By Margaret Lyons
Updated April 15, 2010 at 01:32 PM EDT

America's Next Top Model

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Image Credit: Barbara Nitke/The CWIf there’s ever been a more appropriate metaphor for ANTM than this week’s photoshoot, I don’t know what it is: All aboard the S train, which just shuttles back and forth, back and forth, never really making much of a journey, and always smelling like career failure and boiling garbage. (Trust me.) So it is with Top Model, loathe to break any new ground or move in compelling, fresh directions; instead it just sways to and fro, from Grand Central to Times Square, from ratty weaves to arguments about respect, from annoying “you don’t know me” screaming matches to over-enthusiasm for Seventeen magazine. Back and forth. Back. And forth. Never changing. Never growing. Never explaining the guy who’s always playing “Feliz Navidad” on the accordion, even though it’s not Christmastime. He = Tyra’s jumpsuits in this metaphor, FYI.

I’m growing increasingly comfortable calling this the worst season of Top Model ever: Arguments about “being real”? Picking fights with your roommates? Barely concealed racial tension? It’s like Tyra et al swept up the detritus left on the floor of the reality TV factory and fashioned themselves a show-Golem, fully assembled from the discarded parts of all other shows. Is that arm from The Real World, circa 2002? Wait, is that leg just deleted footage of Yaya blathering on about respect? Is that furrowed brow lost footage of Al Jaffe from Dream Job, slowly realizing what a bad decision he’s made? Indeed it is, model behaviorists. You don’t want to know where the rest of his body came from.

Angelea said she wanted to “take these bitches out” (classy), Krista declared some girls the “realest” in the house and the others as “need[ing] each other,” and then everyone bickered unimaginatively. I was way more interested in the number of milks in the fridge. There were seriously like 19 half-gallons of milk in there. Just share milk, you guys! It is so much easier!

Alasia was too busy doodling and bathing to be on time, so everyone was late to the meeting at Seventeen. Luckily, there was still plenty of time for the contestants to write down their most embarrassing stories about periods, diarrhea, crushes, the prom, and everyone calling them Fart Girl Tampon Rollercoaster Barf for the rest of the summer. Er, learn how to dress for their body types. Just last week I wished for a Stacy and Clinton intervention, but I’ll settle for these tips. Tell me more about how to find my waist, ANTM!

After the shockingly dull fashion lesson (everyone looked great? really, Seventeen editor?), the ladies again got to their sniping, this time with Alasia screaming her face off, Angelea bringing her “bitch” count to five, and Brenda accusing Angelea of being uneducated. Has anyone in regular life ever had a fight about “respect,” or is this strictly a reality show issue? I certainly have never seen it out in the wild, but I don’t take the S train that much any more, so who knows.

This week’s challenge: Have a personality at a cocktail party for a fame-guzzling socialite with a handbag line and a lobotomizingly bad show on the CW! I find Tinsley Mortimer vaguely fascinating, but I’d be astonished if any of these contestants had ever heard of her before. Nonetheless, they glammed up and headed out. I usually find Mr. Jay’s sartorial choices to be terrifying at best, but it’s worth mentioning here that his bright plaid tie was adorable and punchy and a way, way better use of print than Andrew Garcia’s plaid monstrosity. Anyway, well done.

The second Brenda started bragging about how she loves going to “uppity” parties (that doesn’t mean what you think it means!), it was pretty clear she was going to be a goner this week. Alasia complained of nerves and totally tanked in her interview — “I’m the type of person who doesn’t think about stuff enough!” — and Anslee made the too-common Top Model error of claiming to like something she actually knew nothing about. The challenge winner: Jessica, who got to pick two friends to go with her on a photoshoot for, yes, Seventeen. Jessica is one of the few contestants who could credibly model for a teen market (Alasia would be the other), but poor Brenda and her oldface definitely couldn’t pull it off. Raina? Maybe.

Back at the house, Alasia stood outside the confessional booth door, listening to Raina’s boring thoughts. Is that… kosher? And can you legitimately be mad that someone was talking about you in a room where that’s required? That’s like your mom complaining that you talked about her at your Freudian analysis session. Cue more fighting about being fake, etc.

Oh how I wish Tyra would come to the house and mediate! Or Mr. Jay, even, with his plaid tie. Or one of those den mothers who runs the model apartments for models who are too young to be in New York by themselves. Someone needs to come to Chez Modelhaüs and have a big-old sit down. I’ve written a lot about ANTM seeming like camp, so what’s one more time? These girls need a cabin meeting to talk about what’s really going on: Jealousy and insecurity! It’s normal to struggle with those issues, but it’s not acceptable in this cabin to take out that worry on each other. Next time you want to tell someone else how you think they should be, take a walk and go get a drink of water and cool off a little. You know, Brenda, I bet you and Angelea have a lot in common, but you’re too afraid to get to know each other. Let’s do trust falls! [fin] Anyway, those Hulu ads are right: Camp is awesome.

This week’s photoshoot: Become a real New York woman by glamming it up on the subway for a [Makeup Company] ad. Again, I’ll remind you that the S train just goes back and forth between two stations. It is by far the least of all subway lines. The only reason to buy an S train toy is if you are spelling someone’s name. No one says “oh, I live off the S.” Thus endeth our lesson about the MTA. (Also, for future reference, that’s what an awesome subway photo looks like. Use it wisely, soldiers.)

Anway, yay, Bloody Eyeball Nicole, who has radically improved her on-camera voice! Man, she looked radiant and awesome, and she gave pretty good advice on avoiding “drama”: stay out of it, don’t engage, and try to be classy. Angelea interpreted this as “say what you gotta say,” which is completely wrong. That’s like a page from the Ren playbook. (That book only has one page, FYI.)

Krista was supposed to be an “aspiring actress,” and she looked like a bazillion bucks — perfectly glamorous and glowing. I feel like we don’t see enough of Krista, but these kinds of beauty shots are her jam; her skin glows like she’s been licked by angels, and her features are scary-perfect. She hasn’t had amazing photos so far, but even in the confessionals where other girls look sort of scuzzy and undone (which is fine! they are relaxing at home! I’m not judging at all!), she still looks pretty much flawless. Go Krista.

Anslee, portraying an “artist,” got to wear the cutest freaking Ugly Betty quirky outfit ever, and it couldn’t have looked more wrong on her. Alexandra was an “Upper East Sider,” which reminded me that this shoot was calling out for a Gossip Girl same-network-synergy moment. She froze on set and looked more like a JC Penney model than a posh uptown girl. Raina was “East Village rockabilly,” and she used her hands too much (although not as much as Angelea does with her “rawr!” thing), and Jessica was a “club goer,” although she just looked like downmarket Emmanuelle Chriqui in Entourage regalia. Angelea was a “fashionista,” and she had her best shoot ever, all snooty and elegant. Brenda was done up as a “student,” but she just looked like a crazy person. Are students known for their wet-hair look? Man, I have been out of school for to long! Yeesh. Alasia was a “model on her way to a go-see,” but she blanked and got the giggles. And then Mr. Jay made her cry.

Tyra’s world, Tyra’s world, panel time, excellent! Dee-do-dee-do-dee-do! Raina’s picture was pretty decent, but the judges want more from her. Krista nailed it, and everyone loved her shot. Jessica was wearing uggo heels to panel (were they really worse than the eyeball-searing crap people have been wearing this cycle?), and the judges said she was being “combative” when they gave her advice. Er… she didn’t seem all that combative to me, and compared to how freakygross she was with Nigel last week, this seemed like nothing, but maybe it got edited out. Her photo was deemed blah.

Brenda’s shot was all kinds of bad, and she’d already bragged back at the house that she thought she’d done well, which is akin to lighting a cigarette to make the bus come, or carrying an umbrella to make sure it doesn’t rain. If you boast about how well you did at the shoot, you will definitely go home. Alasia was too vacant, but Nigel thought she was a diamond in the rough. Even though the judges liked Anslee’s knowing smirk, she looked snarl-y to me. Also sour. Because she is the world’s sourest human. Alexandra got raves, but I thought she looked awful, and the judges couldn’t get enough of Angelea. (Eh.)

This week’s winner: Angelea! Runner up: Krista. For my money, Krista had a better photo, but as usual, the judges saw something in Angelea that I just don’t get. Raina, Alexandra, Anslee, and Jessica were safe. Would Brenda and Alasia please step forward? To the shock of no one, the redhead was sent packing, and then Alasia cried and snotted it up like whoa. (Watch out, Michael Lynche! Someone is stealing your chest-pounding move!)

What did you think of this week’s installment, PopWatchers? Did you wonder where Brenda got those flowers? Are you finding the in-fighting as blah as I am, or do you love a good scream-out, no matter how unoriginal? I still think Raina’s looking like the favorite, but could Alasia pull this off? Or Krista?

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America's Next Top Model

Tyra Banks searches for the next great supermodel
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