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'America's Next Top Model' recap: The Italian Job

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Aaaah! Screaming!!! Top Model is back, you guys! It’s true, y’all. Tyra, the Jays, André, and Nigel are all back for cycle 15, where the emphasis is on high fashion. Every time someone says “high fashion,” drink (a sip of Diet Coke, or something similarly non-caloric and caffeinated). Who are the lucky would-be models this cycle? Let’s get to it.

We opened with a montage of Tyra’s biography, and while I don’t think she’s a very good talk-show host, and her “online magazine” leaves a lot to be desired, the woman sure can model! Anyway, this season is all about the major new prize: Instead of the cover of Seventeen, the winner gets a spread in Vogue Italia. Yowza.

Time to get on the bus. What? Sisters Chris and Terra are four years apart but looked and sounded a lot alike; Anamaria had intense red shoes, and Kayla had bouncy mermaid hair. Vanessa told us that she’s a former Miss Minnesota Teen USA, but I could barely hear her over the intense bitch vibes she was giving off. Do not want. Emily raved that her hometown didn’t have “this many diversities.” Foreshadowing!

On the bus, people were sort of chitchatting, while Kacey rapped. Oy. Ann, who, it must be noted, has a man voice, said that she was the quiet girl in high school and that people are always teasing her for being extremely thin. (She’s…extremely thin.)

Jordan, sporting a platinum blonde bowl cut and a facial piercing that’s not doing anyone any favors told another contestant that she’s against “consumerism and materialism,” and she bragged about what she liked to do at bars. Jordan is 18. Even if you can get into bars, don’t go to bars when you’re 18! You have your whole adult life to sit in bars. Go to a prom or something! Also, good luck being the model who’s against consumerism and materialism. Lexie, who is a destitute man’s Ashley Tisdale, complained that Jordan was “disingenuous.” Yep!

Later, Kacey and Lexie started talking about who’s “fake,” which is when I started to hate Lexie. I know she’s only 18, so I’ll try to cut her some slack, but on the off chance that there are teens reading this recap, I’ll simply offer this: In the real actual world, no one gives a fart about anyone else’s “fakeness” or “realness.” This is a teenager fight if ever there were.

Tyra time! She looked gorgeous, even if her cleavage sort of looked like it was trying to stage an escape. She rattled off the prizes, the girls ooh and aahed, and then it was time for a very rushed runway walk where the girls were divided by “type”: Quirky, Sexy, Strong Bone Structure, Blondes, and Brunettes. Sure, okay. We only got to see each group for a hot second, but what little we saw was not encouraging.

After the too-short runway walkoff, it was time for Kacey to instigate some drama. Oh, lord. She decided to take a poll of all the girls, asking how they would feel if “someone” was fake. Dude, not cool. She threw her roommate Lexie under the bus, too, which would be uncool except Lexie’s the worst, so, whatever. Enjoy that bus going over you, Faux Tisdale. Then Vanessa, who admitted that some people have called her a “rich bitch,” decided to get in the melee. Why, Vanessa? Here was your opportunity not to be a biatch, and to mind your own biatchness, but no.

Then it was FINALLY time for the girls to have their one-on-one be-a-weirdo sessions with Tyra and the Jays. First was Kayla, who literally could not figure out where the doors were. The judges made her wet down her poufy curls, and then she gave them her sob story about growing up poor.

Next was Kayce, who’s gorgeous but also transphobic, as she demonstrated back in Cycle 11 (which she didn’t wind up making). Not cool, Kayce!

Rhianna was wearing her Slutty Stevie Nicks Halloween costume, but even that monstrosity couldn’t obscure the fact that she’s gorgeous, even if she likes to pose like plants. Also, congrats to Rhianna for having this season’s first blurred out cooch shot! Way to go, Rhianna. Someone in the cooch-blurring department at the CW just kept his or her job for another week.

Esther was sporting some serious leggings, but Tyra was more interested in grilling her about being an observant Jew (she keeps the Sabbath, but says she’d break it for modeling) and also the fact that she has ginormous breasts. Yes, Esther said she’s a 30G, and while most people are probably struck by that being a really big size, I’m more impressed that it’s a really obscure size. Way to wear what fits you, Esther! I’m being totally serious: How many times does Oprah have to tell us to go get a fo-reals fitting before you will listen, America? Anyway, props.

Chelsey used to model, but she stopped after they told her she was too fat. Which is craziness, because, duh, she is not fat at all.

Whee, time for more dramz. One of the contestants read Emily’s diary, where apparently she’d written that she didn’t want to room with “a black girl… ew.” Yikes, Emily. The other contestants righteously called her out, and while she explained herself at the panel to the point where Tyra said that Emily “learned a lesson,” it’s hard to know what that lesson is. Other than “try not to be so racist, Emily.” Oh, and uh, don’t let other people read your diary.

Liz was over-accessorized, so the judges told her to come back in just the swimsuit (though she kept the facial piercing in). And when she did, her sixpack left me weeping into my shame journal. She told the panel that she’s a single mom, working two jobs and going to college. “I’ve been through some hell, but I’m trying to get to heaven,” she said. Apparently heaven is attainable through a core workout.

Then there was Jane, a Princeton student whose parents built her a barn and bought her a horse. “She’s just so priiiiiivedlegd,” Ms. Jay moaned. I think the more pressing issue was that she wore a romper, but we all have our things I guess. Sara did a terrible rap — terrible, terrible, terrible — and talked about her son. I couldn’t hear anything, though, because the rap rendered me totally deaf for 30 seconds, in my body’s attempt to protect itself from horrors. It’s like a flight or fight response, but for reality shows.

Next was Kendal, who could really use a good eyebrow waxing. Tyra asked why she’s “pure,” and I was horrified when I realized Tyra meant that Kendal is not sexually active. Uh, can we please retire the “pure”/”virgin” binary, Tyra? Guess what, sex isn’t dirty. And people who have sex aren’t dirty or bad! Kendal’s 23 years old — and she’s entitled to whatever kind of sex life she likes without being shamed for it. Aaagh, for all the time Tyra spends talking about the girls watching this show at home, she sure has a skewed idea of the kinds of things they need. Here’s a hint: They definitely don’t need anyone else reminding them of their “purity.” Anyway, Kendal said she’s not sexually active because she doesn’t “like semen.” “I don’t like semen on my hand,” she said, as Ms. Jay made a hilarious “tmi” face. “So you’ve seen it?” Tyra marveled. “Yes, I’ve seen it before,” Kendal replied. Okay, then. P.S., Kendal’s insanely gorgeous.

Anamaria just kinda seemed like everyone else, even as she gushed about IMG models.

Behold Ann. Of the tiniest waist fame! “I think her awkward is so right,” Tyra beamed, and while I wanted to agree with her, the emphasis here is definitely on awkward. Here’s hoping she can channel it, Shandi style.

Terra and Chris had to go together, which is lame, but they both made good impressions, even if the judges disagreed on who had more potential.

Jordan, taking a break from sticking it to the man, said that the other girls were “tolerable,” and then writhed around in a non-consumerist bikini, as she totally totally avoided materialism. Somewhere a freshman dorm lounge is missing its philosophy student!

Ugh, Lexie left home at 14. And yet she seems so immature.

Next was Vanessa, who said the other girls talk crap about her because she’s “one of the prettiest.” My notes here say “biiiiiiiiiiiiitch.” As much as I disliked her, she had the cutest bathing suit of everyone. Which is not saying much. Those were some seriously fugs two-pieces. Ladies, a bandeau top is not supposed to just smoosh your breasts to your sternum and cover your nipples — it’s okay to go up to a medium on top if you need it!

The contestants were then either “invited” to a party or “excused” from the competition, and pretty much everyone I was rooting for made it through. Farewell, Vanessa the pageant queen and Emily the didn’t-mean-to-be-so-racist! The remaining 20 were then paired up with the person they were most like for an impromptu photoshoot. We didn’t really get to see the pictures, but we got to see painfully bad sideline shots, and everyone looked: miserable, confused, overly pouty, too squinty, and intensely unhappy.

Tyra and the Jays sat down to nail down the list of finalists, and the consensus was pretty much that everyone could use a little bit of training. Ann was deemed “a little lost,” but the best comment of the night was definitely Ms. Jay on Jordan: “She. Looks. Crazy.” Bahahahaha. Ten points to Hufflepuff, Ms. Jay!

I was trying to concentrate on what the panel was saying about each woman, but mostly… I was obsessing over how great Tyra’s hair looked in this segment. That shoulder-grazing bob is a total dream. I could do without lipstick that matches the dress exactly, but that’s more of a quibble. After a season of jumpsuits, this is like mana from stylist heaven.

Finally, it was time to announce the 14 modeltestants for the season:

Anamaria

Kendal

Rhianna

Chris

Jane

Chelsey

Liz

Sara

Lexie

Esther

Kacey

Kayla

Ann

aaaaand Terra, who totally flipped out when Tyra finally called her name. [Related: Check out our gallery rating the 14 finalists — with odds! — based on our first impressions!]

Jordan cried a little about not making the cut, and I cried a little because I was so looking forward to ragging on her all season. Now I have but one villain! And I can’t imagine Lexie staying in this season very long… can you?

What do you think? Do you wish there were a plus-sized contestant? How about some crazier backstories? Who are your early favorites? And WHO will be eliminated next week?