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''America's Next Top Model'': The sexy episode

In a busy hour of ”America’s Next Top Model,” the girls get down and dirty, go retro, and play dress-up, all to learn how to be sexy but not sleazy

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America's Next Top Model

America's Next Top Model

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”America’s Next Top Model”: The sexy episode

The producers of America’s Next Top Model have realized how to make a good episode: pack on the action. The best thing for an ANTM hour is to cram it full of activities and things to see — impromptu primitive adventure shoots in L.A. backyards, interviews with ElleGirl editors, boot camp at Griffith Park, posing like a ’40s pinup girl (not just one photograph this week, but two!). That’s because we don’t care about what these girls do in their off time (much) or what they think (really): They’re being judged on how good they look and how well they perform, and the more an episode showcases that, the better.

That being said, I do have to address how the producers handled the raging Nik-Jayla beauty battle. It all started with Nik bringing up Jayla’s ultra-sleazy secret stealing from last week. But then…nothing! What happened to karma being a bitch? Something going down? Personally, I want to see why Jayla is so cracked, and I want Nik to stand up for herself and not merely give sidelong glances while taking mordant bites of her Frosted Flakes and sounding off like a petulant child. Show me anything, Nik! (Okay, so we did get an eyeful when her pants fell down during the obstacle course. But I mean show me some backbone, not backside.) But after bringing up the dispute, the show immediately moved on to Tyra coming over to the house to coach a photo shoot.

At least we got to see some life in the other Nic — Nicole, that is. The pretty little doll finally showed some spunk when she fabricated the Tyra mail, screaming, ”You are going to Paris tomorrow!” And whereas Lisa took to the mud at the Griffith Park obstacle course like a grunting little piggy after slop time, Nicole was not so down with the dirty, and it was fun to hear. ”I’m gonna barf, that’s so nasty,” she ranted. ”I’m surprised ElleGirl wanted to talk to our smelly butts. Who’d want to talk to someone who’s rolled around in poop?” If causing a stink was the only way Nicole could come out of her porcelain shell, then I’m all for the mudslinging.

After they all rolled around in the dirt and met with the ElleGirl editors, it was Lisa who won the reward. Lisa, who, let’s face it, probably needed the one-on-one with fashion expert Todd Hallman the least. This girl may be a boozy insecure mess on the inside, but let’s give credit where credit is due: She can strike a pose. I’m still not sure that this is going to take her all the way, but she still manages to pull out the most consistent shots. Is it because she understands the process, whereas the other girls are too wrapped up in themselves to see the big picture? (And could it be that I’m thinking way too much about this?)

Good for Kim, though, for finding her feminine side at the ’40s pinup shoot. (Miss J. Alexander not so aptly called it ”sissification.” What’s so sissy about acting like a lady?) The previews from last week made it sound like Kim was having trouble hiding her masculine edge, but man, seeing her corseted and poised on the hood of that car (product placement alert!) was quite impressive. This is the first time I saw some potential in her; there was not a whiff of butch to be found anywhere under that Rita Hayworth wig and those fishnet stockings. Va-va-voom, Vargas girl!

At the judges’ panel, the girls were told to change into something that would express what sexy meant to them. Though Tyra said this episode was all about being sexy without being sleazy, that didn’t keep the producers from showing the contestants stripped down to bras and panties, or less, while they were putting on their outfits. Unfortunately, Kyle, who said she felt she could be coached and trained to be the best, fell short on the assignment, slapping together an uninspired T-shirt and miniskirt ensemble. Once again she revealed that she lacks a noggin as well as a neck.

Still, I had thought Bre would be eliminated — Kyle did win all those challenges, and contrary to what Tyra said in the elimination proceedings, I don’t think that Kyle wanted to win any less than Bre. That was evident from her reaction to being cut from the show. But whereas Bre was stilted because she thought too much in her shoots, Kyle was stilted because she thought too little, and, well, if you learn anything from this show, it’s that modeling is hard work, people! Your pretty little mug can get you only so far. And the show did portray Kyle as clueless. (Remember that episode in which they were supposed to take one picture flaunting their flaws and then another one hiding them, and she couldn’t remember what the second one was supposed to be?) So it’s out of the house for Kyle, and probably back to concocting Blizzards at the Dairy Queen. (Upside-down-right thick! Sad, and yet so true.)

Now poor Kim has to find another friend. First Sarah, now Kyle: Is Kim the kiss of death? Anyone she gets close to gets the ax. Playa hater Jayla still has not redeemed herself from her Wicked Witch of the West Coast turn last week (I’ll get you, my pretties!), so I’m down to rooting for Kim, Nik, and Nicole. If I didn’t like Kim, I would warn the two other girls to stay away from her. But now that I do like her, maybe I don’t want the other girls to stay away. Oh, Kim, you wily little minx: You might have the greatest strategy of all!

What do you think? Did the right girl go? Should the show focus more on catwalks or catfights? And what did you learn about being sexy without being sleazy?

(Want more Top Model? Watch UPN.com’s Internet show Talk Model to get commentary from EW’s Kristen Baldwin, plus updates on past contestants.)