You know, with all the fights this cycle, America’s Next Top Model is turning into WWE Smackdown. At this point, I’m expecting the eliminations to be determined by some sort of Gauntlet-style cage fight…..in high heels and full makeup, of course. Last week, the girls posed while covered with wet paint and Marvita got sent home. Oh, and girls yelled at each other and threw around the word “bitch.” It was just like a cozy evening on Walton’s Mountain. So, let’s settle in with some hot chocolate (and a set of brass knuckles) and get ready for this week’s feel-good, warm and fuzzy episode.
We pick up the action this week in the FabCab on the way back to the loft after the elimination. Everyone gushes over how great Aimee’s skin is and how the judges commented on her skin in her paint photo. Aimee tells us she has no modeling experience and that this whole experience has helped her grow. Lauren admits she’s still uncomfortable in front of the judges. This is possibly the least un-shocking admission of this cycle to date. Lauren knows that her inner struggle with confidence is making things tougher for her in the competition.
Once back at the loft, Claire calls home to talk to her husband. It’s a bittersweet conversation for Claire when her husband talks about their daughter cutting some teeth. Claire tells him that, even though she is pumping, her milk is drying up. She had hoped to be able to continue to nurse her daughter when she returned home, but that isn’t looking so great. Claire admits the competition is harder than she thought it would be, but knows that she would be cheating her daughter if she didn’t shoot for her dreams.
Once again, Dominique is driving everyone crazy. This week, it’s all about her alarm clock, which seems to be going off around 6 a.m. – hours before any of them, including Dominique get up. We’re treated to the annoying beep of Dom’s alarm as she sleeps right through it….and Claire doesn’t. Apparently, this isn’t the first time it’s happened and Claire has reached her limit. She goes off on Dominique and, after lots of back and forth, calls Dominique a “shady bitch.” When Dominique continues to deny any problem with her alarm, Anya speaks up and tells Dominique to take some responsibility. Dominique thinks Claire could have handled the whole situation differently. Meanwhile, Aimee stands on the sidelines and tries to stay neutral: she thinks she more mature than some of the other girls.
Ding ding ding! It’s time for round two in the whole Claire vs. Dominique smackdown. Dom takes the low road and brings Claire’s husband into the argument. Claire counters that at least she has a husband. The other girls get into it as well, including Lauren and Whitney. Lauren tells Dominique she isn’t listening to what anyone else is saying. Dom whines to the camera that everyone is ganging up on her. Then, since the camera doesn’t give her any sympathy, she calls her mother. Dominique’s mother tells her that, since she can’t control it, she should just let it go.
”You ladies are sick, but I’ll help you get better. Love, Tyra.”
Nauseau, Heartburn, Indigestion….
The girls all pile into the FabCab, which drives them to Trish Brown dance studio, where they scream when the window dividing them from the driver comes down to reveal Tyra. When they stop screaming (you’d think they would have gotten over screaming about Tyra by now), she tells them to go upstairs and get dressed. This is clearly not a fashion challenge. The models all wear identical red, Spandex leggings and a matching red t-shirt. Tyra – in black spandex - tells the girls she’s been getting complaints about many of them and how they walk. Most of them hit the end of the runway and don’t follow the three second rule: they aren’t stopping to pose for three seconds so photographers can get their shots. Tyra’s here to give them a little training session.
Everyone walks toward the mirror together, Tyra at the front and shouting out commands. After a few passes, Tyra fakes a sprained ankle and they all totally buy it. Seriously, she’s not that great an actress. This is, apparently, a segue way into a little class about how to pose with pain. Tyra explains that, Tyra explains that, if they’re ever pressed for a pose at a photo shoot, they should think “pain” but do it with beauty. She leads them through various poses, including a few of my favorites: “My ear hurts,” “I have cramps,” and “I have a headache.” So is this the equivalent of Smell the Fart Acting?
Now it’s time for the girls to show what they’ve learned about painful posing. They’re going to have a pose off! That sounds more exciting than it actually is. Each girl takes a turn trying to embody whatever pain or ache Tyra calls out. Anya shows off a fierce shoulder blade pain, while Stacy-Ann’s inner thighs are burning (which really sounds more like a Danielle Steel novel than a modeling challenge…), Whitney’s lips hurt, Aimee gets her fingers slammed in a door and Fatima’s weave tracks are killing her. Dominique poses with hurt calves, while Claire has a sore neck from being strangled. Katarzyna’s quads hurt after a night of clubbing and Lauren’s hands are sore from a full day of patty cake. Seriously. What kind of lame ass injury is that?
Tyra tells the girls that, whenever they’re at a photo shoot and don’t know what to do, they should think about posing the pain and listen to the music in their heads. This sounds like advice for mental patients….
”I’ve been aching to tell you, tonight’s lesson was actually a challenge. Guess who posed the fiercest…. congratulations Anya. You just won a one on one photo shoot with Nigel Barker!”
Happy to have been acknowledged by Tyra and really nervous about working with Nigel, Anya heads off to her private photo shoot. She feels honored to be working with him. When Anya arrives at the shoot, Nigel tells her she has won a day in bed. I am instantly jealous until it becomes clear that only Anya will be in the bed. Nigel explains that he wants the photos to be timeless so that they will last a long time in her portfolio. Therefore, she will be posing nude. She poses on a four poster bed covered in white linens. Anya’s pretty comfortable with her body, but she tells us that Nigel’s direction really helped her. He urges her to have faith in herself, but tells us he sees some self doubt in her eyes.
Back at the loft, Anya returns and tells the girls all about the shoot. When Aimee finds out it was a nude shoot, she admits she’s glad she didn’t win: she might not be quite ready to pose nude. She was raised Mormon and public nudity isn’t really encouraged. Whitney, on the other hand, tells us she feels comfortable with her body and would have loved that prize.
While Anya is still riding a high from her photo shoot, Dominique is in bed suffering from a migraine and a bad stomach. Nearby, Claire, Whitney and Lauren talk about Dominique and her earlier argument with Claire. Dominique snaps and tells them to take their nastiness somewhere else. Claire looks at her and bluntly says no. She won’t go anywhere if she doesn’t want to. Claire pretends Dominique isn’t there and continues to talk about Dom with Whitney and Lauren. Yeah, this isn’t going to end well.
”Being a top model is a pretty good gig if you can get it.”
For this week’s challenge, the girls meet Mr. Jay in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, which Mr. Jay tells them is rivaling Manhattan as a place to hear live music. Each model will have to embody a specific style of music in this shoot. Mr. Jay then introduces this week’s photographer, Russell James, he of VH1’s The Shot. Russell urges the girls to really think about the genre they are assigned so they can act it out for him. Fatima is up first and shows off her heavy metal look, complete with Batman-style bats drawn around her eyes. She could dress like this every day. Mr. Jay thinks she was less than natural in front of the camera. Katarzyna, in a short, dark wig and lip ring portrays Emo. An alarmed Lauren is dressed in bright red patent leather thigh high boots and matching black and red dress….at least I think it was a dress. It could have been just a jacket with all the leg she was showing. She’s avoided pop her whole life and says she prefers punk. Russell admits he thought Lauren would be insecure in front of the camera, but was pleased with how well she did.
Claire is given what I think is probably the toughest genre to depict: Country. Dressed in a curly blonde wig and a square dance costume (along with a furry, pink cowboy hat, natch), Claire thinks the genre is fun, but thinks it might be hard to translate into modeling poses. Russell says she showed the basics well, but became too contorted and complex in her poses. It definitely wasn’t “Country.” With extensions in her hair, Dominique is given the Folk genre. Her mother was a model back in the day and Dom is sure she was able to channel her mom in the photos. Mr. Jay admits to being surprised at how well she does.
Anya poses as Punk and Mr. Jay wonders if the wardrobe, hair and makeup aren’t just doing the work for her. Stacy-Ann is given House as a genre. Dressed in hot pink and black, she poses behind a turn table. Russell thinks her poses are too contrived, which is the same criticism she’s been getting all season. Aimee, in an R&B-style outfit, says she actually feels sexy. Russell really wants her to try something dramatic, but she’s just can’t deliver. He even has to get down on the ground, but she just sort of, well…lays on the ground. Mr. Jay thinks she’s a sweet girl, who just hasn’t experienced a lot and who clearly didn’t understand the passion she needed to portray.
Whitney is given Grunge. She cringes when she sees the set: an old diving board. She’s a bit afraid of heights. Russell thinks her face was emotionally charged in front of the camera and Whitney is happy with what she did.
”Tomorrow you will meet with the judges. Only eight will continue on in the hope of becoming America’s Next Top Model. Love, Tyra.”
Dominique is actually excited about elimination because she believes that every elimination brings her close to winning. In contrast, Claire is worried about her shoot for first time. Dominique talks to Aimee and allows as how both Aimee and Claire’s shoots were probably the toughest. Lauren worries about the elimination and Anya tells her that confidence is her only problem.
Tyra welcomes the girls to panel, encouraging them to show her some pain poses. This week’s guest judge is photographer Russell James.
Whitney: Nigel calls the photo dynamic and says she showed lots of personality. Paulina thinks Whitney looks like the real thing. Tyra reveals that Mr. Jay thought Whitney did a great job and took lots of risks.
Fatima: Russell says it was a good shoot, but he wanted her to take it to the next level. Tyra was impressed with her film.
Anya: Nigel tells everyone that his shoot with Anya was fun. Russell thought Nigel worked well with the props, but they all agree that she needs to learn how to find the light.
Lauren: Nigel says it’s extremely beautiful picture. Paulina says the genre choice sure didn’t make it easy for her, but Russell says she did a great job. Miss J asks Lauren to be a little more present in judging.
Aimee: Russell says this genre was a big opportunity because of the potential for emotional content. Unfortunately, she didn’t take advantage of that opportunity. Paulina says it’s a beautiful picture, but that Aimee isn’t working.
Stacy-Ann: Nigel thinks it works, but that it’s too obvious. Tyra urges her to stay fluid in her posing.
Katarzyna: Tyra thinks it’s her best shoot to date and says she just might be getting a new haircut to match the short wig she wore in the shoot.
Claire: Nigel says it’s not quite soft enough for country. Tyra thinks Claire was lost and says this was her worst shoot by far. Mr. Jay told Tyra that Claire was intelligent and ahead of the game, but that she needs to learn to adapt.
Dominique: Tyra says it’s a pretty picture. Nigel thinks it’s believable.
Tyra dismisses the girls so the judges can deliberate.
Whitney: Paulina says she’s trying to come out and be sexy.
Fatima: Russell was disappointed that she didn’t step up.
Lauren: Nigel thinks her legs are that far apart so she wouldn’t fall over.
Aimee: Miss J thinks she takes great pics. It’s sort of implied that this one isn’t so great.
Anya: Nigel thinks she has a regal bone structure.
Katarzyna: Russell calls her “interesting,” which is pretty much like not making a comment at all.
Claire: Nigel thinks she missed the point and that the photo is neither Country nor pretty. Miss J wishes she’d flashed a big smile in the photo.
Dominique: Paulina says she has improved. Miss J thinks she’s almost there, but wonders if she’ll actually get there.
Stacy-Ann: Paulina calls the photo sweet, cute and inoffensive.
Here’s the call-out order:
Claire and Aimee are the bottom two. Aimee already has tears in her eyes. Tyra says this week must be a shock for both of them because, up until now, they have been taking beautiful pictures. In the end, Aimee is eliminated. Claire does a little jump for joy, while Aimee just cries. Tyra lectures Claire: modeling isn’t just about a stoic pose. Tyra tells Aimee that, whenever she starts to second guess herself, she should just go for it instead. She urges Aimee not to hold back.
Aimee cries, telling us she thought she would be going further in the competition. She doesn’t think the judges realize how mature she is and thinks they believe she isn’t ready for the competition.
Next Week: The girls hit the streets for go-sees and Whitney’s confidence takes a beating. Then, because every episode this cycle has to involve a girlfight, Lauren’s punk rock temper takes over the house.