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Finale time, everyone! Forget Edward and Jacob — are you Team BEN or Team Laura?
Or Team Wet Bikini Orgy?
Well after three months of torturing myself with Tyra Banks like the masochist I am, we have finally arrived at the season finale. It’s down to BEN and Laura, and I think we all agree that this is BEN’s to lose. Laura’s a sweet girl who has taken some great pictures, but BEN has the model “it factor” in a way that Laura doesn’t. That being said, if Laura pulls the upset, I won’t mind too much because I actually like both finalists this cycle.
We begin the episode with Tyra’s traditional summation of the finalists. She tells us that while both girls are great, BEN is a stoner and Laura is a hick. Also, Laura’s dyslexia may really fuck her up in the second CoverGirl commercial left to shoot. Laura’s first commercial wasn’t really that much worse than BEN’s, so I’ll be surprised if there’s a dramatic disparity between them. Honestly, I think the girls will perform about equally in the commercial and runway, but that BEN’s “it factor” will cinch it for her.
The girls are in the limo, on their way from panel, gushing about how excited they are to be the final two. Both give us a similar spiel about how they never imagined they’d make it this far, and how everyone who knows them will be so shocked, etc etc. BEN also tells us that the competition has helped her learn who she is, and that she doesn’t want to stop that process now. She’s nervous that Laura is her competition, for she correctly notes that Laura is perfect CoverGirl/Seventeen material with her sweet charm. Laura, surprisingly, is not nearly as nervous, telling us that while BEN has pretty pictures, “personality-wise, she’s not a whole lot of competition.” Wow. And the gloves are off for the bull castrator!
Grandma Wanda Sue takes a break from knitting Laura some pasties to pose merrily for this picture.
Okay, if you’re still awake, it’s time for Tyra Mail! The girls receive scripts for the CoverGirl commercial, and Laura begins stressing out immediately while BEN is much calmer. The next morning, the girls meet Mr. Jay and Skeletor wearing Teyona’s skin stretched over his bones. Nice try, asshole. Next time, try not to look like you got a face lift from a plastic surgeon who took a shot between each suture. Anyway, “Teyona” shills for CoverGirl a bit, and then gives the girls a horsey grin. Jay informs them that the plot of the commercial is that they’re exploring a forest because that’s a totally normal thing for a heavily made up teenage girl to be doing.
Nigel’s there, and he’s going to be taking the CoverGirl beauty shot of one girl while Mr. Jay does the commercial with the other girl. Laura gets in another uncharacteristicly catty prediction that BEN will fuck up her commercial, while BEN goes with Nigel for her beauty shot without making a similar remark. BEN tells us that she doesn’t normally smile in her pictures so it was a bit weird to smile for the CoverGirl shot. However, she simply thought of a nice fattie and a dreamy smile flitted across her face. She looks great, and Nigel tells us that she did an awesome job. Meanwhile, Laura’s shooting her commercial. And it’s rough. Not epic, VampirErin rough. But pretty damn bad, with lots of stumbles and blank stares. However, she eventually gets it out, and Jay seems pretty happy with her last take.
Switch! Now it’s BEN’s turn to do her commercial and Laura’s turn to do the beauty shot. We see BEN flub her first line and immediately start stressing out, while Laura fails to impress Nigel by lacking emotion in her eyes. Nigel asks Laura what she’s thinking about, and she immediately replies “milkshakes.” Now I can’t blame her for that, because I too spend significant amounts of time dwelling on those creamy delights. However, it’s not deep enough of a thought to bring the emotion to Laura’s face that Nigel is looking for. Back at the commercial, BEN’s continuing to struggle, and Jay informs her that she’s coming off like a pretentious bitch. Jay, she’s talking about using CoverGirl makeup. I don’t think it’s possible to come off like a pretentious bitch while doing that. I think that she sounds fake more than anything else. After 22 takes, they call it a day, pretentious bitch attitude or not.
“Liiiike… I’m SO not snotty. I mean, really. He should really go back to KMart and buy himself a reality check to go with his outfit.”
Back at the house, BEN tells Laura about Jay’s comments. Instead of disagreeing with Jay and reassuring BEN, Laura’s all like, “Oh yeah, you and your enunciation and big words. You totally sound like a snob.” Laura then tells the camera for the third time in 10 minutes that BEN’s lack of personality is a liability. I’ve already predicted that BEN will win this, but this editing is making that even clearer. I get the impression that they’re trying their hardest to create some suspense here — while also somewhat making Laura look like a bad guy so that people won’t be too disappointed when she loses. Since when does Tyra pick the winner based on personality, anyway? Can you say “Whitney”?
The next morning, Ann Shoket’s schnoz arrives at their door to announce that they’re shooting their Seventeen Magazine cover shot right away. The Schnoz sniffed out Gilles Bensimon’s decrepit ass in a vat of self-tanner and whiskey, so she props him up and introduces him as the photographer. The girls get rushed into hair and makeup, and wardrobe sticks Laura in a hideous outfit — striped sleeveless tank, a yellow bandeau over the boobs, and then hot-pink opera-length arm mittens with the fingers cut off. She looks like she got raped by Punky Brewster. BEN is also put in some multicolored monstrosity, but most of the heinousness is below the waist and therefore below the shot. I know Seventeen’s readers tend to be younger than the magazine’s titular age, but since when was the target audience still learning their primary colors? I wouldn’t be surprised if that final cover has some ponies and puppies scampering around in the background to help newsstand appeal.
BEN and Laura escape the shoot with their retinas still functioning, and learn that they will be competing in a runway show the next morning. Laura boasts to us that her walk is better than BEN’s so she’s confident that she will do well. Is it just me, or does anyone else find this editing of Laura into an asshole at the last minute really, really annoying?
Tyra’s dumb ass arrives the next morning for some extra camera time and a chance to show off her terrible interviewing skills. She meets with BEN first, gushing that BEN’s “only” 5’7″ and will potentially be the first petite Top Model. Umm, Eva Pigford was 5’6.5″ you moron. Classic Tyraism — reinventing history as she sees fit. Tyra pushes BEN to recount her awkwardness at school, and BEN reveals that she would sometimes eat her lunch in a bathroom stall just to avoid people staring at her sitting by herself. Well, that doesn’t sound very sanitary. I wonder if she sat on the floor and used the toilet as a table, or maybe she sat on the toilet and ate while she shit? Taking care of two basic needs at once… maybe BEN’s on to something there. Tyra makes the best of her camera time by working in two of her trademarked little phrases, and idiotically says “smize with your eyes” which is equivalent to “smile with your eyes with your eyes.” Sidenote: I was at a dinner party last night and we were taking pictures. After we took one group shot, my friend Nick went “I hope everyone smized!” He does not watch the show, and had no idea it was a Tyraism when I started shrieking at him not to use that blasphemy in my presence. Seriously, a little part of me died inside to realize that this is becoming a mainstream word that straight men whom have never watched ANTM use. Goddamn you, Tyra!
“I GUESS some people could call me “obnoxious” or “arrogant” or “a godawful waste of space whose ego has grown to epic proportions to the point that I think that I’m capable of ruling the world, especially now that that bitch Oprah’s getting out of my way.”
Next is Laura. Tyra focuses on Grandma Wanda Sue, driving Laura to tears as she tries to talk about a letter that she received from her grandma recently. Laura also admits that she’s gone further than anyone else in her family. What does she mean by that? Education? Or modeling? Because as we saw earlier, Grandma Wanda Sue is quite the looker and really could be giving BEN and Laura a run for their money if only she tried. Laura tells us that she really, really needs to win to help her family. I have a feeling she’s gonna have to help her family by ruining the lives of 10 bulls a day instead of her normal rate of 8 a day. Or by putting those hand-knit pasties to good use.
Time for the runway show! The girls go and meet the Js, who announce that several girls from the cycle will also be walking in the runway show — VE, Sundai, Boney Brit, and WonkEye. What the hell are they doing here? Not that I mind, really, but I’m confused by their presence. Maybe it’s to make sure BEN and Laura don’t look freakishly short compared to the other, real models? VE tells us that “other than me…” (Oh, VE, I must applaud your consistent awfulness) she would want Laura to win, and WonkEye and Sundai quickly agree. God, I’d forgotten just how annoying Sundai’s voice is. Please don’t use it again, okay? Boney Brit, who has used the time off to practice not eating, is the only one who supports BEN, although she notes that Laura is perfect CoverGirl material. Within a few minutes it seems, the girls are coated with more glitter than can be found in Adam Lambert’s makeup bag, and are ready to start the show.
BEN’s out first, and her walk is weird. There’s a lot of shoulder swinging and awkward stomping. Frankly, she reminds me of the zombies in Michael Jackson’s Thriller video. It’s not bad, per se, but it certainly isn’t the typical model walk. What also is weird is the red lighting on the runway. I can’t see shit because of it. The only girl I can pick out of the four from this cycle is Sundai, and I can’t make out any details or colors of the clothes they’re wearing. Doesn’t that seem a bit counterproductive for a FASHION show? Anyway, Laura’s walk is a lot smoother and normal compared to BEN’s, but it’s also somewhat boring to me. I think she needs more bounce in her step.
Oh, well, there we go. Much better.
The next pass down the runway was evidently inspired by “Teyona’s” face, and BEN does a good job with her arms. However, when she goes to remove the fabric at the end of the runway, she has to windmill her arms around a few times to get it off her head. As she notes, she looks a bit like a cowgirl. Laura, on the other hand, has a much weaker walk, holding her arms down by her sides and looking goofy. However, Laura is able to very nicely remove the fabric in one graceful motion at the end of the runway. They also show us close ups of the other ANTM girls, and I must admit that VE looks natural and amazing as she removes her fabric. Shouldn’t have been such a bitch, hun!
The final pass is water themed, so the girls are in bikinis and walking through water that’s pouring down. BEN’s walk is a lot smoother this time, and Laura seems to have picked up the attitude. At the end, the other four ANTM girls come out with BEN and Laura, and all six pose together, soaking wet and in bikinis, in some bizarre erotic scene. Afterwards, Tyra and her muumuu comes backstage to congratulate the girls, but thankfully Miss J and his borderline offensive hula dancer outfit (complete with grass skirt) stays put. Overall, it looks like the girls were about equal on the runway.
Panel! And the girls are in heels! Holy shit guys! Now that I think about it, I’m actually surprised that Tyra didn’t make them walk the entire final runway in flats. Besides the heels, BEN’s wearing the dress she wore for her first pass down the runway, and I HATE it now that I can actually see it. It’s an ugly pink dress that looks even uglier with BEN’s red hair. It’s awful for her coloring. And something weird is going on with her head. It took me a few minutes, but I think I know what it reminds me of:
So, BEN, if they let you keep that dress, do yourself a favor and never wear it again. Okay, back to panel. Laura is up first for critiques on the fashion show performance, and the tiny penis between Miss J’s shoulder pads says that he was surprised by how good she was. Tyra agrees, noting that Laura came off like an old pro. Tyra then turns to BEN and mimics the Thriller zombie walk, but states that it’s not really a bad thing because it’s a signature walk. Nigel instantly agrees, stating that if she has confidence in the walk, people will come to accept and even love it.
The judges then compare the girls’ portfolios. In week 1, the girls mimicked their baby pictures. The judges say that BEN showed immediately that she had modeling potential because of her risky, firey pose. Laura, on the other hand, showed a soft, sensual side that also had potential. Tie.
Skipping to week 3, where the girls were supposed to elongate their bodies, Nigel admits that he did not think this is one of Laura’s best shots. The judges however lavish praise on BEN and rave about how she managed to look almost freakishly tall in her shot. Advantage: BEN.
In week 4, Miss J says that Laura’s photo is one of his favorites, and everyone agrees. As for BEN’s, the praise isn’t quite as generous, but the judges don’t have anything negative to say about the shot. Tie.
Week 5 was the Cirque du Soleil shoot, and the judges mildly criticize BEN for her pose. If you recall, she actually received much harsher criticism for this picture during Week 5. Turning to Laura’s, they say it’s a “wow, wow, wow picture.” Advantage: Laura.
Moving ahead to week 9 (skipping both BEN’s gorgeous flying ninja warrior photo and her mixed-ethnicity photo, both of which earned her the top photo of the week distinction… anyone else smell a rat with this editing?), the judges love the shape of Laura’s body. Tyra calls BEN’s picture “couture” and Nigel agrees that it’s a great shot, neglecting to mention his hang up with her dangling foot that he focused on back in that episode. Tie. Look at that! Three ties, one point for Laura, and one point for BEN! How convenient!
Tyra then turns to the CoverGirl commercial. They play the finished commercial in full, and it’s cheesy and nauseating as usual. They then show each girl’s best take. Laura is up first, and while she seems strained throughout it, she doesn’t stumble and doesn’t have any awkward pauses. Tyra gushes about Laura triumphing over her dyslexia, but Nigel is more real, and points out that Laura’s accent and lack of enunciation made some of her words indecipherable. As for BEN’s, it’s not nearly as pretentious bitch as Jay warned, but it doesn’t feel natural to me either. Tyra disagrees, and declares that it’s super natural and likeable, but that BEN wasn’t remembering to model while she was doing it. Evidently she was supposed to do a ridiculous head toss or lip pout between each sentence because THAT’D be totally natural and relatable. Tyra’s an idiot. It’s seems like we’ve got a tie here as well.
Finally, the judges look at the CoverGirl ads. Both girls look great, but I’m immediately drawn to BEN’s. Her eyes are really powerful in the shot, and she draws you in. Laura doesn’t look bad by any means, but she’s slightly bored or sleepy looking to me. It just doesn’t have that “it factor” to me that BEN’s does. As for the judges, no one offers any criticism or critique of either photo, and they all blandly state that both pictures are beautiful. And there’s another tie. They’re are trying waaaaay too hard to build suspense here!
The epic showdown: Bull Castrator versus Bloody Eyeball!
Deliberations. Miss J hits the ground running, stating that he doesn’t like Laura’s body proportions, but thinks that she’s a cash cow in the commercial market. He goes on to say that he would be intrigued by BEN should he meet her at a casting, but that she needs to control her shoulders if she wants to walk runway for him. Nigel chimes in that he thinks that Laura has an extraordinary face, and that BEN is an amazing model once she’s on set. However, BEN isn’t charismatic, and Nigel goes as far as to call her a bit dull. Tyra doesn’t really contribute to the discussion other than to moderate it, which is fine by me. At the end, Miss J and Nigel decide that BEN has a potential future as a high-fashion model in a European city such as Milan, whereas Laura would be very successful in the United States. You know that Tyra would love her not-really-petite-petite-model to go high fashion so that Tyra could claim that she personally bent industry standards to her will, so if you weren’t positive BEN was going to win by now, I think that last assessment cinched it!
And the winner is…. BEN! I am not at all surprised, but I am very happy for I almost always disagree with the final choice. However, this cycle I think they got it right. Poor Laura immediately begins sobbing, and I feel bad for her because she really was a likeable girl with a lot of potential. Hopefully we’ll see her in a Top Models in Action bit sometime soon. Laura leaves with class and dignity, and BEN finally gets over her shock to tell us that she’s ecstatic that she overcame all of her shyness and awkwardness to be America’s Next Top Model. Yay! Although how a girl that pretty could ever be the outcast she’s described, I’ll never know.
So what did you think? Whose runway was better? Whose CoverGirl picture? Whose overall portfolio? And who really deserved to win? It’s been a great cycle everyone, and I’m sad to see that it’s over. Thank you all for reading, joining me in my Tyra hate, and for all of your great comments. Have a great holiday season and I’ll hopefully see you soon!