'America's Next Top Model' recap: Commercial success

top-model_lHuge ups to the lovely Mandi for taking over ANTM duties for me, but huge downs on this episode: The commercial weeks are aaaaaalways my least favorite, and the elimination seemed really off to me. The tears, the freaky eyebrow roots, and the best robot I’ve seen on television since Futurama left us — let’s do this, PopWatchers!

Indulge me as I start off with an extended metaphor. Once upon a time, I was a camp counselor in scenic New Hampshire, where I taught swimming. Like any normal person, I owned a handful of bathing suits, and usually the wear it/dry it out/wear it schedule worked great. But here’s the thing about scenic New Hampshire: It rains. And sometimes, it’s chilly. And sometimes? That means the bathing suits that were drying on the clothesline behind the cabin got wet all over again. Have you ever had to put on a wet bathing suit on a chilly New England morning? It’s unpleasant, filled with a level of dread and repulsion that are radically out of proportion to how bad it actually is. The worst part is the waiting for it; Once it’s on, it’s really not that bad, but standing there, with your sad damp suit, knowing the swampy coldness that awaits you…It’s pretty miserable. And that’s approximately how I felt sitting down to tonight’s ANTM: I loathe commercial week, and I’m still not crazygonuts about any of these contestants. Sure, it turned out okayish, but those moment as I fired up the ole TiVo and waited for the episode to start sent a shiver through me.

Anyhow, we opened on the least evocative skyline of all time: Los Angeles! We saw a picture of Rae’s adorable daughter and learned that Nicole is a bit awkward but trying to fit in a little. We also learned that Laura is dyslexic, which came up when she was reading Tyra Mail and couldn’t tell if it was spelled correctly or not.

The ladies headed off to their challenge, where they were greeted by comedian Ant and Lara Spencer, who is apparently the host of The Insider. I would bet good money that the modeltestants had no idea who either of these people are. The women each did an improv exercise-cum-interview with Ant playing different characters, which is basically what journalism school is like.

For their next trick, the ladies were forced to interview poor Jessica Lowndes from 90210. It was excruciatingly awkward, particularly because they all had to ask her the same questions. And then the teleprompter went out and everyone had to think for herself! Two things: Reading off a teleprompter can be tough if you’ve never done it before, so even though everyone seemed incredibly bad at just reading, we should give them at least a little more credit. Two, I liked the “oh no, the prompter went out!” fake crisis better when it was known as the show Dream Job. Blerg.

The winner of the challenge: Erin! Those eyebrows are growing in a little, and they are growing in scary! The judges — Ms. Spencer and the Seventeen editor lady — said that she was charming. Then the show cut to Sundai who shouted in her confessional “Erin is not charming at all!” This was far and away the best moment of the episode, and definitely in the running for the best moment of the season. Erin’s prize was having her photo in a beauty article in Seventeen, photographed by a very poor man’s old Demetri Martin.

Then it was time for the challenge: to write and then perform their own Cover Girl commercials. I was shocked how lucid most of their copy was — I mean, former Top Model contestants have believed dinosaurs were elephants’ ancestors. This is not a show known for the intelligence and clear thinking of its participants. Or judges. Or hosts. But apparently these shorties are everyday Peggy Olsons, because their little segments were pretty decent. Nigel Barker was on hand to direct, and he started with Jennifer, whose paralyzed eye did not seem to hold her back one bit. I was so hoping her commercial would be along the lines of “even if your eye is paralyzed from ptosis, you can still be beautiful with this make-up,” but I guess I’ll learn to live with disappointment.

The others who followed were largely blah, and we got our traditional line-flub suckstravangaza that we get every year. Brittany had her lines memorized perfectly but was too wooden. Nigel busted out an amazing robot impression to make fun of her in his confessional, but it wasn’t good enough to bump Sundai’s outburst from the top slot. Close, though, Nigel. Close. Laura told Nigel her dyslexia makes it hard for her to memorize things, and she struggled through her lines a bit.

And then Erin had a full-on meltdown. So much crying! So, so much. Nigel tried to pep talk her, almost, but mostly she just cried more. Sundai basked in a moment of schadenfreude, and I had to fast forward, because if I wanted to watch women weep uncontrollably for no real reason, I’d hang out in the bathrooms of expensive, annoying bars patronized by college students.

At judging, Tyra stood incredibly awkwardly, as if she’d gotten like, shoulder botox or something. Truly the strangest posture we’ve seen from her, and that’s saying something. Our guest judge was Kim Kardashian, who I guess knows a thing or two about being yourself on camera.

Jennifer’s commercial was widely praised, although I found it a bit bouncy and pose-y. Laura’s commercial was sort of a wreck, less because she had trouble with her lines and more because she doesn’t enunciate very well. The first part of her segment sounded like Kenneth the Page’s impression of how the “Hill People” sound. I expected her to offer us “bonus” turtle meat at the end. Rae’s commercial was pretty rough; she was sort of rolling her eyes through the whole thing, and she seemed like she had drunk-neck, where her head was just sort of barely staying upright. Brittany’s commercial was too forced, and Tyra scolded her for not incorporating her passion for math into her segment.

Look, I also have a passion for math — wow, you guys are learning so much about me today! TMI, Marge! — but I’m not sure how that could possibly be applied to this arena, Tyra’s suggestion of one plus one equaling three notwithstanding. (Why the face?!) The mathematicians I know, while lovely people, are not known the world over for their ease and social comfort, nor are they famously well-groomed or sexy or telegenic. Applying one’s math-self to selling makeup sounds like a losing proposition to me.

This week’s winner: Jennifer! Nicole, Brittnay, and Sundai are safe. Will Rae and Erin’s matching hair please step forward? Rae didn’t stand out enough; Erin wept like a child. So Tyra sent home my beloved Rae, my early fave, and kept the uncharming Erin. Boo! A thousand times boo. Play her off, farewell autotune yodel.

Some additional thoughts:

++ Nicole is incredibly grating, but she is a very good model, and I thought her commercial was a lot more watchable than Jennifer’s. (Give me droll over perky any day. Especially in the morning.) I cannot get over how good her hair looks most of the time, though I didn’t love it straightened at panel. At the Insider thing, though? Holy moly! She’s definitely the best model left, but I can’t imagine her winning.

++ Sundai is hilarious. Her commercial was a little too Billy Mays-ish, but I completely stand by my assertion that she is the most likely to go on to other things. She’s so cute! And pleasant! She’s a little elf of good-sportiness.

++ Boy did I ever miss Janice Dickenson tonight. Remember when they had to interview Janice, and everyone accidentally called her a bitch, and then she complained because she’s in the PTA? The three seconds it took for me to remember that fondly were more enjoyable than that entire Insider segment. Le sigh.

Who’d you find easy and breezey, PopWatchers?

Comments (47 total) Add your comment
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  • Cristy

    I was shocked Nicole did so well. I thought for sure the show was going to completely focus on her awkwardness. She’s my fave. I agree about her curly hair looking great! Did not like it straightened, especially w/the David Lee Roth combover.

    • Suze

      She’s my favorite too. I’m annoyed that everyone is being so hard on her, I don’t think she sounds THAT slow… she’s just odd… and I like that about her. I was all about her as soon as she said her nickname growing up was “bloody eyeball” LOVE her… hehe
      Also, Sundai and Jennifer’s commercials were the most annoying. I kept expecting everyone to rat out Jennifer’s bobble-head impression and was sorely dissapointed when they didn’t.

  • dublin04

    I was frustrated that they didn’t call Jennifer out on her head bobbing in the commercial…that’s usually a no no…but then again if they wanted to get rid of her I’m sure they would have mentioned it..
    My favorites are still Nicole and Laura…

    • cee

      i agree with you 100% they should of called out jennifer. my faves are nicole and laura, because they are not only beautiful but have not joined the “mean girls” club attitude that the rest of the girls have. sundai maybe be cute but she is very vindictive if anyone but her gets praise, and seems to single out nicole more than any of the other girls.

  • Sarah

    I was sorry to see Rae go, especially over Erin. Still, I am happy they kept Laura. There needs to be an ANTM drinking game this year where you have to take a shot every time someone uses the phrases “smize” or “h to t” – at least that would make it interesting!

  • liz

    I think Tyra is going out of her way to favor Sundai. And, did you notice how she was completely ignoring Kim Kardashian?

    • Sarah

      They need to stop this parade of pseudo-celebrity reality stars as judges. Tyra gets rid of Janice, Twiggy, and Paulina, three people who have actual experience in the modeling world, and give us people from “The Hills”? Whose next – New York?

      • Teresa

        That’s because they knew more than Tyra did and that’s a no-no.

        Why is this show still on? Do the models ever do anything resembling modeling after they win? We never see their commercials or any ads where they model.

      • Suze

        Actually, Twiggy left on her own… they didn’t get rid of her.. I think Paulina was they only one they “let go”

    • Smizer

      I want to like Sundai, but she doesn’t seem model material. Plus she was saddled with that horrible hair cut. Tyra has lost her mind. That hair cut is not high fashion. It reminds of me Salt and Pepa during their “Push It” hey day. I think it’s one of the worst cuts since Salicia’s (sp)beatles mop top cut.

      • tyrasux

        Sundai = Salt’n’Pepa…HILARIOUS!!! You totally hit the nail on the stupid-haircut head!

  • Patricia

    Has anyone else noticed how when they’re having the ‘judge’s deliberation’, it seems like Tyra talks to no one else on the panel except Miss Jay? I started noticing it a couple of weeks ago and it seems more and more bizarre every week. She even kind of turns her back to Nigel and the guest judge the whole time she’s talking. Weird. I also don’t get the fascination with Sundai. I don’t find her all the pretty and her voice and general attitude get on my last nerve.

  • MAGGIE

    bring on the tall girls again…these girls are boring…

    • Sarah

      I want to see them do an all plus-sized season

      • Mags

        Yes. Or all men.

      • memi

        How about an all male model season? Could you see Tyra teaching the dudes to ‘smile with their eyes’…

  • Cristy

    Oh, and the roots are awful on these girls! Seriously they bleach their hair white and don’t offer touch ups?! Hideous!

  • Laura

    I’m still wondering where are the “My life as a Cover Girl” commercials?

    • Kathy

      If not having those commercials this cycle saves us all from seeing last cycle’s winner…Teyona?….Tijuana?…whatever that alien face’s name was, I’m VERY happy! I like Nigel’s “Success in Top Modeling” or whatever it’s called, where we see girls from seasons past actually having careers. That’s my fave part.

      • oh fer

        Alien face…HAHAHAHAHAHA! So VERY true! Telaloona had the strangest “just slammed in a doorway” looking head and apparently, even after becoming ANTM, still looks like an alien!
        Her look wasn’t “wind in the face” as Tyra was trying to say, but instead it was “face slammed between 2 pieces of plywood”.

    • Suze

      I don’t even remember who won last cycle…

      • Julie

        I find that hilarious because last cycle’s winner was ON THE SHOW this week (it was Teyona – blech).

  • luluvoodoo

    i CANNOT stand sundai!!! horrible little troll. don’t understand the love for her….

    • Gogo

      Ditto this comment

  • ANTMFAN

    I thought it was a good episode. I don’t care what anyone says Jennifer’s lazy eye is sooooooooooooo obvious! I don’t see the point of casting a girl who can’t model with both of her eyes. All the personality in the world can’t change the fact that she is extremely limited.

    I have liked Rae all season, but when they did the recap of the pictures she has taken I think she deserved to go home last night. Her pictures all looked good, but they all looked the same.

    Nicole is my favorite and I’m rooting for her to win. Laura would be a good second choice.

  • fluff

    The minute the episode started with Rae talking about her daughter and why she’s meant to be in this competition, I knew she was this week’s goner. After so many seasons, it’s easy to figure out ANTM’s editing process.

    • Phillygirl

      It’s true. Just like as soon as Erin came out with “I’m a winner. And the other girls will just have to deal with it!” I knew her commercial performance was gonna bite the big one.

  • pool

    I was afraid Nicole was going this episode just because they were focusing on her so much in the beginning. She’s my favorite person.

    Tyra is definitely playing favorites with Sundai. I really don’t get why either, because she doesn’t seem like a model at all. And that haircut Tyra gave her is awful. She looked much prettier before it.

  • SG

    This may have been discussed earlier in the season, so I apologize for any repeat, but why aren’t there the My Life as a Cover Girl commercials anymore? Not that they were ever very good, but I still enjoyed seeing them. Makes me wonder where last year’s winner is…?

  • T2

    Wow – those ugly white/yellow/blond bleach jobs have finally hit the wall. Quit doing them, Tyra! They are so unnatural! When you add the eyebrows, all you have is scary-looking straw-heads.

    Nicole’s hair is fabulous, but it’s just hair. It would be better off on someone else’s head. Someone that doesn’t have a stoner voice, and a better personality. The hair wins this cycle, I’m guessing.

  • sockgal

    Whats up with Sundai. Cute as a button personality, but no amount of coaching is going to make her a model. Don’t understand why they keep her in. She hasn’t done well in photos, the go sees, or the video. Something is not right! Everyweek I think it is going to be her to go, but they keep her. She wasn’t even in the bottom this week? They let Rea go? Rae just needs a little more coaching and she could be a top model.

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