On ''America's Next Top Model,'' the girls try to express themselves like the outback's indigenous people (with mixed results), and they pick on one of their own

By Vanessa Juarez
Updated May 10, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT
De Yonker

America's Next Top Model

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”America’s Next Top Model”: Mean girls

Let’s just cut to the chase and discuss the juiciest part of this episode: Natasha. Giving credit where credit is due, the other three (Renee, Dionne, and Jaslene) instigated the whole dramatic Natasha arc while on their girls’ night out in the outback. They egged each other on with such comments as:

”She was this funny Russian girl, but now she’s just annoying to me.”

”You guys better bring it at the photo shoot tomorrow….We need to send someone home, and you know who I’m talking about.”

”I want to see Natasha go home. Right now, I’m over her.”

”Something is going on, but I don’t know what it is. She got some lies floatin’ around somewhere.”

”I’m really curious as to how does she lives her life.”

”Natasha doesn’t have a wedding ring, I’ve never seen a picture of her husband, I’ve never seen pictures of her daughter. I don’t know, it’s just confusing for me.”

”We don’t know anything about her husband, at all. I don’t even know his name.”

”Her story has changed so many times. It’s like, if you’re going to lie, at least be good at it.”

Do you guys think Natasha is manipulative and fake — or worse, leading a double life? I don’t. She’s a tall, goofy ignoramus, and she usually manages to look at the bright side of things. If Jon Stewart were given the opportunity to viciously cut into her with his wit, she’d probably take his comments as a compliment. And not in an ironic way. The girls are obviously not jealous of her, despite what she may say; that’s just a defense mechanism to make herself feel better. Or I could be completely wrong and it’s the reverse: She’s a narcissist. ”These girls are very into my behavior; every move I do, they watch,” Natasha said in the confessional after she noticed Renee cackling at her. ”Natasha’s crazy, she’s psychopathic,” countered Renee when she got into the confessional. ”She’s, like, making out on the phone with her husband on it. She’s weird.” Hmm, no argument there; that was odd.

As for Renee, I’m loving her more and more. She’s definitely the smartest and most intuitive of the final contestants. At the beginning of this ep, she noted that when a girl gets in front of the panel for their photo critique and the judges don’t say anything, ”That’s when you know that it’s coming to you, because they’re trying to figure out why they don’t like it.” Ha. She’s right. It’s like the judges are searching for the perfect combination of meanness and comic relief so that they only quasi-hurt the girl’s feelings.

On to the challenge. Is it just me, or is Uncle Max the Aboriginal Peter Jackson? Maybe he should direct The Hobbit. If he’s supposed to be a good storyteller — what the hell? — give him a production crew.

I didn’t share the vision of how this Aboriginal dance idea was supposed to prep the girls to be great models, but I must admit, I was a sucker for Renee’s savvy take on it: ”This is all about telling a story, and I really do believe that that’s related to modeling. Models are storytellers; whether it’s your own personal story or a story a designer is trying to get across, we tell stories. They tell through dance, we tell through pictures and runway.”

On the other end of the spectrum was Dionne, who was having a major bitchfest during the entire ep. Strike one: ”I don’t want to do no damn dance. First of all, how the hell do you think I can dance while telling a story? Tell what story? What story do you want to hear? My boyfriend tries to get me to dance with him all of the time, and I just do not do it. I do not want to dance, period.” Okay, so we knew that Dionne doesn’t even kiss her ”own damn boyfriend” (remember?), and now we know she refuses to dance with him, too. So, I’m just asking, what does the relationship with her boyfriend consist of? Strike two: ”What happened in the past, I don’t think that’s relevant. What the hell? I’m just going to make this dance, like, 25 seconds, and I’m going to be through, that’s it.” Get over it. You’ve been photographed and advised by some of the industry’s biggest names, and you’re whining about this?

Oh. We need to make one more stop at McCrazy’s, where, according to Renee, people who have ”a few fries short of a Happy Meal” go for fast food. I’m obviously back to Natasha, whose idea of an Aboriginal story consisted of dangling around tree branches while muttering about feeling weak, going to the forest and listening to trees. ”I’m speaking quietly because I want everybody to pay close attention to what I’m doing,” she explained. We listened, but we just didn’t get it. And I have the feeling that if she told it again, we still wouldn’t get it.

Even though Jaslene’s story was flat, she still came out a winner: After Renee took home the Aboriginal tiara for telling the best story, she picked Jaslene to share in her reward, which meant she got to partake in the fabulous pearl jewelry.

The shoot, which featured the models doing Aboriginal dances, was a telling one to have at this juncture. Even though they still had a theme to work with, the girls had a lot more leeway in how they chose to connect with the camera. Jaslene gave her signature fierce look, which the judges later lambasted her for (but remember, she has the potential to bring it, as we saw with the Janice Dickinson-esque pose a few weeks ago). Renee gave a great, soft profile shot. Dionne actually looked friendly for a change — and, more importantly, she connected with the camera. As for Natasha, who was fighting a bad cold, she must’ve taken too may doses of NyQuil. When she wasn’t in la-la land, her mouth was open in just about every shot (it’s all about the Zicam to clear up that stuffy nose) or she was puckering up with those insane lips of hers. Still, the judges made the right choice when they gave Dionne the boot: With all that complacency and inconsistency, she did not merit a promotion to the next level. Before she walked away, did anyone notice the consolation hug Natasha tried to give her? Dionne was icy cold and still as stone.

4. Dionne

3. Natasha

2. Jaslene

1. Renee

Episode Recaps

PS: What did you all think of the Aboriginal challenge? Did Natasha deserve to stay another week? And did you agree with the other three girls that she’s the one with the least top-model potential?

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