On ''America's Next Top Model,'' when the girls are challenged to prove they can handle a schedule -- and themselves -- Brittany melts down and is sent home

By Vanessa Juarez
Updated May 03, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
Credit: De Yonker

”America’s Next Top Model”: A major meltdown


In lieu of the Top Model clip show that ran last week, there should have been a public service announcement for the benefit of the remaining contestants that slowly (so Natasha could keep up) proclaimed, ”This. Is. Not. The. Time. To. Flake. Out.” Of the five who were still in it as this episode began, Brittany, at least, had certainly lost it. After the CoverGirl commercial challenge two epis ago, the girls called Brittany out for breaking into hysterics and blaming her poor performance on a long-ago accident. Apparently she’s scarred both physically and mentally to this day. The other girls weren’t buying it, and neither should we. Renee seemed to thinks Brittany is an operator, saying, ”Brittany used her short-term memory as a crutch at panel.” Meanwhile, Dionne keenly observed, ”I really wanted Brittany to go home because when we did that skit, Brittany was all excited about acting. She knew every line, word for word. But when it came down to this commercial…short-term memory? You are lying. She always makes up excuses.”

When Brittany began this week’s timed challenge — make your way to a number of go-sees, impress the fashion designers (who could potentially hire you in the future), and get back by 4:30 — her ”short-term memory” took over whichever brain hemisphere computes street addresses. She got lost and wandered through Sydney, and when she did finally make it to the designers, they had no interest in her anyway. No one was buying her choppy Leaning Tower of Pisa walk. Then, with time ticking away, she got all up in her cabby?s grill, snapping at him for not waiting outside the office building she had come out of. Her memory must have been acting up again — according to the footage, she never even asked the guy to pull up to that particular spot.

In the meantime, Dionne asked the designers if she could have this swimsuit (which looked fantastic on her, by the way) or that outfit. Somebody should really have told her that you don’t get swag bags until you’re rich and famous, and you can’t go around picking up stuff from designers when you’re in the starving-artist part of your career. It was unprofessional, and I’m surprised that it didn’t end up being an issue at the judges’ table. On the other hand, Jaslene, bless her heart, said that her goal was to be ”cool, calm, and collective.” Oh, sweetie, it’s collected, as in put-together, not communal. I’ve come to love Jaslene and Natasha for their obliviousness. Because they’re so unconsciously excited about life, it’s just impossible to hate on them. One of the fashion designers thought Natasha was too sexual and flirtatious, while another must’ve wondered if she had been working his makeshift runway wearing earplugs: ”How tall are you?” he called out to her. ”Five-nine-ish?” [Silence.] ”Hello?”

Jaslene made it back to Priscilla’s model-agency office just a minute before the deadline, joining Renee and Dionne, who had wisely made it back a little early. Natasha was just a smidgen late and had to slink her way back outside — the walls of Priscilla’s Model Management are for the timely only. Brittany pulled up in her cab minutes later, and a tantrum ensued in which she blamed her cabbie. It was her fault, and it turned out to be the beginning of a vigorous dig to her grave. In hindsight, she should’ve gotten back in that car, driven to wine country, partaken in a tasting or two, and called it a day.

As Brittany cursed and cried outside, Priscilla told Jaslene, ”You have a great body, they loved your walk, and overall you got the best feedback in this challenge, so congratulations.” To which Jaslene reacted with an incredibly lit-up ”I won? Oh, my God, guys, I have not won a challenge.” It was like watching a little sister who had been marginalized for years win her first science-fair trophy. I was so proud. The prize was a photo shoot with Nigel Barker atop the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Aside: Isn’t it amazing that Nigel and his camera produced those beautiful pictures, considering Jaslene and Dionne were wearing those unattractive moon suits and the sky seemed a uniform kind of gray?

(Speaking of trophies, what did you all think of Priscilla’s, namely Jodhi? Not all that, right? Aside from inciting perky, bronzy boob envy, she didn’t have the face of a model who commands a room.)

In jock speak, the girls had to go through two-a-days for the photo shoot, beginning at a yawn-inducing 5:30 a.m. First there was a session for a women’s magazine, with Tyra playing photographer. Brittany and Dionne looked tense, Renee was confident, Natasha comfortably spooned with her hottie, and Jaslene was focused (she’s teeny, isn’t she? But with a plump little badonkadonk). Later, Michael Omm directed an afternoon shoot for a men’s magazine that was edgy enough to grace the pages of GQ, Esquire, and Details.

In all, Dionne was the weakest of the quintuplets, and it seemed like a sure thing that she would get sent home. She’s beautiful, she’s a brooding badass (it’s those cat eyes), and she looks great on the runway, but Dionne just doesn’t connect with the camera in any sort of consistent way. I was slack-jawed when Tyra called Dionne’s name over Brittany’s. Though the redhead’s childlike behavior in recent episodes has made me want to stab my eyes out, she’s been the most consistent at photo shoots throughout.

This season is unfolding in unpredictable ways, which makes it fun to see how it plays out. Who do you think will end up in the top two? I’m rooting for Jaslene, and I think Renee and Natasha are a toss-up for second place. Let’s flip. Renee’s heads. Natasha’s tails. Hmm…Renee. Best two out of three?

How I would have called it:

5. Dionne

4. Brittany

3. Natasha

2. Renee

1. Jaslene

Until next week.


PS: What do you think? Was Brittany playing up her memory loss for sympathy votes? Should Dionne have been penalized (or at least criticized) for asking for the clothes she was modeling at the go-sees? And now that the end is near, who’s your favorite to win it all?

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