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Ahhhh, America’s Next Top Model. Is there any better hump day respite than seeing a bunch of modeling wannabes compete for a Cover Girl contract and Tyra Banks’ affection? Over the last few episodes, we got rid of perhaps the prettiest girl in the whole competition (Kyle), fake eliminated two girls only to let them continue on to London (Nicole and Jayla), and most recently, sent the girl who was taking the most consistently fierce photos (Lisa) back to Los Angeles, where she was last seen dealing with the pain by soaking in a bubble bath, talking to her potted fern, and finishing off a case of Two Buck Chuck. Once again, there are complaints that this group of models aren’t really model material, but I once gain remind everybody that part of the reason for this show is great TV. Anybody who has actual talent that made it as a finalist will have enough publicity to get a good head start on a career, and so while we may not remember any of the remaining girls because they will grace the cover of Vogue in a few years, at least they are giving us plenty of drama every Wednesday. Some people may have wondered if Lisa’s departure would jeopardize the amount of conflict in the house, but after one week without her, we can say that is definitely not the case.As much as people didn’t like Lisa, everybody was shocked that she was going home. During their confessionals, they all said how surprised they were at her elimination because they thought she would be in the final three. Even Kim didn’t have a bad thing to say about her, but I am guessing that is because their new confessional room is not soundproof, and consists of a couch in some unidentified hotel suite. I guess she didn’t want to start talking about people, lest they make a big situation out of the entire thing. Then again, Kim really thought that she and Bre were back to being friends. The two of them were discussing how amazing it would be if both of them were in the final three together. Personally my final three would be Nik, Bre, and Jayla. Nicole is just more and more spoiled every week, and Kim is starting to remind me of the mascot for Bob’s Big Boy with that face of hers.
What I was wondering, however, was if Kim and Bre had really decided to let things go. Kim was seeing things like the fight in the limo was “blown out of proportion” and that they’ve “put their problems aside” and they “care about each other and want to help each other out”. I am sure that is how everything goes in Kim’s fantasy world, but in the real world, I don’t think that was the case. Bre sees she is getting closer to the finish line and desperately wants to win. She has tried to be everybody’s friend during their time in Los Angeles, but she was not afraid of making enemies now that they were in London.
The first Tyra mail told the girls to think about their pecking order, and the next day they were greeted outside their hotel and were given a tour of London to look at the sculptures. Their host was discussing about the importance of being able to hold a pose, especially in the world of painting and sculpting, because the ability to hold a pose could mean the difference a great piece of art and a piece of crap. For example, before Michelangelo sculpted David, he wasted a year and a half sculpting Fred, who wouldn’t stop scratching his ass. I have no story to explain David’s shrinkage, however.
With all of the talk about statues, you knew that there was going to a challenge featuring holding a pose, and that was exactly the case. They met Miss J, and learned that they were going to going to be tested on holding a pose. Since they were all posing like statues, their makeup and wardrobe were done in such a way that they looked like they belonged on pillars outside the Temple of Hecate. In other words, they were wearing togas and their bodies were covered in white. The girl who won would win a shopping spree and pick two girls to go with her.
The Tyra mail talked about the pecking order, and just before the girls were going to get started, they showed us some footage of pigeons. I laughed to myself thinking how funny it would be if the pigeons started making themselves at home on the girls as they posed, but put the thought out of my mind. But about ten seconds into this segment, sure enough, pigeons start landing, and it looks like that was exactly what the producers had in mind. To do well in this challenge, you had to be able to focus and block out all of your distractions to hold your pose. There is only so much distraction Miss J. can do wagging her ass around in the background. I am not sure if the birds were just used to landing on immobile objects or there was feed in the plates the girls had to hold up, but something was attracting the birds, and for a moment I thought I was on the set of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. Hmm, what was it? Suspicion? Notorious? Rear Window? Oh, yes! The Birds!
OK, you got me. The scene was less like The Birds and more like that scene from Home Alone 2 where the crazy bird lady throws the feed on Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern, preventing them from shooting MacAulay Culkin with that gun covered in molasses. These pigeons weren’t trying to stop a potential homicide, but they were aggressive enough that they really bothered a few of the girls including Bre who called them flying rats, because they would eat anything, and were probably going to eat her. I don’t think Bre got it the worst though, at least there weren’t two pigeons humping on top of her head like Kim. And she surely wasn’t the one who was complaining the most; that honor goes to Nicole.
I think it is safe to say that Nicole is very spoiled, and acts like a spoiled brat in almost every social situation. She also tends to throw things out of proportion. For instance, she said that the reason she was scared of the pigeons was that she didn’t like huge birds. I’m not an ornithologist, but as birds go, pigeons are not that huge, are they? What sort of trauma happened to Nicole to make her hate this birds so much? Did her boyfriend break up with her after Winged Migration? Does her adopted puffin not love her back? Did she have some bad nachos during March of the Penguins? There has to be some deep dark secret we don’t know about. What’s next on her list of fears? Bunnies?
Nicole’s reaction infuriated Bre, who called the voice very sharp and alarming, preferring that Nicole keep her shouts very dull and reassuring. I don’t know when Bre turned from sort of listening on the sideline and judging people with acerbic stares to actually letting all of this craziness get to her, and maybe it had just been building up for a long time, but Bre seemed like she wanted go all Fenster and McManus on Nicole. I, for one, was hoping that it would all blow up into a nice bit of drama down the line.
As for the challenge, Nik won and she of course decided to bring along Bre, and in a surprise, she picked Jayla for the other person to go with her. I say this is a surprise because Jayla was the one who stole Nik’s secret so many weeks ago and promised that something big would go down if the two of them had to live together for much longer. Even if Jayla is not the best of friends with Nik, she did a good job not saying anything about the situation, and I am sure that the $2,500 shopping spree she received had NOTHING to do with it.
After the challenge, the girls went home, and Bre was feeling a little sick. I was also feeling something looking at Nik’s backside; I wouldn’t call it sick, as much as stiff. There is a song by Black Star called Brown Skin Lady, and dear God; I think it was written for Nik. I won’t bore you with the whole song, but I would like to quote it and say, “Damn she’s fine, I would like to add the R-E in front of that and see if she’d like to get with a cat like me”. Mos Def and Talib, just pure genius.
Anyway, Bre was feeling sick and she didn’t like how Nicole was so very loud and inconsiderate. Bre was trying to get some rest and Nicole was jumping up and down on her bed in the other room. Why was Nicole so excited? Well, she really loved her hotel suite because they finally got out of that “hell house” they were living in before. Is there anybody else who wishes they could have lived in that hell house, even if it wasn’t filled with a bunch of potential models that were walking around in their underwear all the time? I mean, the hotel suite was nice and it had maid service, but their house in the hills was, as we used to say, the bomb diggidy. Whatever was bothering her about the old house, Nicole wasn’t going to let Bre’s Debbie Downer attitude keep her from being fun and happy.
The ladies received their Tyra mail for their photo shoot and were asked if they ever felt like they were being framed. By this time, they are all tired of trying to think about what the double meaning is, and they all decide to go to bed. Before Bre retires to the confines of her bed, she decides that she is going to have a little snack. Well, I assume she wanted a snack, but whatever happened, she saw that somebody had opened her box of cereal bars and taken one. Normally, you wouldn’t think that a missing cereal bar would be that big of a deal, but Bre was convinced that Nicole did it, and that she did it on purpose because she knew it would upset Bre. And she did it without asking.
There were many ways that Bre could have handled all of this, but instead of asking Nicole, or ignoring her, she decided that she needed to retaliate. Who cares if it could have been any other girl in the suite (including possibly her roommate Nik?), all of the evidence was pointing to Nicole. Nicole was loud, inconsiderate, complained all the time, and was scared of birds. Bre just had to come up with the perfect thing to get back at Nicole. A ha! You should take something of hers Bre, and then laugh when she doesn’t know who it is. The perfect crime!
Bre managed to sneak in to the bunker where Nicole hid her items, and removed the one thing she knew Nicole couldn’t live without – Red Bull. Everything was going according to plan until Kim heard something going on and wanted to ask Bre what the hell was going on. Bre had the idea that if she laughed loudly and homicidally, Kim would just go back to sleep and let the exorcists worry about Bre when they got back home. But Kim really wanted more information and while Bre was trying to convince her not to worry about it, they fell over and although I was pretty sure they weren’t going to make out, they had some sort of Sappho-Roman wrestling going on. Bre then said Kim shouldn’t ask any questions and sort of forget it ever happened.
Even the most ardent Bre fans, and I would consider myself among them, would have to admit that she was going a little crazy at this point, somewhere between Tom Cruise on Oprah and Lisa in a diaper. The next day, as she, Nik, and Jayla got to get up early, and it seemed to calm her down a little bit. When they got to Harrods, Nik got her own gay personal shopper and $10,000, while Bre[not Nik, thanks Lauren] and Jayla were left with $2,500 a piece and had to fend for themselves with only straight women by their side. It was all a great experience, and Bre said that it made her feel like she was in a different place for once, or as we all like to call it LONDON.
While the other girls were shopping, Nicole and Kim were discussing what the hell happened. The producers didn’t show us who took Bre’s cereal bar, or didn’t have footage of it, and by the way Nicole was talking, she had no clue what was going on. She stated that she didn’t have the energy to deal with these people anymore, which is probably why she got the Red Bull in the first place.
At this moment, I was laughing maniacally in anticipation of what was to come. Lisa and Coryn was good, Bre and Kim was decent, and I had a feeling that Bre and Nicole would be something that none of us could miss. The shopping spree girls met Kim and Nicole on the set of their next photo shoot, where they learned that a special guest was going to introduce another special guest. While the Katamari Damacy music crescendoed in the background, Twiggy came in and introduced Barry Lategan, the photographer that made her famous. Barry is a legend among photographers, especially in the UK. In fact they should probably make a movie about him before Richard Attenborough dies and they don’t have anybody to play Barry.
I am not sure what is it about these British photographers that makes me laugh so much, perhaps it was the hat. The girls learned that they would Barry would be taking pictures of them while they did modern interpretations of classic art. Kim was going to Botticelli’s birth of Venus, Nicole would do Johannes Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring, Jayla would do James Whistler’s Mother, Nik would do Da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man and Bre would do Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. As photo themes go, I thought it was very original, and was interested to see how the interpretations would turn out, but let’s be honest, we had more important things to consider, like who was going to replace Nicole’s energy drinks.
As much as I like to make fun of Nicole for being immature, I will admit that she handled the whole Red Bull thing very well. It pissed her off, but if Bre was going to be like that, she was going to let her drive herself crazy. Kim, on the other hand, thought that it was like the greatest injustice since NBC cancelled 227, depriving the world it’s weekly dose of Marla Gibbs. Nicole asked her to stay out of it, but Kim decided that wasn’t good enough. She confronted Bre about the whole thing, and told her that she should replace Nicole’s Red Bulls. Bre was trying to ignore her, because she really wanted Nicole to get mad at her, and was wondering why Kim was trying to mediate and play both sides of the fence. Eventually, she simply asked Kim not to talk to her and walked away.
Kim wouldn’t take no for an answer, and started talking about it to everybody who would listen, but nobody else seemed interested in butting their heads into this affair, probably because it was among the pettiest of dramas ever. Eventually, Kim found somebody who would listen to her and it was Jay Manuel, who gave the perfect advice, comparing the whole situation like the movie Showgirls. Actually, his advice was kind of stupid, but he managed to work kerfuffle into a sentence, and that deserves some recognition. All of this drama was great, but I think the producers were a little upset because it threw off their product placement plans. They never meant for Red Bull to ever appear or be spoken, and it took away from the product they were trying to plug, which was an Olay lotion. Ever chance they could they had somebody mentioning how it smelled good or lasted all day without reapplication. They must have been paid a lot because little lotion bottles appeared in the corners of the pictures as well.
As for the photos, Barry Lategan was very calm on the set and gave great direction. He didn’t get upset, and his soothing demeanor seemed to bring out the best in a lot of the girls. All of the girls seemed to be taking direction quite well, and it was easy to see that it was going to be a very difficult decision for the judges. Here are this week’s pictures. I had some people e-mail to say they wanted bigger pictures. I keep them small to save space in the recap, but you can click on them to get larger versions:
At panel, the girls were given one more chance to demonstrate what they learned. The judges asked them to demonstrate a stoic pose, and hold it for a minute. During this time, the judges would do everything they could in their power distract them, whether it be Miss J. getting a little freaky in front of them or Tyra on the table backing her ass up for Barry to get a piece. This could have been funnier, but nobody up there was that outrageous. Funny hats, fake hair, and false teeth were not going to do much, especially after the pigeons just a few days before.
The girls then came in for their evaluations. This week, I was most impressed with Nik. Obviously, I think she is gorgeous, but that is not the only reason. The Vitruvian Man is supposed to be the model of the ideal male figure in terms of proportions, and I was wondering how Nik would be able to pull it off. Nik didn’t take the picture naked, which was a disappointment, but Barry said it was remarkable how well she held her pose and how symmetrical it all turned out. The judges loved it because it was the first time they saw her face straight on, and not in profile, which was, of course, the purpose for picking her for that shot.
When say that Nik was first, it was very close, because I thought that Nicole, and Jayla were also very impressive. Girl with the Pearl Earring seemed like it was made for Nicole. Her immaturity bugs me, but I can’t really say that I don’t understand her allure. The judges always rave about her eyes, and with her hair pulled back like it was in the picture, they stood out even more.
Whistler’s Mother is as old and dowdy as can be, but again, Jayla pulled it off very well. I think it might have been the easiest of all the poses because the painting as it was didn’t represent any sort of classic beauty in the same sense as some of the others. Even though they praised her for her work, they were kind of concerned about what Jay Manuel had to say about the shoot. Before the pictures were being taken, Jay was telling the girls that if they weren’t familiar with the art they were depicting, they should take a look, and practice their pose. Jayla wasn’t concerned with how her picture was going to turn out, and when Jay suggested that she get in a chair and practice, she laughed and said she didn’t need any. I understand that Jay is there to help the girls, but if they don’t take his advice, there is no need to be pissy about it. It is one thing to be arguing with the photographer or get in a fight about hair, makeup, or wardrobe, but if the girls don’t follow Jay’s advice to practice, I don’t think it is any of his business. Sure it may bruise his ego, but if his advice is so precious that it can’t be missed, it will show up in the picture, and he can enjoy watching them be eliminated for their arrogance. You know, you can lead a model to a studio, but you can’t make her practice sort of thing.
Jayla was not the only one Jay narced on; he told the judges everything about Bre and her problems on the set as well. The judges were blown away with how well Bre seemed to take the Mona Lisa, which was a symbol beauty for generations, and made it into her own. I’ll admit that at first I didn’t see how they pictured Bre as Mona Lisa, but after the picture was taken, the results were more clear, but I still think Nik, Jayla, and Nicole had better shots. Once again, the judges weren’t so concerned with her photos as much as what was going on in the periphery. Bre admitted that she took Jayla’s things, and I think once she heard the words coming out of her mouth, she realized how dumb the whole ordeal was. Tyra of course had a story about the whole thing, saying that it reminded her of this time when she was first modeling, another girl accused Tyra of stealing her alarm clock with no evidence.
I know people say that I am biased about Kim, but I can honestly say that I thought her picture was the worst this week. Twiggy seems to like her because Kim reminds her of herself at that age, young and edgy, and possessing something that maybe the rest of the world isn’t ready for. Perhaps that is the case, but Kim’s edge wasn’t what was holding her back this time. The Birth of Venus is another classic painting, representing Aphrodite, the epitome of all things feminine in the ancient world. You could see what the judges were going for, and in terms of poses, I thought it was nearly as difficult as the one that Nik had to do. There is no way to tell if Kim was distracted by what was happening on the set, but she seemed to revert back to her old insecurities of how she can make her body look more feminine, and looked as if she had lost all of the confidence she had built up in the last few weeks were she had begun to have faith in her look. Perhaps it wasn’t her fault, because Barry admitted that he wanted her to have that dreamy sort of look on her face and the way he tried to get her to feel feminine was to think about her mother or her boyfriend, and obviously the latter was not going to help her at all.
While the judges deliberated, the girls waited in their holding room backstage. There were several times as they were getting their picture critiqued that it looked like Bre was going to break down. At one point, Kim was talking about how much she liked the necklace she wore in the shoot and decided to buy them. Tyra said that usually models just steal stuff, and while it may have been a slight dig at Bre, she just couldn’t let it go. Maybe it was guilt about doing what she did, or maybe she upset because she was singled out and she thought the judges would eliminate her for it.
There was more arguing back stage between Bre and Kim. Bre said that she was 96% sure that she was going home, and if she left, she just wanted to Kim to know that she thought that Kim was a bad person. Bre probably saw much of this coming, but she wasn’t prepared to have her professionalism challenged. To make matters worse, Jayla and Nik were staying out of the argument, leaving nobody to back her up while Nicole was very vocal in her support for Kim.
The top three were Nik, Jayla, and Nicole, and I believe well deserved. With Lisa gone, Nik is the one who screams high fashion, and while she never demands presence when in the room, her looks give her a natural presence I think is just unmatched by any of the others right now. Looking at the close-up of her picture this week, I got a strong Angelina Jolie vibe, although there is no word on what Nik thinks about little Asian boys with mowhawks. Jayla has had the worst pictures the past two weeks, but the judges liked the way she took direction, so they kept her, but told her she has to be nice to everybody. Nicole still has an attitude problem, but everything seems to come to her so effortlessly right now, although there was some concern that she wouldn’t work out as a spokesperson.
That left Kim and Bre in the bottom two. As Tyra asked them both to step forward, I was waiting for a real scathing lecture, but it really didn’t happen. I was thinking that perhaps Bre was going to go home because of the way she acted, but if they never said a word to Lisa for pissing in a diaper, it would be kind of strange to eliminate Bre based solely on her personality or lack of professionalism this week. Bre and Kim were two of the girls who were working near the bottom at the beginning of the competition, but had also been praised for how much they have improved since that time. In the end, the judges decided that Bre should stay, perhaps because she was able to maintain that high level of performance this week while Kim dropped off, even if it was just a little bit.
I think it is a testament to everybody who’s left how difficult this week’s elimination was. Even though there have been gay reality contestants for a long time, Kim’s tenure on top model “broke the seal”, so to speak, for lesbians on ANTM. She was able to go on, say she was gay, challenge our stereotypes on femininity, challenge her stereotypes on femininity, and for a time she was able to find how all of that could translate into a career as a model. Perhaps I am putting too much thought into it, and I am surely not the proper person to say what this means to breaking down barriers for lesbians, but no matter what I thought of her pudgy face, it’s hard to go on national television and become a spokesperson for something when you don’t really know anybody that you can look up to yourself.
As for the girls remaining, I would have to give the handicap to Nicole. I was reminded of something Nigel said about Naima, which was that she was the girl that every girl wants to be. That’s what made her a Cover Girl, and that’s what made her America’s Next Top Model. If I were to judge everybody that’s left on those criteria, I would have to say that Nicole comes on top. Unless she completely alienates one of the photographers or the judges with her attitude, I think this competition is hers to lose, although I still personally prefer any of the other three. It’s hard for me to say that Nik won’t win, but I just think she is more high fashion at this point, and she hasn’t shown that she can step up and be a spokesperson. It’s too early to say if Bre will be affected from all that happened this week, but she has been able to shut out everything and focus on the prize so far, so I don’t see that changing. I think Jayla has the least chance because she has been inconsistent of late, and the judges are still looking for more effort.
What did you think? Did Kim deserve to stay? Why is Bre becoming so mean?