Who boy! We have a winner! I apologize to all of you who found my recap last week too biased for your tastes. What can I say? I’ve been following these ladies so freaking closely for the first time and my emotions and favoritism got the best of me, especially when they gained up on my favorite Russian. I’ve become quite the slavophile lately, made up of 1 part The Coast of Utopia
and 2 parts Regina Spektor. But if B-Side could be on Team Lauren, I can be on Team Natasha, though I will try to keep my Renee-hating to normal, non-toxic levels.
Also, I apologize for the lateness in posting this recap. Major technical issues this week with my PIECE OF CRAP computer. Anyways, Today’s episode is jam-packed with dreams, both crushed and fulfilled. Read on to see who wins!Previously on ANTM: A lot happened. Hey, remember model boot camp? And Brittany’s tantrum? And when Jael got thrown in the pool? They’re skipping a lot in between, but aaaah, good times. This might have been the craziest bunch of contestants yet, between Ducky and the mail-order-bride and Mother Renee and Baby Einstein Kathleen. I know, right? God, if she had made it past the first episode, this could have been quite the season. Regardless, it’s been a roller-coaster ride for all the finalists, because one can never tell where Tyra’s favor will go from week to week, and here we are, down to the eternal optimist Natasha, Cha Cha Diva Jaslene and Mother Renee.
One last time. Meeeeemoriiiiieeees, like the corner of my mind.
Fade up on morning in Sydney. There’s no Tyra Mail(!) and we cut to the chase with Man Jay greeting our finalists, there this morning for their CoverGirl shoot. The tinkling of a harp denotes just how special this CoverGirl shoot is. Today’s winner’s “print ad” will be featured in a magazine and seen by millions of people.
Renee’s CoverGirl face.
The girls are shilling for one specific product today. Normally I wouldn’t say it in the recap because, you know, I’m on to you, capitalists, but half of the fun of the commercial is the girls trying to work out a tongue-twister involving True Shine Lip Color. Needless to say, the Brain Trust will have some issues.
We already had a CoverGirl commercial, so today the girls will be doing a “My Life as a CoverGirl” segment instead. This will be completely ad-libbed, so to ensure hilarious results.
Man Jay will not be present at the photo shoot, just at the “My Life as a CoverGirl” segment filming, but the girls will have some “help” in the form of last year’s winner, Caridee. That’s nice and all, but it really just serves to remind everyone involved that winning ANTM may help your pride, but not really your modeling career. Seriously, this is the most I’ve seen of Caridee since last year’s finale. Also, I’m realizing that Caridee is not that pretty. Like, at all. Still glad she won over Melrose though.
As Natasha prepares for her video segment, Man Jay explains there’s added pressure because Brent, from CoverGirl, is there and he oversees all these segments so he’s the man to impress. And methinks Man Jay has a little crush on Brent and his upper body, so Jay wants to impress Brent with his coaching skillz as well.
Look at Man Jay eye him like a dog on a bone.
To make this extra-fun, though every girl is ad-libbing, they all have to work in the phrase, “New True Shine Lip Color in sheer, shiny shades matches 97% of skin tones.”
Natasha, knowing she has some language issues, actually writes out a little script for herself. On her first taping, Man Jay thinks she sounds too rehearsed and explains they’re looking for spontaneity, so she should throw out her script. On her next round, I don’t really think she sounds more natural, but Man Jay and his BFF Brent are happy with it, so Natasha rejoices.
Renee is up next, filming on a boat in Sydney Harbor. She thinks it weird to do a commercial without lines, but knows she has that same old story to captivate audience’s sympathy as she’s done all season, so she’s not too worried. I mean, for real. Over it, Renee, can you tell us anything else about yourself? On her first attempt Renne begins by greeting the camera, then coming out with “I had a baby nine months ago and I thought my life was over.” I bet your son will feel really good when he sees that sixteen years from now. Man Jay cuts and explains they would like to hear something a little more positive.
On her second try, Renee sounds very natural and care-free, and even works in the phrase “easy, breezy, beautiful.” Gotta say, she certainly knows what they want to hear. Man Jay and Brent cream themselves over Renee’s inclusion of CoverGirl’s catchphrase.
Easy, Breezy, Fabulous!
The first pass at Jaslene’s segment is tame and uncomfortable, but Man Jay tells her to imagine she’s speaking to her girlfriends back home, and on her next try Jaslene (though still sounding stilted) throws in some Spanish and the boys are happy with the shot of Cha Cha Diva and call it a day.
Natasha gets some pointers from Caridon’t on how to elongate her neck before going in to her CoverGirl photo shoot. The photographer mentions that Natasha needs to actually laugh to get a genuine smile. Jaslene, too, has trouble smiling. Neither of those girls are commercial models.
Renee’s shoot goes smoothly, but the photographer comments that she looks too mature and is probably a little too old to be starting out in the modeling industry. Meee-ouch!
Tyra Mail! Tomorrow the girls will meet with the judges and only two will continue to the final runway show. Renee brings bitchyback as she says she hopes they don’t put Natasha through to the finals because “she walks like a pigeon-toed duck with a piece of poop hanging out of her ass.” I mean, unnecessary! And not even funny. I think that’s really Mother Renee’s crime, is that she’s mean, but not funny. Just like Imus!
Natasha however, thinks Jaslene will go because she doesn’t show enough personality in her pictures. True, but she’s the Cinderella story, since she didn’t make it past the semi-final round last year, so she’s gotta make it to the final runway show this year. Such good PR.
Jaslene knows the judges are fickle, and no matter how well she thinks she did, they could always not like it. She expects the unexpected.
A new day dawns and the “three baddest bitches in town” (according to the ever-eloquent Tyra) enter the judging room for Panel. Today’s judges are the usual bunch, plus Sarah Jane Clarke and Heidi Middleton from Sass & Bide. The two girls who survive today’s panel will walk in the Sass & Bide show, so I guess this is like their go-see.
First up: Natasha. The judges recognize that ad-libbing is probably harder than just regurgitating lines, and for someone who doesn’t speak English as her first language, Natasha did pretty well. Nigel likes her imperfections. Natasha’s print ad is pretty stiff. Twiggy notes that Natasha is the perfect model for a lip product with that kisser. Nigel thinks she has perfect features, but is lacking a confidence in her eyes in this shot.
Next up is Jaslene. While the parts where she is speaking in English is full of awkward pauses, the judges love how she threw a little Spanish in. Nigel thinks Jaslene’s photo is very pretty, noting her jaw line doesn’t look manly considering her tendencies. Tyra notes that Jaslene looks very nervous trying to be commercial, which isn’t Jaslene’s strong suit.
The judges all find Renee’s video very endearing, as she captured the excitement of the moment (being crowned winner of ANTM). Tyra especially liked how humble Renee came across. Yeah, that was some acting. Nigel noted that Renee’s eyes were lost, but Renee explains that it was very bright outside, which caused her to squint. Renee’s photo is gorgeous. Tyra notes that Renee definitely looked the most comfortable in the commercial shot. Nigel, however, comments that Renee photographs old, and though she looks sophisticated and mature, it won’t appeal to the CoverGirl audience. Tyra further calls her puffy and wrinkled. It’s the harsh truth of an industry obsessed with age. Sad but true.
Deliberations: Twiggy thinks Natasha is the most beautiful, but Heidi thinks she’s missing the “X-factor.” Nigel defends Natasha, saying she’s learned so much, and would only improve, even after the show ends. Tyra loves Natasha’s personality and deserves the chance. Nigel thinks Jaslene’s the prettiest he’s seen in a while, but while Twiggy loves Jaslene’s edgy photos, she thinks Jaslene is not a commercial model. Tyra likens it to a high school senior portrait. Ms. Jay stares off into the distance, which is good. I like him quiet. Twiggy loved Renee’s joie de vivre in her commercial, but everyone agrees she looks agÃ¨d in her photo. Nigel thinks he’s seen this face before, and as the title of the show states, they’re looking for America’s Next Top Model.
The chimes of doom play as the girls re-enter the judging room. Three girls, two photos. The clearly re-recorded voice of Tyra explains that the two girls who remain in the competition will go immediately to their perspective Seventeen Magazine cover shoot and will face-off in the Sass & Bide fashion show tomorrow. The wah-wah-loser will immediately pack her bags and head home.
First name: Jaslene. Renee is piiiiissed, but not as pissed as she will be in, like, 5 minutes. Tyra, because she loves adoration of herself and all she does for these girls, asks Jaslene how it feels to be a finalist, after not even making it last year (See? They had to put her through to the next round for that moment alone). Jaslene tears up and tells Tyra “It feels so good.”
Bum bum! Renee and Natasha have very different strengths and weaknesses. Natasha is bright and bubbly, and though she had a rough start, she’s improved week by week. However, her weak CoverGirl photo makes the judges (and, I’m sure, CoverGirl honchos) very nervous. Renee, on the other hand, is a “strong woman, out on a vengeance” for her family. Um, I don’t think that’s the phrase Tyra really meant. Renee took beautiful photos week after week, but, oh yeah, the judges just remembered they’ve seen that face before. Plus, Renee looks old. Like hag.
So who gets the photo? Natasha. HURRAY! Defeated, face to face. So Renee goes home to her shoe. Renee is stunned, but handles it pretty gracefully. Tyra consoles Renee that she came “so so far.” Yeah, that’s nice, but it doesn’t change the fact that she’s going home now a LOSER. Â¡Adios! Despite her dislike for Natasha (and hopes that she would go home at this panel), Renee tells her to “win this for the Mamas” and then marches out.
In her exit interview, Renee laments that though the judges thought she had the best photo and commercial, she still got the boot because the judges think she looks too old. That’s gotta hurt. But Renee says she would rather have the wisdom and goes back to her family. Bye hag!
Jaslene and Natasha, meanwhile, head over to a studio for their shoot for Seventeen, and are greeted by the same Seventeen handler we’ve seen all season, Carissa Rosenberg. Carissa vastly overstates that one of them will be on the cover and that this is the defining moment for any model. Posing for Seventeen? Really? Defining?? Carissa shills a pink terry track suit top which was cool maybe 4 years ago, before the girls head to hair and makeup.
Jaslene is still on the Natasha-hating train, and says she’s sad to see Natasha there instead of Renee, and if Natasha wins, she’s going to pull out all her hair. Are those really the words of a top model? Apparently!
The girls pose with some ugly knuckle… things. Like, brass knuckles, but with words spelled out across the front? I don’t know the actual term for them. Again, no street cred.
Those things! What are they called?? (Besides uggo)
Natasha explains that she’s doing this for her and her baby. But not how you may think. You see, if Natasha wins, she will be happy, and babies don’t want an unhappy woman raising them. Simple logic! The Brain Trust scores again.
When they return from that Seventeen shoot, Natasha enters their apartment to find Tyra sitting there. Natasha flips out. Dude, you’ve been in her presence for weeks now. Hasn’t some of the novelty worn off? Also, where did Jaslene go?
Okay, and why does Tyra still insist on speaking to Natasha in a faux-Russian accent? Anyways, Tyra’s there to learn a little bit more about the girls before the finals. She asks Natasha about her life in Russia. Natasha explains that when she was younger, her mother couldn’t afford to send her to the university in her city, so she moved to Moscow, but even there times were hard and there were times that Natasha had absolutely nothing.
Natasha goes on to say that probably the hardest part about this competition was knowing that the other girls were talking about her. Tyra, stirring shit, asks if Natasha thinks the hostility came from the fact that the competition is called America’s Next Top Model? Um, well now that you put it that way, yeah, go get on Russia’s Next Top Model you… Russian! Natasha, however, is all about her American Dream and says that never crossed her mind because America is a “melting pot of nationalities.” Nice vocab, Natasha! That’s like straight out of my eight-grade social studies textbook. Studying for that citizenship test much? Natasha considers herself an American. Tyra advises her to relax her shoulders and face tomorrow in the show and have fun.
Would Oprah look this bored while interviewing someone? I don’t think so!
Jaslene then enters for her private interview. Tyra’s all, “Hey remember when I didn’t pick you last year. How was that?” Jaslene was hurt, but explains it gave her a year to build herself and love herself. Jaslene is so glad for the second chance and says this has been a life-changing experience while getting all teary. She thanks Tyra profusely.
Man Jay greets the girls the next day as they enter the fashion show venue. The catwalk is a big loop that looks like uneven boards. Jaslene is a little nervous to walk on it. As Ms. Jay struts around the catwalk, Man Jay explains the theme of today’s show is “Evolution.” What happened to “fashion” as a theme? Anyways, the “Evolution” theme means that the girls will come out as “early woman” all hunched over and the like, and will gradually “evolve” to an upright sophisticate.
This is how Jays evolve.
As the girls prep backstage, Natasha is talking about how she finds the catwalk challenging, because it’s not just about having energy, but not falling. This is followed by Jaslene interviewing that she’s not letting Natasha get to her, because she never knows what kind of strategy she’s using. I know you may accuse me of being a Natasha-lover, but I really don’t see any attempt to psych Jaslene out in Natasha’s comments. Chill Cha Cha!
The show starts. Adrenaline!! Caridee is the first out, and is not completely psychotic as the “first woman.” Remember her last year as the crazy bride? Ah, more good times. Both girls are fierce in their first pass, but Tyra takes a special note of how much Natasha is “working it.”
Backstage insanity and we finally get some real clothes. On her second pass, Natasha’s skirt starts falling down. She handles it with aplomb and just kicks off the skirt and keeps going. Nigel thought it almost looked deliberate.
Natasha explains that she doesn’t feel the need to yell and scream that she’s the best – she’s just confident… And vocal about how she’s the best. Jaslene thinks she brings “fierceness” (or, you know, ferocity) to the runway and Natasha doesn’t. Nany nany poo poo. The girls strike a final pose in front of the judges and then are off on their final pass before posing on a bunch of ladders. Because ladders are fierce? I’ve given up on trying to find reason in ANTM.
Everyone’s favorite part of a fashion show: The Ladders! Woo hoo!
After the show there is much rejoicing backstage. Natasha thinks she could win and be a role model for all girls who feel like an outsider in America. Jaslene thinks that though she’s not the girl next door, she’s the girl down the block and in your hood.
Evening in Sydney as Natasha and Jaslene enter for panel. It is at this moment that I thought Jaslene would win, purely because her hair and makeup for panel make her look fabulous, while Natasha looks washed out and the weird hair is not doing her any favors.
Really, what’s up with that hair, Natasha?
Tyra reminds us all of the prizes one last time before introducing the judges. The guest this week is Man Jay, since he’s been with the girls all along.
Natasha is up first for judging. Tyra thought she looked amazing during the “early woman” part of the fashion show. They also loved how she handled herself when her skirt came off. She also looked completely poised, despite the madness backstage. Nigel, however, thought Natasha lost her power by the end of the show.
Nigel thought Jaslene looked like a Bond girl during her first pass. Her next pass, though, was weaker, and Jaslene looked like she was in a church fashion show. By the end, however, she was very strong and finished the show with a flourish.
Next, the girls will do side-by-side photo comparisons through the season. At their first shoot, the political one, Jaslene easily wins. Man Jay was surprised Natasha made it past that week. For the next week, the girls had high school stereotypes, and Jaslene wins again, as it was the best picture all season. Again, Man Jay was surprised Natasha lived to see another week of competition. In the gender-bending shoot, the pictures are about equal, though that was the beginning of Natasha’s domination in the middle weeks. Man Jay reminds us that Natasha had the entire room in stitches during that shoot, and she came up with the grill and toothpick as props. We skip quite a few weeks to go to the Men’s/Women’s magazine shoot. The judges are split as some like Natasha and others like Jaslene’s photo better. As for the women’s shot, it was done by Tyra, and she remembers how dull Jaslene was on set.
Before the final deliberation, Tyra asks the girls if they have anything else they’d like to say (aka, “Beg for it, bitches!”) Natasha thanks Tyra for the chance to improve. Then, in Russian, she adds that she’s “happy that the girls with accents made it to the final round.” Jaslene explains the confidence boost the show has given her and thanks the judges in Spanish, for the opportunity.
The judges deliberate. Twiggy thinks Natasha is hilarious. Ms. And Man Jay love her features. Nigel loves that she’s a quick study. Nigel thinks Jaslene hasn’t improved over the competition, but Man Jay points out that’s because she was so strong to begin with. Man Jay thinks her transformation has been from the crazy, out-of-control Cha Cha Diva in yellow plastic earrings, to the sophisticated lady they see before them today. Twiggy thinks that some of Jaslene’s photos have been the best of the whole season. Man Jay thinks she’s a perfect editorial model, but commercial, not so much. Nigel thinks she just needs to break the mold.
The girls reenter and Natasha looks like she’s about to faint. Tyra gives her little season ending, confidence boosting speech, but you know those girls didn’t hear a word she said. Cut to the chase Tyra! Tyra thinks they’re both strong, but only one can be America’s Next Top Model. No shit, Einstein. And that girl is…
Tear, I’m sad, but Natasha looks genuinely happy for her. She’s a bigger man than I. Natasha’s excited to get back to her home and family. Jaslene is all crying and freaking out. She hugs all the judges and thanks her family for all their support. She may not have made it the first time, but here she is as the winner. A message for all girls everywhere! Second time’s the charm!
Congrats Jaslene! Perhaps invest in a cookie? See you next year during commercials for ANTM and no where else!
And so another Cycle winds down. I personally think that Tyra has given up on creating a serious show about fashion (I mean, Project Runway has that cornered), but these characters keep me coming back. And the editing down of Ms. Jay has been a serious improvement over last season. What are your thoughts? And if you’d like to read more by Krank, I’ll be starting up on So You Think You Can Dance? this week, so look for me there! Â¡Hasta maÃ±ana!