‘America’s Next Top Model’ recap: Signature style
“J’adore how she is making a pee pee.”
I can’t believe I get paid to write about a show on which that line is spoken. Someone pinch me….
With eight girls left in the competition, it was time for the Tyra-hosted posing challenge. Unlike last cycle’s “think pain, but beauty” theme, which had the girls learning fallback poses like The Headache and The Menstrual Pain, this season’s contestants were encouraged to work on their signature poses. I’m always caught off guard when Top Model does something this practical…and decent. As Analeigh noted, young models would kill to have Tyra Banks coach them through 20 frames, pointing out exactly what makes them special. Of course, some of those girls might want to murder Tyra when she comes back with hard-to-translate labels like “rebel ice skater” (Analeigh), “surfer chick” (Lauren Brie), and “top model of the world” (Elina). What. The. Hell? I guess Analeigh is supposed to use her flexibility to make ugly-pretty poses, Lauren Brie is supposed to crouch like she’s trying to keep her balance, and Elina is supposed to stand with her legs wide enough apart that the earth could fit between them.
Some of Tyra’s schooling did make sense: McKey’s signature pose was named “the Boxer,” which means she tilts her head to one side, as if she’s been punched, to emphasize the curve of her long neck. Marjorie dubbed herself “the Hunchback of Notre Dame” and won the challenge after she toned down her hunch per Tyra’s advice. (“Now you’re a Hunchback of Notre Dame that’s modeling!”) Joslyn realized she needed to work her profile, while Sheena realized her gift was “cultural dance,” otherwise known as moving her body in a fluid way that is “not hoochie.” The girl that really bothered me — besides Lauren Brie, who really was a hot vacant mess — was Sam. Tyra’s said before that she uses her hands in a special way, but is it a pretty way?
This week’s photo shoot took the girls to the Orpheum Theatre to enact common scenarios from an awards show, in this case, Tyra’s Fiercees. As Sheena said, it was “off the hizzle.” (Have you noticed that Sheena now provides 85 percent of the commentary during episodes?) Marjorie’s winning shoot, “using a restroom in a gown,” was so fun to watch that I rewound it. Twice. She is my pick to win Cycle 11 — and not just because she managed to flush the toilet with her heel and look like she has breasts. (I was almost as impressed with her gown’s padding as Sheena.) Marjorie’s the total package — broken-doll body contortions, stunning and emotive facial expressions, and a brain that’s always working but doesn’t look like it is.
Elina’s control issues were the main story line this week. Naturally, the girl whose Russian mother wouldn’t let her show emotion (or have friends, apparently) was given the assignment of “over emotional winner.” Her shoot was more like a half-assed therapy session with Mr. Jay. Elina broke down, but not enough for Tyra, who was disappointed that she hadn’t gone Halle-Berry-winning-her-Oscar big. I don’t know how you go that big and not have it look like a caricature.
NEXT: Award winning
I still think Samantha could go far in the competition, but the girl needs to (a) return that faux accent to Madonna, and (b) learn to embody a character. Her “can’t-read-cue-cards”-because-the-lights-are-blinding-me shot was, as the judges said, beautiful because she’s a pretty girl standing in a spotlight. But she needs to bring something more.
McKey is still a contender following her angry portrayal of a woman who “believes she’s going to win, but loses.” Tyra said she wanted to see the struggle on McKey’s face — she’s pissed but she knows she has to keep it together for the camera. I, frankly, would’ve liked to have seen one Faith Hill shot. Can McKey pull off something fun in a photo?
Analeigh rocked her second shoot in a row, and no one was more surprised than Jay, who gave her his patented backhanded compliment: “That was actually really good.” As an “interviewer with an attitude,” she didn’t really get to work her lower body and incorporate her signature posing technique, but she did prove to the judges that she could deliver a strong face. In this case, it was exasperated, impatient boredom, or, the kind of look E!’s Giuliana Rancic probably receives quite often.
The judges appeared to love Joslyn’s rendition of “another starlet in the same gown,” referring to it as her prettiest shot yet, but it still landed her in the bottom three, so I think she should be worried. For me, the picture was forgettable. What I remember about her time in front of the judges at panel is that Tyra never told her she wrong, she doesn’t have a large nose; Tyra just said you learn how to pose to make it work. Nice.
Sheena and Lauren Brie deserved to be in the cellar this week. Funnily enough, Sheena’s problem was that her photo, of “starlet steps on her gown,” was flat. I’m not sure how you have movement in a photo when the point of the pose you’re in is that you can’t move, but she needed to figure it out. Luckily, she will have one more week to try to find the balance between hooch and haughty because Lauren Brie was even more wooden. Her role, “trips on stairs,” was, I think, more difficult than it sounds though. She was getting direction to be “natural” and “graceful”: How does one fall naturally and gracefully at the same time, up stairs? I guess she could have employed some Marjorie hunches, maybe? But what would’ve been “believable” and yet modelly? I wish Tyra, excuse me, Grace Jones, I mean, Little Black Riding Hood, would have shown us at panel.
So, do you think it was Lauren Brie’s time to go, and that she was, as Sheena put it, as translucent and bland as her hair? Who will be the next to go (Sheena? Joslyn?) and who will take the Cycle 11 crown?