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‘America’s Next Top Model’ Finale: Who is the Next Top Model?

America's Next Top Model
CW

It’s all been building to this — in the battle of Team USA versus Team UK, ‘America’s Next Top Model‘ has come down to pixie-Brit Sophie and edgy American Laura. Who will win and destroy Tyra Banks once and for all? Kidding, but we can totally dream.

While this cycle hasn’t been particularly involving, it’s nice to see Laura and Sophie genuinely getting along so well. They respect each other and while they know they both want to win more than anything, one wouldn’t begrudge the other for taking the title. They’re aware of their own weaknesses and strengths, just as much as they’re aware of each other’s strengths.

The big surprise this week is that they’ve been filming the Cover Girl commercial the whole time via candid camera shots on set, all culminating in this final shoot for the commercial and print ad. Photographer Jez Smith returns for the traditional Cover Girl beauty shots.

Sophie gives a perfect read for her commercial, but don’t all Brits just sound inherently elegant? Her shoot is equally as easygoing, as she gives quirky little faces and poses and embraces her fun, flirty side.

Laura gets nervous during the shoot and starts to feel faint, but Jez pulls her aside and tells her not to worry and to be herself. That’s what got her this far, and it just might be what helps her to win. Unfortunately, even though she gets some great shots in the end, Laura has a very severe anxiety attack and the producers have ┬áno choice but to send her to the hospital.

The ladies head over to a spa for their Italian Vogue shoot — the winning model’s photos will be printed in the magazine after the show. Is it just me, or is Sophie’s pink hair starting to look mega cheap? They re-dyed it — again — and it looks better when it’s cotton candy pink and washed out a bit. Here, it’s just too much. She looks like she bought a bottle of spray-in, temp hair dye for Halloween.

Sophie’s shoot doesn’t go so well, but Laura’s more provocative instincts pay off. She definitely looks more like a model here than Sophie does, which isn’t easy to pull off.

Laura finally gets a chance to shoot her Cover Girl commercial and she does very well. She’s relatable and laid back, the kind of girl you’d want to be friends with, for sure.

The big runway show this year is for Forever 21, and it takes everything in me not to audibly shout an expletive at my TV. You go from some of the biggest names in fashion to Forever 21, a budget-conscious clothing store for women in their late teens/early 20s. And there’s a reason those clothes are cheap. Yeah, they’re very of the moment, so it’s appropriate that they fall apart in the wash after about a month, since by then they’ll be outdated by Forever 21 standards anyway. It’s mass-manufactured. It’s the clothing equivalent of going from Perrier-Jouet to Bud Light. This is just further proof of ‘ANTM”s downward spiral — the show has only been renewed for one more season, and with all the behind-the-scenes changes and Tyra’s insistence on making this a show to crown the next big mogul instead of the next big model, the future isn’t looking so bright.

Tyra gives the girls a pep talk prior to the show, which Mister Jay says will use revolutionary holographic technology. Look, unless these girls are getting down with Hologram Tupac, who even cares? Alisha, Catherine, and Annaliese return to participate in the runway show — a move that I’ve always felt is a little like rubbing their faces in their own poo. Alisha’s big ego returns as she starts obnoxiously claiming in her one-on-one interview that she would have schooled these girls hard in the final runway challenge.

As the girls prep for runway, they get hair bows clipped into their hair because apparently no one got the memo that Lady Gaga killed that two years ago.┬áThat revolutionary hologram technology is just a multiplied, giant, glowing outline of each girl — the girls have to time their walks just right to make sure they stay within the light. Also, is hologram synonymous with projection? Because these are just projected lights and images. A final note on Alisha: For all the bragging she did upon her return, she’s totally awful, rushing through her runway walk and unable to take the simplest instruction. Girl, there’s a reason you didn’t make it that far.

During final judging, Laura’s commercial turns out great even though she suffered the panic attack and almost didn’t complete her challenge. Nigel braces her for the harsh reality that, outside of the world of ‘ANTM,’ if she were to have a panic attack on set, she’d be replaced without a second thought. It’s unfortunate to think that this panic attack — a thing which isn’t all that uncommon — might be her undoing.

Sophie’s commercial is also great, but her casual, silent moments weren’t as compelling as Laura’s. Something felt forced about the candid moments, where with Laura it feels very natural and relatable. Both print ads are stunning in their own right — Sophie is quirky and and very model-esque, while Laura looks like the calm before the storm. With the fire burning in her eye, Laura is the kind of girl who reads as beautiful but volatile — in the best of ways. She feels unpredictable, and though I’ve been on Team Sophie since the beginning, I feel like Laura might just deserve this a little more. There’s something too predictable about Sophie. She’s well versed in the ways of being a model, her walk is perfect, and even her off-kilter pixie charm is familiar. Laura isn’t so safe. She isn’t well studied, she doesn’t have a perfect walk, and she takes a lot of risks.

In the end it’s risk versus playing it safe, and in the world of ‘ANTM,’ safe usually comes out on top in the end. The risky girls may get saved in the week-to-week eliminations, but in the end they’ll always choose the reliable, consistent model, even if she’s not as exciting.

And so, America’s Next Top Model is… Sophie.

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