As much as a fan as I am of America’s Next Top Model, this season’s finalists don’t really inspire the kind of debate that we have seen in the past. And even outside of modeling, there were very few story lines that have kept us talking. Melrose, Eugena, and Caridee on their own could have been top three in a lot of previous seasons, but it seems like putting the three of them together and putting them in the final makes it seem like we are crowning the winner of the NIT. Sure everybody deserves to be there, but it’s really not the tournament you want to watch. However, the competition is still fierce, and we need to crown a winner so let’s enjoy the festivities, even if it gives us a little bit of a JV afterwards.To start off the episode, we get a little bit of a rundown of the season in general, and then a little bit more of a detailed discussion about why each of the girls is there, and what they need to work on.
Eugena’s strongest attribute is the way that she has grown throughout the competition. She started off with a cocky attitude, talking trash about last season’s contestants, quickly realized that she did have a lot to learn, and struggled through many parts of the competition as the judges blasted her for what they perceived as a bad attitude and what we all saw was an inability to inspire in her photographs. Surprising many of us, Eugena turned it on when it counts, with some amazing photographs in the latter part of the competition, but the judges were still looking for her to bring that Top Model attitude and show some desire before she could be named the winner.
When Melrose came into the competition, she had plenty of confidence, which was really shaken early on, first by a disastrous early photo shoot where Jay called her out for her diva attitude, and then with Monique, her nemesis that intimidated her to the point where she was scared. The reason Melrose is in this competition is her consistency and overall knowledge of modeling. It’s hard to send somebody home when they continue to take amazing pictures, but she has been dogged by problems, including charges of a slightly diva attitude, an inability to handle pressure, and a tendency to look older than Faye Dunaway in her pictures. Melrose challenge will be bringing a softer side to her photos.
In the beginning, Caridee’s greatest attribute was her enthusiasm and natural ability. She might have been a little country, but she proved herself to be on of the most consistent performers as the competition went on. But as the season progressed, that carefree attitude become a liability at times. She was so confident that her pictures would turn out great that she sailed through a few competitions without trying and was accused of not paying attention or listening to criticism while on the set and in front of the judges. Nobody will forget the stick-in-your-ass comment to Nigel, which was funny, but also not acceptable for a Top Model. However, she might be the one who embodies “Cover Girl” the most, but she’ll have to prove that she can keep her personality in control if she wants to win.
God Jay, get some band aids before you poke somebody’s eye out.
Since the final episode has two eliminations for the price of one, we jumped right into the competition. The final three got together for their Cover Girl commercials and photo shoots. In order to help the girls out with this very important part of the competition, the judges decided to bring in somebody who knew a lot about Top Model and a lot about being a Cover Girl. It was none other than Cycle 6 winner, Danielle. I think of Danielle, Joanie, and Jade last year and it makes me cry to think what we are left with now, but whatever. Since signing with her agency, Danielle is now being called Dani, which if nothing else is more efficient, and you do know how I love efficiency, except, of course, when it comes to using commas, finishing sentences, and keeping my recaps under 5000 words.
I don’t have to tell any of you how important this Cover Girl shoot is. If nothing else, a Top Model has to be worthy of Cover Girl status. With the cover of Seventeen, the girls are shooting with Tyra. As for the modeling contract, there is nothing guaranteeing that you will get any work or be kept around for more than a year. Cover Girl is actual money and one of the top brands in cosmetics. Nail this photo shoot, and you will be a Top Model contender.
Now, knowing how important it all is, I was surprised that Caridee was so carefree about the whole thing. I mean, I guess I wasn’t THAT surprised because Caridee has been doing things like this all season and it has gotten her this far, but after the last commercial they did was a disaster that dropped Caridee in the bottom two, I thought she would try and concentrate a little more. Instead, she said that she didn’t want to study too hard because it would make her over think things and be even more nervous.
It was no surprise at all to see that Melrose took the completely opposite approach. I generally believe that Melrose sometimes psyches herself out of things by over thinking, but I can understand why she really wants to be prepared at all times. Melrose was practicing her lines in the trailer when Caridee got upset because she couldn’t stay quiet. Granted, when Melrose said “Stop listening to me then, ho” to Caridee, it might have been a little more attitude than she needed in her response, but really, she is just practicing lines. I am not too familiar with what goes on the set of most commercial or photo shoots, but if the biggest problem happens to be somebody practicing their lines, I think she can count herself as lucky. I know she can’t stand Melrose, but her voice has to better than, say, hearing somebody wretching in the bathroom after realizing they might have forgotten to ask for soy milk in their breakfast latte and forgot to stock up on Parliaments before you left your apartment.
Next, Eugena said that Melrose’s problem is that she only cares about herself and how she’ll do in this competition. Uh? Isn’t that why it’s called A COMPETITION and not “girl scouts”? So what if Melrose is a little ambitious? She knows they don’t give out tenth place ribbons on ANTM. Really there is first place and then everybody else. Melrose wants first! Don’t hate!
Hey Melrose: WE HATE YOU.
I can’t believe I wasted three paragraphs on that, but this is the last Top Model recap of the year and I want to make it last. Caridee stumbled during her commercial shoot, which is no surprise because she didn’t practice. She tried to blame it on Melrose making her nervous, but that was just an excuse. Besides, the truth of the matter is that these girls need to do a commercial, but the producers will do whatever it takes to get it done. All of the girls had trouble with their lines, but they made cue cards for Jade last year, and if anybody needed it today, they would send some PA out into the streets of Barcelona with instructions never to come back unless it was with poster board and magic markers.
The biggest surprise of all of this came from Melrose. Even though she practiced more than any of the other girls, she really had a lot of trouble. To make matters worse, she was concentrating so much on her lines; she wasn’t looking very natural delivering them. I still think that Eugena was the one that was hamming it up the most, but Melrose was clearly having trouble coming across as a natural. She did get a good take in, but she is a perfectionist and her troubles really upset her. Jay was harsh on her, but I don’t think he was being unfair or trying to single her out for any reason. Hmmm, I guess she did over think things once again, but really, you can’t always have perfect days on the set so she is really just going to have to learn how to DEAL.
The next part of the competition was the Cover Girl photos and that is what we are here to see, so how did the girls do?
Melrose was the first to go and you know, I really like this photo. The only problem, and it’s very easy to see, is that she doesn’t really look that comfortable. She had her picture taken immediately after her commercial, so her mind was still on that. She was breaking down because she felt like if she made one mistake, they were going to send her home. That could be very true, but life on the set is difficult. I’m not sure why I am so in love with Melrose this episode, I guess she is more endearing when things aren’t coming easy to her because she acts human. Anyway, I may have loved the photo, but it just didn’t scream Cover Girl. Cover Biological Clock? Perhaps. Just not Cover Girl.
Of the three pictures, Caridee’s was the one that really blew me away when I saw it. It has everything that you want in a Cover Girl. Cute, sexy, and girl next door without crossing over into the slutty, skanky, get my number from Heidi Fleiss sort of territory. But really, it should come as no surprise because Caridee said that she was focusing specifically on looking blissful but not too sexy. That’s the type of focus that Caridee needs to bring all the time, because obviously it works.
Last was Eugena. I liked the picture, but the smile was kind of awkward. I still see it as more of a Cover Girl than Melrose, but I don’t think this is a great angle for her. Overall, the picture is nice, but it didn’t really “pop” for me. I would put it at about the same level as Melrose.
As it came time for the judging, I couldn’t help but wonder if the building where they were judging was the same palace that they used as the pit stop for this last leg of the Amazing Race. A quick conference with B-side confirms that it was and although I still believe they did all of the judging on a set and used the palace only for external shots.
After I had dealt with that, I was able to focus on the problem at hand. Who do you take to the final three? I think it was obvious that Caridee was moving on, and the judges agreed that she had the best film. They really liked how sophisticated she looked and although they were wondering if she would be able to pull her act together, hers was the first name called.
That meant that it was going to come down to Melrose and Eugena. If we are talking Cover Girl, Eugena is the one that they should pick. The judges loved her photo, even calling it sensational. Melrose had a good picture and Victorio and Lucchino, the two designers who would be making the pieces for the final runway challenge, called her magnificent, fresh, and young, but Tyra questioned that perhaps she was just not suited to natural beauty shots.
Not awkward AT ALL.
Wouldn’t you know? It’s the great ANTM dichotomy that the judges always liked. How many times has Tyra said, “The two girls before me are here for very different reasons.”? This time, it was between the girl who was always very consistent and showed passion versus the girl who was a late bloomer, and might not love modeling as much. For this elimination, consistency won out. Eugena was sent home, immediately Caridee was devastated. As she hugged Eugena, she said “I’ll get this for you. I promise”, like she was sent to find the Golden Fleece or Pandora’s Box or something. Melrose tried to show a little compassion and went in for one of the most awkward hugs I have ever seen. It was clear the moment was between Eugena and Caridee, but I guess Melrose didn’t want to seem too cold.
That leaves us with the Battle of the Blondes. One is a natural blonde and the other will have to work on getting the carpet to match the curtains, or just go with a bare floor, which is apparently all the rage these days. Thanks Brit! My friend AP, a brunette who went blonde for many years, said that from day one the winner would be Caridee. But TVgasm intern MB, a natural blonde, says that it was Melrose who had the inside edge.
Before we got to the final runway challenge, it was time for a shoot with Seventeen Magazine. And whenever you mention Seventeen, you have to mention Atoosa Rubenstein, who was still wearing her joker makeup from Halloween. Then I realized they went to Spain sometime during the summer and that joker makeup was actually just her face. Oops! What did Atoosa have to say? She praised Caridee because she was more than just a pretty face, and hey, take it from Atoosa, a pretty face isn’t a bad place to start. As for Melrose, she loved how Melrose had a unique look and was like nothing you see in any other girl. Hmm, maybe that’s because most girls have smaller crow’s feet than Atoosa?
Atoosa, now with 10% less mannish chin!
Leaving the Seventeen shoot, the girls once again sat down with Tyra, this time with life coach Dr. Michelle in tow. Dr. Michelle wanted to know about their biggest changes since coming on the show. This is one of those times where I think Melrose tries to be honest, but just sounds like she is feeding you bullshit. Caridee is just more natural and as she talked about dealing with psoriasis as she was growing up, you really felt where she was coming from. That being said, I think both of these girls really want to model, so I am happy that they two of them were going to be picked for the finalists.
The girls met Jay at Park Güell, a famous garden designed by architect Antoni Gaudi, not to be confused with the famous type designer Frederic Goudy. I guess it shows what kind of geek I am when I think the lines of Berkeley née University of California Old Style before Spanish palaces, but what can I say? I love type. Why do I say this? Well, when the girls met up with Jay, he asked, “Is this not the most gorgeous place you can be?”, and I thought to myself “actually, it’s not even in my top ten”. Gaudi had some skills but give me Machu Picchu or Angkor Wat any day of the week over this place.
I am always excited when it comes to the final runway challenges because it gets down to what I think is the essence of Top Model, which is fierce, fresh, and fabulous. Actually, let’s make that FIERCE, because that is what we want to see. The walk, the attitude, the high-pressure situation. It’s all there for the models to grab and during that rush of adrenaline you really find out who was really meant to be on the runways and behind the camera.
And then I heard what it was going to be.
Hmmm. OK, I guess a wedding dress can be fierce. It’s not like the lingerie show they gave is Naima vs. Kahlen cycle 4, but I could work with it.
And then I heard “ghostly brides”. And then I hear “each walk will get more theatrical”, which is exactly the last thing that I wanted see. Yes, I love it when the final runways are grand and a big spectacle, but this was something other working the runway. It wasn’t about seeing which girls would do the best, but proving to the viewers that the creators of the show are wild and outrageous. It’s something that has plagued the series this year. Too much focus on the theme of the shoot and not enough focus on the models. To make it worse, Dani would be opening the show. Don’t get me wrong, I love Dani and rooted hard for her last year, but the focus should be on the models this year. I’m not sure if this is something new that the switch to Ford models required, but I don’t like it.
Now that I am through with being a Debbie Downer, let’s get on to the show. The girls got into their makeup, and as customary, Tyra gave them a little bit of last minute advice. Dani stepped out, and I stopped wondering about why she was there and started wondering if there was anybody else that was there. They walked through this garden, and we saw the four judges at one end, but I couldn’t even see if the designers came to their own show. I also didn’t see any photographers. WTF?
That being said, the first run was OK, and I could even see some allure to the second “scene”. As the models were passing each other, they were supposed to stare at each other for a moment and then look away. A little over the top, but still within the limits of modeling. The only issue happened when Caridee and Melrose were doing their stare down to each other. It was all very friendly, but when Melrose turned around, Caridee stepped on her gown and tore a big hole in it. It didn’t affect the way Melrose walked, and it’s not like you could see what the color of her garter belt was, but Melrose completely freaked out. She started getting upset that Caridee ripped the dress, and I am thinking why this even concerns her? All the judges are going to see is that Melrose took her wardrobe malfunction in stride, and didn’t let it get to her. Unfortunately, it did get to her, and even though Caridee apologized, Melrose was acting like it’s the end of the world. I know it’s difficult with the adrenaline rush and everything like that, but like Jay said. She has to stop self-analyzing and just WORK IT.
As interesting as all of that was, nothing could prepare me for scene 3. See, our ghostly brides were supposed to get scarier and scarier as the show went on, and the third seen was the climax, where the girls were told to just get crazy down the aisle like they were trying to knock down the Stanford Band. If that wasn’t bad enough, Miss J actually got into a gown and led the first scene. The striking writers must have laughed themselves silly at this scene. Miss J hasn’t been funny all year, and why do I want to have this distraction during the final competition? There has to be some blackmail involved. Miss J must have some topless pictures of Tyra or some shots of Ken Mok making sweet loving to a pint of Haagen Dazs, because there is just nothing to explain it.
The actual modeling in scene 3 was actually not that bad, outside of Caridee that is. Melrose and almost everybody else went a little crazy, and they were told to scream, but they looked like models. Caridee looked like a chicken with its head cut off, especially if chickens with their heads cut off screamed like the lambs that haunt Clarice Starling.
So, it’s now time for the final evaluations, and by this time it looked like an easy slam-dunk for Melrose. The judges praised the way that she showed the dresses, but didn’t try and overcompensate. Reviewing the film, Tyra said she saw lots of photographs that looked like they would be for a model and overall she was graceful and beautiful. Caridee? They said it looked like she wasn’t even breathing when she was walking and her walk was all theatrics. I blame the people who made this stupid challenge a little bit, but it mainly falls on Caridee.
But of course, the judging isn’t just based on the final challenge, they take all of the pictures into account, and so the judges did a little side-by-side comparison of their portfolios. I thought it was kind of strange that they seemed to contradict some of their past statements on a lot of these photos, but to me it looked like an effort to keep it from the obvious Melrose landslide that this competition was going to be.
Taking their entire portfolio, I think it was a slam-dunk for Melrose. Caridee was up and down all season and Melrose was almost consistently at the top. Each girl had some personality issues, but Melrose is exactly what they have always asked the models to be, i.e. smart about fashion and the industry. But there was that Cover Girl shoot. The finalist should be seen as a Cover Girl, and you just can’t say that about Melrose. Meanwhile, Caridee seems a perfect match.
Once again, the judges had their choice of two completely different girls. One naturally blonde and one who needed a little help. Do they go with the girl who knows her fashion and everything she is supposed to do or the girl who is pure and let things come naturally to her? Well, the judges decided to go all-natural, in attitude and hair color. Caridee is America’s Next Top Model!
I think a lot of things are wrong with the way this evaluation went on, but in the end, they made the right decision. If this competition were fair, and about performance, then Melrose would have won. However, modeling and fashion is not just based on performance. There are so many intangibles that go into making a winner and those intangibles belong to Caridee. Sure you may not know what to expect from her, but the ceiling is really high. Given a normal runway show and some focus, Caridee really has the upper hand in this competition. That is not to say that Melrose is not a good model, or doesn’t have a future, but her look didn’t make you think of Cover Girl or Seventeen, and if that is what her future is to be, she couldn’t be named the winner.
Anyway, props to Caridee for being Cycle 7′s Top Model. Will her breakout win mean a flurry of blondes in the coming seasons? Let the Maxim/FHM/Playboy bets begin!
What did you think of this episode? Did Caridee deserve to win? Was Melrose robbed?