'America's Next Top Model' Review: "Kris Jenner"

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This week’s episode of ‘America’s Next Top Model’ features the best part of every season (until we pick a contestant to pledge allegiance to, anyway): MAKEOVERS!

But first, a little tension erupts in the house and Mariah (the Native American girl) provides a history lesson, explaining that the British came to America and killed most of the Native Americans, so, you know, she’s down to defend her cultural history if these ladies want to get risky. I’m pretty sure Mariah just implied that she’d scalp someone.

The girls receive a Tyra Mail message that claims that Tyra’s makeover plans have been leaked via her cell phone. On her makeover to-do list: Red, white, and blue; beige blunt cut; and something called “milk chocolate weave,” which makes me realize that I would really like someone to sew hair made out of chocolate into my head. Our contestants are whisked off to the famed Sally Herschberger salon; for those not familiar, Herschberger is responsible for that edgy Meg Ryan ‘do that was mad popular in the late 90s, and as such, her haircuts are $850 minimum – or so we’re told via the one-on-ones, and that sort of specific trivia is typically fed from the producers to ensure factual accuracy... or something.

Quick note: am I the only one who notices that the editing this season looks mega cheap? It evokes memories of discovering the corny transition features in PowerPoint in junior high.

Mariah is the first to protest since her cultural heritage dictates that women should have long hair for braiding. On that note, Brit Alisha remarks, “I don’t think we have [Native Americans] in England and if we do they’re on the lowdown.” No, Alisha, you wouldn’t have Native Americans in England because they are Native to America, but also because your people killed them for their corn secrets.

The makeovers go over smoothly for the most part, with Louise (UK) giving the most resistance. She hesitantly embraces her blunt, shorter cut (which looks gorgeous on her), but fights the stylists when they ask her to dye her hair a darker, dirtier blonde. Apparently on her season of ‘Britain’s Next Top Model,’ Louise had her previously long hair dyed brown and hated it. Since she’s a veteran of the process, you’d think Louise would know that fighting the stylists and Queen Tyra is just futile. Speaking of queens, one of the girls says, regarding Louise, “Over in the USA, we don’t have queens.” Clearly she isn’t aware of Queen Latifah.

The doll-like Sophie (UK) is given cotton candy pink hair and it’s just too precious. Laura, of the misguided crimped hair, gets an icy blonde ‘do with red and blue highlights, which – while it sounds just as unfortunately trailer park as crimped hair – actually sort of works on her. Since Azmarie (US) already has a shaved head, Tyra orders the stylists to nick some graffiti into the back of her head. At least it says “ANTM” and not something ridiculous, like “Smize”. A few of the girls get long hairstyles with bangs, and as is prophesied by the divine Sophie and Ashley, one of those girls must go because you just can’t have three girls with long brown hair and bangs.

Before we get to the actual photo shoot challenge, the girls are split into their respective US and UK teams and told that they must eat a table full of food representing the opposing country. The food is mostly stuff that isn’t really common – the UK side has haggis and blood sausage, while the US has chitterlings and pig feet – and so it seems sort of ridiculous to make the girls eat all of it, particularly when this little “challenge” doesn’t seem to have any point or relation to actual modeling. Do note, however, the plate of corn on the US side that goes virtually untouched. No one’s eating the corn! Someone give it to Mariah. She’ll eat it. Her people call it “maize.”

This week’s elimination challenge summons Kris Jenner (mother of the Kardashians), along with two Kardashians I’ve never heard of and who look too white to be real Kardashians, to do some sort of twisted nursery shoot where the Kardashian siblings are playing Wednesday Addams as twins, and the models will have to be toddlers, fighting for the attention of Kris Jenner. I guess the concept of the shoot is that Jenner has too many children to know which ones are hers anymore? Because the Kardashians are like Mogwai and if you feed them after midnight, they multiply?

The concept is explained away as “Sinister, like Kardashians meet the Addams Family.” Mentioning that the tone is sinister just seems redundant once you include the word “Kardashians.”

Jenner provides modeling advice like she’s giving advice on how to live in her house; it’s all a lot of “sharing” and “compromise.” Sophie and Ashley are just too cute, particularly in their confessional interviews, and I hope they stick around for several weeks to come. Azmarie seems like the model with the easy ride this season – she’s so naturally beautiful that her photo shoots will be largely effortless, and even when Mr. Jay says she gave a sub-par performance, the judges will eat. It. Up.

At judging panel it becomes painfully clear that these girls are going to have to wear these US/UK flag shirts as signifiers every week during judging. It’s so tacky that I wrote something to the effect of, “Ugh! These shirts again!” at least three times in my notes.

While no one gets any harsh criticism, the biggest issue in judging seems to be that many of the girls look too sexy when they’re supposed to be portraying wide-eyed, innocent toddlers. It’s another case of piling restrictions on the girls and then blaming them when they aren’t perfect, which is starting to read to me like some sinister lady-mag self-esteem tampering. They give the girls so many contradictory pieces of advice, box them in with rules, and then scold them for not being able to, in Tyra’s words, “remember you’re a baby and then be a model”; it’s sort of impressive that these girls aren’t having mental breakdowns on the regular.

In defense of the models, who I found to be mostly adequate in this challenge, you can’t just toss some semi-revealing borderline-nighties on their bodies and give them such sultry, dark eye makeup and expect them to not look at least a little sexy. At some point it won’t matter how innocently they pose.

The best photo this week goes to Laura – she of the red, blonde, and blue hair – and she deserves it for thinking outside of the box with her upside down crib pose. Her hairdo sounds dumb in theory, but it’s really growing on me, as is her wonky little personality.

It gets down to the wire and, as Tyra notes, “There are three American girls and one British girl; interesting.” Yes, Tyra, it’s interesting that you can do math, and I’m sure having the girls stand in front of their national flag as well as repping said flag across their chest on those ridiculous t-shirts is certainly helpful. And, as Tyra also teaches us, “It’s not enough to be pretty,” so one of these girls must go home….

And they kicked the Native American off the reservation! Mariah gets sent packing, leaving us to wonder if she ever would have successfully exacted revenge against the Brits on behalf of all her peoples. But this also proves Sophie and Ashley right! One of those girls with bangs had to go.

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