It’s the penultimate episode of Cycle 5, which means we are only one week away from learning who will be named AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL. And just in time, too, because the show seems to be running out of interesting personalities, entertaining moments, and compelling drama. Hey Tyra, how about trying something a leeeetle different with the time we have left? How about maybe focusing on—oh I don’t know, this is just off the top of my head—some modeling for a change, hmm? At any rate, if you happen to be a Nigel lover, you’re in for a treat this week, as we delve deeper into the world of the mysterious “noted fashion photographer.” Now, just sit back, relax and enjoy this Benadryl-laced cocktail as we join the story so far…did I ever tell you Benadryl occasionally makes me hallucinate? Watch out for that Keebler Elf!
Once Upon Time, at the Savoy…
As per usual, Nicole is complaining, whining and/or crying about something(s). She’s so pretty, but so daft and unrealistically demanding that she sometimes reminds me of the worst of the old Disney “heroines.” This
weekminute, she’s distraught over her knight in shining armor, Kim, being banished forever by order of the Wicked Stepmodel, Tyrella D’Evil. I shouldn’t be so hard on the girl, as being without a champion in the Land of Skinny Competitive Bitches is a hell I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. Still, the question remains: who will save Nicole from the wrath of the Red Bull burglar, a.k.a. Breyatch La Fea?
Nicole is not the only emotional wreck. In case we’ve forgotten, “Bre and Nicole are really pissed off at each other,” Jayle reminds us, “All over a frickin’ granola bar.” As Bre and Jayla sit, smoking out the suite window, Bre is weeping over how “tired” she is of people taking her stuff and being inconsiderate. Really, has there been many or, indeed, any other instances of her stuff being taken or anybody showing disrespect? Let me refer to my handy Top Model DSM and find what Bre’s diagnosis is: hmm, let’s see delusions of persecution coupled with hallucinations of pilfered snack foods equals…paranoid schizophrenia coupled with triflin’ ho syndrome!
Bre knows she’s wrong for not apologizing to Nicole for the Red Bull incident but admits, “I guess I just don’t care.” Yeah, like that attitude is gonna get you CoverGirl of the Week votes. She then ponders why she’s still in this competition, to which Jayla responds, “I stopped trying to figure things out when Lisa went home.” Jayla then asks a question many of us have been scratching our heads over for weeks now, “I was in the bottom two, twice in a row, and I was like, ‘What the Hell?’ […] I’m extremely confused by the entire competition.” Amen! There is something satisfying about hearing someone from the inside admit the whole thing’s turned into a fiasco, as if someone in the midst of a crappy B-movie broke the fourth wall to confide, “Have the filmmakers completely lost the plot? Wow this movie really sucks!”
On the mantle they later find four envelopes with a different TyraMail for each girl, giving them tomorrow’s call time and indicating a specific style by which they must “dress the part”: in Bre’s case, preppy; Nik, mod; Jayla, punk; and Nicole, Bollywood. None of the girls seem to know what Bollywood is, which makes me, a big fan of Bollywood films, want to cry, burst into a sad hindi song that lasts for 14 minutes, as I stare wistfully at nothing in particular and magically fly from Raja’s Palace, to the Swiss Alps, to a Busby Berkeley film on acid, while making 23 costume changes.
Seriously, though, do they live under a rock? Have they not at least seen Bride and Prejudice or a Truth Hurts video? Well, it’s one thing to not know what Bollywood is, but to not grasp preppy? Or, even with the aid of frackin’ TWIGGY on your panel, still not understand mod? What is wrong with these girls? Does Tyra select her contestants from a pool of cryogenically frozen bints? Only Jayla seems confident that she’ll have punk down pat, and that’s not saying much.
Style Do’s and Doonans
”That skirt makes you look like a streetwalker!”
The girls head out dressed in feeble interpretations of their particular style. Simon Doonan, who is to fashion at Barney’s what the Keebler Elf is to that crazy cookie-makin’ tree, greets them on the world famous Carnaby Street to teach them about the history of London fashion—world famous, that is, to everyone except our daft dollies. Appalled by their ignorance, Simon rolls his eyes so hard and high in his wee eye sockets, I fear he is having an attack and will eat street like Rebecca from Cycle 4. After a few minutes of judicious patronization, Simon says it is time for their lesson and the girls need to pay attention because they will be tested. Pop quiz, hotshot, you have a go-see with Alexander McQueen, and the bus you’re on has a bomb on it…What do you do? What do you do?
Simon takes them through various exhibits displaying trends that have, through the decades, informed British fashion. They start with the hyper-saturated, richly-colored, and elaborately adorned, gilded world of Bollywood—which in case you didn’t know refers to the prolific and popular film industry of Mumbai which actually produces more films per year than Hollywood and has an aesthetic all its own. A large Indian population in England has popularized Bollywood, which has in turn influenced British fashion with its “excess, color, and sequins.” Simon can’t identify which of our girls was meant to dress as Bollywood, and that’s probably because, in a plain black top, jeans, and spare necklace, Nicole looks like the anti-Bollywood. He literally throws Nicole a sari, and she asks for his help because she has no idea what to do with it. Simon looks at her with barely disguised disgust, as if he wishes he could just be done already, cash his check from Bankable Productions, and leave for hols with his partner to some tony resort where he can work on his next book in peace.
The next exhibit is Preppy, a clean, conservative, classic look that also conveys “snotty…rich…looking down [one’s] nose at everybody.” The model from the exhibit, in her sweater and pearls, is indeed looking at the other girls like, “I could whip your American fannies at a walk-off any day.” Simon takes one look at Bre and says, “A crotch length denim skirt is not the last word in preppy; it’s sort of preppy goes slutty.” Bre swallows the Breyatch down with a fake laugh that scarcely conceals her urge to beat the little man down within an inch of his very expensive, designer labeled life. Simon then gives his thoughts on models’ sense of style in general, lamenting that these days “so many models walk around dressed like hoochie dancers.”
Cut immediately to the Punk exhibit model in the next room, who is dressed like a hoochie dancer from the 80s in a tight sausage skin of a dress held together by safety pins. To me, it’s a little less Sid and Nancy than it is Flashdance, but why argue with the authority? When Simon asks who was supposed to dress punk and Jayla raises her hand, Simon laughs, “Oh it’s the Japanese schoolgirl at the end.” It’s true that in her anime tee and capris she did not have the nasty, violent, nihilistic edge true punk requires, but Simon spares not the rod to spoil the model. He says simply, “As a punk, Jayla was a complete disaster.”
They finally enter the Mod room, and Simon says that they have an expert on mod with them today, none other than Twiggy herself. Nik knows full well she doesn’t look the least bit mod, and finds it even more embarrassing now that a judge from panel is there to witness it. Twiggy merely exclaims, “Oh dear.” She tells them that mod style is more bellbottoms, mini-skirts, and “tiny, little jumpers—flatten your chest if you can.”
They finally learn what their challenge will be: they are scheduled for four go-sees to Ashley Isham (Bollywood), Ben Sherman (preppy), PPQ (mod), and Robert Cary-Williams (punk). For each go-see, they must dress according to that designer’s particular style and will be evaluated on their knowledge of style, general appearance, and model book. To get their looks together, they will each be given £150 to spend on clothes at Spitalfield flea market. The winner will get 100 extra frames at their next photo shoot.
"Oi, nice jubblies!”
The girls rush off to shop, all of them having difficulty finding what they need in the short amount of time they are allotted. Then it’s off to the cabs to give the taxi drivers the greatest show of their lives as they change clothes on the car. Off camera quote from driver on editing room floor: “Today, I love my menial, thankless job! This is almost as good as getting the gig for Taxicab Confessions.”
Then the go-sees begin. Jayla is the first to meet Sarah Feeney, rep for Ben Sherman, who tells her she looks more “naval” than preppy in her striped top. Jayla confesses she finds the Sarah “stuck up,” and she doesn’t even get to witness Sarah shaking her head over Jayla’s book and declaring it “awful.” At PPQ, Nik is unsure whether it is a compliment or an insult when the designer asks if the short, flowered sundress she has on is something she made herself.
For Ashley Isham, Bre appears to not have been arsed to change out of her “preppy hoochie” outfit from earlier, but merely has thrown on a Pier One table runner of some kind over some plain capris for faux-ethnic flair. To make matters worse, she forgets her portfolio in the car, which Ashley says “shocked” him. Later he opines that while she is pretty, he finds her lacking confidence. “I’m failing miserably at modeling,” Bre exclaims once outside, which makes us all wonder why the hell she is still around.
Sarah sees Nicole’s attempt at preppy to be more “avant garde fashion” and Nicole doesn’t seem to like Sarah much. In fact no one seems to fancy the Ben Sherman lady much, who does have a haughty manner when she snarls things like, “Not at all preppy. Not by any country’s interpretation of preppy.” Although it is maddening that so far no one gets preppy—what is so hard about a twinset or a polo shirt with a pencil skirt? This should be the easiest look to achieve.
Bre runs into Robert Cary-Williams looking like a hooker from 1985. Robert, the “punk” designer, does not like Bre’s so-called “signature” walk, and even goes so far as to imitate her, throwing his arms out and saying, “We’re not going to be doing any of this thing…We’ve been seeing that all over the bloody place.”
Ashley is very impressed with the way Nik put her color together, and Nik does capture a good sense of Indian flavor with her saffron yellow and henna red ensemble. Ashley also seems very happy with her walk and personality, and looks genuinely pleased when he thanks her for coming in. Nicole earns points with Robert for her walk, Jayla loses some with Ashley when she forgets to bring high-heeled shoes. Ashley finds Jayla to be “too stiff” and needs work on her walk. Jayla loses points with me for creepily sniffing her shoes before putting them on.
The day concludes at Ashley’s showroom, where he gives the girls their critiques: Nicole “looked the best”; Nik was the “most professional”; Jayla (who is shown saying that she thinks she has a “pretty decent walk”) is “the worst runway walker overall” (ouch); and Bre’s appearance was “least appreciated” (translation: girl look a hot mess) and her “photos are not strong,” however, she takes good direction. Great, maybe Bre could hit up her cab driver for info on how to get a job doing that in London.
The decision is unanimous from all four designers: Nik is the winner of the all-important 100 frames, which gives her a huge advantage in this important photo shoot. She is allowed to pick a friend who will receive 80 frames, and instead of selecting her old friend Miss Bre, she bestows that prize on Nicole. In turn, Nicole gets to pick a friend to receive 60 frames. Not surprisingly, she selects Jayla instead of Breyatcha La Rue. Bre is left with 50 frames, and to add insult to injury, she will have to go first, and will not be allowed to see herself in a mirror before going up. Nicole can barely conceal her smirk of joy after hearing that last bit of news.
A Wack in the Park
Back at the Savoy, Bre remarks, “Nik has never wronged me,” and talks about Nik has been by her side since they came out to London. Nik, however, may not be as simpatico as Bre thinks; in her confessional, she condemns Bre’s actions in the infamous Red Bull Incident to be not only “childish” but “evil.” Nik says that while it might appear that she and Bre are very close, she knows that Bre is employing the strategy of keeping enemies close, and she’s simply doing the same.
In the morning the girls are told they will be split up in pairs for a walking tour of London. Nik and Jayla, the former mortal enemies, decide to go together instead of be subjected to the whines or grumbles of Nicole or Bre; this of course leaves the two current mortal enemies together—oh please, I’m sure the producers suggested this as neither Nik nor Jayla seems clever or cruel enough to hatch this plan on their own. When Nicole catches wind of this, she declares the whole situation to be “wack.” Whoa there, Missy, I know it’s the heat of the moment but watch your language!
The morning is tense, but ends in understanding and forgiveness. On their walk, Jayla talks about her earlier problems with Nik. In case we have forgotten, the producers include one of those lovely sepia-toned flashbacks, in which Jayla severely vituperates Nik, adding that she hopes Nik will keep “the same stupid facial expression in all her pictures that way they’ll be like, mmhmm, you suck, bye bye.” Oh yeah, that’s come back and bite her on the ass. Well, that was five weeks ago, and Jayla now says she’s over it; Nik forgives her, adding that she’s not there to make friends or enemies, she came to pursue an opportunity. “It’s a dirty world,” Nik says, her way of acknowledging the Machiavellian machinery behind life in general—either that or she stepped on some British doggy poo during their romp around town.
Bre and Nicole, both trepidatious at first, decide the best way to get through this day together is to rely on the age old way to wash your troubles way: with BOOZE. The 19 year olds stop to get some red wine (aren’t they lucky the drinking age in England is 18—still, expect UPN to get some outraged letters from Puritanical biddies), and the two girls talk through problems and even start to bond, like Lisa and Cousin It, eventually apologizing to each other about the whole situation. Bre promises to buy Nicole a “whole bunch of Red Bull [and] put ribbons and bows on them.” They both agree it was a good thing for them to go out together today, and return home arm in arm, new best friends.
Bindi, Done That
TyraMail warns “You never know who’ll be judging you. Will you be sari tomorrow?” Again, our unfrozen cavegirls are stumped. They probably think TyraMail author just made a typo. From the looks of things, they might even know how to spell “sorry” in the first place, and might not suspect anything.
Bre wakes up the morning of the photo shoot sick, feverish, with cramps and a migraine. Jayla helpfully offers Bre some medicine, which turns out to be Benadryl. Now, in my opinion, Benadry is pure evil in a pill, and while it clears the sinuses, it can have the effect of a horse tranquilizer/mixed with rohypnol/laced with acid to certain people—like me, for one, and possibly Bre as well. Bre says she’s now “super drowsy” and her migraine is even worse.
The girls head to the shoot location where Mr. Jay informs them that today’s theme is Bollywood (known for huge productions with casts of thousands), and the challenge for them will be if they can stand out in a crowd. Today’s photographer is someone very special, and someone we all know (and some of us would like to know better…biblically better): the yummy Nigel Barker. Even Mr. Jay can’t keep his hands off Nigel, and chides him for having his shirt buttoned. “You were supposed to do the Bollywood thing,” Mr. Jay scolds, as he unbuttons Nigel’s perennial striped shirt, and exposes Nigel’s [gasp] chest. “He’s been waiting to undress me for days,” Nigel quips. Well, this is one time I actually agree with our Artistic Director’s creative choice.
Nigel greets them warmly and reveals that today’s shoot is meaningful for him because as someone who is half Sri Lankan, half English himself, the Bollywood theme is “deep in [his] heart.” Never mind for the moment that Sri Lanka and India aren’t actually the same thing, but hey they’re neighbors, and we’re all too distracted by Nigel’s numminess to give a toss.
In makeup, Bre reveals to Jay and the makeup artist that she’s sick and that she took some medicine from Jayla. Mr. Jay laughs within earshot of Jayla that, “Whoever gave her that Benadryl is trying to screw her up because she is so draggy today and exhausted.” Doesn’t anybody read the warning on the side of those bottles: “Do not operate heavy machinery, drive, model or attempt to look fierce while on this medication?”
Bre, of course, is not allowed to see how she looks, and by going first, has no chance to learn from what the other girls do. Still, with only 50 frames, she seems to do fairly well, though Jay thinks she was not all there. Jayla has massive difficulty following direction from both Nigel and Jay to change her facial expression. Jay becomes frustrated at her giving the “same, flat, boring face time and time again.” It comes to Jayla’s attention that she got the same criticism she always gets, and it comes to my attention that—what the hell is Jayla still doing on this show?
Nicole surprises Nigel by surpassing his expectations, and Jay is so impressed he declares it her “best shoot ever.” Nik also performs extremely well, leading Nigel to compliment her use of movement and Jay to say that right from the start her pictures were so “flawless” she didn’t even need the extra frames. It’s so ironic, in that Alanis Morrisette way.
Making (Dinner) Plans for Nigel
Sri Lanka Lanka Burnin’ Love
After the shoot, the girls go to dinner at an Indian restaurant. What’s on the menu? Looks like they’ll be having Nigel for dinner! I feel compelled to pull the old, When Harry Met Sally, “I’ll have what she’s having,” when I see Nigel sitting down at their table. He tells us the story of how his mother was also a model, and it was the money she made from modeling that helped her to bring her family over from Sri Lanka. Gillian Barker, Nigel’s mum, then comes out to join them and give them some warm, motherly advice. We learn she was born in Bombay (now Mumbai, India) where at 14 she had a career as not only a model but a singer—hey, looks like she’s got one up on Tyra there, watch out, Miss Hyphenate.
Nigel’s mum teaches them about the sari, the traditional garment of India, which consists of 6 yards of fabric that is often brightly colored and richly ornament and can be draped in various ways. Gillian shows them how to put on a sari properly, and Bre makes sure to watch carefully, as she’s sure this is something they’ll be tested on later.
As lovely as dinner was, back at the Savoy, the girls find that elimination eve TyraMail they never enjoy receiving. Judgment day is nigh, and tensions are high. Bre breaks out her pointy finger in confessional and marvels over the fact that she has been in the Bottom Two three times now. “I am the underdog of America’s Next Top Model,” she says pointing frantically, adding that while she’s not sure she’ll win, she knows she deserves to win.
Who’s Sari Now?
A photo of Tyra trying to give her best Aishwarya Rai means it’s brass tacks time. Joining the panel today is a bindi on Miss J.’s forehead—but that’s not the guest judge. The guest judge this week is Barbara Hulanicki, fashion designer and creator of Biba (for whom Twiggy once modeled), who “put mod on the map singlehandedly.” Other guests tonight include: a tight, hot pink top that make it impossible not to notice Tyra’s majestic mammaries.
Test time: they have three minutes to go backstage and update the traditional Indian sari into something modern. Nicole comes out in a frumpy, ungainly concoction that Nigel says looks like she “fell in the curtains…like a cat that went aagh!” He and Barbara both suggest she take off the other garments she has on underneath and wrap the sari “so that when you turn around we’ve got bare back and just a little bit of butt cleavage.” Tyra laughs at Nigel, asking, “Why are you so horny?” providing shower nozzle masturbation material for Nigel lovers for many weeks to come. Nicole’s Bollywood picture gets a mixed response, with Miss J. not finding it intense enough, but Twiggy calling it “brilliant” and Tyra defending it as Nicole’s “best.”
Bre’s sari looks the most traditional, which Nigel says is okay, because that’s Bre’s style. Despite having the least frames, Bre succeeds in jumping out of the crowd in her picture. Tyra reminds her that as a shorter girl, Bre must always be mindful of her neck; Tyra says that is the only thing keeping this picture form being a “10.” In notes, Jay says Bre was not her usual self and warns her not to take a Benadryl before shooting since it made her drowsy. Did Benadryl pay for this, because this episode is like anti-product placement for the soporific sinus medication. Miss J. points up the ridiculousness by asking, “You let the competition give you a pill, girl?”
Nik’s sari gets raves from the judges, with Twiggy deeming it the most “modern, unique” look; Nigel likes the color choice for her skin, the modern twist, and says she looks simply “beautiful.” As for her Bollywood photo, Twiggy likes that Nik’s pose harkens to Indian dance moves, Barbara feels that Nik’s eyes draw the viewer in to the picture, Tyra found her film “beautiful,” and Nigel feels she didn’t even need the extra frames. Only Miss J. provides any voice of dissent, asking why he doesn’t see what the others are talking about; Tyra suggests getting glasses.
Jayla had the sorriest sari, with Tyra and crew agreeing it was too big and bulky, adding “20 pounds of weight” to her body. Barbara tries to compliment the color choice, but Tyra dismisses Barbara as just trying to be a “good mama.” Her picture is also roundly criticized. It’s true that when they show Jayla’s shot, she doesn’t “pop” and is initially hard to find in the crowd—although to be fair, she’s the only girl who was not placed at the center of her picture, and it looks like there are 80 more other people. But even the closeup is underwhelming. Miss J. says, “I guess since she didn’t pop, she pooped.” Jayla says she had difficulty with the other women in the photo getting in her way; Barbara says, “You should have offered them a Benadryl.”
The judges deliberate. Some of their concerns: Bre’s height, Jayla’s loss of confidence, Nik’s lack of sex appeal. Compliments: Nigel says Nicole managed to “light up” the set during the photoshoot, and Barbara says Nik is going to be a “superstar.” Before long, it’s time for one of the most critical eliminations yet, the one that determines which three girls will be in the finale.
The girls return, looking like brightly colored sleepwalkers tangled up in their duvets; Bre lumbers in last looking like a cranky wookie. Tyra’s breasts deliver the first photos to: Nicole and Nik. They become the first two officially in the finals, but not without a warning from Tyra: they both need to show way more personality if they want to be America’s Next Top Model.
Jayla and Bre are the Bottom Two. Tyra’s boobs think that while Bre has improved throughout the competition, they don’t know if it’s enough to overcome the issue of her height. I’m no fan of Bre, but damn it, why even bother cast short girls in this? Jayla’s problem seems to be that she doesn’t believe in herself anymore. When Tyra calls Bre’s name, she walks up in such shock that her face looks like she’s possessed. Yes, Bre is the ANTM equivalent of Jason Noorvies; she just won’t die.
Tyra’s hooters sadly bid Jayla goodbye. Upon leaving, Jayla says she’s “extremely disappointed” because she always tried her hardest. She talks about her disappointment with surprisingly few tears, and just as I am thinking to myself how gracefully she’s handling her loss and, Wow, it looks like Jayla has really grown and matured throughout the course of this competition, she goes and says, “I am going to try to outshadow the winner. I am going to make her look like nothing. That’s my goal.” Eep. Still needs work on relating to the world at large do we? Well, Jayla, let’s hope that as you continue to knock on opportunity’s door, someone lets you in.
"Hi, do you have a minute to learn about God’s word? Or perhaps consider hiring me to be in your next fashion show?"
Namaste [bows]. Send emails and enlightenment to: snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com