watch it now before our conservative Republican government makes it so we can never have fun like this ever again.
There's one other person who is neither toasting champagne with the socialites nor frolicking with the femmes in the hot tub. Cassie, who probably isn't feeling frisky because all she had for dinner was a Diet Coke with lime, is looking miserable in the old phone room on the horn with her mom. Apparently her uncle is sick, and Cassie is having some heavy duty doubts over whether she should even be here. Cassie cries to her mom, "I don't want to stay, especially if Uncle Mike's sick." Even her mom must smell the cop-out, because she tells Cassie, "Give it all you've got so you don't have any regrets." See what I'm saying? Moms rock!
Referring disdainfully to the Hot Tub Hotties (even though their tub experience was really just good, innocent fun--besides, it's good for water conservation to bathe with a friend), Yaya says, "Let's go meet them nasty asses" and tell them that TyraMail has arrived. It reads: "From week to week, the stress is getting worse. Tomorrow you'll double over from all the strain…" The girls puzzle over what that could mean.
The next morning they head out to the studio, where a "dude," as Yaya describes, waits for them. I gasp when the guy lifts up his head and reveals himself to be none other than Miss J. Alexander all butched up in B-boy wear. He even acts all yo-yo-yo ghetto as he announces that Jay Manuel will not be there today, instead they have a special replacement. From out of the darkness emerges...Dolly Parton's bitchy little sister. Cassie thinks to herself "this a really ugly woman, I'm just, like, gross." When the big-haired, fine-feathered, Bob Mackie show refugee opens her mouth to speak, the girls realize it's none other than Mr. Jay himself. Cassie says, "This is not the kind of stuff you see everyday in Oklahoma." She just hasn't been to the fun parts of the state.
"This is the one and only time I will ever dress like a woman, to illustrate a point," Jay says (I guess the rest of the times are purely for pleasure?), "The power of transformation: do you have what it takes to become a completely different persona other than yourself?" He explains that today they will be dressed up as two drastically different characters that will be interacting with each other in one composite shot. To illustrate, they show a pic of regular Mr. Jay posing with his female alter ego (in the photo, I swear he kind of looks like Tyra--or maybe it's the kangaroo meat I just had). Yay for digital photo manipulation, something you ANTM forum members know all about! Jay then gives a cheesy speech hawking the Mustang in the shot that is so "Beauty Teep of the Week."
Davide is today's photographer, and Danilo gets to work on the chicas. Norelle is up first, and she says that today's shoot is "kind of like acting." "Regular Norelle" must act shocked to see what looks to me like "Extreme Native American Norelle." Ann, getting painted up in latex, worries that "if I have a bad picture today, I am really going home." She punches into thin air looking like a Bladerunner mix of future and 40s before Jay peels off the latex off her chest. Ann looks lovely as her second persona, a fur-clad rich bitch. Later, Nicole's Jane Jetson debutante tangles with her creepy, eyebrowless, S&M ghoulie; Eva's sexy tuxedo-clad soft-butch makes eyes at her glamorous, scarlet-haired movie star self.
In the dressing room, Cassie is still obsessing over her hips, telling the stylist, "Marc Bouwer told me I was too big." Get. Over. It. She does make a pretty Gibson Girl meets Agent Provocateur dom, who aims a bullwhip at her innocent, white-clad alter ego. Next up: Modern Day Yaya pokes at a ghostly "17th Century Courtesan" Yaya; Everyday Amanda is taunted by Nylon Fetishist Marilyn Manson Amanda.
Meanwhile, Toccara is upset over the outfit they've chosen for her first persona. "I want to know why all the other girls are so nice-looking, and I look like I work in Home Depot," she says. Toccara tangles with the stylist--but it's a bad idea to get attitudinal with the people who make you look good. "I've got to prove myself to the high-fashion people," Toccara says. "You think I'm going to be able to get a rack like this loaded with clothes in your size?" the stylist snipes back. People can start to hear the two of them arguing in the back, but everyone hears when Toccara screams melodramatically, I mean bloody murder when the stylist accidentally pinches her adjusting her shirt. Toccara's first character is a parking valet, who will hand off keys to her other glamorous self. You can tell Toccara's spirits are down, because she has no life behind her eyes, even when she comes out dressed in a stunning, royal blue gown and a Mamie Van Doren wig. "I don't think I did a very good job," Toccara says, acknowledging that she lost her positive attitude and let others get to her. She breaks down in front of Yaya, bothered also by comments that she's losing weight (which I think she is), "It's like damn, I'm big, would you stop telling me that?" Yaya hugs her, saying, "Even though they say they welcome plus-size models, you know they don't pay as much attention to you, but you're handling yourself very well." Where's the RES-PEI-TO, yo?
The Lapdance is Always Better When the Stripper is Crying
Another elimination is well-nigh. All the girls stress out, including Norelle, who lies in bed the night before with a huge plate of fries, a burger, and chicken nuggets. "This is the kind of food you eat when you're depressed," she says, chomping into a fry.
After a picture of Poison Ivy Tyra attacking herself with hideously deformed hand, it's panel time again. The judges tonight are Janice D., Nigel, a solo Nolé, and Marc Bouwer. That's right, Thunder Thighs, you know all Cassie can think about is how [echo] her hips are too big her hips are too big her hips are too big.
Today they will be tested on their go-see know-how, by the judges, who will pretend to represent a fictitious fashion line called "House of Je Ne Sais Quoi." Ahaha, que rigolade! The judges are so hammy it makes me want a croque monsieur, replete with bad french accents and huge, Price Is Right arm gestures. They present the girls with a hideous outfit and ask how they feel about it. Ann says, smartly, "It makes me feel beautiful and kind of mysterious." Eva says, gulping down her distaste, "It's not my everyday dress, but I definitely would rock it." Janice takes the opportunity to harass Yaya in French about her acne; Yaya says, "It's a menstrual breakout," making Janice scream in horror, and Nolé faint in shock. Tyra inexplicably asks Cassie how she would feel about living in the house of Je Ne Sais Quoi, and the poor little Okie chokes that she would be "honored" before the panel bursts out into an impromptu, Cabaret-ish act about how they all live together. Before doing a strange dance down the runway, Toccara tells the panel, if they want to make this a big campaign, "why not make it larger than life?" "I can see with you, it would be larger than life," Janice says, enjoying this French act just un petite peu too much.
Eva is up first for evals. Her alter-ego picture is met with unanimous praise. "Amazing," Nolé says. Marc says he couldn't tell at first that it was her in both poses. Janice gives her kudos for finally not tilting her head too far back, where you can see up her nostrils. Ann finally gets a photo that the judges like; Marc says that he sees "such great potential" for her. Cassie is told she was merely "blah" in her go-see, and not strong enough in her photo. For the first time ever, the judges do not go gaga over Amanda's picture; in fact, they're stunned silent. "It's sad when the judges go all quiet, isn't it?" Tyra says, "Because that means it's bad." Norelle is told she must develop more confidence in the way she presents herself, even just a small change in posture can help. They don't dig the "secretary look" in her picture, but adore her fierce Amazon look, in fact they wish she could project the same strength she does in costume all the time. It's a split decision on Yaya's picture too; they love the ghost, but think the other part of it is her "weakest photo yet." Nicole's "prom debutante cocktail" look is also nixed, in fact the whole picture is dismissed as "not good." Toccara is again criticized for not having passion behind her eyes; Janice says she's not versatile enough to be a top model, and Tyra dubbing her "fantabulous."
Deliberations are heated this week, particularly in discussing Cassie and Toccara. Janice maintains that Toccara needs to "lose 150 pounds," when Tyra points out that leaves her at 30 pounds, Janice quips, "that would be even better." Marc believes Toccara is "not America's Next Top Model; it's ludicrous to think that she will be." Tyra compares the things they're saying about Toccara to all the criticism Kate Moss took for being short. Nigel is also pro-Toccara, in fact, he prefers her to Cassie. "Cassie over Toccara?" Janice asks, aghast. Marc says that Cassie has much more potential to be a top model than Toccara has, and Nigel defends his selection by saying that "Cassie, this kind of prettiness in a girl is a dime-a-dozen, but Toccara, there's just something about her--" "Yeah, a lot flesh," Janice spits. Like a certain presidential candidate, Tyra accuses Janice of flip-flopping, reminding her that the very first week, Janice said Toccara was the first plus-size girl she could see being America's Next Top Model (and Janice is busted in a flashback clip). Tyra vehemently champions her girl, saying, "I just see a lot of discrimination."
Time to hand back photos: Eva, Ann, Yaya, Norelle, Amanda, and Nicole are all back for next week, leaving Cassie and Toccara in the dreaded Bottom Two. Tyra gives her little speech, this time saying that one girl has a "vivacious and contagious personality" while the other "doesn't seem to want to be here at all." Some judges think that even if she doesn't want to be here, one has a better chance at succeeding while the other may never be accepted by the industry. Nevertheless, it looks like Tyra, Nigel, and Nolé won the battle, because the photo is handed back to Toccara, who accepts it with a grateful and relieved smile.
Cassie leaves with a simple wave goodbye. She says, "I had a feeling it would be me, because I was unhappy here...I don't think I have what it takes to be a top model...I just want to be with my boyfriend and mom, I don't ever want to live with a group of girls again." All kidding aside, Cassie is such a pretty girl, who knows how far she could've gone if only she just believed in herself. I have to say all of Cassie's problems stem from low self-esteem--my personal opinion is that she needs to dump her boyfriend, see a therapist, eat a pork chop, and learn to love herself. Next time you're in Oklahoma, find out what club she works at and make sure to tip her generously.
Much love and special thanks this week to SisterGracieLou and Jewelsy, without whom this recap would not be possible--literally! Thanks for coming through in a clinch, when my VCR did not. Anybody got questions or comments for me? You know where they go: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com