Helloooo, model behaviorists! I missed you guys last week, so I thought maybe the ANTM gods (demons) would reward me with a doubly-good episode, but, uh, guess not. Instead, we faced their wrath with the oddly dull, lifeless episode that was too busy product-placing itself to death to bother being interesting. I wanted to really learn — once and for all! — how to make a damn smokey eye. This and other unmet needs ahead!

I spent the first 10 minutes or so trying to figure out who Kara looks like or reminds me of, and it’s driving me insane. It’s not quite Paulina Porizkova (almost?) and it’s not quite Carrie Otis (though again… almost?). Does anyone have a suggestion? My googling of “square jaw 80s model” isn’t turning up what I had hoped.

The contestants met with makeup artist Sam Fine who allegedly taught them how to do a smokey eye (“put the brown here, that’s what makes it smokey”). The ever-upbeat Laura had the best non-Tyra line of the night when she sighed, “It was really enjoyment.” Oh, Laura! Can we get a full-on demo here, fella? Come on.

Later, Nigel and his wife Crissy met the girls at [Giant Store that sells ANTM clothes ] and made them run a race about product placement makeup. It was feral and a little demeaning, and bleachybrowed Erin played dirty. Not…that dirty? But she was pushing and grabbing in a way the other ladies weren’t, and boy oh boy did everyone resent her for it. Sundai, who is so adorable I want to put her in my pocket, won the race and the makeup application challenge at the end, and thus received a $1,000 gift certificate to [Giant Store], which she was insanely excited about.

The shorties continued to complain about Erin’s racing tactics, and Erin confessionalized that the others just didn’t understand how races worked. For a second I actually thought she was talking about race as in racial politics and not as in running fast, and I was momentarily stunned by the sudden depth and social importance the show was about to take on. Ha. Hahahaha. Ha. Anyway, the minor issue got resolved when the other girls give Erin a hard time, and Erin cried and lamely apologized. This now passes for “drama” on this show. I remember the days of throwing beer in people’s weaves and wearing onions on our belts, which was the style at the time. Sigh, back to wee models.

This week’s photographer? Tyra! Screaming screaming screaming! I’m always a little annoyed when they show shots from Tyra’s modeling days because it’s a brief reminder that she was seriously one of the best freakin’ models ever. Mediocre at best talk-show host, increasingly ego-maniacal reality host and producer, but man, the women kinda invented fierce-face.

First up was goofy Laura, who has something of a lazy bottom lip. Rather than say “pull in your bottom lip,” though, Tyra turned on a fan to create wind. Sure, okay. Next was Sundai, who I swear looks like a black Kristin Chenoweth, followed by Jennifer, who asked if she could scream (could she ever!), and Brittany, who is so, so skinny. Between being able to see every birdbone in her body and her relatively blah personality, I vote burger time for Ms. B. Next was the super-ripped Bianca, who worried Tyra. “I wonder is she’s the verb and not the noun,” Tyra said, meaning that she can model but isn’t a model. I would say the other way around, maybe? For someone who’s such a wordsmith*, you’d think Tyra would be able to describe Bianca’s hardness better, but she can’t, so we’re stuck with parts of speech.

Rae looked like a wood nymph from the forest where angels grow, Kara was on the express train to blah town, Erin modeled really well but was too cold for Tyra’s liking, and Nicole apparently had “Gollum hands.” Man, everyone really has seen LOTR. The winner of the shoot — which they decided on right then and there — was I-can-see-your-spine Brittany. She got to model with two dudes in guyliner. The…thrill…of…victory?

Our guest judge was China Chow, who got a decent amount of screen time, which makes me think maybe Chanel Iman and Lauren Conrad were just too boring to make the cut. Brittany’s photo is pretty, Erin’s is very pouty (“You look like almost an alien,” raved Chow), Kara had deadface, Ashley wore a terrible outfit (say no to minivests, people), and Laura — the endlessly pleasant and silly Laura — wore that bra/highwaisted bloomer outfit we saw in the premiere. Rae’s photo is amazing, Bloody Eyeball Nicole’s is really good, Sundai’s is solid, and paralyzed-face Jennifer had a good shot, too.

So good, in fact, that she came in second this week! Take that, ptosis! Rae (who wuz robbed), Nicole, Erin, Laura, Sundai, and Kara were safe. Will Ashley and Bianca please step forward? Tyra was torn between the girl who can model better and the girl she discovered and therefore owns in a secret special way. And in predictalbe Tyra fashion, she keeps the girl who makes her look the best: Ashley, a Tyra Banks Discovery TM. Zzzzz.

Adios, this season’s initial instigator! Bianca packs up her things as a bizarre, auto-tuned “Top Model” yodel song plays. This song is the highlight of the episode. Another proud day for Bankable Productions.

*Perhaps you noticed how many more catchphrases Tyra is trying to use this season? Smize [sic], the “h-2-t” nonsense? That’s because she filed for trademarks on those made-up terms. That’s… ugh. Product placement is one thing when it’s garish and annoying, like the race through the store on this episode, and I know that ad-supported media has to pay its bills. But I like to know when I’m being advertised to, and using these terms on the show as if they were simply part of the normal commentary — which they are not — just feels deceptive.

Anyway, PopWatchers, I think Rae is still my favorite, but Laura definitely wins Miss Congeniality. What’d you think?

Episode Recaps

Trya Banks
America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel

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