Got milk? Because it’s time for the ultimate catwalk catfight, the finale of AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL, and Tyra’s serving up a Reverse Oreo for dessert. That’s right, Melrose, Eugena, and CariDee are the final three (and yes, I liberally mix metaphors and am aware that that last sentence was a veritable smoothie of linguistic listeria), but only one can win it all…Will it be Eugena, “the sassy siren from Southern California” who started the competition sucking harder than a Dyson vacuum on high, but had a reversal of fortune in Spain? Will it be Melrose, “the hyper-confident clothing designer from San Francisco,” i.e. Old Dame Two-Faced McPsychobitch who, despite alienating all her peers with her C-unit-y behavior, really could deliver the goods week after week? Or will it be CariDee, “the stunner from North Dakota with the big personality,” or Lucille Ball reincarnated as a Guess model, who overcame psoriasis just so she could hurl an ass-related insult at the panel member I would most like to see shirtless, wearing only a slick coating of coconut oil—sorry Tyra, but if it’s any consolation, you came in a very close second [makes “call me” finger sign]. Who comes out on top? Assuming you didn’t watch the show/read any spoiler threads/hear the news/live under a rock/just now awoke from a two-day coma…read on to find out!
Blowing Your “Cover”
Our lucky finalists are still in Barcelona, of course, and they meet with an unusually sunny Jay Manuel, who beams at them like a proud platinum papa. Today the girls will shoot the TV commercial and print ad for the long-awaited CoverGirl assignment. Appropriately, it’s for Outlast Double Lip Shine, since the girls are all waiting to see who outlasts the competition. Not to be confused with “Outkast” lip shine, the gloss of choice for Andre 3000 (my favorite flava: “Balms over Baghdad” yukyukyuk).
Keep-keepin’ it together in the family today, Jay will be directing the commercial and ANTM fixture Jim De Yonker will be shooting the print ad. Jay reminds them that the ad they shoot can and will be used against them in a court of law—I mean, in a national magazine (sorry I’ve been watching too many procedural shows).
There is also a special ANTMer there to help coach them on the ways of the CoverGirl…It’s Cycle 6 winner Danielle, or as her agency renamed her, Dani [must be pronounced with faux-Euro accent à la latter day Madonna or Tina Turner or the lady in the Victoria’s Secret ads that always breathily whispers “panties”]. Still, Jay says Dani has remained “grounded and level-headed,” and she does seem like the same good girl she always was. Except for her name. And tooth gap. And homegirl’s accent. What the heck? So much for the modeling industry wanting you to stay true to yourself.
It’s time for our Cycle 7 girlies to get made up to hawk their lip gloss. CariDee (whom the agency will probably redub “Cari” or perhaps just the modern-sounding “Car”) doesn’t want to overthink her lines, and expresses that she’s peeved to hear Melrose repeating the lines out loud, ad nauseum. “Well stop listening to me then, ho,” Melrose sneers with excessive nastiness. Hello! This is the side the judges surely don’t get to see. Eugena looks appalled on her friend’s behalf, and she comments about how Melrose “doesn’t care about you, doesn’t care about anyone else’s feelings; she’s just worried about her self and how well she’s going to do in this competition.” Unfortunately, CariDee gets a little flustered by Melrose.
Eugena talks about how she and CariDee want to be the final two, and don’t want Melrose to win “because she’s fake.” Melrose has her own smack talk going. She talks again about how bad she “wants this” and how she’s never heard Eugena say she wants it. What is all this blah blah about “wanting it.” That is such BS. I don’t know any real working model whose ultimate dream is just to model. Trust me, they all are just modeling for the money they can get and eventually want to either 1) act, 2) sing, 3) host a reality and/or daytime talk show, 4) marry someone rich enough to keep them in the lifestyle they’re accustomed to. Hmm, don’t at least 3 out of 4 of those sound an awful lot like someone we know?
CariDee is up first, and Jay advises her that CoverGirl is about being the friendly girl-next-door, which if you ask me, CariDee pretty much personifies. Jay, however, warns her “no big toothy grins.” The pressure gets to CariDee, and she struggles, tongue-tied, through her first takes. Jay says he was “nervous” watching her, and she does have a few moments of insanity, babbling & dancing like a lunatic. Jay looks like at any moment he might have to shoot her with a tranquilizer dart. But she finally comes through at the end, when Jay says she does a great job just being herself.
Jay tries to coach Eugena on how to sell a product “without coming off like a used car salesman.” Hey now, I remember his spots on the show for CoverGirl back in the day; he is the last to talk! Eugena does come off a wee bit stiff; Jay thinks she’s “flat and boring.” Eugena remembers what panel told her: “smile and be more open.” They basically told her to work on her personality. Jay holds his breath, but Eugena is able to pull out a good take. Thank God she took panel’s advice, or Jay would be blue in the face (I could make more jokes about Jay being “blue in the face,” but those are probably not PG-13).
Melrose is getting increasingly psycho-eyed in the back. I feel sorry for the hair and make up people who have to listen to her constant fretting. She rambles about how much is “riding on this” and observes how Eugena doesn’t get nervous. You know who is getting nervous? Me. Watching Melrose, I’m scared she’s going to snap and transform into a the monster at the end of Akira, exploding in rage and fleshy tentacles of hate. Melrose blows her lines a few times; Jay calls her the “ultimate perfectionist” noticing her tendency to freak out when she doesn’t she doesn’t get things right. Knowing she didn’t do too well, Jay tells her to leave the commercial behind and give him a “serving photo.” Melrose breaks down backstage, and the poor hair stylist must pep talk her as she cries about how she “couldn’t even say the product name right.” Melrose: more high maintenance than a Chanel Black Satin manicure without a decent top coat!
I’m Ready for My Close Up, Mr. De Yonker
Jay thinks Melrose needs to learn to “let go and stop self-evaluating.” I am concerned about Melrose’s self-abnegating behavior. While she scares me and does hideous things, yet at the same time I worry for her and feel a strange sympathy, like the way I felt toward Silas in The Da Vinci Code. So Melrose goes into her photo shoot slightly off her game but Jim De Yonker seems pleased and ultimately she gets the job done, as is consistent with her performance on the show.
CariDee’s beauty shot is next. “I love the camera,” CariDee declares. She does her best to look “blissful” and “relaxed” for this shoot, and it pays off. She manages to look serene under pressure. There’s applause from the crew at the end of her shoot, and Yonker gives her a double high five.
Eugena knows that she needs to work on her eyes for this close-up. “I don’t want Tyra telling me I have dead eyes anymore!” she hollers. She seems to to all right, in the quick clip they show. Jim wishes her “good luck” and she gives him a hand shake and a smooch. Then she’s quickly escorted out by a tiny Spanish homonculous.
Last thing they must do are a couple of pick-up shots for their commercial, in which the girls giggle and fall onto each other in a couch like they’re happy, giggly, girly friends. I just now notice how hideously 80s their outfits are, with big polka dots, primary colors, and wide belts. Please tell me they’re not going to resurrect big shoulder pads. Pleeeease! It’s amazing how convincing the girls are at being one big happy crew, considering they hate each other’s guts. By that I mean, mostly Melrose’s guts, although CariDee jokingly pretends to stab Eugena in the head. Awww, it’s like me and my brother at every holiday event.
TyraMail announces another elimination. Melrose says “It’s so weird going into elimination with only three people; you’re like, ‘Where is everybody?’” Melrose goes home to the comfort of her raspberry beret. Eugena, rocking a gold head scarf like a gypsy queen, she hopes that the judges like her and will want to keep her. CariDee admits she’s nervous since she screwed up during her commercial; “We just have to see,” she says, resolved.
The three girls walk into the judging room where Tyra’s breasts greet them and announce the judges, Nigel Barker, J. Alexander, and Twiggy. The guest judges are Victorio and Lucchino, who look like little bespectacled hobbit-like creatures. They are not characters from some illustrated children’s book, but the designers in whose show the lucky remaining two will have the privilege to walk.
They show the edited, final version of the girls’ commercial, set to score music originally from the “Dead Like Me” (brilliant but cancelled series, yes I will lament it forever). It’s easy, breezy, and—gosh darn it—beautiful. “That was really, really good,” Tyra’s cocoa cupcakes commend them. The panel applauds them.
Soon it’s time for individual evaluations, during which we get to see each girl’s best individual take, starting with Melrose (age before beauty,as they say). Wearing strange workout wear/mime lounge leotard, Melrose strides up proudly. The panel loves her take; Nigel says the way she smiles and talks would get her hired for that commercial. The Hobbits say en espagnol they’ve never met such a “magnificent, fresh, young speaker.” Wow, Melrose is beaming from the praise. Her print ad doesn’t fare as well, however; Miss J. doesn’t think her lips spoke for the ad and finds her mouth too pursed. Tyra says she was disappointed looking at her film, not sure if the poor results were due to her being nervous or she’s just not “a natural beauty shot girl.” Melrose maintains her composure in front of the judges, but on the inside you know she is totally turning green and busting out of her clothes, all Hulk-style.
The panel must be high on something, because they’re super generous tonight. They are pleased as punch with Eugena’s performance, saying that “Surprise, surprise” she really does have a “personality after all.” Tyra even asks “Where’s that girl been this entire competition?” Eugena says the commercial was the “easiest thing” she had to do; Tyra’s amazed, as she finds commercials “nerve-wracking.” But then the judges are not without their criticism. Nigel thinks that Eugena’s regular expression (when she’s not smiling) is still pretty lifeless. Tyra asks if she really wants to be a model, and the judges aren’t convinced when she answers yes. What do you people want, for her to scream, bite her wrists and write a declaration in her blood on the panel floor? They do think her CoverGirl shot is “beautiful” and that she finally manages to smile with her eyes.
Tyra likes that in CariDee’s commercial take, she is the only girl to really give a little “something extra” and model as she reads her lines. Twiggy thinks she did a little too much though, and Tyra points out CariDee’s tendency to inadvertently frown. Her photo, however, is “sophisticated” and her “skin looks wonderful.” J. likes her more relaxed. Tyra finds her film the best and thinks CariDee “blew them away with this shot.” Nigel likes her presence in person tonight, saying she really looks like a model tonight.
The judges evaluate. Eugena looks beautiful as a CoverGirl, but still think she lacks personality; CariDee has personality, but they think she’s “crazy crazy crazy.” Twiggy defends Melrose for her less-than-stellar photo tonight, pointing out how consistently she’s delivered over the cycle; Nigel believes she’s a “perfectionist” but perhaps does not have “natural raw talent.”
Only two photos to give back tonight. The first name called is CariDee. Her eyes bug out, but she is elated to be a finalist. Melrose and Eugena are the bottom two; Melrose, because she did poorly in the home stretch despite a good performance all cycle-long and Eugena, because although she’s started to improve, the judges are still not sue if she really wants this bad enough.
Melrose gets the picture, accepting it with tears in her eyes; Eugena and CariDee look at each other, sending one another telepathic messages (you can almost see the thought balloons over their heads going “WTF?!!”). Tyra hugs Eugena and encourages her to prove her wrong by continuing to pursue modeling even after the show is done. The oddest hug goodbye, however, occurs when Eugena and CariDee share an honest embrace, but Melrose tries to throw her body on to the both of them as if to try and participate in a grouphug. She so clearly looks latched on, like a tick on the side of a two-headed dog. Meanwhile, CariDee is whispering, “It’s okay, baby. I’ll get this for you, I promise.”
Eugena maintains that if she didn’t want to be there, she wouldn’t have stayed this long in the competition. She mostly wishes she had expressed herself more effectively. Back at the flat, she writes a note to CariDee, then packs up for home.
CariDee is sad to see Eugena go, describing her as “such a good, kind-hearted person.” She reads aloud a portion of Eugena’s letter that declares, “Walk your ass off on that runway, because a natural blonde needs to win.” With only her and Melrose left, CariDee says it now feels like “pure competition…It is the battle of the blondes, and she has to go.”
The Battle of the Blondes Begins
How many blondes does it take to make a finale? The same as it takes to screw in a lightbulb: Just two…One to get the job done and one to get screwed. TyraMail not so slyly hints to their Seventeen magaizine assignment. They head to a studio for a shoot that will result in a cover of a forthcoming issue of Seventeen magazine. Like ohmigod how totally rad! They will shoot with a crew of folks from Seventeen, including the return of Atoosa Rubenstein (editor-in-chief), Beau Quillian (style director), and Greg Holz (photog). Jay leaves them today to go at it on their own.
The blondes battle it out in front of the camera, doing cutesy-coo pics with lollipops and hearts. Is this Seventeen or Highlights here, what age bracket are they going for? They actually both look really great, though. Atoosa likes CariDee’s strength and confidence; she thinks Melrose has a unique look that could work to her advantage.
TyraMail! The girls shout it out to an empty house. “Not every couch in the modeling business is a casting couch. It’s time to pick your brain to see if you have what it takes to be America’s Next Top Model.” What follows is a pretty useless segment with “life coach” Dr. Michelle. Hasn’t anyone learned from Famke Janssen’s appearance on “Nip/Tuck”? All life coaches are shady!
Dr. Michelle has CariDee crying over her former insecurity. Melrose pretends to be vulnerable, saying she tried to fit in and the reason other girls don’t like her because the way she says things don’t “come off right.” Can’t we get to the final runway showdown all ready?
Skip ahead to our girls, roaming beautiful Park Guell designed by Gaudi and it’s the last stop on their Top Model tour of duty. Mr. Jay meets them to prep them for their fashion show, in which they will portray “ghostly brides.” Dani is there to open the show, which will consist of several walks, each more theatrical than the next, culminating in a final walk that is basically them running, freaking out and screaming like mad women in their “own cuckoo crazy world.” Welcome to my mind, people!
All the models are given gothic pallor and Victorian updos before putting on the Hobbit designer’s lovely, majestic bridal gowns (I would have loved one for my wedding!). Dani rubs CariDee’s shoulders encouragingly. I see no rubbing of the Melrose, who is quietly being made up. Melrose thinks she can take CariDee; CariDee vows to kick Melrose’s ass. Oh it’s on, like a Jerry Lewis telethon, beetches.
The guests file in, dressed mostly in black and carrying candles like it’s midnight mass to illuminate the tunnel-like space which is tonight’s runway. Tyra and the judges dramatically appear. The whole thing is so contrived, as if they stopped pretending that this is a real fashion these girls are walking. Tyra visits her little “Brides of Frankenstein” backstage, how apropos as they are her little monstrous creations. Tyra gives the girls last minute walking pointers and amazes everyone with her Spanglish. Jay Manuel tells the girls to “Stomp it out and make it work,” managing to appropriate bits of catchphrases from both Tim Gunn and “Entourage” at the same time.
Before long, it’s time for the show. Spooky faux-Carmina Burana music plays, and Dani opens the show looking professional. The first pass is the most standard runway walk. Melrose follows Dani, walking strong down the length of the runway. CariDee comes in a few moments later, after a few other girls. CariDee comes back tired from her long walk.
The girls get changed for their second pass, this one a little more dramatic than the last because at a certain point in the walk, when you pass another model you must stop and “stare down the other models.” Oh this going to be good. CariDee goes out first, and gives dramatic stink eye to one of the other models. She looks a little unsteady though, in fact at her turn, I’m almost afraid she’ll fall over. Melrose then strides out, and the big moment finally arrives: the Fashion Show Finalist Face Off. When they stop, Melrose sort of overacts the anger, hunching over like crazy old crone; CariDee just looks down her nose at Melrsoe coldly, very Glenn Close from Dangerous Liaisons. But here’s where it gets juicy. When CariDee turns around, you see her trip, then hear a ripping sound. Melrose walks away looking incensed: CariDee has a torn a hole in the train of her gown. A hole you could “put your head through.” Tyra thinks “That was hot!” adopting Paris’s discarded catchphrases.
Meanwhile, Miss J. disappears mysteriously. Melrose is a basket case backstage crying over how CariDee ripped her dress. She is horribly upset, like CariDee killed her grandmother, screaming and cursing. “Just don’t worry about it,” Jay tells her. Melrose won’t let it go though. CariDee even apologizes, and swears it was an accident. Melrose grumbles something like “Sorry doesn’t **** ing cut it.” Melrose says she’s so pissed, she wants to “smack” or better yet “numchuck” CariDee. Leave ninjas out of this, woman! I’d love to see her act this way in front of panel sometime, though it will never happen.
Melrose is so lucky that the third pass is a walk through wacky land. The models get to ham it up by playing raving mad women. Perfectly demonstrating this is Miss J., who shows everyone how it’s done, screaming dramatically, eye make up running stylishly down his cheeks. Melrose gives good crazy, so when it’s her turn to get hysterical, the judges all marvel at how good she is at acting crazy. Psst, little secret: she’s not acting, that’s the real deal. She’s so into the moment, her tiara flings off when she turns around, and I fear for someone’s life. But to her credit, Melrose remains pretty the whole time. CariDee, unfortunately, acts up the crazy but forgets to keep her face pretty. As she runs through the tunnel, she looks like an employee at “Knott’s Scary Farm.” The judges laugh, which I don’t think is the reaction she quite wants.
Finale walk. Tyra can’t stop coaching her girls—she indicates to Dani to put her hands on her hips and Dani follows like a good girl. Tyra is such a damn stage mom. There’s truly no more pretense that these finale runways are a real fashion show, because at this point Tyra and crew have gotten up and are dancing around. CariDee and Melrose end the show with a final pose-off: Melrose throws her hands in the air dramatically, then CariDee, as if it’s a still shot of two enemies about to attack each other. Then it is done.
Backstage, Melrose is still playing hysterical Victorian lady, with several crew members fanning her while she pretends to be a sweet damsel in distress. She thinks she rocked the show, and she’s actually correct. CariDee wants to make it to the top, and prove herself to anyone who ever doubted her.
Tyra's Newest Golden Girl
The day of reckoning has arrived. CariDee and Melrose enter the judging room one last time, both looking glam and gorgeous with slicked back hair and dressed in bold red, black, and white. Tyra reiterates the prizes one more time: a contract with Elite Model Management, a cover and six page spread in [i]Seventeen[/i magazine, and a $100,000 contract with CoverGirl cosmetics. Joining the final panel is Mr. Jay, who’s been there every step of the way.
They evaluate Melrose first. Her walk is strong; Tyra loves how she didn’t “over compensate” and she looked like “a real model on that runway.” Nigel saw beautiful shot after shot during her acting segment; Miss J. thought her “magic” come through despite being in a dress that was too big; Mr. J. loved how “graceful” she was.
CariDee’s walk is not as strong. Miss J. thinks she needs to “keep it pretty”; Nigel points out her tendency to lose herself; Tyra thinks it looked like she was holding her breath the entire time. The acting portion of the show was dismal. It was “all theatrics and no modeling” in Nigel’s eyes; Tyra docks her points for not showing off the dress properly before mocking her facial expression. Twiggy and Jay think she needs to put more trust in her own beauty.
Since the judgment today encompasses the entire competition, they take a look back at some photos in the two girls’ portfolios. Model Stereotypes: a “stunning” shot for CariDee, but not for Melrose who got too cocky after winning the first challenge. Celebrity Couples: brilliant for both, Mr. Jay says they “excelled by far above the rest of the competition.” Romance Novel Covers: the first glimpse at CariDee’s soft and vulnerable side, Melrose proves she can do sexy without looking vulgar. Tyra’s Scary B&W Shoot: edge goes to CariDee, who got it perfectly; Melrose over-thought it, her perfectionism at odds with natural ability, or lack thereof. Nigel’s Bull Shot: Strong for both, one of Nigel’s favorite shots of CariDee despite the “ass-stick “ incident, Jay still thinks it’s still a little too sexed up. As for Melrose, Jay thinks she could have done better in the matador shoot. The panel loves both the CoverGirl photos, but again they prefer CariDee’s; they see “pain” in Melrose’s expression.
The judges have a lot to mull over. CariDee excelled in the CoverGirl shoo, but Melrose rocked the runway. With the girls dismissed, the judges hash out pros and cons. Melrose has knowledge of the industry, but they see CariDee as having more of the passion. Melrose can be too studied, however, and CariDee has the potential to be a “loose cannon.”
So it’s time to put everyone out of their misery for once and for all. The girls are called back in and given a chance to say a few words. CariDee tears up with gratitude over getting the chance to model. Melrose, in that creepy Single White Female way she sometimes has, looks like she’s trying to squeeze out a few tears, but can’t; ultimately she plays the humble card.
Tyra finally makes the announcement…AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL is CARIDEE. CariDee breaks down in ecstatic tears. Melrose looks at the screen with a frozen rictus grin plastered on her face. Later, Melrose admits she’s “pissed” because “I put my heart and soul into this and it wasn’t enough and I got called a bitch the whole way through it and it sucks and I feel really misunderstood and I’m sad.” Run-on much? I do feel bad for Melrose though, perhaps she is misunderstood.
But the moment is all CariDee’s. Tyra warns her to never make that “ugly fashion show face” ever again. I’m sure she won’t it’s all smiles from here on out. They roll out a montage of kiddie pics, showing CariDee through the years, as she talks about overcoming her struggle with psoriasis to finally achieve her dream. “I’m AMERICA’S NEXT TOP MODEL, Baby yeah!” CariDee screams. Congrats to the real blonde for keeping it real.
I’m not a blonde, but I hope you like me anyway. Thank you all for joining me for yet another cycle of ANTM, if you’d like to reminisce or have massive withdrawal, hit me up at snowflakegirl@fansofrealitytv. com