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America's Next Top Model season finale recap: Bouncy Beats Barbie

Could the winner be more happy and thrilled and perky? No, because it’s Saleisha!

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America's Next Top Model

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Chantal vs. Saleisha? Really? After 12 weeks of drama, intrigue, and bad weaves, we end the ninth cycle of America’s Next Top Model withChantal vs. Saleisha? Not that I was on the edge of my seat going into the finale — how can you be after the loss of such dynamic models as Lisa and Heather? — but I was crossing my fingers for at least a Tootie vs. Fraggle face off. (Speaking of disappointment, your regular Top Model TV Watcher, Michael Slezak, could not be with us tonight, so you’ll have to bear with my take on this season’s finale.)

Alas, after weeks of buildup to this result, losing some quality models in the process (ahem — again, Lisa and Heather!), we learned last night that America’s. Next. Top. Model. Is…Saleisha. Honestly — to channel our old Friend Chandler Bing — could the final verdict have been any more obvious? Just about anyone could have predicted Saleisha’s victory after Jenah was unceremoniously sent home for essentially not having enough caffeine, as far as I’m concerned. But then Chantal pretty much sealed her fate as runner-up as soon as her dress’ train took down the stilt-walking extra in an embarrassing — albeit unintentionally hilarious — runway moment (more on that later).

Though I’m certainly not sad to wave goodbye to Jaslene’s hardly bearable and barely audible ”My Life as a Cover Girl” spots, I can’t say I’m excited to see Saleisha’s sugar-fueled take on the segments. But I suppose I’ll grin and bear it. After all, I’m kind of looking forward to the day we discover Saleisha’s innards are actually made of stuffed puppies and lollipops after she explodes from cheer overload upon her 849,583th cry of ”I’m a Cover Girl! I’m a Cover Girl! Yayyyy!” While we’re on the subject of commercials, let’s rewind a bit to the beginning of the episode, when our three remaining girls — sans last week’s casualty of fashion, Bianca — had the ever-so-daunting task of memorizing a handful of lines about something called Wetslicks Fruit Spritzers for a CoverGirl ad. And surprise, surprise, our girls had a bit of a struggle with memorization, leading Saleisha to even break down on set. (Need we remind these girls that cycle 3’s models had to do commercials in freakin’ Japanese?) But after they pulled themselves together, Saleisha delivered an ever-so-cute take, Chantal made sure to add plenty of those nose crinkles, and Jenah once again managed to parlay her ”insecurities” into supposed sarcasm.

Seems the poor girl can’t catch a break when it comes to her personality, which was called into question once again as soon as the girls approached the panel after their CoverGirl shoot. Not only were Tyra & Co. critical of Jenah’s commercial, saying she seemed to be making fun of the concept, but Saleisha and Chantal made sure to call her out for her attitude problem when Tyra asked them which model they felt had the least potential. And though Jenah’s laid-back persona may be a little atypical for a cover girl, I have to agree 100 percent with her assessment that models don’t have to ”spew rainbows” for girls to consider them role models. But Tyra apparently did not agree — Tyra must have her rainbows! — and sent Jenah packing, even though the panel thought Chantal’s commercial showed worse technique (translation: ”We need more nose crinkles!”). But on the bright side, at least Jenah can leave knowing that Dr. Tyra helped her discover that she’s not a mean person, just an incredibly insecure one with mommy issues. Thank God for Tyra.

And now on to the runway. Oh God, the runway. I love how Top Model isn’t even trying to make its final runway shows look the least bit high-fashion or professional anymore. I mean, it was bad enough in previous cycles that we had to see these poor girls ”stomp to the death,” as Tyra puts it, while imitating ghost brides or female evolution, but our final two didn’t even get an audience this time around. Unless, of course, you count our panel, which was introduced with more fanfare than Wen Jiabao himself. Maybe this time Tyra & Co. had to actually pay people to show up to watch the ridiculousness that is the final runway show and so hired 500 costumed extras to act as distractions for the models. And doggone it, for the first time in Top Model history, a contestant was actually thrown off by one of the small hurdles thrown into the final competition.

NEXT: Stilted model