During last week’s premiere of America's Next Top Model, the 35 girls were put through their paces at Top Model Prep. By the end of the episode, we had our final 14 model hopefuls. This week, we’ll see the first real photo shoot and the first official judging of the cycle. We will also see – or hear, rather – lots of screaming. These girls seem to go through life screaming about one thing or another. It’s a bit alarming actually. There’s also a new opening to the show, without shots of the previous cycle winners. I wonder if they changed the opening so we wouldn’t be reminded of Saleisha and how many fans were ticked off that she won. I’m not totally sold on this opening, but I’m sure it’ll grow on me. I’m back for a second week to bring you the blow-by-blow, with a bit (okay, a lot) of snark thrown in for good measure. Let’s get down to it!
This week’s episode begins with the girls hitting the rainy streets of New York City. Marvita reflects in the changes in her life: she used to be homeless and here she is on ANTM: she’s just happy to be here. Kim tells us that people think she’s just a dumb blonde. Today, she feels special, “ekscpecially” (I couldn’t make this stuff up) when she thinks of all the girls who would love to be in her place. Marvita isn’t the only contestant this season who has experienced homelessness: when Fatima first came to America, she did some time in shelters as well. Are you sensing the theme this week? Have they already hit you over the head with it enough?
The models celebrate by going out to eat and Stacy-Ann congratulates everyone on making it this far. Everything’s all happy and shiny. The back-stabbing and bitching will come later….or, you know, sooner. As the models celebrate, Amy reminds us that she volunteered to change her name: two girls in the competition named Amy/Aimee is just too confusing for the judges. Amy will be changing her name to Amis, which is really just one letter from being “Ami” anyway. The festivities are interrupted by a delivery guy bringing them their first Tyra Mail, which directs them to their NYC loft.
”Welcome to New York, ladies. Follow these directions to your new loft and you’ll have cause to celebrate.”
The girls walk to their new loft and scream pretty much the whole way there. Of course, the loft is chock full of pics of Her Tyra-ness - alone and with past ANTM winners. There are also quotes on the walls from past seasons. The models find one bedroom full of bunk beds and another with one giant bed. Did they recycle that bed from A Shot at Love or is there a company that just specializes in obnoxiously gigantic beds? Amis tells us that they theme here is “what is your passion?” and how they can bring that to the world and help people. Or, it’s just “Top Model,” just like every other season. Everyone surveys the pictures and decides which ones they like best. Marvita votes for the one of Tyra with Cycle 5 winner, Nicole. Fatima talks a bit about her goal of raising awareness about female circumcision while Atalya talks about how hard it is to be away from her family at 18. Plus, she’s never lived with this many girls before. Honey, unless your last name is Von Trapp, you haven’t lived with this many girls before.
Last season’s Top Model house was smoke free and so is this one. That doesn’t stop Kim, Aimee and Fatima from going outside to smoke. They ignore the no smoking signs on the door and light up. Kim talks about how she needs to smoke and doesn’t feel she’s hurting anyone but herself. You know, there’s nothing uglier to me than a pretty girl with a cigarette in her hand. Meanwhile in the kitchen, Amis is talking and talking. A lot. Fatima thinks she talks too much and advises Amis that people will only see her as a clown and won’t take her seriously. It seems to me Fatima enjoys making people feel bad.
Before anyone has time to settle in, the two J’s show up to give the girls a tour of NYC. They all pile onto a trolley bus and head off to Soho, Bryant Park (home of fashion week) and finally, Times Square. At Times Square, everyone gets off the bus and takes a few minutes to scream a lot. In honor of the fact that the show has returned to New York, they will be walking in their first runway show right here and now. Mr. Jay introduces two HUGE designers: Mark Badgley and James Mischka. The models will be doing a runway show wearing Badgley Mischka designs. Wow, ANTM has definitely moved up this season.
The models are quickly taken to hair and makeup. Lauren is already getting nervous. She’s not used to wearing makeup and has almost zero experience with makeup. Marvita is the first model to hit the runway and, after talking a lot about how NOT nervous she is, she admits that she’s so nervous she doesn’t know what to do. Wearing a black, white and hot pink gown, she does manage to walk out onto the runway, although she pretty much looks at her feet the entire time. Aimee walks in dark pants and top with a white blouse, while Anya models black shorts, a black bikini top and short grey jacket.
Atalya knows that everything she does is being judged. She steps onto the runway wearing a black cocktail dress with beading under the bust. Dominique works a short trench coat with a matching bag and Katarzyna models a short, black dress with a sort of halter top thingie (--proof that I don’t know the fashion lingo). Allison steps out in a long, hot pink halter dress.
Kim’s outfit includes $500 shorts and a $700 purse. She tells us she doesn’t believe in spending so much on an outfit. Um, yeah, did she think the winner of this show would be modeling for Old Navy? Although Fatima says she was shaking inside, she manages to get down the runway pretty well. Claire follows her, wearing a silver and black gown with long earrings that make my ears hurt to even think about.
The hot pink of Stacy-Ann’s cocktail dress fits perfectly with her personality. She even manages to show some attitude on the runway (and not the attitude shown by a Disney princess). Amis wears a dress very similar in print, at least, to Marvitas, only Amis’ is shorter and has thin shoulder straps. She admits to feeling like a ragamuffin on the runway. Lauren clomps onto the runway, causing Miss J (and me) to wince. She looks like someone double-dog dared her and now she just has to get it over with. Whitney is fierce in purple/blue gives little over-the-shoulder flirt at the end of the runway.
The drama really does seem to follow Fatima around. This time, it seems that, as she was coming off the runway, she waved her arm out and managed to whack Marvita in the face. Marvita loses it when Fatima doesn’t apologize. She thinks Fatima sees her as big competition and is trying to provoke her and get her out of the competition.
”It’s critical for a new face to make a great first impression.”
The next morning, the girls find themselves at the offices of Elite Model Management, where they meet Neal Hamil, the Director of Elite in North America. Clearly, he wants to scout out the talent and see what he might be dealing with at the end of the season. In order to prepare the models for what they will be facing if they go into the business, they need to get a really honest critique of their looks. There to give them that critique is someone who knows all about the harshness of the modeling industry. Here comes Paulina Porizkova, super model, SI swimsuit model, and Dancing With the Stars contestant (eliminated WAY too early).
The girls stand side-by-side as Paulina goes down the line and gives each of them her honest assessment. They will all get critiqued like crazy in this industry, Paulina lectures, so they might as well get used to it. It’s nothing too earth-shattering. She’s honest without being brutal. Sadly, no one breaks out into hysterics and stomps out of the room. She zeroes in on Amis’ bad skin and thinks Dominique looks like a tranny Robin Wright Penn. *snort* She advises Marvita to avoid biting down on her back teeth when photographed: this can make her face more square and smooshed. Paulina has the same issue, so she knows what she’s talking about.
Those are the only three critiques we hear. Paulina advises the girls to enjoy every minute of the competition: this will be the time of their lives. She then tells them it’s time for them to go downstairs, hail a cab and go to their first photo shoot. Anya tells us she just wants to hug Paulina and get to know her. Looks like Paulina might have herself a stalker. The girls all head down to the street and I wonder how they’re going to hail a cab. No need to worry, here comes a ginormous “cab” that will fit all of them. It’s sort of a combo limo/taxi cab called a FabCab. The owner/operator license on the dashboard has Tyra’s name and picture on it. Stacy-Ann is practically hovering above the sidewalk she’s so excited. This is not much different from Stacy-Ann’s normal state. I knew someone once who was happy all the time like Stacy-Ann seems to be. I always thought she was on mood elevators. Then I found out she is a major candy hound and was basically hopped up on sugar, like 24/7. I digress
In the cab, the girls all discuss Paulina’s critiques. Fatima tries to reinforce Paulina’s comments about Fatima’s face, but Marvita just gives her a blank stare. She clearly doesn’t want to hear it.
Hey, there’s another one of Saliesha’s Cover Girl commercials. She got a new weave. Moving on.
Taking it to the Street
You know, ever since Tyra got all socially aware on her talk show, ANTM viewers have felt the pain. First it was that horrid anti-smoking photo shoot. Now, welcome to the homeless photo shoot! Really. Mr. Jay greets the girls and informs them that today’s shoot will help shine a spotlight on a major issue: homeless youth. This week, they will be posing with homeless youth. The twist? The homeless girls will be wearing high fashion, while the models will be dressed as homeless youth. Yeah, this isn’t insulting at all. Mr. Jay introduces Taz Tagore, the founder of the Reciprocity Foundation, an organization that helps homeless teens get off the streets by working toward careers in fields like design, fashion and marketing. After meeting the girls who will be posing with them, Marvita feels she can definitely identify: it wasn’t all that long ago that she, herself, was homeless.
The girls get into hair, makeup and wardrobe. Atalya is the first girl in front of the camera. Jay introduces her to photographer Sarah McColgan and explains the dynamics of the shoot. Right off the bat, and after Atalya talks about how confident she feels, one of the homeless girls, Isis, is pulling more attention than Atalya. Allison’s Pilates training hasn’t helped her as a model. She spends a lot of her time squatting and doing unattractive and awkward things in front of the camera. While she’s posing, Fatima remembers how the other kids teased her for being homeless. The shoot suddenly becomes more real for her. Off-set, Marvita confront Fatima: she knows Fatima is trying to sabotage her. Fatima explains that, throughout her life, people have tried to break her down and take advantage of her, so she felt like she had to put up a guard against people. Marvita ends up sharing part of her story and tells Fatima to take her guard down. Fatima apologizes and the two girls end up mending fences….for now.
In the makeup chair, Dominique whines to Sutan about people calling her a drag queen. Sutan, can relate: people say the same thing to him. On the set, Dominique tries to embrace the emotional aspects of homelessness. Stacy-Ann just seems way too perky to portray a homeless person. We’ll have to see how her photo comes out. Claire the Social Warrior wants to raise awareness about the homeless. Whitney tells us it’s not easy to be glamorous wearing the stuff they put her in. There’s not one stitch of it that she’d intentionally wear. Amis struggles in her shoot as Mr. Jay cautions her about being too campy. Her features are so strong that she doesn’t need to try to be so expressive.
Katarzyna clearly doesn’t know what she’s doing in the shoot. She even admits it. In Kim’s shoot, Mr. Jay says, she had the exact same facial expression. Her body language changed, but the face remained the same. She whines to Jay that she didn’t want to smile because she’s supposed to be homeless. Because there are only two available facial expressions: smile and blank stare. Mr. Jay tries to coax awkwardness out of Lauren. This shouldn’t be too difficult. Aimee thinks her shoot went pretty well but she still hopes someone else did worse than she did. Marvita tells us the shoot hit home for her and that there’s no way she could mess this shoot up. At that moment, Mr. Jay claps his hands to get her attention: she’s completely zoned out.
“Tomorrow you will have your first meeting with the judges”
At breakfast the next morning, Claire and Atalya talk about the upcoming elimination. Claire says she isn’t nervous, but admits she’s excited and worried. Atalya thinks the competition will teach her to be more independent. On the giant bed, Kimberly and Fatima talk about modeling. Kim says she’s loves modeling and being on the runway and photo shoots, but she’s not into high fashion and doesn’t think people should pay $2,000 for an outfit: she thinks that’s ridiculous and doesn’t want to support it. Fatima stares blankly at Kim. She then states the obvious, telling us that maybe this isn’t the right place for Kim. Gee, ya think?
Waste of Space
As the girls make their way into the judging room, we get our first view of the new décor. It’s very black and blue and silver and Cher, circa 1990. Still, not bad. As if we don’t know the spiel by heart, Tyra runs down the list of prizes. Say it with me now: A contract with Elite Model Management, a 6-page spread (including a cover) of Seventeen Magazine and a contract with Cover Girl Cosmetics. She then introduces the judges. First up is “noted” fashion photographer and Eurotrash mancandy, Nigel Barker. Next is Miss J who, this season, has all 14 of the girls’ names on his vest in rhinestones. Who knew Miss J had a Bedazzler? Tyra then directs everyone’s attention to the empty fourth judge’s chair. It’s time for new beginnings in New York, she says, so it’s time for a new judge. From behind the girls, Paulina Porizkova emerges. She walks down and strikes a pose in front of the judges’ table. The girls all clap and scream. Paulina is a total supermodel. Her dress even matches the room. Paulina takes her seat and the first judging of the cycle gets underway.
Before the judging actually starts, Tyra has to get all topical. She reveals that homelessness is an issue close to her heart because she dressed up like a homeless person for a day to film an undercover story for her talk show. She’s totally dialed in to the whole homeless thing now. It’s like when Gwyneth Paltrow talked about how she understood being fat after doing Shallow Hal. Whatever. Tyra tells the girls they should feel proud for bringing attention to such an important issue. Seriously.
Let’s get on with the actual judging, shall we?
Lauren: Nigel thinks she looks nervous – she admits to some nerves. Miss J says Lauren’s face looks good up close. Paulina praises Lauren’s bone structure and says she has an interesting face. Nigel lectures Lauren about her nerves, but Paulina defends her, saying the girls should be nervous for the first few weeks.
Anya: Nigel thinks her bone structure is great, but that her eyes look lost. Paulina thinks Anya looks Russian. She will think this until approximately 2.5 seconds after Anya speaks for the first time. Tyra cautions Anya that, because she is so good, the judges will be hard on her if she sticks around.
Amis: Paulina thinks the picture looks like an inexperienced model staring into a light. Amis admits that that’s exactly what the picture is. Nigel says Amis is so expressive in front of them now and wonders why she isn’t like that in front of the camera. Amis says she isn’t sure how to focus all her nervous energy. Tyra tells her she has an interesting face, but doesn’t seem to know what to do with it yet.
Aimee: Nigel isn’t sure if Aimee looks all that homeless in the picture, but he thinks she definitely looks incredible. Miss J thinks the girl in the picture and the girl standing in front of them have to be different girls. Tyra thinks Aimee’s face looks fantastic.
Fatima: Nigel thinks the photo shows an extreme, but it that works. Paulina admits that Fatima’s photo is on of her favorites and calls her face “heartbreaking.” Tyra cautions Fatima: she got lots of praise for this one photo, but the rest of the film was not great. She urges Fatima not to fall into being boring and tells her to work on exaggerating her poses.
Dominique: Miss J calls her “dragalicious.” Nigel praises her incredible bone structure and says her picture is beautiful. Tyra points out the squatting thing Dom is doing in the picture and urges her to work on her angles.
Allison: Nigel is looking at everyone else in the picture: Allison is just not drawing any attention. Tyra tells Allison that Mr. Jay had nothing positive to say about her and thinks, maybe, her Pilates training worked against her when she was posing.
Whitney: Nigel thinks it’s a great shot. Tyra says it looks like there’s a wind machine being used, but that there wasn’t one on set. Paulina refers (with a bit of awe in her voice) to the automatic, invisible wind machine that some models seem to be able to invoke.
Marvita: Miss J reminds her of the problems at the fashion show with Marvita looking down. Nigel thinks the photo shows she has guts. Tyra thinks the photo is a nice mix of butch masculinity and glamour. Kind of like RuPaul in camo.
Katarzyna: Paulina notes her beautiful cheekbones and skin. Tyra says she looks very much like Paulina did so, of course, Paulina would like her. Paulina doesn’t deny this.
Claire: Nigel thinks it’s a striking picture. Miss J thinks Claire’s hands in the photo make it look like she’s going to fart. Tyra says Claire’s film from the shoot was stunning and says her face has a power that comes across on film.
Atalya: Nigel says that, while the picture is pretty, it’s not really telling a story. Miss J tells Atalya she didn’t own the picture and Tyra agrees: Atalya just kind of stood there.
Stacy-Ann: This girl will never get away from her attempt to perform the least sexy lap dance in history and the little tune she hummed while doing it. Miss J hums an imitation as Stacy-Ann steps forward. Paulina thinks her picture is a little passé. It reminds her of 90’s heroin chic. Tyra tells Stacy-Ann she has only five poses that she does and she seemed to rotate them. We saw pose #2 tonight.
Kimberly: When Kim steps forward, Tyra take issue with her outfit (black top, light jeans with knee-high boots and a black headband – very 1992). She directs Kim to at least remove the headband. Kim says she looks bored to death. Kim then admits that fashion doesn’t interest her at all *gasps* She only came here to learn how to express herself in pictures. Tyra seems to be restraining herself here. She asks Kim to remember back to casting when there were 20 girls at the last cut. Kim was standing there in a room with 6 girls who didn’t get chosen and now Kim is saying she isn’t passionate about this. Kim explains she’s just not into wearing designer outfits and doesn’t find any of it interesting *still more gasps* Tyra then asks if Kim just wants to go home, to which Kim simply replies, “yeah.” Tyra tells her to go home. Kim turns and walks out. Cut to the girls all standing there with their mouths hanging open. Tyra asks them if they still want to see Kim’s best shot this week. The sad thing is, Tyra tells them, is that Kim’s photo was really beautiful. They show Kim’s picture and it really is good. Miss J takes Kim’s picture and rips it up.
Outside the judging room, Kim tells us this just isn’t for her. It’s been a fun experience, but her heart just isn’t in it. Before the remaining girls can breathe a sigh of relief, Tyra (in a fakety fake fake voice over) tells them that, even though Kim just committed hari-kari, there will still be an elimination tonight.
Hey, Claire is Cover Girl of the week!
Now it’s time for the judges to deliberate. In the wake of Kim’s departure, Miss J rips Kim’s name off his shirt. So there. With that little piece of business out of the way, they can get down to the judging.
Anya: Nigel isn’t impressed with her in person, but admits she photographs like a dream. Tyra likes her too.
Allison: Paulina picks up an Upper East Side princess vibe from her and Tyra thinks she’s a wannabe Gossip Girl. Well, she’s on the right network anyway.
Marvita: Miss J says she was busted on the catwalk, but busted through in the photo shoot. Nigel thinks that if her personality can match what she’s shown in this photo, she could be a top model.
Amis: Paulina thinks there’s something warm and loveable about her, but says that Amis is not as out of the ordinary as she thinks she is. Nigel thinks she’s just lost.
Aimee: Miss J thinks she’s fabulous.
Lauren: Reminds Paulina of herself: a little punk and awkward.
Atalya: Miss J says she’s pretty, but there’s nothing exciting about her.
Stacy-Ann: Nigel thinks she looks incredible in her photo this week.
Katarzyna: Miss Jay thinks she needs to remove some of that makeup. The other judges agree.
Claire: Paulina loves that she is vocal about her beliefs and seems to be present.
Whitney: Miss J loves her. Tyra again cites the wind in her photo.
Dominique: In his best drag queen voice, Miss J calls her “very tragic tranny.”
Fatima: Nigel says hers was one of the judges’ favorites this week, even if it was her only good shot.
The girls file back into the elimination room and Tyra calls the girls forward in this order:
Amis and Atalya are the final two. Tyra says that, when the judges look at Atalya, they see a pretty girl, but “pretty” doesn’t always translate into a high fashion model. With Amis, the judges see a girl who’s both interesting and edgy, but who doesn’t photograph like a model. Tyra lowers the axe and eliminates Atalya. Tyra tells Amis that she has potential and that’s why the judges saved her. Tyra urges her to focus more in her next photo shoot.
Atalya hugs Amis and then faces Tyra. A lot of girls would kill to look like Atalya, Tyra says. She urges Atalya to try commercial modeling, because she is not high fashion. Meow. Atalya says goodbye to the other girls and goes back to the loft to pack. She’s clearly shocked to be the first to be eliminated and thinks the judges are wrong: she has lots of potential.
Next week: It’s makeover time! *does happy dance and crosses fingers for head-shaving and weeping* Plus, Allison becomes the next person to throw down with Fatima. When will these girls learn?