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America's Next Top Model recap: Baby's on Fire

Jenah sizzles next to a burning car, and Tyra says goodbye to Ambreal for the second — and last — time

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Jenah
Jim DeYonker

America's Next Top Model

type:
TV Show
Current Status:
Pending
seasons:
16

Talk about predictable! Everything you could’ve expected to happen on tonight’s edition ofAmerica’s Next Top Model did, in fact, occur. Bianca behaved like a she-beast. Chantal displayed the emotional depth of creamed corn. Tyra used a variety of dramatic pauses and smiled with her eyes. And Ambreal got the boot.

Oh, poor, poor Ambreal. If Top Model were a horror film, she would’ve been the one in the dank basement, during a power outage, with a really bad haircut. Okay, so maybe that last part was terrifyingly real. Either way, Ambreal’s cruel fate — Everybody’s going to China…except for you! — couldn’t have seemed more inevitable if Mr. Jay had pulled her away from the burning car in the photo shoot and made her pose with her head on a prop guillotine.

As you’ll recall, two (non-clip-show) episodes back, Ambreal was eliminated by Tyra & Co., only to gain a last-minute reprieve when Ebony — whose existence I had forgotten prior to typing this sentence, and who I’m sure will be forgotten again midway through the next one — dropped out of the competition. From that point forward Ambreal might as well have had the words ”dead-faced model walking” stamped across her forehead. I mean, on a show where the panel is infallible, where its decrees meaneverything, there was no way a girl who’d already been deemed unworthy was going to surge into the final three, let alone win the competition.

It didn’t help that Ambreal consistently underperformed at challenges and photo shoots. I know she got stuck with a grotesque adult-doll dress and a giant lollipop accessory during this week’s fashion show, but in no way did that give her license to skip down the runway like a member of the Lollipop Guild and trumpet her ”bubbly personality” and her ”electricity” in the voice of a precocious child. Even worse, the end-of-episode review of Ambreal’s complete portfolio proved about as modelesque as a random assortment of paparazzi shots of Britney Spears at the gas station.

Of course, even if you didn’t enter tonight’s show feeling Ambreal was doomed, an inexcusable editing error made that a 50-50 proposition coming out of the final commercial break. After evaluations, it was clear that Ambreal, Lisa, and Heather were at risk, but then the pre-deliberation Cover Girl of the Week segment showed a brief flash of Heather working a runway in an Asian-inspired dress — footage that hadn’t been shown at any point this season. So you didn’t exactly have to be Veronica Mars to figure out that Heather was safe.

And yet, while she avoided the bottom two, Heather also, for the first time in weeks, didn’t look like a bet-the-farm lock to make the final three. Yeah, I know that back in my first TV Watch of the season, I noted that Heather’s Asperger’s syndrome would ”seem fascinating to Nigel, Twiggy, and Tyra until it doesn’t,” but then she started taking such great photos, and she was edited so favorably for so long, and she won the hearts of every person in America. Well, okay, more accurately, the plurality of those people in America who go to the CW website and vote for Cover Girl of the Week. But still, how could anyone or anything keep Heather out of the finals?

Well, maybe those moments where she’s required to dabble in public speaking. Indeed, I am 50 percent less excited about the idea of a ”My Life as a Cover Girl” campaign starring Heather after hearing her explain how she inspired her designer for the runway challenge. Her mouth agape, and her words coming out in short, nonsensical bursts, Heather came across as stiff and totally insecure in front of an audience that included execs from Elite Model Management and Seventeen magazine. That said, I found myself won over again by Heather’s description of the runway-challenge dress as a ”pale blue monstrosity,” as well as her spacey-crazy confession of why she couldn’t properly explain the thought process behind her designer’s ocean-theme gown: ”I’m not the ocean. In fact, I’m not even a water sign. I’m a fire sign!”

Here’s hoping Heather proves to be an astrological sign that’s momentarily slipping (before triumphantly regaining its footing), rather than one about to crash and burn in a hurry. Her photo this week, while a tad hunchback-y, certainly didn’t negate all her previous good work. Plus, in Heather’s defense, Mr. Jay demanded on set that she look ”lost in the desert” and yet later complained that ”Heather looked very lost.”

Lisa, meanwhile, wound up in the bottom two this week, and although I know there’s not a whole lot at stake on this show (other than maybe a future gig on a VH1 reality series, if a gal gets lucky), my heart broke a little when her tears started streaming as she stood before Tyra. Granted, Lisa has been my favorite all season (a product of Jersey City pride, perhaps), but I suddenly have a nagging feeling she’ll wind up no better than fourth (or maybe third) this cycle. True, when guest judge Neal Hamil of Elite Model Management opined that Lisa wasn’t ”quite fresh enough,” Tyra winningly demanded to know ”why is the modeling industry obsessed with big girls looking like children?” Yet at the same time, I wouldn’t be surprised if the model exec’s damning critique sinks into Tyra’s brain, so that in two weeks, she can use the ”too old” card to boot Lisa, just as she did in previous seasons with Melrose, Jade, and Renee.

NEXT: Brain dead

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