Nothing about this episode is in the least bit easy, breezy, or beautiful. The competition gets steeper as we get ever deeper into cycle four of ANTM. Self-defeating behavior is slowly eating away resolve. Despair and anxiety are settling in. People’s personalities are starting to unravel. And I’m just talking about me! Whose dream to “be on top” will be destroyed, come judging time? The results of this week’s elimination ceremony (if you haven’t already read spoiler threads/watched the show/live under a rock) just might shock you!!!
My Dinner with Tiffany
The show opens with Rebecca and Kahlen both slouched at a table, sucking on the Supermodels’ Super Snack: cigarettes. Slumped over and faces crumpled with worry, they look more like hardened criminals in a prison yard (jailed, perhaps, for a bum-killing spree?) than fresh-faced model would-bes. Rebecca bemoans the loss of three of her roommates, noting how “empty” the room now feels. Kahlen bewails how hard the last elimination was for her, nearly losing her best friend, Rebecca.
Rebecca broods over the continuing criticism of her lack of sexiness and edge as she plays nervously with the crucifix around her neck, and mentions how difficult it is to be away from her fiancé; but she’s not the only one under pressure to step up her game: Kahlen frets over being pigeonholed as the “non-confident, shy girl.”
Having dinner later at Ashton Kutcher & friends’ restaurant Dolce, Tiffany reveals she is still feeling insecure over being a “fish out of water”—and speaking of fish out of water, she refuses an absolutely scrumptious-looking tuna tartare in endive cup because it was “looking back at [her].” Rather than being open-minded, having fun discovering a different kind of cuisine, Tiffany regards anything new with suspicion. She even seems to have trouble accepting a cappuccino—poking at Christina’s warily and asking, “It’s a bunch of foam? There ain’t no juice down at the bottom?”
My Un-Fair Lady
“Walk the walk, but can you talk the talk?” TyraMail queries. The next day, by the time the girls stride into the theater of the Palos Verdes Players, they know there will be some dramatic acts afoot. Larry Moss, acting teacher/dialect coach/yet another old man hired to torture and humiliate the girls under the pretense of “teaching” them something, walks out onstage and talks about the importance of speech, presentation, and image to models. You never know what a client might ask of you, he reasons, so, “I’m going to teach you a dialect.”
And that dialect is: Cockney. Because you never know when you might be hired to travel back to 19th century Eng-er-land to be a spokesmodel for a chimney-sweeping company. “Cockney,” Tiffany freaks, “I can barely speak English!” In contrast to Tiffany’s trepidation, Michelle is quite confident that with 4 years of theater experience under her belt, she’ll have no problem with this task. “If you want to go, go,” she says, parroting the line Larry has been using to train them to sound like good little Copperfield orphans. Except Cockney Michelle sounds…exactly like American Michelle. Can she get a refund for those 4 years? It somehow didn’t take.
After a fairly disastrous first day of dialect-coaching, Larry gives them a script to take home and memorize, warning that they will be tested tomorrow. The girls go home and help each other practice inhabiting the role of “Sunny Rose” who appears to be a cross between Eliza Doolittle and the rose seller who sings “Who Will Buy” in Oliver! Flubbing yet another line, Tiffany cries in protest, “I have to learn how to speak like a girl from England, and she doesn’t even know how to talk herself.” Granted, the lass does have a point, govnuh!
Tiffany calls her wonderful, long-suffering Grandma (the one so supportive of Tiffany’s being in this competition, she let her lights go out in order to buy Tiffany the bathing suit she needed) for some emotional support, and whines about how she has “nobody” there (Earth to Tiffany: was that Michelle helping you read lines, comforting you when you missed your child, or holding your hair back when you puked—or chopped liver?) and how hard it is for her to be someone she’s not. Grandma tells her just to be the best she can be, and expresses her pride in Tiffany for “sticking this out.”
The next day, everyone repairs to the Shakespeare’s Globe playhouse to be tested on their Cockney, where Larry reveals that they will be reading their scenes with a very special guest partner: hunky hotty Boris Kodjoe. Tiffany has such a fit upon seeing him, that in the process of slapping herself in disbelief, she nearly takes out Kahlen (who even yelps out “Ouch!”); Keenyah’s face lights up with delighted recognition; and the rest of the girls smile politely and pretend they don’t not know who this guy is.
The girls have ten minutes to get in costume and prepare their own makeup (replete with blacked-out tooth, sooty cheeks, and shabby bonnet), and they prove much more competent at making themselves look like Victorian street urchins than fresh, natural CoverGirls. Then comes the crazy montage sequence of the various Sunny Roses stumbling through such award-winning dialogue about “blokes,” “porky pies,” “apples and pears” that would make Tom Stoppard shudder. Brittany, Tatiana, and Kahlen are pretty amusing despite a few flubs; Christina seems to have no trace of Cockney in her voice whatsoever; Keenyah and Rebecca do the best they can, which isn’t liable to make Kate Winslet very nervous come next Academy Awards, but at least isn’t disastrous.
Naima is the only girl, however, that does anything even remotely acting. She is the only one who really engages with Boris, or bothers to emote. It’s clear she’s done well, but Naima, aware of Michelle’s much-ballyhooed “four years of theater acting experience” feels that the blonde is her “toughest competition.” I’m wondering where this alleged “theater experience” took place? If it’s at the Professional Wrestlers’ School of Dramatic Arts then it would make much more sense, because the girl’s performance is, to put it gently, lacking luster. “I rocked it,” Michelle says afterward, clearly deluded. Michelle, honey, they were asking if you’d had thespian, thespian experience, not—oh, never mind.
Then there’s Tiffany. Oh Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany…Boris comments that she was playing a “southern girl from a plantation down in Alabama.” He adds, laughing, “She was in her own movie.” This coming from a guy talking to Victorian street urchins while he’s in thoroughly modern clothing with not much of accent of his own. What the heck is this a scene from? Gone Back to the Future with the Wind ? Tiffany resents Boris for “not trying to help me out a little bit,” as if it’s unfair of him to allow her to fail, even if it’s her own fault she’s failing.
The girls all return from backstage for notes. Boris liked Brittany’s accent; Tatiana was too easily thrown by mistakes; Kahlen apparently “swore and cursed” through most of her scene (if only they’d make an Insider video of that); Christina skipped some pages; Michelle “didn’t have any eye contact”; Rebecca, despite truly looking like a lost Dickensian waif, is told she should show more “passion and commitment”; Naima was “very good”; and Keenyah got good marks for her flirty Sunny Rose. Boris’s only remark for Tiffany was: “Love the hat.” Eek!
As the camera trains on Michelle’s confident face, Larry and Boris inform the girls that today’s winner’s truly spectacular prize will be $10,000 worth of diamonds to share with 2 friends. Everyone thinks they’re kidding—including me! But no, they’re not, so I’m guessing they didn’t spring for two beds last week so they could save up for this prize package. The winner is, not surprisingly, Naima. At the announcement, Michelle looks disappointed, but the first person Naima calls to share her in her diamond plunder is…Michelle. This returns a smile to Michelle’s face. As Naima calls out Tatiana’s name next, there is a loud exclamation of “What?” from the back of the room, where Tiffany whips off her hat in anger (and in the process nearly striking Keenyah), feeling it was unfair of Naima to not allow her to get some diamonds of her own. It seems more and more that Tiffany’s resenting others for her own inability to achieve—and starting to inadvertently lash out in ways that might hurt other people (e.g. Kahlen, Keenyah; in other words, sitting too close to Tiffany could be hazardous to your health).
At lunch, the girls ponder Cockney, some declaring it “White Ghetto English.” Tiffany is insulted by the term and some of the stereotyping attached, and defends her own people “from the ghetto,” citing her mom and grandma as intelligent. Tiffany says she’s ghetto because she chooses to be. Keenyah, who is herself from Compton, points out that her interpretation of acting “ghetto” is that it’s not always “professional” so she chooses not to talk in certain ways. Tiffany just pouts and says she’s “just ready to go home,” adding that she might not really be “this model girl” she’s pretending she is.
My Precious Diamond
Naima, Michelle, and Tatiana are brought to a serious-looking vault somewhere in L.A. Three men in suits, who look like they were just at auditions for a Guy Ritchie film but are, in actuality, representatives from Kraiko Diamonds, lead them inside and show them an assortment of pretty, shiny baubles for their selection. Naima, who curiously did not scrub the urchin scum from her cheeks, gets first choice and picks out a yellow diamond necklace. Aargh, doesn’t she know colored diamonds are generally lower in value than colorless ones? Her answer for selecting the yellow diamond is so endearing, however, I can’t stay cross with her for long: “It was unique…individual, like me.”
Michelle and Tatiana each get gorgeous diamond rings, whose beauty they can enjoy long after the competition is over, and perhaps pawn, if necessary, so they don’t have to sleep in their car or on the beach next time they’re homeless, thereby avoiding one of Rebecca’s murderous black-out bum sprees.
Speaking of Rebecca and diamond rings, she is back at the homestead on the phone with her fiancé. This no time for sweet nothings and shmoopy talk, however; she says the competition is literally making her “sick to [her] stomach” with stress. He warmly reminds her how much she’s accomplished already. Then all the girls (save Tiffany, who is snoozing on the couch) gather round for new TyraMail: “Top models are never chicken, tomorrow the feathers will fly.” Rebecca knows that “I need to nail this” or she could very well be going home.
My Fine Feathered Friends
As they are driven up to the Hollywood Hills, some girls wonder if the next challenge involves some “scary, risk taking” like “jumping off of something.” Like Tiffany, I am likewise over trying to guess what the TyraMails indicate. Considering the down-market turn the show has taken, they could well be going to KFC and posing at the deep fryers. They arrive at a beautiful house that overlooks Los Angeles, where Jay meets them and tells them that today they will be taking advantage of the gorgeous view by doing a sexalicious photo shoot for Wonderbra with toothy but hunky male model (!) Rib (!!) Hillis, who saunters out in boxer-briefs that prominently display his sizeable meat package (!!!).
Many of the girls are quite excited at the prospect of the assignment (shot today by photog Kwaku Alston), which is to have a cute, fun, boyfriend/girlfriend pillow fight, in next to nothing, with a handsome stranger. Bride-to-Be Becca looks slightly mortified, and when her eyes roll ever so slightly in their sockets, I fear another collapse; Kahlen, who’s “never had a boyfriend” goes into “5th grade mode,” and attempts to cover her face which has turned beet red.
The girls are outfitted with lingerie and long, sex kitten locks. Even Naima gets big, beautiful Barbarella hair. Brittany is the first to step on-set, and is relaxed enough to be hugging Rib with no hesitation. She’s jazzed to finally be in her element: “I’m definitely going to have the sex appeal, if that’s what they’re looking for.” Jay and Kwaku remind Brittany that she has to sell the bra (in her case, a pretty, embellished gold number). Before long, the feathers are, literally, flying as Jay releases a handful of white feathers in front of an old-fashioned fan. Brittany does a fantastic job; she is relaxed with Rib and clearly having fun, but holds back the hooch-factor. “Brittany was amazing,” Jay says, giving his seal of approval.
Next up is Tatiana, who looks gorgeous and is “totally uninhibited with Rib,” according to Jay; unfortunately, she was having a little too much fun tussling with Rib to pay attention to her real purpose: selling the bra. Kwaku says Keenyah “couldn’t find a connection.” Kahlen is pretty in pink, but still terrified of posing with Rib; however, she says she doesn’t want to be sent home for lack of self-confidence. Jay puts his hand on Kahlen’s chest and feels that her heart is racing, as Kwaku giggles that it’s her “first time.” As they yell out directives like, “Don’t be afraid of him” and “Let him hold you,” I feel dirty watching it all, like I inadvertently walked into a kiddie porno shoot. Rib says later that Kahlen needs to work being more comfortable, because in modelling “you need to work with a partner often.” Perhaps some refreshing Jesus Juice might help relax her.
Speaking of comfort, Tiffany is so clearly uncomfortable during her shoot that it makes me discomforted just watching her be uncomfortable. The expression on her face alternates from her pained attempt at a “smile” (making it look like Rib is strangling her à la Mr. Goodbar) to fussy, colicky baby (when feathers fly around her face). It’s a feathery fiasco. Tiffany herself is aware with her poor performance, and says, with fatalistic air, “If I don’t have a good photo, they may send me home, but I can’t change that.” Um yeah, Tiffany you could have changed that, by simply trying harder during the actual shoot, instead of shrugging it off after the fact.
Christina sets her laser eyes to ‘stun’ and trains her glare upon her prey. She looks like an S&M dom about to take advantage of a powerless Rib. “Very hot,” Kwaku says, impressed. Naima looks super-cute with hair, but you can tell she’s having difficulty; she says it’s hard to focus on the shoot when she’s “choking on feathers.” Rib kindly plucks a feather from Naima’s tongue. They cut to the fan in the corner, and as the day has gone longer, even Mr. Jay is looking worse for the wear. “I think we all have hairballs,” Jay says, looking ridonculous, feathers sticking out of his hair at crazy angles, like a Pythonian village idiot.
Rebecca in black undies, walks out resolved to do her best for the shoot despite still feeling very awkward over the whole matter. Kwaku primes her up by saying, “You guys look sexy together, wow!” She tries cutting and pasting her fiancé’s head on Rib’s body, but says it’s still “so much more uncomfortable and emotion-filled than you think it is.” Kwaku does not think she was “aggressive” or convincing enough.
Finally, Michelle gets onset. Jay tells everyone she’s a wrestler, and the crew seems unconvinced. Until, that is, she climbs right on top of Rib, pins him down, grabs his hair, straddles him like he’s her dirty little donkey and pummels him into submission with her pillow. Quite frankly, she looks like she’s going to kill him, and even Rib admits, if it was a wrestling match, she would for sure have won.
My Pretty Pony
TyraMail says “only 8 of you will continue with the hopes of being America’s Next Top Model” (but will that turn out to be a lie?). Judging is heralded by a photo of Tyra dressed as Big Bird with avian influenza. Joining the line-up unusual suspects (Janice, Nigel, Nolé and Tyra) on the dais is guest judge Boris Kodjoe, and because everything in the world revolves around Tyra, she must mention, “I used to model with [Boris] way back in the day.”
Their test today is to play a fashion correspondent for “ANTM TV,” utilizing the skills they learned this week to present a special report on Paris fashion week from a teleprompter. As they are young, I will forgive them “chartreuse,” but I am startled with how many of them are unable to pronounce simple colors like “magenta.” Worse yet, they struggle mightily over designers’ names such as “Christian Lacroix.” Though my favorite version of it is Tatiana’s, “Christian [American accent on first syllable] LoxRoy,” with Kahlen’s “Christina Lakroush” a close second (that is so going to be my bar alias next time I’m out clubbing), I wish I could be there to tell them firmly, like Edina from AbFab, “La-KRWAH, sweetie.” Don’t get me started on the mangling of Hermès. I’m not here to give pronunciation lessons to anyone, but here’s a hint on how not to say it: no, Hermès is not a sexually transmitted disease, nor does it rhyme with “cheese.”
No one is born knowing how to say everything in the world correctly (expect for Yaya from last cycle), but if you’re planning on getting into the fashion industry, or just appearing on reality television, do study the milieu a bit! Another hint to model would-be’s: take a French class. Don’t ask me why, JUST DO IT! I YELL AT YOU BECAUSE I LOVE YOU!!! But I’m getting ahead of myself…The panel cringes as the girls continue to creatively pronounce people’s names, and fumble over the teleprompter. In an Anchorman-type moment, Kahlen reads the direction to “[Look to the left]” out loud. Educators across America weep, gnash their teeth, and rip their shirts at the state of our youth. Forget the ballet classes; Tyra needs to send these girls to a basic reading class.
Tiffany barely starts her cold reading before she gives up, and tells the panel, “I can’t do this.” “Yes, you can,” Janice urges her. Tiffany just shakes her head, refusing to go on. The whole panel chimes in supportively, and Tyra tells her that none of the other girls did it without goofing up and to just have fun. Still, Tiffany balks, in an appalling show of self-defeatism. “You wanna go home?” Tyra says, sounding like an angry mom, “If you don’t do this, you’re gonna go home.” Tears of frustration spring up in Tiffany’s eyes, and she finally goes on, voice shaking, and substituting new dialogue for the lines she can’t read, such as “charismatic” for “chartreuse.” She even cannily says, “Tyra” instead of “kaiser” which is not so far from the truth, as we will later see. Some her substitutions are so off, however, I wonder if Tiffany is semi-illiterate or has some kind of learning disorder. The panel nods, smiles, and claps (Nigel even gives an overly enthusiastic thumbs up), as if encouraging a slow child. Tiffany is not buoyed by their applause, and stomps off muttering, “This is humiliating, more and more each week.” Tyra shoots her a killer look that rival’s Christina’s for psycho laser glare.
After all the presentations, the panel verbally spanks all the girls for murdering names during their presentations. “Everybody’s got to learn the people in the business,” Nigel advises. “None of you girls could read!” Janice says—that’s what I’m screamin’! What happened to the day when reading was FUN-damental? Anyway, onto the evals. Michelle’s Wonderbra photo is wunderbar! All that frantic tussling produced a powerful shot of her looking like a triumphant Amazon on a carnal pony ride.
Brittany’s fun and silly character again helps her pull past any mistakes she might have made during her ANTM TV presentation; Tyra says, “You were such fool, it made the person at home go ‘she’s crazy but I like her.’” Her serenely orgasmic photo also garners much praise, such as Tyra’s eloquent compliment, “It’s sexy as hell, but it’s still not Ho-ish.” Everyone agrees she was the best presenter, and this picture is declared her best one yet. Good week for Brit.
Rebecca is not as well-received. As a TV host, she was seen as “boring”; for her picture, she is sharply scolded for not finding the light—anathema to models and actresses. “A model has to be able to bathe in the light!” Janice cries. Keenyah gets the same criticism for her Wonderbra pic, and attempts to defend herself by saying the photog wanted her to sell the bra. “You still have to find the light,” Tyra and Janice implore her. The panel kids Kahlen about her “man” voice during the fashion week segment but, like Boris, they give her credit for her “spirit” and “fighting through it.” Her picture gets a mixed response, “Looks like you stuck your finger in a light socket!” Janice screams. Tyra reveals that the photog commented on Kahlen’s shyness with Rib and adds that she’s never had a boyfriend. “I plead the fifth!” Kahlen says, turning red again, and providing a little comic relief during the tense judging ceremony.
When Tiffany steps before panel, Janice immediately chastises her for her defeatist attitude earlier. Tiffany argues with her, raising Janice’s ire, “Hold on, I’m not done. You look great, but with that attitude, Miss Thing,” Janice then makes the international hand gesture for decapitation. Tyra says she shouldn’t have to be there to tell her ‘If you don’t do this, you’re going home,’ Tiffany should be internally motivated. Her picture (which I actually don’t think is as bad as they say) is seen as stiff and not fully connecting with Rib. Naima has an off-week, with Nigel thinking phony character came out during her presentation, and the panel agreeing she didn’t try hard enough in her Wonderbra picture. She says, “I have to try harder.”
Christina’s read reminds Tyra of “bad public access television.” Her picture is similarly derided, “You don’t look pretty,” Janice states simply. Boris, however, likes that it’s “unposed.” Tatiana is seen as lacking in confidence, and she also has the same problem as many of the other girls in the Wonderbra shot: not cheating to the light. Janice gets up and demonstrates how it’s done using Nigel as her whipping post, in a moment I found slightly arousing—amusing! I meant, of course, amusing, heh heh.
The judges deliberate. Nigel feels Brittany is like a “wild horse” that is just now beginning to be tamed; Tatiana is seen as more of a “girl” than a “woman”; Nolé doesn’t like Naima’s picture, but Nigel defends her; Kahlen is a “frigid chicken”; Rebecca is a “like a bowl of pasta…kind of plain, she needs some pesto” (I’m wondering if Nolé is just hungry, with the descriptives he’s giving today); Tiffany “could be a couture model” but is “so intimidated by [the desire to be a top model] that she’d rather say goodbye to it before it says goodbye to her”; something about Michelle is “so wrong about added up together it is almost right”; Christina “has no upper lip”.
My Oh My, The Wrath of Ty
One thing the judges all agree upon is that it seems like all the girls “did a horrible job in general.” Janice doesn’t see any drive, and Nigel thinks “There needs to be something to get the competition going again,” before ominously adding, “They need a wake-up call.”
When the girls return, the mood in the judging room is solemn. Tyra says the judges found everyone’s performance tonight to be sub-par. Only one girl stood out in a positive way this week, and Tyra hands the photo back to her first: Brittany. The rest of girls who will be returning next week are: Keenyah, Naima, Michelle, Kahlen, Christina, and Tatiana.
This leaves Tiffany and Rebecca in the bottom two. While they have failed in different ways, they’re both in the bottom two basically because their performance has flatlined. Rebecca has the best high fashion body and really tries her best, still she never shows any progress from week to week. In Tiffany’s case, “Everybody else wants this more than you. Your grandmother wants this so badly for you,” however, if herself Tiffany doesn’t feel she’s worth it, “then none of these people behind me, and I won’t feel like you’re worth it.” She needs to “find some self esteem and start loving yourself.”
Then there’s the kicker: Tyra chastens them for putting her in such a “difficult position,” then whips out a blank piece of paper. Neither of them is coming back! This seems to come as terrible shock to everyone—Kahlen starts to sob, the rest of the girls appear stunned and horrified. I’m stunned and horrified! Why get rid of two? It was because they spent too much on the diamonds, isn’t it? The only person conspicuously not surprised is Tiffany, who is disturbingly expectant of failure. Tiffany walks over to the girls, smiling and joking, which apparently gets Tyra’s knickers in a bunch, because after the goodbyes, Tyra calls them back before the dais.
Tyra tells Rebecca, as Rebecca wipes away a tear, that she admires the emotion she’s showing right now because it is evidence this competition meant something to her. Tyra is, however, “very disappointed” in Tiffany, because she is acting as if this is all “a joke,” and Tiffany just smirks in response. Cuddly Talk Show TyTy disappears, and the Tyrant returns full-force, and she lectures and argues with Tiffany over her ingratitude and lack of application for what seems like 45 excruciating minutes. “Did you know that you had a possibility to win? Do you know all of America is rooting for you? And you come in here and treat this like it’s a joke?” Tyra asks, getting really ramped up. “I been through stuff,” Tiffany says when Tyra accuses her of having a defeatist attitude, and this really makes Tyra explode like TNT. “BE QUIET…STOP IT!!!…I HAVE NEVER IN MY LIFE YELLED AT A GIRL LIKE THIS!” Tyra shrieks, squinching her face up like a Klingon in anger. “WHEN MY MOTHER YELLS LIKE THIS, IT’S BECAUSE SHE LOVES ME. I WAS ROOTING FOR YOU, WE WERE ALL ROOTING FOR YOU!” Oookay, someone has issues of her own, Miss Tough Love Banks! If Tyra wins an Emmy, it won’t be for her new talk show, it will be for her ‘Performance in a Dramatic Television Series,’ because this is surely some drama right here, if you ask me, mmm hmm. “YOU DON’T KNOW WHERE THE HELL I COME FROM, YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’VE BEEN THROUGH. BUT I’M NOT A VICTIM, I GREW UP FROM IT, AND I LEARNED!” Tyra shrieks. Aaand…scene.
You know who I feel sorry for? All this time, poor Rebecca has been standing there next to Tiffany throughout the whole, long, drawn-out tongue-lashing, looking as if she’s slowly dying inside, simply waiting to pack up her own broken dreams and leave. Couldn’t she pull a Vagus nerve thing and just drop down so she can get out of there more quickly?
Tiffany remains unrepentant, but concedes that Tyra was at least right that she was “only here for my grandma and my child” and that “part of me did give up.” Oh Tiffany, Tiffany, Tiffany, it is true that we rooting for you—if only you believed in yourself as much as everyone else. Rebecca is naturally disappointed, but says that she has learned a lot these past few weeks about the fashion industry, and that her priorities have shifted so that “family” is at the top. “I’m going home to get married,” she says with a brave face. And on that hopeful note, we wish two girls goodbye and good luck.
I got rid of Mini-SFG too soon, it seems! Sorry for the late recap, you know how “real life” can get in the way. Wanna go ballistic on me for my tardiness? Send your Tyrades to: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com. YELL AT ME BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME!!!